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PERF102 Theatre Making: Essentials of Theatre Production data-versionlabel=2 > ORPERF104 Dramas Greatest Hits: Performing Drama History data-versionlabel=2 >

Unit rationale, description and aim

Directing a theatre production is an integral part of the process of creating a contemporary performance in professional, school and community theatre. In order to produce a successful play, directors must oversee funding; casting; designing; developing a concept as well as working with actors and technical crew. Different models of directorial leadership can lead to vastly different creative outputs. By learning about historical directors who have transformed world theatre as well as examining the work of contemporary theatre directors, students will start to understand the pivotal role that directors play. This unit will also build key skills in how to interpret plays and develop ways of communicating ideas to an audience. The unit trains students to develop a concept for a performance, use rehearsal room techniques to develop a performance, and effectively direct others. The aim of the unit is to sharpen and consolidate key skills in theatre direction required by many careers in theatre and schools.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe the work of past theatre directors and show how their work can influence contemporary theatre (GA2, GA4, GA5, GA9)

LO2 - Identify and critique the role of the director within a theatrical production (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9)

LO3 - Develop a directorial vision for a dramatic production and demonstrate a working knowledge of how this can be implemented in a dramatic performance (GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics may include:

  • Directorial Imperatives such as: casting; designing; developing a concept; working with actors and technical crew; funding; etc.
  • Issues of Ethics in the rehearsal room.
  • Dynamics of interpersonal skills.
  • Different directorial techniques for different types of plays. 
  • The study of a range of significant theatre directors such as: Peter Brook, Peter Hall, Anne Bogart, Edward Gordon Craig, Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Erwin Piscator, Max Reinhardt, Ariane Mnouchkine, Eugenio Barba, Dario Fo, Jerzy Growtowski, August Boal, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Konstantin Stanislavsky, Katie Mitchell, Ivo van Hove, John Bell, David Berthold, Gale Edwards, Barrie Kosky, Neil Armfield, Richard Wherrett, etc.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit embraces active learning strategies which will help students to interact with the concepts associated with learning how to direct a theatre performance. All classes will contribute to students being able to have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the issues and concerns which relate to the role of the director within the contemporary production process. Students will have the opportunity to engage and extend the practical skills and discipline knowledge that they have acquired during their introductory study of drama.

This unit will be taught through face-to-face classes and/or through some mixed mode teaching. Students may attend lectures face-to-face and/or by accessing online recordings in order to ensure broad and ongoing access for all students to the key concepts and principles relevant to directing. Formal lectures will present key theories and model research and analytical skills. Online learning materials will include guided readings and synchronous and/or asynchronous discussions of key primary and secondary texts. Workshops will be face-to-face to enable students to experiment with the practical aspects of this course and engage with other learners. These workshops will encourage students to engage with actor training theories, play texts and the associated performance styles.

The study of drama upholds the values and mission of ACU as demonstrated by incorporating the Principles of Human Flourishing within its curriculum. This unit is concerned with how directors work with people in the drama workplace as well as how the decisions of a director has an impact on how plays and performances might contribute to our understanding and interpretation of the world around us. With its focus on analysing and performing plays, as well as its fundamental interest in critiquing theatre history, Drama both celebrates and interprets the contributions of plays and performance to human culture. This unit promotes a critical evaluation of the structures of society and encourages students to focus on pondering the dignity of the human person and the moral and ethical conundrums brought to life on the stage.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments have been designed to provide you with a variety of tasks by which students are able to demonstrate achievement of the different learning outcomes of the unit. They have been structured to ensure students are developing increasingly advanced skills in the academic study of performance. Each drama unit extends students’ knowledge and skills of the discipline through the study of different genres, texts, theatrical periods and practitioners. From this developing base of knowledge students will hone their academic application to the study of drama through purpose-built assessment tasks.

This is an advanced Drama unit and students will be expected to start showing a high degree of self-motivation to support their learning within it. The assessment in this unit is designed to help students to develop their research skills as well as their analytical and communication skills. These skills will then be used to help enhance the student’s knowledge of directing. 

The Knowledge and Application Task requires students to demonstrate a working understanding of the legacy of past theatre directors. Students will learn about the stylistic approaches and techniques used by theatre directors and this task requires students to articulate and express ideas and problems relating to directors’ work. 

The Director’s Proposal Task requires students to develop a directorial concept for a production and to learn the pivotal skills of articulating that vision to others.

The Performance and Reflection Task requires students to work in a group to demonstrate a working knowledge of performance skills that are associated with directing a play. Students will participate constructively in a collaborative performance and also begin to show independent strategies for the creation of a dramatic performance. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Knowledge and Application Task

The key purpose of this task is to examine how well students have developed their knowledge and understanding of directing for the theatre.


LO1, LO2

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9

Director’s Proposal Task 

The key purpose of the Director’s Proposal Task will be for students to demonstrate appropriate written and practical skills which are necessary for a theatre director to possess. 


LO2, LO3

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9

Performance and Reflection Task

The key purpose of the Performance and Reflection Task is to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of theatre directing.


LO2, LO3

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9

Representative texts and references

Bennett, Susan and Sonia Massai. Ivo van Hove: From Shakespeare to David Bowie. Methuen Drama, 2018.

Dean, David, et al. History, Memory, Performance. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 

Innes, Christopher, and Shevtsova, Maria. The Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Directing. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Kapadia, Parmita. Native Shakespeares: Indigenous Appropriations on a Global Stage. Routledge, 2016.

Knopf, Robert. The Director as Collaborator. Taylor and Francis, 2015. 

Leach, Robert. Theatre Studies the Basics. Second ed., Routledge, 2013.

O'Brien, Nick, and Sutton, Annie. Theatre in Practice a Student's Handbook. Routledge, 2012.

Radosavljević, Duška. Theatre-Making Interplay Between Text and Performance in the 21st Century. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Reilly, Kara. Contemporary Approaches to Adaptation in Theatre. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2018. 

Willinger, David, ed. Ivo van Hove on Stage. Routledge, 2018.

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