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More in this section Applied and Participatory Theatre

Applied and Participatory Theatre


Research in applied and participatory theatre investigates theatre-making in different social and community and institutional settings and analyses performance in public spaces. Research in this aspect of theatre and performance studies stresses the importance of theoretically informed practice, and invokes critical and creative reflection on issues connected to social and artistic participation, including citizenship, community, identity, belonging, space and place.

We are interested in the cultural politics of socially engaged performance, and in the aesthetic, artistic, therapeutic and social values of applied theatre. The ‘social turn’ in performance studies invites a reconsideration of the ways in which public space is theatricalised, and how communities are constructed and performed in protest movements, on the street, in voluntary and amateur organisations as well as in professional theatre. Our research brings together local, national and international perspectives, and is inter-disciplinary in focus.

The Challenge

Theatre and performance are key ways in which people are able to tell their stories and share their perspectives. At Royal Holloway, we are particularly interested in challenging the instrumentalism of some forms of applied theatre by asking how innovative artistic practices might engage people in a range of public places and settings.

As researchers and practitioners, we have worked with people who are experiencing some of the most pressing challenges faced by societies worldwide. Our diverse approaches to research shares an interest in the affect and democratisation of cultural production, and includes theatre education, theatre in health and care, theatre in museums and heritage sites, theatre with refugees and asylum seekers and raises questions about theatre and disabilities.

The Researchers

There is a lively group of postgraduate scholars and practitioners at Royal Holloway. We host the Applied Drama Pathway of the MA in Theatre, and PhD researchers who have researched applied theatre and citizenship, theatre and blindness, theatre education and masculinities, applied theatre and ecology, and the cultural geography of the school play.

We are strongly networked to different cultural organisations across London and beyond, including: Age Exchange Theatre Trust; the Barbican Creative Learning; Clean Break; Cold Ensemble; the Lyric Hammersmith; Patchwork Theatre; the Theatre Royal, Haymarket; The Wellcome Trust; The Paul Hamlyn Foundation; Japanese Theatre Education Network; Everyday Theatre, New Zealand; and NGOs in DRC, Rwanda, Malawi, and South Africa.

The leading Routledge journal RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance is edited by members of the department, and members of this group serve on the editorial boards of Arts and Health, About Performance and the Applied Theatre Researcher. We have received funding for our research in the arts and dementia care; creativity in heath care; the values of applied theatre; theatre education and performance; theatre and asylum.

Researchers working in this field are currently contributing to the department’s research conversations in: Amateur theatre; Applied Playwriting; Theatre in Health and Care; Theatricality and Public Space. Key researchers in this group are: Dr Emma Brodzinki, Dr Colette Conroy, Professor Helen Nicholson, Dr Sophie Nield and include Dr Emma Cox, Dr Elaine McGirr and Dr Lynette Goddard.


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