This article discusses the results of a pilot study exploring the connection between power and community for urban students. The establishment of community in the classroom is an identified factor in school success for students from non-dominant cultures. The question of why community has a substantial effect on student learning, why it makes a difference in engagement and achievement, has not been thoroughly explored. Research shows that community is a cultural norm for many students of color, and belonging in their school environment facilitates success. Through Boal-based theatre work and interview, this research goes a step further to consider the ways in which community is a source of power for urban students of color, and how it affects risk-taking and self-advocacy, as individuals and as a group. The data is considered in relation to literature on the effects of power on action, Sense of Community as a psychological construct, and communal power orientation.
In this article, Andy Kempe explores the edges of theatre form and moral values through a practical approach to Grand-Guignol. He argues that there is much to be learned through consideration of the ways in which modern audience responses differ from those who originally flocked to see these grotesque productions in Paris at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. He suggests that in a practical workshop the moral imperatives and parameters involved in dealing with this mixture of form and content are highlighted and so placed in a position whereby they may be critically reviewed from a 21st century standpoint.
O’Neill (1995) described the drama pedagogies of Bolton and Heathcote as ‘dialogic’. In more recent times, drama theory has drawn on the writings of the Russian philosopher, Mikhail Bakhtin (Somers 2005) and in general education, the term dialogic has been applied to recommendations for classroom practice in the Primary National Strategy for England(Alexander 2003).
Bakhtin’s (1986) idea of the dialogic described ‘creative understanding’ in terms of new understandings of self in relation to others that may be reached through action and dialogue. Dialogism is a complex idea and dialogic outcomes rely on the inter-relationship of component concepts that include: active empathy, outsideness, historicity, unfinalisability and answerability among others.
This article examines the idea of drama as a dialogic medium in relation to Bakhtin’s concept of ‘responsibility’ and draws on case-study evidence from a small-scale curriculum intervention with a reception class during the course of a school year. The aim was to examine how very young children respond to ethical issues in drama, and whether an understanding of Bakhtin’s idea of dialogism might assist teachers in developing children’s sense of responsibility for their actions taken in role.
A piece of drama work introduced Hong Kong students to the modern legend of a notoriously cruel Hong Kong gangster being arrested. The drama reached its climax when the gangster, acted out by the teacher, denied his notorious identity while being brought to dialogue with a group of policemen played by the students. Unable to convince them, the teacher reflected on his physical actions and looked into the coordination between his mind and body. Drawing upon Stanislavski’s method of physical action, the teacher finally tried to solve his problem and produce a better design of the teacher-in-role. This is the teacher’s piece of reflective practice based upon narratives of past memories and present work.
Experienced secondary students from two Tucson, Arizona, schools completed open-ended questionnaires about their theatre programmes. The schools differed demographically—one serving a lower socio-economic, mixed race population, the other was largely white, upper middle class. Both programmes focused on play production but varied in other ways due to differences in the classroom teachers’ approach.
Student responses indicate that their participation is very satisfying meeting Kelmer-Pringle’s four basic needs: praise & recognition, new experiences, responsibility, love & security. Reported learning meets two drama goals outlined by Bowell & Heap: to learn about self & others and to learn about theatre. Few students reported learning other subjects through theatre. While the plays produced included those addressing social issues, few reported learning about the world around them suggesting that adolescents will not automatically find a larger social value in the stories they tell especially when their experience is so intensely personal.
Laura A McCammon
Drama as a learning medium is readily accessible to young children and it recognises the multi-faceted nature of children’s expression through verbal and non-verbal means. This paper reports on key findings from a small-scale study which examined the use of drama role play in early years settings. It explores how drama role play can help temporarily suspend the traditional power dynamic between adults and children, and the implications this has for implementing citizenship education in the early years. On gender, it considers how the use of drama role play may encourage more assertive role play in young girls.
Writing from a Canadian perspective, Leonora Macy recognises the ‘gap between theory and practice’ that means that teachers who use drama as a teaching methodology in their classrooms are the exception rather than the rule. In this article she examines the results derived from multiple qualitative case studies in which, over several years, she observed and gathered data from four different teachers who use drama in their language arts programmes. Focusing on one, she interrogates the process that led to a primary teacher’s emergence as one ‘who sees drama as an innovative and active form of bringing new ideas and concepts to her students’ and who always plans through her ‘drama eye’.
Drama is a powerful medium on many levels – physically, cognitively, and emotionally. Process drama’s emphasis on embodied experience, imaginative engagement and cycles of action and reflection means it can offer rich experiences on all these levels. Much has been written about this in the context of drama for children. This paper, however, asserts the particular, and unique potency of process drama in the context of adult learning and creativity. Drawing on personal accounts of facilitating process drama in the contexts of teacher-education, community drama and professional development, the author reflects on process drama’s capacity to liberate bodies, facilitate cognitive understanding and increase emotional capability in adults from a range of backgrounds including Mãori students, and adults with intellectual disability. The paper suggests that for adults, creative tensions can emerge around concepts of adulthood and play, social self and fictional role, intellect and imagination and the aesthetics of artful pedagogy. At the same time, for the particular groups of adults mentioned, notions of ‘body’, ‘mind’ and ‘spirit’ may have particular socio-cultural associations, all of which can enrich and deepen the drama in unique ways.