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research hubs | round 1 | wednesday 15 & thursday 16 july 2009

hub 1: Performances of gender in/through theatre practice and research

Professor Kathleen Gallagher and Dr Chris Hatton
Butler states: “Fantasy is not simply a cognitive exercise, an internal film that we project inside the interior theatre of the mind. Fantasy structures relationality, and it comes into play in the stylization of embodiment itself” (Undoing Gender, 2004). What are the norms that govern gender/gender relations and how do we symbolize these in our drama practices? How do we account for them in our research narratives and performances?

This hub will excavate the messy terrain of gender and its intersectionality with other social categories of difference: race, class, and sexuality. We will examine how identity takes the stage in our pedagogy and our theatre practices. We will also ask, of our research, how we represent and interrogate these intersectionalities in ways that do not fix or limit our social and dramatic performances. We will also consider new performance possibilities that drama research might open up for participants and audiences.

hub 2: Well ….you know you’re engaged when …..?????

Associate Professor Penny Bundy and Dr Julie Dunn
This research hub will discuss/explore/clarify/broaden/enhance/critique/reflect upon what the term “engagement” might mean within a range of drama education/theatre/applied theatre contexts.

The following PROVOCATION will stimulate our initial discussions:

The very act of being engaged precludes a conscious awareness of the nature of that engagement making this dimension of drama extremely difficult to research.

We will then draw on the experience and knowledge of the hub participants to consider further questions including:

  • Why might engagement be valued?
  • What are the qualities of different types of engagement?
  • What impacts on the nature and quality of engagement?
  • What research methods and methodologies might inform our understandings?

Insights into the ways engagement has been and might be researched both within and beyond drama education/theatre/applied theatre contexts will be shared.

hub 3: Researchers without Borders:  The Possibilities and Challenges of an International Drama/Theatre Research Network

Associate Professor Laura A. McCammon & Professor Aud Berggraf Sæbø
Building on plans from the International Drama and Education Association (IDEA) and the World Alliance for Arts Education (WAAE), hub participants will actively engage in the formation of an international research network.  The first step will be for the participants to share their own research interests both current and future to make connections with fellow researchers.  Among the other questions participants will explore include the following:

  • How can we build a sustainable international research network? 
  • How can we use research to advocate for drama/theatre education internationally?
  • How do we use the common language of drama/theatre education research and practice to meet specific challenges such as communicating across distances or managing differences coming from language, culture, gender, and ethical understandings?

We anticipate that new issues will develop from the interaction of hub participants.

hub 4: Community Theatre: Community Theatre and Change

Dr. Marcia Pompeo-Nogueira  and Professor Tim Prentki
Art is about communicating what life usually disguises from us; about taking us into places that surprise, shock, amaze; jerking us out of the zones of habit and comfort to change our notions of what we are and what we might be. As a social, collective branch of art, theatre focuses upon social change, upon how the world can be changed and upon why it must be changed. It does not, however, offer blueprints for change; no five year plans or plans for the American Century. Instead it locates the human imagination and the human consciousness within a paradigm where change is possible; a place where we, individually and collectively, accept responsibility for the world. Art is about the recognition and communication of our ‘power to’ in contradistinction to contemporary politics which devotes its energies to ‘power over’.

This research hub will focus upon three areas of discussion: transformation; the relationship between politics and poetics; impact assessment.

  • How, as facilitators, do we know when transformation has occurred? How do we get to work with communities where transformation is possible? How do we bring imagination and reality into a productive relationship in our creative processes?
  • Is there a poetics of community theatre? How do aesthetic choices influence the communication of issues? What role does the audience play in the making of aesthetic choices?
  • How can we develop research into the impact of community


research hubs | round 2 | saturday 18 and sunday 19 july 2009

hub 5: The theoretical and conceptual lenses of research in applied theatre

Associate Professor Helen Nicholson and Associate Professor Peter O’Connor
Research in applied theatre is often inter-disciplinary, and involves the voices of many participants. How might our own knowledge and experiences as theatre scholars, drama educators, and applied theatre practitioners inform how we research and evaluate applied theatre?
The first session will consider therefore the different disciplinary and conceptual frameworks researchers bring to applied theatre, and will build on participants’ own experiences to consider contested issues in applied theatre research.
 The second session will extend these conversations by focusing on examples of practice and key questions that emerge from the first session.


Professor Warwick Dobson and Professor Jonothan Neelands 
As the tragedy of Antigone moves relentlessly towards its conclusion, Creon’s son, Haemon, challenges his father’s position with these words:

“Whoever thinks that he alone is wise…
… shows his emptiness”

At the heart of the conflict between Antigone and Creon is a struggle over what constitutes citizenship.  For the citizens of fifth-century Athens, wisdom (political and otherwise) was the preserve of the demos.This tragedy, in keeping with the traditions of Greek drama, represents Sophocles’ attempt to subject one of the central tenets of the democratic polis to sustained critical scrutiny.

Using theoretical perspectives developed from the work of Hannah Arendt, Paolo Freire, Cornelius Castoriadis and James Tully, this research hub will investigate concepts of individual and social autonomy, direct democracy, citizenship, ensemble, participant agency, dialogism and reciprocity and how they may be researched within the context of applied theatre practice.

hub 7: Process Drama Research: Seeking inspiration from the Past; Reflecting on current practice; Visualizing future goals.

Brian Heap and Pamela Bowell
In this Research Hub, Process Drama practitioners and researchers Pamela Bowell and Brian Heap will focus their activity initially on examining a selection of past writings by Dorothy Heathcote, Gavin Bolton, John O’Toole and Cecily O’Neil as a potentially rich source of research topics and accompanying methodologies. Using a practical approach, the presenters will then support members of the group towards a critical assessment of current approaches to research activity in Process Drama. Finally, it is anticipated that this hub will move towards identifying some of the future goals for Process Drama Research by visualizing some possible research outcomes rather than in the simple formulation of research questions.

hub 8: Research hub on drama and second language learning

Assistant Professor Madonna Stinson and Associate Professor Joe Winston
This hub will investigate both theoretical and methodological issues relating to the use of drama in support of second language learning. We see this as a growing field of activity, with great potential, as yet under theorised and in need of strong research projects to inform advocacy as well as practice. We are particularly interested in providing a forum for researchers to report on, discuss, seek guidance for and generally converse about past, current and projected projects. These projects could be focused on teaching a second language to a whole class of students or be concerned with students whose first language is different from the language of the classroom. We are interested in how a number of fields can overlap with those of language acquisition – culture, status, gender, life experience, special needs – and hope that this hub will inform future developments in the field. Through collaboration, discussion, sharing and critique we aim to review progress, form partnerships and set agendas.

hub 9: Drama education and digital technology

Professor John Carroll and Dr David Cameron
This hub will bring together people interested in the fields of drama education and digital technology including, but not limited, to:

  • social and participatory media,
  • videogames,
  • online worlds,
  • mobile and location-based drama,
  • video,
  • mediated performance

Participants will be encouraged to share their specific research interests/projects and help shape the hub’s focus on key research issues and directions.
The hub will explore drama education and digital technology as framed within the broader IDIERI 6 theme of “Drama Research Futures: Examining our past, critiquing our present, imagining tomorrow”. The discussion will cover:

  • available resources and key researchers in related fields;
  • research methodologies and issues;
  • case studies and examples of current research;
  • opportunities for future and collaborative research; and
  • recommendations for research directions and activities.

Two research questions for all participants to start the conversation: How can a drama curriculum be integrated into the digitally mediated networked world of young people? How can digital drama enhance an educational experience?  We look forward to sharing our collective responses.

Queries may be directed to Nina Goodwin at the Division of Professional Learning.

Selected Papers from this research institute will be published in the leading Routledge journal, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, and in the Applied Theatre Researcher / The International Drama /Theatre and Education Association (IDEA) Journal.

Research in Drama Education Journal
© 2008  Division of Professional Learning, Faculty of Education & Social Work, The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 Australia. Phone +61 2 9351 4799. Last Updated: 27-May-2009
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