This issue is dedicated to Dorothy Heathcote who has been honoured by the Queen with an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in recognition of her services to Drama as Education. Those of us who practise in the field of drama education stand on the shoulders of giants. She is one of them.
DR’s commitment to publishing a broad and international range of voices is maintained in this issue with the inclusion of contributions by writers from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Poland and the UK.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the educational, social and economic climate that constrains so many at this time, it is clear that practitioners from across the globe remain curious about how and why drama works in the way that it does and want to share the results of their curiosity with the Academy. What we choose to research and how we choose to research it, of course, is shaped by the setting in which we live and work. The editorial team welcomes, therefore, articles from a range of research perspectives, from critical theory to quantitative methods, and this issue demonstrates that breadth. With so many international contributions, we are mindful that methods as well as content must be placed in an appropriate cultural context.
The journal has an expressed commitment to the encouragement of new writers. To further this ambition, the Editorial Board has introduced a new feature to Drama Research that is designed specifically for this purpose. Called MA: Emergent Researcher, this section of the journal invites those who are just beginning to write for academic publication to contribute a 3000-word piece for consideration for inclusion.
Nicole Li from Hong Kong, inaugurates the section with an article based on her MA research into the teaching of Shakespeare with Year 8 and Year 9 pupils. She reports on her investigations into how an active approach to teaching Hamlet, inspired by Geerz’s ‘thick’ curriculum, could make Shakespeare accessible and relevant to all pupils.
In the main section, Alicja Galaska and Katarzyna Kraso bring a psychological lens to the investigation of the potential for the fiction of drama to prove a place for real experiences and self-knowing. They share outcomes from a pilot study conducted in a primary school in Poland that focused on the kinaesthetic interpretation of a text and its possible influence on levels of self-creative potential and the process of self-reflection.
With a curriculum focus, from the UK, Andy Kempe’s article discusses issues surrounding the teaching of history through drama. It argues that drama and history as curriculum subjects may find common ground, and indeed complement each other, in the development of a critical literacy concerned not so much with either fact or empathy as with interrogating both why and how stories are told.
Using a different approach to Nicole Li, investigating the effect on attitudes to studying Shakespeare is at the heart of Hilary Lee-Corbin’s article. She reports on the immediate impact of a primary school project, Shakespeare: A Play in a Day, on the attitudes of students and questions if this impact is maintained into the secondary years of schooling.
From a different hemisphere and using a markedly different research methodology, Richard Sallis reports on the development of an ethnographic performance (a play based on research data), which was written and performed as part of an educational ethnography. The research project focused on the participation of boys in the Drama classes at a coeducational government school in the city of Melbourne, Australia. The article gives an account of some of his key findings regarding conducting an ethnodramatic project with drama teachers and students in a school setting.
Charru Sharma suggests that a majority of classrooms in India reflect a culture that promotes rote learning among children and privileges product over the process of learning. Against this backdrop her article reports on a study that makes an effort to incorporate drama as an intervention tool and assess its efficacy in transforming passive Indian classrooms in to creative spaces.
Returning to Poland for the final article of the issue, Kamila Witerska’s paper is based on studies that were carried out in several Polish cities. It posed the question ‘What are the features of drama as a teaching-learning method at different levels of education?’. The article explores the relationship between three dimensions of human development as they relate to the drama process.
The potency of drama to provide creative, active learning and teaching environments and the continued desire to interrogate this phenomenon is a recurring theme in this issue of DR. Creating a place in which to share and stimulate our evolving understanding of how and why drama works in the way it does is key to our mission. Drama Research invites you to share your work with the international community of drama teachers by contributing to the next issue.
Pamela Bowell, Amanda Kipling, Chris Lawrence, Marie Jeanne McNaughton and Ruth Sayers
Drama Research Editorial Board