MA Performance Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins responds to and engages with tradition and change in the arena of contemporary performance and experimental theatre practice. The Course continues to respond and contribute to the debates relating to the core territories of performance making, design and time based practices. It acknowledges and promotes the hybrid nature of contemporary performance work, and a critical exploration of conventional fixed boundaries between fine art performance and theatre. Central to the course ethos is a recognition of international models of performance design and practice that have significantly shaped and informed the debates surrounding the challenges to many of the established definitions, functions and roles identified with performance making. Out of these debates have emerged key practitioners, organisations, events, key critical texts and seminal works. It therefore remains a core aspect of the course ethos to provide students with a direct experience and engagement with this material through an inspirational and appropriate learning placement outside of the UK. Focusing on the sector of performance culture where ideas and orthodoxies are in flux, the Course provides a unique environment which encourages performance making bringing together fine artists, directors, writers, researchers and designers, to establish the agendas that will drive the development of performance practice in the early 21st century.
The course suits artists with a background or demonstrable interest in theatre design, visual performance, or related practice such as dance, film, video or time-based media. It is particularly suitable for students interested in time-based or narrative art forms; it is also appropriate for those involved in broader performance-related practices and those wishing to progress to practice-based Ph D or other research projects. Appropriate related backgrounds include architecture, photography, installation, live art, writing, directing or other inter-disciplinary art practices.
The Course has three Units delivered over 45 weeks. Units 1 and 2 run concurrently and last 20 weeks. Unit 3 follows after the completion of units 1 and 2 and runs for 25 weeks.
Professional and Research Development introduces selected professional contextual issues and current debates, together with research methodologies and sources, providing a set of key tools for critical exploration of the orientation of your work and direction. The unit extends your opportunity to develop a wide professional network. Your personal and professional development is explicitly supported through this unit which is comprised of inductions, seminars/ workshops and guest lectures, and time to produce your Independent Research Proposal document.
Practice and the Context of Practice presents a choice of directed project briefs and a lecture/seminar programme. The integrated curriculum of projects and debates enables you to explore and align yourself with one of the 'specialist areas’ that the course identifies as Experimental Theatre Practice, Live Art, and Dramaturgy through Design. These areas are not definitive or mutually exclusive - on the contrary many artists inhabit boundaries or move between practices. The specialist areas provide a practical way of organising your work and identifying core practices whilst you investigate and interrogate unfamiliar forms or traditions. As you select project briefs for completion, working both individually and in teams, a profile of your practice is built up in tandem with your IRP proposal in Unit 1. Together these facilitate guidance on the best strategies for developing your work in Unit 3, particularly in terms of the International placement.
This unit gives you the opportunity to develop and realise your proposal in depth and constitutes the second half of the course. This unit includes a key research and development period of ten weeks placement in another International centre, negotiated to enable you to pursue relevant identified aspects of your IRP in a useful alternative environment. The Course has established and is continually evolving contacts with a number of placement hosts: possibilities are discussed with you well in advance and you are also provided with full separate guidance notes in relation to the placement. The practical outcome of your IRP is presented at a major collaborative event (Scenoworks) allowing completion of the written outcome to incorporate critical reflection on the event.
The course prepares students particularly for independent professional practice and many graduates form their own creative companies and partnerships. Graduates have gone on to work in art, design and performance in a diverse range of roles, producing and presenting work in many creative contexts including festivals, art centres and venues around the world. Students leave with a specialist and individual understanding of performance practice from a chosen perspective. The experience acquired enables graduates to progress to professional practice, working, for example, in theatre, television, film, opera and dance. Some have gone on to direct, write, produce and others to research degree study. The course supports its graduates with a company which helps to provide initial professional experience and publicity.
The course has strong formal and informal links with important design schools and scenographic centres in Europe including:
. Hochschule fur Gestaltung und Kunst (Zurich, Switzerland)
. HKU (Utrecht School of Arts, Utrecht, Holland) where the programme focuses on post modern multimedia performance and video art
. CAT (Centro Andaluciano Teatro, Seville, Spain) where the programme focuses on Andalucian culture, particularly forms of carnival and celebratory theatre. Students normally work as scenographers using student actors and directors to stage theatre pieces
. DAMU (the Dramatic Academy, Prague, Czech Republic) focuses on design for opera
. UIAH (University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland) focuses on virtual scenography for film and television.
Links also exist with Thrissur (India), Prague, Wroclaw, Krakow, Seville and Palermo.