Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


10 cp from 100-level units in Drama

Unit rationale, description and aim

Australian theatre practitioners, teachers, and Arts workers should have knowledge and understanding of the history and performance practices which have shaped the country's dramatic development. Australian drama has a rich and diverse performance history which showcases the country's social, cultural, and historical preoccupations on stage. This unit will examine a diverse range of Australian plays to explore their performance history and their staging potential. Students will learn how to understand and interpret the particular social and cultural concerns that can be found in Australian plays. The unit will include close analysis of the published drama of Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander peoples. The main aim of this unit is to help students to recognise and reflect on the staging history of Australian plays from multiple perspectives.

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 - Investigate and describe the development of different types of Australian drama (GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9)

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written form to analyse and evaluate the different social and cultural contexts of Australian plays (GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9)

LO3 - Identify and apply stylistic approaches and techniques of selected Australian playwrights and create performances based on their texts (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9).

Graduate attributes

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

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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


Topics may include:

  • The historical and contemporary development of Australian drama
  • Performance conventions of Australian drama
  • Cultural issues in Australian plays
  • Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theatres
  • Diversity on Australian stages
  • Actor training theories, play texts and the associated performance styles in Australian drama

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit embraces active learning strategies which will help you to interact with the theatre history and performance culture of Australia. All classes will help students to gain a deeper understanding of the issues and concerns which have had an impact on the development of Australian drama. Students will have the opportunity to engage and extend the practical skills and discipline knowledge that students 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 Australian theatre. Formal lectures will present key theories and model research and analysis skills appropriate for the study of body and voice in the discipline of Australian 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 so that students are able 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 the arts functions within Australian society as well as how plays and performances might contribute to our understanding and interpretation Australian society and culture. With its focus on analysing and performing plays, as well as its fundamental interest in critiquing theatre history, this Australian drama unit both celebrates and interprets the contributions of plays and performance to our multicultural and diverse culture. The discipline promotes a critical evaluation of the structures of Australian 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 including Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander voices, perspectives and writings.

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 students with a variety of tasks by which they are able to demonstrate achievement of the different learning outcomes of the unit. They have been structured to ensure that students are developing increasingly advanced skills in the academic study of performance. This drama unit extends the students’ knowledge and skills of the discipline through the study of different genres, texts, theatrical periods and practitioners in Australian drama. From this developing base of knowledge students 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 your learning within it. The assessment in this unit is designed to help students to develop research skills as well as your analytical and communication skills. Students will have the opportunity to explore self-devised performance techniques. 

The Research Task will build on introductory research skills taught at 100 level. Students will undertake research on Australian drama that may be used in a subsequent self-devised performance event. 

The Performative Task will use engaged learning strategies and requires students to participate in group work activities that demonstrate a working knowledge of performance skills that are appropriate for the creation of a self-devised theatre production. Students will participate constructively in a collaborative performance and also begin to show independent strategies for the creation of a dramatic performance. 

The Summative Task requires students to demonstrate knowledge of the social and political history of Australia and how this relates to the stylistic approaches and techniques used by Australian playwrights. Through this task students should be able to articulate and express ideas and problems relating to Australian drama. Students should also be able to articulate a critical stance on social, cultural, and ethical issues that arise within Australian plays. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Research Task

The key purpose of the Research Task will be for students to demonstrate appropriate academic skills such as research into secondary source material and close readings of Australian plays. The skills honed in this task will help to show the students' knowledge of the development of a specific aspect of Australian Drama.


LO1, LO2

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9

Performative Task

The key purpose of the Performative Task is to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of appropriate performance styles and techniques for the chosen Australian play. This knowledge will be translated into a performance piece which uses appropriate dramatic languages to explore the text.



GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9

Summative Task

The key purpose of the Summative Task is to examine how well students have developed their knowledge and understanding of social and cultural contexts of Australian theatre.


LO1, LO2

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9

Representative texts and references

Chowdhury, Khairul. Empowering and Disempowering Indigenes: Staging Australian Aboriginal Experience. Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010.

Cox, Emma. Staging Asylum: Contemporary Australian Plays About Refugees. Currency Press, 2013.

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

French, Sarah. Staging Queer Feminisms. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2017.

Gattenhof, Sandra. Measuring Impact : Models for Evaluation in the Australian Arts and Culture Landscape. 2017.

Halse, Carly, et al. Staging Social Justice: Collaborating to Create Activist Theatre. SIU Press, 2013.

Hamilton, Margaret. Transfigured Stages: Major Practitioners and Theatre Aesthetics in Australia. Rodopi, 2011.

Hassall, Linda. “What Is Australian Gothic Theatre? Three Playwrights Enter the Conversation.” NJ, vol. 38, no. 1, 2014, pp. 25–37.

Kiernander, Adrian. John Bell, Shakespeare and the Quest for a New Australian Theatre. 2015.

Knowles, Ric. How Theatre Means. Macmillan International Higher Education, 2014.

Milne, Geoffrey. “Australian Theatre in the 1980s: Trends and Movements.” Australasian Drama Studies, no. 64, 2014, pp. 9–22.

Pike, Shane. “(Re)Presenting Masculinity: A Theatre Director's Critical Observations of, and Theatrical Experimentation with, (Re)Presentations of Masculinity in Selected Works of Contemporary Australian Theatre.” (Re)Presenting Masculinity: A Theatre Director's Critical Observations of, and Theatrical Experimentation with, (Re)Presentations of Masculinity in Selected Works of Contemporary Australian Theatre, 2014.

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