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Participatory Research and Learning: Perspectives from Music and Drama

Date(s)
05/06/2013 (16:30-18:00)
Description

With Dr Henry Stobart (Music), Professor Matthew Isaac Cohen (Drama) and Professor Tina K Ramnarine

Board Room, Centre for International Theatre and Performance Research [adjacent to the Boilerhouse Theatre], Royal Holloway, University of London

Wednesday 5 June, 4.30-6pm

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Photos: Henry Stobart performing with a siku panpipes ensemble in the Bolivian Ande; Matthew Cohen performing wayang golek cepak in coastal West Java, Indonesia, with his teacher Ki Calim at his side

Participatory research, also referred to as ‘insider research’, is a familiar model in ethnomusicology, and is becoming increasingly important in the study of dance and drama as well. The student of the arts learns about a foreign culture by studying an instrument, dance or acting and performs in ensembles related to the tradition being studied. The researcher’s primary ‘informant’ or consultant is thus commonly also his or her teacher and co-performer. S/he might even function as a teacher’s formal or informal apprentice. The aim of such practice-led research is the development of competency in the artistic culture of another culture. This competency allows the student-researcher to write about this culture in terms of process, not only product. A researcher is also able to ‘learn about learning’ and gain privileged insights into practices.  This seminar brings together three scholar-practitioners, co-investigators in the PALATINE-funded research project Participatory Research and Learning in the Performing Arts, to discuss their use of participation in both the researching and teaching of performing arts.

Henry Stobart will reflect on his experiences both of using participation in his music research in the Andes and in directing various participatory performance courses at Royal Holloway. He will highlight issues of group dynamics, participatory learning and memorization processes in the teaching of Andean music to undergraduate students. In addition, he will consider the some of the challenges facing the adoption of a reflexive approach to participatory learning in a postgraduate course entitled ‘documenting performance’.  

Matthew Cohen will reflect on participatory research and learning in his recent work on wayang golek cepak. This rare and endangered form of rod puppet theatre practiced in the north coast of western Java, Indonesia tells stories about local ancestors. He will discuss training, topicality, taboos and the potentials of this form for generating dialogue and debate about history. He will also consider briefly how he is applying this work in an extra-curricular production with music students to be shown at the South Bank Centre in July 2013.

Tina K. Ramnarine will reflect on participatory research and learning in relation to a current project on orchestras. The reflections will centre on issues around skill, access, memory and orchestral practices in civic politics. The discussion will also refer to the ways in which participatory research methods inform the work of her doctoral students.

This event is sponsored by the Transnational/International Perspectives on Performance Research Group. While no advanced booking is required, please do email matthew.cohen@rhul.ac.uk if there are questions.


   
 
 
 

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