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MA in Performance Making

  • Length
    1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
  • Department
    Theatre and Performance

Course overview

This unique international laboratory programme brings diverse individuals into collaborative research, acknowledging the challenges of creating original, performer-driven theatre in today's complex, globalised culture.

In over 3 decades there has been a creative surge in hybrid live performance worldwide. This has been the work of solo artists, ensembles, auteurs and performer-directors across creative fields, who have redefined boundaries and stretched the artistic and social imagination into new spaces, both literally and figuratively.

Within the vibrant environment of Goldsmiths, and with all the stimulus that London offers culturally, practising or emerging practitioners develop compositional, critical, technical and management skills and strategies for forging independent and self-motivated careers. Our graduates work as practitioners, teachers and cultural leaders worldwide.

On the programme you will conceive, research, construct and deliver your ideas and articulate what motivates these. Teaching is rigorous and interdisciplinary. You study with distinguished international artists as well as scholars within a praxis ethos where theory informs creativity and vice versa. The emphasis throughout is on encouraging collaboration across disciplines and cultures, and on contextualising practice within its social, political and architectural environment.

Physical training, scenographic/environmental exploration and hands-on introduction to technologies (lighting, video and sound) support composition and artistic experimentation. You identify your own practice within the historical and contemporary field, and write critically and creatively. You archive your practice digitally, and on graduation will have developed a portfolio of projects. You are guided on professional development by the Live Art Development Agency (LADA) and the Institute for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE) at Goldsmiths.

The programme enjoys a wide international professional network of organisations, commissions, venues and festivals of benefit to students. You study both at Goldsmiths and ArtsAdmin. Click here for a full list of artists associated with the programme as permanent and guest tutors.

"The MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths attracts artists from all over the world seeking to develop their skills, creativity, pragmatics and independence. Taught by distinguished professionals, it encourages original, collaborative research into new forms, new imperatives and new contexts for live performance. As such it makes an invaluable contribution to the culture of performance."

Lois Keidan, Director: Live Art Development Agency, London

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact the Department of Theatre and Performance Office

Modules & structure

This is a praxis programme on which you gain 180 CATS (credits).

Core modules

Module title Credits
  Practical Study 30 credits
  Performance Making (A and B) 60 credits
  MA in Performance Making Dissertation 60 credits
  Contextual Theory 30 credits

Download the programme specification for this degree to find out more about what you'll learn and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Department

The Department of Theatre and Performance offers a vibrant interdisciplinary learning environment, supported by distinguished staff and outstanding facilities

Theatre and Performance

Study in a department that fuses theory and practice, where you can study diverse subjects, and benefit from our industry links.

Theory and practice

We balance academic study with creative and technical practice, so you’ll explore hands-on theatre making while developing your knowledge of theatre history and culture.

Diverse subjects

We cover diverse subjects from classical texts and new writing to contemporary writing and performance, and from physical and applied theatres to multimedia/live art.

Distinguished staff

Teaching staff include distinguished researchers and professional theatre-makers.

Industry links

We have international networks in the industry, with regular visits from professionals, and links with associate organisations in London including:

Facilities

Our excellent facilities include a 160-seat theatre, four performance studios, new scenic workshops, sound studio, and open-access media lab. All supported by an outstanding team of technicians and scenic designers.

Find out more about the Department of Theatre and Performance.

Student work

Staff

Programme convenor

Additional contributors

In addition to the academic staff within the Department of Theatre and Performance, the programme has a number of additional contributors.

Artists contributing to the programme from the UK include:

and internationally, for example:

Skills & careers

Skills

You will become conversant, confident and skilled in a range of methodological practices as well as compositional strategies for independent theatrical, dance theatre and live art creation.

Your critical and analytical skills in interpreting artistic practice will be tested in a range of verbal, written and oral ways. Your study of your own body as a creative instrument will be complemented by learning the principles of scenography and film narrative.

You will research intellectually and produce theoretically informed writing. You will learn to contextualise your own practice and interests in the contemporary field of performance both in the UK and internationally, and to articulate such practice.

Overall you will learn how to research, construct and deliver your ideas performatively and how to advocate your own projects to producers, venues, funders and other agencies.

Careers

Graduates work in a wide variety of professional contexts globally as commissioned performance makers, directors, project leaders, programmers, teachers and academic researchers.

The programme has launched international production companies and collaborations whilst the many organisations employing them include:

And a range of international commissions and festivals including Edinburgh Festival and Brighton Fringe.

What some of our alumni are doing now

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths

Research

The Performance Research Forum (PRF)

The Performance Research Forum is a meeting ground between contemporary practitioners, researchers, students and staff in Goldsmiths as well as the general public via a programme of cutting edge talks, events and performances. A PRF event might be the sharing of a work-in-progress, a platform for decoding an unfamiliar form, or the opportunity for an artist to show and discuss their work with the audience.

The PRF offers two programmes per year. These reflect the breadth of our department’s curriculum at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels: embracing as we do Live Art, multi media and dance theatre alongside the theatre as a literary form. Crucially, it emphasises our attention on focusing our work beyond western cultural traditions to reflect the cultural diversity of our students and the city in which they are studying.

Performance Research Events, teaching and learning:

The PRF is used by Goldsmiths staff and students in various ways:

  • as totally extra-curricular
  • as part of specific under or post-graduate research
  • as material from which to write assignments

Highlight performers from the PRF series have included:

  • Karuna Karan (trainer of Peter Brook’s actors for the Mahabaratha
  • Franko B (body artist)
  • Ron Athey (body artist)
  • Kira O’Reilly (body artist)
  • Sally Jacobs (scenographer)
  • Steve Paxton and Yvonne Rainer (dance)
  • Raimund Hoghe (Pina Bausch’s long-term collaborator)
  • Alida Neslo and La Ribot (Surinamese theatre artists)
  • Ko Murobushi (Butoh artist)
  • Graeme Miller
  • Kazuko Hohki
  • Jonathan Stone
  • Chitra Sundaram
  • Marie Gabrielle Rotie
  • Geraldine Pilgrim
  • Cindy Oswin
  • Tim Etchells (Forced Entertainment)
  • Mischa Twitchin (Shunt)
  • Liz Aggiss
  • and the eccentric and brilliant grande dame of performance theatre Rose English.

Student profiles

Hannah

"When researching postgraduate options London - with its vibrant creative scene - and Goldsmiths - with its excellent reputation - seemed like natural choices."

"I started the MA in Performance Making as a practicing visual artist. I studied Fine Art for my undergraduate degree and afterwards spent several years developing my practice and showing my work in galleries throughout Ireland including the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Douglas Hyde Gallery. I had always been interested in performance but felt limited by my lack of physical training and experience.

The MA in Performance Making offered many valuable learning experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. Highlights included a three day workshop with Steve Paxton, as well as the chance to see a preview of Franko B’s Because of Love performance during its development.

Without doubt the most beneficial element of the the MA in Performance Making is the diversity of the cohort. Meeting, sharing and collaborating with performers from across the world and from a variety of training backgrounds was invaluable in terms of its impact on my practice. I was privileged to work alongside dancers, actors, cultural theorists and artists from places as diverse as Chile, Palestine, Germany, Iran and Brazil.

Since graduating I have gone on to co-found the performance collective The Honest Crowd, with five of my MA collaborators. In this capacity we have presented our final show piece Glasshouse in the Battersea Arts Centre and are continuing to work closely with The Basement in Brighton through a series of residencies to develop Glasshouse further and premiere it at the Brighton Festival in May 2013. As with most practitioners my practice is supported by my part-time job and even in this respect my ties with Goldsmiths remain as I now work in the Careers Service on campus."

Raz

"I get to reflect on and theorise my professional output as a maker."

"When I first inquired about great places in London for performers and theatre makers to do an MA in, I looked for a programme that will not make you sit in a class all day and would still challenge you with theory, ideas and research tools. The MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths kept coming up. I found here exactly what I was after. I am privileged to spend this year with not only a highly professional innovative and insightful faculty, but with a remarkably varied group of co-students, from almost every possible background. The work of an architect classmate makes me question elements in my own work I was never aware of. I get to reflect on and theorise my professional output as a maker. This inevitably leads to new unexpected lines of new work with which I can immediately experiment on the course and get feedback for. It's truly great."

Maya

“I was empowered by the whole experience of studying and performing in London which allowed me to make a positive shift in how I viewed myself as an artist.”

Despite worries that she wouldn’t be able to get out of war-torn Beirut, Maya Zbib came to Goldsmiths in 2006, to study a Masters in Performance Making in the Department of Theatre & Performance.

Anna Furse, head of the department, praised Maya’s determination to succeed and create: “Maya proved an exceptional student both intellectually and creatively. She made memorable solos, astonishingly intimate and immediate.”

The degree helped shape Maya to become the progressive, political theatre-maker she now is in her native Lebanon. After returning to Beirut, she was one of six theatre makers to establish the Zoukak Theatre Company and Cultural Association. Their dynamic brand of political theatre was responding to a country in crisis, and their commitment to their shared vision, their ethics of collaboration and their quite out-of-date determination to work as a collective is an inspiration.

Anna described the Company as a force to be reckoned with: “Conversant with contemporary post-dramatic narrative and completely of their culture, their modus operandi, obsessions and drives not only promote the idea of the value of live practice in an increasingly mediatised age, but demonstrate that it is the totality of one’s approach to living that drives committed artistic creation, even in the face of political instability and economic threat.

“Zoukak, despite critical acclaim and their growing reputation, have no revenue funding and little opportunity for substantial sponsorship. Undaunted, they remain determined to survive, to keep their small studio base in Beirut open, and to continue their agenda of performance making and their social and therapeutic work,” she added.

In 2010 Maya was selected as Cultural Leader International by the British Council and was a fellowship recipient of ISPA New York. In 2011 she was selected by the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative to work with the American director Peter Sellars in the United States and to the Congo. Sellars calls Maya “an extraordinary and prodigious individual”.

See more profiles for this programme

Entry requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in a relevant/related subject. 

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in the written test and no individual test lower than 6.0)

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

We accept applications from October until 30 January for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline.

Selection process

Admission to the programme is by interviews which are held in late February/March.

Find out more about applying.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

AHRC

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