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MA Experimental Theatre Practice

Place the artist's body at the center of a cutting edge artistic/creative discourse. Draw on diverse and international perspectives. Explore collective working methods and non-hierarchical theatre structures.

Performer on stage

Explore contemporary performance practice

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Entry requirements

2:1 or above at undergraduate, or equivalent professional experience.

International Students will require IELTS with a minimum of 6.5 in each category.

UCAS code Apply to Marjon

UCAS institution code P63

Duration One year full-time or two years part-time

Course Summary

MA Experimental Theatre Practice is for practitioners who want to advance their skills as artistic collaborators who are passionate about research, making, performing, directing, writing and/or producing their own work within a collective network and diversely creative community.

You will work within an ethos of skills exchange, horizontal hierarchies, process and practice based learning. You will be invited to place your ideas and methods in dialogue with key practices and current thinking within the wider socio-political, cultural landscape, finding new ways to work with different forms, materials, and media.

The course has an international outlook and is committed to forging connections between European and non-western theatre perspecitives. It encourages site specific and site located work, theatre practices which combine media, connect spaces, immerse audiences and want to constantly re-consider what theatre might look like in the 21st Century.

Practical work will be underpinned by contextual study, deepening and broadening an understanding of the field though seminar, presentation and debating forums. Students position their own perspectives within the many converging and contesting perspectives that make our contemporary landscape so vibrant and dynamic. Students are immersed in embodied practice via taught workshops while intellectually considering the semiotic and/or phenomenological encounters involved in a creative process.

MA Experimental Theatre Practice offers a solid structure of learning which allows for flexibility and freedom within. It invites students from all live art disciplines (Acting, Theatre Studies, Musical Theatre, Drama, Dance, Performance Studies) as well as students who may wish to place their own (non-live) practice-proposal within the live medium in order to use the live experience as a mode of analysis.

The course encourages a vibrant cross-pollination of ideas, technique, skill, speciality and approaches to making. Students will be encourage to create work outside the black box theatre.

Plymouth, with its rich history and vibrant culture stands between the ocean and the moors, and thus offers endless possibilities for site specific projects and the chance to engage a range of communities and audiences. 

Why this course at Marjon?

Workshop somatic development, performer presence, conceptual framing, and theatre building with professional practitioners

Develop process strategies and daily practice

Explore and debate current trends and tropes in visual culture and body/identity politics

Work with your peers in models of collective practice

Rehearse and perform at Marjon Arts Centre

Open to students from all live art and performance disciplines

Modules for this course

Course Snapshot

Begin with a series of immersive workshops taught by visiting professional practitioners, providing a range of input; somatic practice, performance technologies, site specificity and performance building (not limited to or exclusively). This practical work is underpinned by a module which focuses on academic and intellectual research and debate. In the second phase the course shifts to looking at concepts and conceptual development and focusing on your own relationship to practice where you will apply strategies of daily studio based practice working along side your peers. You'll share practice and work collectively to give and receive feedback. The course culminates in a project proposal and you will work independently with supervision to realise your project ambitions.
Dr Sharon Smith - Course Leader

1st Year

Identify, develop and position your practice through taught workshops by professionals. Explore body in relation to context/site/place and the performer-spectator relationship.
A forum for presentation and debate. How do we position ourselves, our ideas and our practice within the diverse perspectives that form our socio-politic, the cultural landscape? How does theatre, in its broadest sense, reflect, intervene. challenge and influence this landscape?
Developing process
You will undertake regular studio-based practice. Working alongside fellow students in a studio setting in a process of regular exchange through a ‘work-show-tell’ structure. You will be invited to respond to a range of ‘proposals’ which agitate, challenge, develop and strengthen your creative strategies encouraging experimentation and testing your ideas in practice.
Developing concepts
A thorough conceptual phase as an integral part of project planning. You will consider your conceptual aims, visions, approaches as well as your strategies and approaches to research and development, time management, feasibility, rehearsal scheduling and structuring.
Professional project
Consolidating all the work you have done in your study, you now can apply original and innovative approaches to theatre making and use effective, practice-based and theoretical research methods to realize your own independent project.

This course is perfect if you’re curious about

Do you envisage theatre in ways that don't exist yet?

Do you find yourself unrepresented on 'stages' in the centre of cultural production?

Do you wonder why theatre and applied theatre are two different genres? Shouldn't all theatre be 'relevant'?

Are you stimulated and inspired by different points of view from your own?

Would you like to be developing your own practice in dialogue with other practices, diverse from your own?

Do you want to explore contemporary performance practices across Europe?

What might you become?

Graduates of MA Experimental Theatre Practice will be prepared to build and manage their careers and continued growth in a varied and broad employment landscape. They will be confident and articulate in both written and oral contexts. They will be aware of and connected to the wider professional and academic world in which their own artistic pursuits sit.

Graduates will be ready to carve their own place within the professional field. You'll graduate with a strong out-facing identity, ready to not only join but to evolve and reshape the field.

Our graduates, therefore, are likely to engage in any of the following:

  • Freelance/independent artist/producer/innovator in a range of contexts
  • Further study at PhD level within the local region or further afield
  • Entry to postgraduate teaching programmes, either primary or secondary (with a performing arts specialism)
  • Sector-related research, archive, curation, dramaturgy work across the arts
  • A range of policy writing, strategy, fundraising related employment
  • Public speaking within creative industry settings and beyond

How you’ll be taught and assessed?

How will you be taught?

Teaching combines professional workshops, seminars, one-to-one supervision and independent research.

How will you be assessed?

Assessments cover the process, production and presentation of live work, lecture-presentations, written assignments and vivas.

Dr Sharon Smith

Dr Sharon Smith

Course leader

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Sharon's interests are ‘performance presence’ and the practice of improvisation. She is a core member of the internationally renowned performance collective Gob Squad collective (Performance DE/UK).

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £6,500 per annum

Fees for International students: £12,500 per annum

This fee covers your tuition and access to course-specific equipment and facilities, as well associated services including access to the library, study skills support, IT support, student support and wellbeing services and membership of the Student Union. There may be additional costs by course.

Funding available for this course

Our Student Funding Advisors offer confidential and impartial advice about your funding options.

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Kate Massey-Chase


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Kate is an experienced Performing Arts teacher. She is passionate about social justice and the use of drama and theatre for social and political purposes, and as a platform for individual or social change. She is currently researching the use of theatre in mental health contexts.

Dr Natalie Raven


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Dr Natalie Raven is a scholar and performance artist, with over 12 years professional experience in industry presenting and exhibiting her work across the UK, Europe, and North America.

Natalie has research interests in: performer training; feminist performance (1960 - present); body-based practice; queer performance; semiotic and phenomenological approaches to performance making; representations of self and identity in performance. Expressions of interest for postgraduate supervision in these areas are welcomed.

More information

Visiting lecturers will include members of the Gob Squad collective (Performance DE/UK), Ayla Suveren (Production UK), Dagmar Schwitzgebel  (Church of Performance UK), Paul Kindersley (Drag Artist and Story Teller), Dr Melanie Jame Wolf (Video Artist, DE/AU) and Phil Collins (Filmmaker DE).

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