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

It is vital for theatre educators and practitioners to have knowledge of a range of different theatre periods and styles as each movement has added new techniques and sensibilities to the practice of performance. This unit will consider modern theatre which has often been a vehicle for political expression and debate. From the avant-garde experiments of the modernists to the contemporary staging of human rights, performers have used theatre as a space to critique social questions. It is critical for theatre practitioners and educators to understand how politics can be expressed through theatrical rhetoric in the analysis and creation of theatre. This unit will focus on issues of human diversity, inclusivity, and the political landscape. The aim of this unit then, is to engage students in the study of texts that address a variety of polemical topics enabling them to recognise the revolutionary spirit manifest in theatre and performance.

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 compare modernist, political theatre movements and texts (GA6, GA9, GA10);

LO2 - Critically analyse the work of particular theoreticians and playwrights (GA6, GA9, GA10);

LO3 - Communicate clearly in written form to explain how particular social conditions have influenced modern theatrical forms (GA2, GA3, GA6, GA10);

LO4 - Apply theory and techniques to show how the rhetoric of political theatre can be represented on stage (GA2, GA3, GA6, GA10).

Graduate attributes

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

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

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

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:

  • A variety of modern political theatre types such as: Realism, The Problem Play, Symbolism, Epic Theatre, Dadaism, Theatre of Cruelty, Absurdism, Futurism, Black Theatre, LGBTQI Theatre, Forum Theatre, and Verbatim Theatre  
  • The philosophy of theatrical modernity
  • The philosophies associated with modern, political theatre movements

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit embraces active learning strategies and is designed to provide students with an understanding of various acting theories and practices associated with modern, political theatre. Students will have the opportunity to engage and extend the practical skills and discipline knowledge that they have acquired during your 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. 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 so that students are able to experiment with the practical aspects of this course and engage with other learners. 

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 society as well as how plays and performances might contribute to our understanding and interpretation of the world around us. With its focus on issues of human diversity, inclusivity, and the political landscape this unit both celebrates and interprets the contributions of plays and performance to human culture. The discipline 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 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. Each drama unit extends the 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 hone their academic application to the study of drama through purpose-built assessment tasks.

The Research Task will build on information literacy and academic communication skills developed in 100 level units. The rationale for this task is to provide students with an opportunity to recognise and identify important ideas and concepts that relate to modern drama and political theatre. This task requires students to continue to develop a critical approach to drama that is informed by research. 

The Theoretical Task requires students to demonstrate your knowledge of the nexus between theatre and society and identify how this relates to the theoretical approaches and techniques used by playwrights. This task will provide students  with the opportunity to critique political theatre and its rhetoric. 

The Performance Task will result from the engaged learning strategies employed in practical workshops. This task requires students to demonstrate their knowledge of performance skills  appropriate for the analysis and production of a modern, political play. Students will have the opportunity to participate constructively in a collaborative performance to demonstrate an understanding of how rhetoric is used to create theatre and 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

Research Task

The purpose of this task is to give students the opportunity to conduct careful, critical research of the significance of political playwright(s), theatre movement(s), or specific play(s).


LO1, LO2

GA6, GA9, GA10

Theoretical Task

The purpose of this task is to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of key theoretical terms and their application to specific texts, practitioners or theatre movements. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA3, GA6, GA9, GA10

Performance Task

The purpose of this task is to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of how the rhetoric of political theatre can be represented on stage


LO2, LO4

GA2, GA3, GA6, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Angelaki, Vicky, et al. Social and Political Theatre in 21st Century Britain: Staging Crisis. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.

Barnes, H. Applied Drama and Theatre as an Interdisciplinary Field in the Context of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Rodopi, 2014.

Brown, Paul (Ed). Verbatim. Strawberry Hills, Currency Press, 2010. Print.

Curtin, Adrian. Avant-garde Theatre Sound: Staging Sonic Modernity. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Lally, Elaine, et al. (Eds). The Art of Engagement. UWA Publishing, 2010. 

Luckhurst, Mary, and Morin, Emilie (Eds). Theatre and Human Rights after 1945: Things Unspeakable. Springer, 2016.

Gilbert, Helen (Ed). Postcolonial Plays: An Anthology. Routledge, 2013.

Okagbue, Osita. Resistance and Politics in Contemporary East African Theatre. Adonis & Abbey Publishers Ltd, 2013.

Prendergast, Monica and Saxton, Juliana. Applied Drama: A Facilitator's Handbook for Working In Community. Intellect Ltd, 2013. 

Spencer, Jenny S. Political and Protest Theatre after 9/11 Patriotic Dissent. Routledge, 2012.

Thompson, J. Performance Affects: Applied Theatre and End of Effect. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs