MA Theatre Lab
This is a practical, conservatoire-level programme, and is validated by King’s College London. Please note that the programme is undergoing revalidation by King’s in 2017-18, with the revalidated programme planned to start from September 2018.
RADA’s MA Theatre Lab re-addresses the actor’s craft as an embodied and varied contemporary art form at the centre of the theatre process.
Through an intensive exploration of both established and emerging acting practices, the programme will expand your ability to work collaboratively and independently in various contexts. Working rigorously with expert practitioners you will experiment with a range of practices, from Stanislavski’s later action-focused approach to the strategies of contemporary performance making, empowering you to play a revitalising role in today’s theatre-making landscape.
Each term your practical exploration will be extended through a supported written assignment, reflecting on your experience using existing and emerging theories of performance.
In your final term, you will work as an ensemble (in one group or more where appropriate) alongside a professional director to create a piece of work for public performance. The rehearsal process, performance and accompanying reflective document will together constitute your MA dissertation project.
Throughout the year there will be further opportunities to share your work and receive extensive feedback from staff and visiting professionals.
The programme is built around four compulsory strands:
1. ACTING AND PERFORMANCE: PRACTICE AND METHODOLOGY
Each term’s work centres around rigorous studio based approaches to performance, emerging out of the actor’s creative process. In the first term’s Lab you will explore text through approaches to acting from Stanislavski’s innovatory later period of work. In Terms 2 and 3 you will extend your work to experimenting with other acting practices. You will explore the creative process through approaches ranging from Expressionism and Epic Theatre to Jacques Copeau, Vsevolod Meyerhold and Jerzy Grotowski.
In Term 3 you will further extend your experience, exploring a unique performance making practice through a specialist practitioner-led intensive studio project. Throughout the year, Development of Performance classes will enhance your creative work through rigorous training in the practices introduced, underpinning the process each term, refining and improving your individual skills within an ensemble environment.
2. CONTEXTUAL STUDIES/THEATRE HISTORY
Contextual studies places emphasis on the links between historical context and text, examining developments in theatre internationally through radical writing and performance aesthetics. Through practical engagement with plays ranging from Ancient Greek drama up to contemporary performance of the 20th century, you will discover how theatre grew out of social and political contexts and how each play expresses its time and place. You will examine how theatrical presentation has developed through a contextual analysis.
3. VOICE AND MOVEMENT
All year you will develop an integrated training approach to body and voice, developing your personal discipline through intensive classes throughout the first three terms of the programme. Vocal Performance will hone your skills in text work, as well as introducing you to some alternative approaches of vocal work. In Terms 2 and 3, you will also explore song, starting with individual singing and culminating in polyphony. Physical work will grow out of an ensemble approach to embrace both ‘via negativa’ and aesthetic based exploration. Vocal and Physical Performance work will be integrated within other classes.
4. THE PUBLIC PERFORMANCE LAB
In the first five weeks of Term 4 you will engage in the intensive, full-time process of devising a production for public performance. This is the opportunity to test your ability as a collaborative, creative artist and theatre-maker within an ensemble environment working with a professional theatre maker. The process also offers the opportunity to apply the skills you have developed, crystallising and putting into practice the ethos of your training.
The build-up to this performance process will begin at the end of term 2, when you will be introduced to the director of the Performance Lab and decide on the starting points for the production. During term 3, six Devising Lab seminars are timetabled, during which you will work on the emerging piece.
TEACHING AND LEARNING
This is a practical programme, so you will spend around 25–30 hours per week in practical classes, plus your own preparation and practice. You will have timetabled meetings at least twice a term with the programme leader and receive regular feedback from other members of the faculty. The programme includes support sessions in academic writing, and written English. You will receive an induction to the RADA Library.
The first three terms (September to July) are 12 weeks each, with compulsory attendance from Wednesday evening to Saturday evening for an intensive 25-30 hours. You may be asked to attend on Mondays and Tuesdays on occasions. Additional specialist all-day masterclasses take place on at least two Sundays per term. The fourth term (end of July to September), is a Monday-to-Saturday six-week full-time block of supervised devising work, leading to a public production at RADA, followed by a further two weeks of independent work for an individual critical analysis written assignment.
Please be aware that although the regular teaching of this programme takes place from Wednesday to Saturday each week, the workload will require your time throughout the week.
All the scheduled classes engage you in practical work. It is therefore necessary for you to set aside time on the days when you are not in class (Mondays, Tuesdays, daytime Wednesdays and most Sundays) for preparation, such as line-learning, reading of recommended supporting material, rehearsal with your fellow students and the upkeep of your portfolio.
Time management will require your attention, as the programme is cumulative and the workload will gradually intensify. Also, additional seminars will be offered to you outside of class hours, and there are optional extracurricular activities, including participation in a student-led production for possible festival visits, commitment to which will add to the workload
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