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The MA Applied Theatre encourages investigation into the possibilities and contradictions of drama and theatre practice as transformative and rehabilitative, and engages practically and critically with a range of theories and current practices. As a student on the programme, you will:
Key features of the MA Applied Theatre are:
The course develops knowledge of the ways in which drama and theatre are used to benefit a range of distinct groups that are key to today’s evolving cultural landscape.
It offers two specialist pathways: Drama in the Community and Drama Education or Drama and the Criminal Justice System. Each pathway is specifically designed to support current practice at work, or a particular field of interest in the developing landscape of applied theatre and drama in the UK. You will have the opportunity to develop your own practice and scholarship.
Applied theatre at Central is highly regarded internationally as a world leader with the largest number of specialist teaching staff in the field.
This course is aimed at those interested in developing current practice of using theatre and drama in community and education settings, or of using theatre and drama with people whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system.
Central has the only applied theatre courses where students have access to funding from the Leverhulme Trust to support distant placements. Find out more about how The Leverhulme Trust is providing major funding for the many exciting Applied Theatre student projects in 2017.
This pathway is for individuals wishing to develop current, or new, practice of using theatre and drama with people in a range of settings that may include schools, theatres, outreach departments, hospitals and prisons. Concerned with advanced enquiry into theatre for change or education, it enables you to situate your own emergent/ developing practice within a wider understanding of the applied theatre field. Delivery of the pathway involves contributions and placement opportunities from prestigious key UK organisations.
If you want to develop current – or new – practice of using theatre and drama with people whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system, this pathway is for you. Concerned with advanced enquiry into prison theatre, it enables you to situate your own emergent/developing practice within a wider understanding of the applied theatre field. Delivery of the pathway involves contributions and placement opportunities from prestigious key UK organisations.
During Terms One and Two on both pathways, you will investigate applied theatre in a variety of contexts, communities and settings. You will explore the field’s diverse practices and engage creatively with the forms and aesthetics of applied theatre, the transformative potential of theatre and the ethics of intervention and notions of inclusive practice when working with specific groups.
The units will focus on theatre practices that promote inclusion and will address the ways in which theatre can be an agent for change, enablement and transformation, while problematising these terms. You will participate in workshops and seminars to explore practices that make a difference to people by engaging with issues, dramatising relevant stories, representing role models or possibilities for action, and involving participants in processes that they find useful, informative or exciting. This will also develop an understanding of the social and cultural contexts of applied theatre.
For both pathways, study is undertaken through traditional academic means, as well as hands-on learning in the form of industry placements. Learning will be guided by tuition from professional specialists involved in theatre in a variety of community settings, including the academic experience of Central’s renowned applied theatre and drama education tutors.
You will have the opportunity to engage with relevant research methods in your field, usually presenting your work at Central’s annual postgraduate conference.
During Term Three, you may undertake project work (or further placement/professional practice) as part of an assessed unit.
On the Drama in the Community and Drama Education pathway, you may work individually, or as part of a small group, on a practical project, such as an arts residency in a primary or special needs school, a devised play andworkshops for refugee children in the UK or abroad, creative playwriting workshops with selected client groups, or a performance and workshop on Bertolt Brecht’s theatre practice for post-16 students in schools and colleges in and around London.
On the Drama and the Criminal Justice System pathway, you may work individually, or as part of a small group, on a practical project which might include a residency in a prison or young offenders’ institution, a devised play and workshops with fathers in prison for their children, or creative playwriting workshops with prisoners or exprisoners.
On both pathways, you will theorise this work, interrogating its relationship within current and seminal discourses in the field.
Term Three may lead to a performance with a specified community, or may be more process orientated. Recent examples of project work include:
Recent examples of work within the criminal justice system have included:
You may also work alongside a professional host or in one of Central’s partner placement institutions in the third term, or use their own work-based practice. In addition, students have the option to join one of Central’s many cross-School optional courses.
At the end of the year, you will consolidate your knowledge and understanding through a Sustained Independent Project (SIP). This is a dissertation about an area of particular interest in applied theatre.
Central offers a PG Certificate Applied Theatre with Young People: Directing Text in association with the National Theatre, as part of their National Connections scheme.
All students participating in placements will be required to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. This is a mandatory government safeguarding scheme for all those seeking to work in any capacity with minors or vulnerable adults.
Each unit has a written and/or practical assessment and submission of a dissertation addressing your specialist area of interest.
Invitation to interview and admission will be based on the reasonable expectation from your application that you have the potential to complete and contribute positively to the degree and that you would benefit from master’s level study. You will normally have a degree or equivalent qualification in an arts-related subject and/or two years relevant professional experience.
Applicants will normally be able to demonstrate the following:
All students attending placements will be required to complete a Disclosure and Barring Scheme check (DBS). This is a mandatory government safeguarding scheme for all those seeking to work in any capacity with minors or vulnerable adults.
We particularly encourage applications from groups currently under-represented in higher education, such as students with disabilities and members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. Find out more information on Central’s commitment to equality and diversity.
Applicants who have up to 60 M Level credits from a related PGCE course are welcome to apply to the Applied Theatre, MA through our Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) system. If you are a PGCE graduate from Central with 60 M Level credits (i.e. from 2007 onwards), you may apply without using the APL scheme and, subject to your application and availability of places, be accepted onto the MA. Applicants entering the degree programme with 60 M Level credits will, therefore, usually be expected to undertake 120 further credits (i.e. two thirds) of the programme. APL is a process that can, exceptionally, allow a student to join a course at an advanced stage and be given ‘credit' for the section(s) of the course s/he has missed. The student will be deemed to have passed in the missing elements and, if necessary, a mark will be allocated to represent the mark that it is judged that the student might have achieved had s/he taken the assessments. The first stage in making an application for APL is by making a formal application for the course. Further details are available from the Admissions and Student Recruitment Office.
Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to prove their English language proficiency by gaining an overall score of 7.0 in an IELTS test. We do accept equivalent English language qualifications. Applicants are advised to gain this certification as early as possible.
Application is direct to Central. Entrance is by application and interview. If you are selected for an interview for a place on either pathway, the session will comprise of the following:
Each year Central hosts a number of interviews outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central traveling to meet applicants. The international interviews are designed to replicate the London-based interview experience in every aspect (other than a tour of our site). See our Event Finder for listings of upcoming interview locations and dates.
Central does allow applicants to undertake a distance interview for this course. If you live abroad and are unable to attend an interview in person you may, at the discretion of the Admissions Tutor, be offered the opportunity of a distance interview. If you are selected for interview in this manner you will be contacted (normally by email) in order to arrange a suitable time for an interview. This will be conducted on Skype, telephone or by ‘live’ email exchange and will normally be based upon material you will have been asked to submit in advance. The interview will be conducted by the Admissions Tutor in liaison with a colleague who will have sight of your submitted materials.
For further information see the How to Apply section.
Based in London, Central can offer optional industry support in the first two terms with an extensive choice of placement opportunities selected from the city’s wide array of innovative professional companies, including:
Previous placement hosts include Graeae Theatre Company, Kazzum, Corali Dance Company, Extant Theatre Company
Previous placement hosts include Unicorn Theatre, DreamArts, Big Fish Theatre Company, Half Moon Young People’s Theatre, Islington Community Theatre, Covenant House New York, Fringe Benefits Los Angeles
Previous placement hosts include Spare Tyre Theatre Company, London Bubble Theatre Company, Cardboard National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe Education, The Old Vic, Cornerstone Theatre, Los Angeles
Specific drama departments within primary and secondary schools and further education colleges, Pupil Referral Units in London, India and the USA. MA Applied Theatre
Graduated 2013, freelancing for a number of companies doing community engagement and developing self-awareness and acceptance, including the Old Vic and with communities of refugees and recent arrivals, schools, youth offender institutions and women refugees.
The Drama and the Criminal Justice System pathway allowed space for creative choices, both within research and practice. The placements were most useful, as I observed and facilitated with well established, as well as less known, organisations. Throughout, I received guidance from tutors and this ensured that, as an individual, I remained open to the possibilities and available avenues within the field. Central is recognised globally and the name alone certainly has people within the industry encouraging and supporting the work you do.
Graduated 2014, working with a number of companies including Magic Me, Border Crossings and Tender.
I always knew I wanted to work with people creatively. My background in history and politics gave me a context from which to work from. However, it was the MA Applied Theatre which gave me the tools and confidence to creatively engage with the social and political issues that I feel so passionate about. The practical side of the MA was really important for me, as my background was not necessarily theatrerelated. Central has such a large network of companies and practitioners that it was a great stepping stone into the professional world.
Graduated 2014, currently studying at PhD level.
I chose the MA Applied Theatre course because I was passionate about documentary theatre and the potential new and shifting roles of the spectator when autobiographical material is performed. I hoped for it to lead to a deeper research project as part of a PhD, yet, I hadn’t worked extensively in this particular field, nor been at university for eight years. All lurking self-doubt was quickly banished due to this course’s flexible curriculum which places value on practice, as well as the incredible teaching staff who worked tirelessly to support my journey. The word ‘yes’, followed by ‘how would you like to do that?’ and often closely by ‘we can do that’, was instrumental in developing the confidence, knowledge and skills to fully embrace this ambitious goal. And the support didn’t stop at graduation! My MA thesis supervisor and the course coordinator were both references for the scholarship and PhD that I have just embarked upon. This MA was the best investment of my life.
View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to find out more about them.
Graduate employment and career pathways include:
Notable graduates of this course include:
Carissa Hope Lynch (2009) Deputy Literary Manager at the Royal Court Theatre.
Molly Mullen (2008) Applied Theatre Lecturer at the University of Auckland.
Jamie Wilcox (2011) Youth Theatre Director at The Egyptian Theatre Utah, USA.
Jessica Fisher (2008) Playwright winner of the Nick Darke Award 2010.
Rebecca Boden (2012) is the Director and Drama Facilitator for Unlock Drama, which provides hard-to-reach participants access to drama by offering affordable, innovative and versatile workshops.
Kiel Richardson (2007) Deputy Head at Britannia Village Primary School.
Ali Godfrey (2011) Director at Generation Arts.
(MA Applied Theatre and Drama Education 2012) is the Programme Manager for OYAP Trust, specialising in Youth and Community for the Albany, Deptford. This follows on from her work with OYAP as a Youth Arts Programme Coordinator.