Second Major in Theatre and Drama

With Singapore’s expanded government and private culture and arts sectors and emergence as a regional hub for contemporary theatre and applied performance, there is both space and a need for qualified professionals with a comprehensive understanding of theatre and performance studies and of dramatic literature. The Second Major in Theatre and Drama addresses this need and contributes to a richer landscape for theatre, culture and the arts in Singapore.

The Second Major in Theatre and Drama offers students the exposure to methodologies and practices of theatre and performance and the diversities of dramatic literature. There will be a core module that includes a broad study of theatre history, theory and practical approaches to theatre making, followed by a wide range of modules that include diverse options in various traditions of dramatic literature, theatre theory, practice and applied performance. The Major will develop the capacities for the critical examination of diverse dramatic literatures and the practical development of distinct theatre and performance cultures. 

The Second Major will enable students to:

  • Develop insights into the dynamics of theatre and performance in relation to literary studies, culture and the arts.
  • Develop a critical and comparative capacity to examine dramatic texts in various national and other traditions.
  • Engage with theatre analysis and theatre making within the Singapore context and wider afield.
  • Understand changes in theatre and performance practice by making connections with local and international shifts in thinking and doing.
  • Develop oral, writing and making skills for enlarging the scope of theatre and performance in Singapore and regionally.
  • Equip students for employment opportunities in theatre and the expanding arts, creativity and cultural sectors in Singapore.

All NTU students with CGPA score of 3.5 and above are eligible for admission to the Second Major in Theatre and Drama at the end of their 1st Year of Study.

Academic Structure

Students need to complete 33 AUs from the selection below and approximately 60%, or 6 courses, of the required courses must be taken in the School of Humanities in order to graduate with a 2nd Major in Theatre and Drama.

Core Subject (3 AUs)

  • ADP 16A: Introduction to Theatre and Performance

 *Students with prior experiences and/or qualifications in Theatre/Drama/Applied Theatre Studies may be exempted from the Core Subject on a case-by-case basis. However, they will be required to complete 11 Prescribed Electives (33AUs). 

Prescribed Electives (30 AUs)

Choose up to ten (10) courses from:

  • ADP26A Contemporary Theatre: Styles and Conventions
  • ADP26B Theatre for Young People: Methods and Practices 
  • ADP26C Acting: The Actor’s Voice and Body
  • ADP26D Theatre and Technology
  • ADP26E Playwriting and Script Analysis
  • ADP26G Independent Study in Theatre
  • ADP26H Directing and Dramaturgy
  • ADP26J Traditional Theatre: Styles and Conventions
  • ADP26K Contemporary Theatre in Singapore and Southeast Asia
  • ADP26L Devising Theatre: Methods and Practices
  • ADP26M Applied Theatre: Theory, Practice and Pedagogy
  • AAU20B Evolution of Theatre and Drama: Practice and Philosophy
  • AAU20G Performance, Imagination and Play
  • ACU32A Planning and Facilitating Theatre and Drama Education
  • ACU42A: Critical Pedagogies for Theatre and Drama Education
  • HL2002 Renaissance Literature
  • HL2008 Singapore Literature and Culture II
  • HL2026 Reading Drama
  • HI3002 Opera and Literature
  • HL3006 Modern Drama
  • HL3030 Major Author Study: Shakespeare
  • HL3038 Theatre of the Absurd
  • HL3039 Major Author Study: Samuel Beckett
  • HL4012 Advanced Studies in Drama​
  • HZ5204 Creating Writing: Playwriting
  • HC2014 Chinese Theatre and Performance [in Chinese]
  • HC4064 History and Issues: Transcultural Chinese Theatre in Singapore [in Chinese]

ADP16A Introduction to Theatre and Performances

This course will introduce the fundamental principles of theatre and performance making as well as performance analysis. It examines how theatre is developed from a range of sources, and explores ways in which scripted text is transformed, interpreted and manipulated. Working with the body, voice and performance space as critical performance elements, a number of 20th century theatre-making methodologies will be explored and examined. These include the theories and practice of Konstantin Stanislavski and Bertolt Brecht. Where practice approaches are concerned, there will be a particular focus on Realist (Stanislavsky) and Epic (Brecht) dramaturgical and performance strategies. In addition, the course will also introduce two modes of performance analysis, semiotics and phenomenology, and other ways to ‘de-code’ performances.

ADP26A Contemporary Theatre: Styles and Conventions

This course examines the dynamics, principles and practice of contemporary theatre in relation to developments of modern, post-modern and avant-garde theatre in a global context. It brings together cultural vocabularies and practices from diverse parts of the world and explores the styles and conventions that have emerged in contemporary performance making and thinking, with a particular focus on theatre from the mid twentieth to early twenty-first century. The course will examine the work of innovative and pioneering local and international theatre practitioners and theorists such as Antonin Artaud, Peter Brook, Ariane Mnouchkine and Robert Wilson. It engages in research, practice and discussion on the historical, political, theoretical, practical and philosophical relevance of contemporary theatre, and draws from a range of resources that include critical theory, published texts, audio-visual recordings, live performances and practical workshops.


ADP26B Theatre for Young People: Methods and Practices

A survey of theatre for, by and about young people, this course will investigate current philosophies, practices and approaches to involving young people in the process of making theatre, particularly in Singapore. It will focus on modes of devising and presenting children’s theatre, youth theatre, Theatre‐in‐Education and community‐based performance in a seminar-practical workshop format, with a major performance component. You will work through a play-building process to devise material suitable for the aforementioned different groups of people, with themselves taking on the roles of performers and/or facilitators. The course will question the relevance and value of existing practices of theatre-making by and for youth and the community, and the need for constant evaluation. You will also be tasked to research and propose ideas with Research Presentations and attend at least one theatre performance/ workshop in Singapore for young people. Guest speakers may be invited to share their experiences during workshops.


ADP26C Acting: The Actor’s Voice and Body

This course examines basic acting principles and practices such as focus, energy, tension, commitment, and presence in relation to the actor’s voice and body. It explores theories and processes of individual and collaborative preparation for acting on stage, engaging in presentational and representational modes of performance. You will learn key aspects of acting such as gesture, action and objective, rhythm, emotion and motivation to develop an awareness of acting vocabularies that inform choices and capacities for being an actor. The course emphasises individual and shared ownership of the process, drawing from contextually grounded approaches to actor training that involve physical and vocal improvisation, critical discussion, reflective observation, rehearsals and performance.


ADP26D Theatre and Technology

The course will be an investigation of performance across a range of creative media and technologies. It will apply contemporary theories of performance, such as postmodernism and posthumanism, consciousness and the virtual double, telematics and telepresence, and liveness and mediatisation to critique and devise performance in contexts alternative to conventional theatre, with a primary focus on technology. The course seeks to inform of the increasing use of technology in performance and encourages critical thinking about the various philosophical, aesthetic, cultural and critical issues arising from this interface of technology and theatre.


ADP26E Playwriting and Script Analysis

In this course you will work both individually and in small groups as you examine playwriting processes, script analysis and drama conventions to consider the role of the sole and collaborative playwright through writing exercises, improvisational and play-building techniques and research. You will examine some playwrights’ methodologies and analyse a range of scripts that have been published as texts and used in performance. You will also be required to read, watch and/or critique works by local playwrights as well international ones. A range of writing processes will be explored, leading to a variety of end-products – for example, from scene-work to the development of treatment for multi-media performance; from dramaturgical and/or critical approaches to script analysis to the development of short playscripts. You will consider the place of playwriting in the broader context, including theatre in the community, drama education and theatre for special purposes.


ADP26G Independent Study in Theatre

This course is designed to accommodate flexibly advanced topics for the Drama and Performance student. This course would take the form of an academic pursuit (research) of an area in theatre, drama and/or performance and it is meant to introduce methodologies and skills in the writing of research papers in the stipulated fields. The course will be individually tailored to the members of the class. Where appropriate and necessary, independent study methods will be introduced. Examples of focus areas include: aspects of drama in the community and society; a detailed study of an innovative dramatist, company, or theatre production(s) considering both theory and practice; an interdisciplinary research work that considers theatre / performance and other disciplines.


ADP26H Directing and Dramaturgy

This course engages in learning and analysing the skills and capacities of a director and dramaturg in relation to theatre-making. It explores the practices and philosophies that underpin the work of directing and dramaturgy as critical aspects of performance and production. You will examine how directing is informed by particular aims and objectives, ideologies and aesthetics that engage the director, and develop dramaturgical approaches to researching, critiquing and questioning how these frameworks can be concretised and advanced. You will also engage in directing a short play or excerpt of a play, and developing a dramaturgical portfolio in relation to the research and development of another student’s play.


ADP26J Traditional Theatre: Styles and Conventions

The course will examine some major traditional theatre forms that continue to be practiced and taught in Asia such as Kathakali, Noh, Chinese Opera and Wayang Kulit. It will involve discussions focussed on the histories of these forms, their socio-political contexts and continued applications in contemporary culture. The course will entail negotiating a process of working with traditional theatre forms as contemporary theatre practitioners and educators. There will be opportunities for practical learning through workshops, watching audio-visual media and classroom dialogue to explore connected ideas and interrogate their relevance. You will also engage in making short performances that draw on their own application and understanding of these forms.


ADP26K Contemporary Theatre in Singapore and Southeast Asia

The course will examine socio-political and aesthetic issues that stem from making contemporary Southeast Asian Theatre, with particular emphasis on Singapore and a brief exploration of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It will consider questions of identity, history, social and cultural change and the emergent trends that appear to characterise theatre in the region. Using plays from the region, the course will explore the emerging themes, issues and images and consider the fusion of theatre forms in contemporary Southeast Asian theatre that indicate a wide range of global and regional influence. This will include engaging with theatre in relation to Southeast Asia as a region, the influence of traditional theatre on contemporary work and vice-versa, and the importance of socio-political contexts in relation to theatre performance. The course will also briefly consider the contemporary Southeast Asian theatre today as it experiences cross-cultural through-flows, globalisation and regional interchange.


ADP26L Devising Theatre: Methods and Practices

This course engages in contemporary approaches for devising theatre that include improvisation, storytelling, scene-building and interactive staging. It introduces aspects of devising theatre and playbuilding that move from process to product, giving you opportunities to create and perform short devised works and critically reflect on that process and performance. Comprehension is enhanced by critical considerations of how to structure performance, articulate thematic frameworks, and respond aesthetically to critical feedback. You will participate as performers/facilitators/devisers in generating collaborative processes, researching relevant ideas and issues, as well as developing and incorporating resources for staging. The course will also explore the ideas of leading theatre practitioners and companies locally and internationally.


ADP26M Applied Theatre

This course will articulate and examine the different approaches to, and forms of, Applied Theatre such as Community Theatre and Theatre for Development.  It will involve reading about, discussing and understanding the histories of community performances and why they continue to be practised and advance in various parts of the world.  The course will engage in the theory and practice of Applied Theatre within non-formal educational contexts such as community centres, hospitals, youth centres, etc. You will look at the theoretical and pedagogical approaches that inform how Applied Theatre projects are created, planned and evaluated. You will engage in basic principles related to the making of such forms and will also look at the socio-political implications of generating Applied Theatre projects within the Singapore context.

HL2002 Renaissance Literature

The term "renaissance," meaning 'rebirth', was popularised by Jacob Burckhardt in the 19th century, and has since then been inseparable from the idea that a new kind of European individual emerged between the 14th and 17th centuries, along with humanism, capitalism, protestantism, empirical science and European imperialism. Burckhardt was writing about Catholic Italy, however, and the individuals this course will examine lived in England, under absolutist Tudor and Stuart monarchs, during a time when the Protestant reformation was giving rise to new democratic ideologies. These writers witnessed the systematic demolition of English Catholicism, and of the feudal society that it entailed, by Henry VIII and his children. The ensuing tension between monarchy and democracy resulted in the English civil war, a conflict which produced, among other things, Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost. The texts chosen for this course demonstrate that, despite the excitement produced by new discoveries in art, science and geography, the emotion of loss suffuses the literature of the century leading up to the civil war, and this must qualify any notion that the history of the English renaissance is an unambiguous progress-narrative. Rather, it is a period fraught with contradictions, contradictions that enabled the production of some unique works of literary art.


HL2008 Singapore Literature and Culture II

In this course, we shall situate Singaporean literature more broadly within colonial and postcolonial representations of the region as well as within contemporary global developments in literature and culture. We shall take a critical look at the ways in which both residents and those passing through, immigrant groups and colonial powers, diasporic writers and the self-conscious "heartlander" represent Singapore, its history, its unique demography, and its urban culture. The texts we look at will therefore comprise locally as well as internationally published and circulated fiction as well as early writings by coloniser and colonised alike.


HL2026 Reading Drama

This subject will examine the major dramatic movements in drama from the Greeks through the present. Special attention will be given to how the theatrical concerns of one era influenced the developments of the next. Authors are likely to include Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Moliere, Ibsen, Pirandello, Brecht, Beckett, Pinter, Norman, and Howe.


HI3002 Opera and Literature

You will be exposed from the very outset, to operas identifiable from days of old and yet are still relevant in your lives today. Examples are operas that feature the lives of Julius Caesar and Mary Queen of Scots, and those that transition into musicals such as Schoenberg’s Les Miserables and Lloyd-Webber’s Cats

This course encourages you to explore the creative impetus within you, and shows you how to compose and integrate sound, music and text deeply embedded in your creative unconscious, so as to produce a unique artwork that is truly yours. In this materialistic world, you will be given the opportunity to explore a higher dimension where imagination and creativity reside. 

HL3006 Modern Drama

This subject will trace a line of development throughout modern drama from realism and naturalism to absurdism and post-modernist theatre. Among others, dramatists will include Strindberg, Ibsen, Pirandello, Brecht, Beckett, Churchill, and Shepherd as well as contemporary Singaporean dramatist Kuo Pao Kun. In addition to understanding how changing theatrical trends embody changing epistemological, ontological and ideological attitudes, students will also develop a powerful comparative appreciation of the interconnected evolution of Asian and Western drama.


HL3030 Major Author Study: Shakespeare

This course introduces students to Shakespeare Studies by exploring developments in literature, history, and culture in the early modern period. In addition to learning about stage and book printing practices in 16th century England, students will also be introduced to the challenges that Shakespeare and his contemporaries faced in the production and circulation of literary works. We will study a range of Shakespeare’s works, from his early sonnets to his late history play and analyze selected filmic aspects of the plays; in doing so, we will consider how and why modern adaptations of the Shakespeare’s plays appeal to audiences in various parts of the world. In the course of examining the literary and historical impact of Shakespeare’s works, students will also learn about to major theoretical frameworks that have influenced the development of Shakespeare Studies over the last few decades. 


HL3038 Theatre of the Absurd

Martin Esslin coined Theatre of the Absurd to group together a substantial number of post-World War II dramatic works that questioned realism and challenged the conventional dramatic form.' There was no Absurdist movement, and most playwrights whom we consider Absurdists did not identify themselves as such. Nevertheless, the designation is useful to begin thinking about their shared concern for what it means to be human in a time of social and political upheaval. You will be provoked to consider this central question as you learn more about the playwrights' dramatizations of habit, time, humour and suffering. The course will train you to close read Absurdist plays, and develop an appreciation for theirI destabilising effects on actors and the audience member. By the end of the course, you are expected to be able to differentiate between the social, historical, philosophical factors that affect the writing and production of absurdist drama. The seminar format will facilitate discussions as you share your reading, viewing, and performance/staging experiences with the class. The discomfort and frustration evoked by the Theatre of the Absurd force character(s) and the audience to confront the question, "What does it mean to be human?" Each week, we will look closely at one play, and if a recording of a production is available, we will view snippets in class to give you an idea of how each play could be staged. You will also perform scenes from the play in 1, class. The course will provoke you to consider what it means to be human as we look closely at absurdist portrayals of habit, time, humour and suffering. 


HL3039 Major Author Study: Samuel Beckett

One of the most important twentieth century writers, Samuel Beckett’s prose, plays and poems continue to influence writers, readers and audiences all over the world. Although he is well known for the play Waiting for Godot, most of his works remain cryptic to the uninitiated. This module is for those who would like to dive deeper into the Beckettian world. In it, you will discover a poetics of failure, an ethics of non-relation, and perhaps most importantly what it could mean to be at the limit of the human.


HC2014 Chinese Theatre and Performance [in Chinese]

This course introduces you to basic concepts and techniques employed in the theatre and performance with emphasis on contemporary works written and produced in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. You will learn to read and analyse classic dramatic texts, as well as to watch and interpret theatre performances. It is through the process of “from page to stage” that you will understand the creation of plays in print and the recreation by theatre directors and performers.


HC4064 History and Issues: Transcultural Chinese Theatre in Singapore [in Chinese]

This course first introduces you to the history of Singapore Chinese theatre since the early 20th century. With the understanding of Singapore’s socio-cultural history, you will explore and investigate various topics in a selection of dramatic works in contemporary Singapore. Issues discussed may include models of transcultural theatre, intellectual dialogues and cultural communications, theatre activism and social engagements, the search of collective and personal identity, and gender performance.

Michelle CHIANG

Assistant Professor, English

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daniel-jernigan

Daniel JERNIGAN

Associate Professor, English

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QUAH Sy Ren

Associate Professor, Chinese

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Kevin RIORDAN

Assistant Professor, English

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CJ Wee Wan-Ling

C.J. WEE Wan-ling

Professor, English

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Jane WONG

Associate Professor, English

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SM in Theatre and Drama_Jennifer Wong

Jennifer WONG

Lecturer, National Institute of Education - Visual & Performing Arts

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SM in Theatre and Drama_Marcus Tan

Marcus TAN Cheng Chye

Assistant Professor, National Institute of Education - Visual & Performing Arts

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SM in Theatre and Drama_Charlene Rajendran

Charlene RAJENDRAN

Associate Professor, National Institute of Education - Visual & Performing Arts

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Part Time Faculty

SM in Theatre and Drama_Chong Tze Chien

CHONG Tze Chien

Playwright, Arts educator

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SM in Theatre and Drama_Thong Pei Qin

THONG Pei Qin

Theatre Director

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