The aim of the Bachelor’s programme in Theory and Criticism realised at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague is to educate experts capable of informed reflection on the various types of contemporary theatre, i.e. dramatic theatre, movement theatre, various forms of so-called alternative theatre and in basic aspects also musical theatre, but without a preference for any of these forms and with an understanding of the processes of theatrical production.
The contents of this education include, in varying degrees of detail, three basic traditional artistic disciplines, i.e. theory, history and criticism. In particular, instruction in the history of theatre is understood as a knowledge base for the development of theoretical reflection and critical thinking; it is therefore a discipline which aims mainly to understand the current state of theatrical production and where it overlaps with other artistic forms.
Thanks to several permanent external teachers, who are prominent representatives of contemporary theatre criticism, students are also provided with insight into the functioning of typical critical platforms and the outputs they require (from diary criticism to theatre fortnightlies and scholarly journals to peer-reviewed periodicals).
In addition to theory, history and criticism, the programme (in accordance with the department’s long tradition, which has been developed and deepened in a new conception of the curriculum) also emphasises learning the creative processes through one’s own creative experience, leading not to a public presentation but rather to reflection and so-called “embodied critical thinking”. The trend of blending theory with practice is common in comparable foreign programmes, and these new tendencies of critical reflection will be explored in the Bachelor’s programme thanks to the course “New Trends in Communicating Reflection and Criticality”, taught in English by a foreign professor with extensive pedagogical and research experience at various European theatre schools, as well as the intent to work regularly at the Department of Theory and Criticism for the long term.
The newly conceived curriculum also includes two required practical internships in the field: one within the scope of preparing a theatrical production outside the school; the other at an institution operating in the cultural sphere and representing a typical employer of programme graduates (see also below). Greater emphasis is now placed on skills in the area of written and verbal expression, the methodological foundations of theatrological research, working with modern information sources and tools (e.g. citation databases) and working in an editorial team. The instructional methods in many courses presume collaboration among students and lead to the development of such competencies as team responsibility, division of labour, time management, conflict resolution, etc.
Graduates of the Bachelor’s programme in the field of Theory and Criticism are creative experts able to develop their theoretical and critical skills in professions directly related to their own theatrical work (including creating the conditions for a its inception and realisation – dramaturgy, production, methodology, cultural animation) and its critical reflection, as well as in cultural administration, cultural policy, the media, journalism, editorial and agency activities, or education. Through the Bachelor’s programme, graduates will have acquired the ability to adequately think, speak and write about contemporary theatre in its various forms, i.e. the possibility to actively reflect on current theatrical life in various positions and possibly to participate in it.
During the course of the programme, graduates will have acquired knowledge of the theory and history of the field in an extent commensurate with a Bachelor’s degree programme, which they can then further expand in a Master’s degree programme or apply in a professional capacity requiring more of a general orientation rather than narrow insight into a specific area. They become acquainted with current artistic efforts and tendencies, but also enter into direct personal contact with living theatrical practice and reflect on the work in accordance with their personal views.
Through the programme’s structure and the continuity of courses with respect to content and methodology, the study plan is built on several gradually interconnecting pillars (see programme objectives: theory, history, criticism, practice, skills), which are reflected in the profile of programme graduates and especially in learning outcomes. Learning outcomes formulated at the level of individual courses represent specific and verifiable knowledge and skills in the given subject; at the level of the programme, they do not constitute a summary of these results, but are rather a synthesis of acquired knowledge and skills, which are brought together with continuously developed personal and general competencies corresponding to the programme type and the maturity of the graduate.
● Graduates understand theatre as a phenomenon co-creating human existence, which over time has taken on many diverse types and genres, and by acquiring relevant knowledge are able to consider the constants of its development as well as the variability of its expressive forms.
● Graduates are aware of the historical variability of activities and values that affect the theatre, and are able to recognise and explain each theatre’s connection to an artistic tradition and its relationship to social reality.
● Graduates are able to interpret the various phases of development of Czech and world theatre and its components using specific examples (authors, directors, stage designers, actors, trends, etc.). They are able to explain the relationship between individual language cultures in the context of the development of in particular Western theatre and to identify the specifics of major, linguistically determined theatrical cultures.
● Graduates are able to interpret the current state of theatre as the outcome of this development, and as a result of the interaction of theatre with other art forms; they also perceive and analyse contemporary theatrical production in the context of broader societal processes.
● Graduates are able to describe the development of theoretical thinking about theatre in European and Czech culture, and to explain the connection of specific poetics and theoretical approaches to the forms of theatre applied in the period.
● Graduates are able to describe and explain how various theatrical forms work with a live actor or puppet, with speech, song, music or movement, with image and sound, with passive perception or active experience or involvement, with societal reference or, conversely, with the ostentation and performativity of a theatrical event.
● Graduates are able to objectively and instructively perceive, describe, analyse and, in accordance with their personal views, fundamentally evaluate specific theatrical works, including their sub-components and as a whole as a synthesis of these sub-components, not a summary.
● Graduates are able to write a clearly structured professional critical or analytical text on a given topic, in a given genre and scope, intended for a specific periodical or medium.
● Graduates are able to write a professional oral presentation on a given topic, presenting a summary of existing views and approaches; they can summarise, interpret and compare them, and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
● Commensurate with their theoretical and critical background, graduates are able to participate in current theatrical events in an adequate position (critic, lecturer, editor, etc.) and actively craft a distinctive view of what is being perceived and presented “here and now” as new, positive and progressive, or “fashionable”, by various recipients (their own artistic sphere, theatre criticism, the academic environment, the wider audience).
● Graduates demonstrate an adequate degree of understanding of and empathy for the creative processes in various types of theatres realised both in the context of institutional stages as well as in the context of independent or project productions, can reflect on them, or participate in them as constructively critical observers.
● Graduates know the principles of editorial work and are able to participate as members of an editorial team, both in a technical capacity (editing a specific text written by a different author) and in an organisational capacity (editing an publication issue or magazine as a team activity with a given sequence of tasks and a clear deadline and output).
● Graduates are able to communicate about specialised topics in English at least at the B1 level, both verbally and in writing.
● Graduates are able to express their views and opinions in written or spoken form in a structured, comprehensible, convincing, stylistically refined and grammatically correct manner, and to defend them with concrete examples and substantive arguments.
● Graduates are able to search and find primary and secondary sources in relevant cultural-heritage and other institutions elaborate them and use them in accordance with the principles of scholarly writing in a professional text; they are able to use modern tools designed for working with sources.
● Graduates are able to continue to educate themselves, evaluate acquired information and take a critical attitude towards it; their approach to issues under investigation is unbiased, they can appreciate and creatively use traditional approaches, and are also able to substantively capture the limitations of these approaches and seek innovative developmental potential for change.
● Graduates are able to work independently according to a framework assignment, adhere to a schedule, evaluate the degree of progress in fulfilling an assignment, or propose modifications to a schedule.
● Graduates are able to orient themselves in a specific institution operating in the field of their expertise, understand its hierarchy and their place in it, and participate in teamwork at a moment’s notice.
● Graduates are able to use English at the B1 level in completing standard tasks at work.
art critic, editor, dramaturgy lecturer, employee in the area of cultural policy, etc.
Prerequisites and requirements: Matura, interest in theatre and art generally, overview of current developments in Czech theatre, knowledge of the basic theatre studies literature, reading experience with dramatic literature commensurate with the applicant’s education, cultivated written and verbal expression, literary aptitudes, ability to understand an image, knowledge of one foreign language at the B1 level. Familiarity with the recommended dramatic literature is assumed (a list is published on the department’s website under Admissions Proceeding (“Přijímací řízení”)).
The admissions proceeding consists of two one-day rounds. The evaluation criteria are included in the descriptions of the individual rounds.
1st round – written part
1) Multiple-choice test
2) Definitions of terms
3) Description of an acting performance
4) Scholarly literature
5) Commentary on an assigned scholarly text
2nd round – oral part
1) Motivational interview
2) Acting performance (continued)
3) Analysis of a seen production of the applicant’s choice
4) Analysis and interpretation of a photograph by a prominent author
5) Understanding of scholarly literature