Credit points


Campus offering

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10 cp from 1 00-level unit in Drama


PERF315 Plays and Playhouses

Unit rationale, description and aim

It is essential for dramatic artists, whether teachers, practitioners or any Arts workers, to be able to understand the historical, social, and cultural pressures which impact on the development of theatre around the world both in the past as well as today and into the future. Performance spaces have influenced the practical develop of drama throughout history. Through an investigation of theatre architecture and performance styles across a range of historical epochs, Students will explore the changing nature of structural aspects of theatres and analyse how the physical space affects the nature of performance historically and culturally. The aim of this unit is to develop knowledge and skills necessary to recognise and reflect on historical, social, and cultural issues that are relevant to drama and to be able to apply local and international perspectives to your own theatre practice.

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 - demonstrate skills and knowledge of theatre architecture and the types of plays that take place within particular theatre buildings (GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10);

LO2 - recognise and identify concepts relating to historical or contemporary examples of theatre buildings (GA9, GA10);

LO3 - articulate and express ideas and problems relating to the way that social and cultural factors have transformed the theatre building and acting spaces (GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10).

Graduate attributes

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

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

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

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics may include:

  • The social and cultural context of theatre architecture 
  • The impact of theatre architecture on performance 
  • The contemporary theatre building and acting space
  • Alternative theatre structures and spaces 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit will be taught through face-to-face classes and/or through some mixed mode teaching. You 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 theatre history. Formal lectures will present key theories and model research and analytical skills appropriate for the study of drama. 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 This unit embraces active learning strategies and is designed to provide students with an understanding of various acting theories and practices associated with body and voice. You will have the opportunity to engage and extend the practical skills and discipline knowledge that you have acquired during your introductory study of drama.

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 a variety of tasks to develop and measure the different learning outcomes of the unit. They have been structured to ensure that you are developing advanced knowledge and skills in the academic study of performance. Each drama unit extends your knowledge and skills in the discipline through the study of different genres, texts, theatrical periods and practitioners. 

This is a 200-level drama unit and you are expected to begin to demonstrate the capacity for expressing ideas and constructively collaborating within a performance context.

The assessment detailed below is designed to suit either the multi-mode or face-to-face teaching of this unit.

The Historical Task will help you to recognise and reflect on social and cultural issues which might impact on the development of theatre within a community. You will have the opportunity to show a complex understanding of theatre history.

The Research Task will give you the opportunity to develop, research and evaluate ideas, concepts and processes through creative, critical and reflective thinking and practice.

The Performance Task will give you the opportunity to work independently and collaboratively in Drama in response to project demands in order to show a complex understanding of theatre theory and history and how these might be used in the creation of a production. It will provide a chance for the students to display a sophisticated dramaturgical and performance skills and an advanced knowledge of the transformation of text to the stage.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Historical Task

The key purpose of the Historical Task will be for students to develop their skills in researching and evaluating a particular historical theatre building or buildings.



LO1, LO2

GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Research Task

The key purpose of the Research Task will be for students to undertake research to investigate and evaluate the influence of historical theatre buildings on performance texts. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Performance & Report Task 

The key purpose of the Performance Task will be for students to develop their knowledge of theatre history conventions and use these to create their own performance. They will apply relevant skills and knowledge to show how historical artefacts can aid our understanding of performance custom. This Report task will allow students to show how they produced content for the stage from a different social, cultural or historical period and manipulated it to speak to a contemporary audience.


LO2, LO3

GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Brockett, Oscar G., and Robert J. Ball. The Essential Theatre. Enhanced tenth ed., Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2014.

Cochrane, Claire, and Robinson, Jo. Theatre History and Historiography: Ethics, Evidence and Truth. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2016.

Csapo, Eric, and Zachary Biles. Greek Theatre in the Fourth Century B.C. 2014.

Fair, Alistair. Modern Playhouses: An Architectural History of Britain's New Theatres, 1945 - 1985. Oxford University Press, 2018.

Fotheringham, Richard., et al. Catching Australian Theatre in the 2000s. Rodopi , 2013.

Grange, William., and Mallory. Prucha. A Primer in Theatre History from the Greeks to the Spanish Golden Age. University Press of America, 2013.

Kennedy, Dennis. The Oxford Companion to Theatre and Performance. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Queensland Performing Arts Museum. Treading the Boards: A Survey of Theatre Buildings in Brisbane 1847-1998. Queensland Performing Arts Trust, 1999.

Thorne, Ross. Theatres in Australia: An Historical Perspective of Significant Buildings. Sydney: Department of Architecture, University of Sydney, 1977.

Wiles, David, and Dymkowski, Christine. The Cambridge Companion to Theatre History. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

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