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Theatre, Education and Performance: The Map and The Story

Professor Helen Nicholson had AHRC research leave in 2010 to complete a new book that offers a new, twenty-first century perspective on theatre and education.

Theatre that takes place in educational settings has been re-branded. Once associated with civic activism and political mobilisation, theatre is now allied to public engagement and to the leisure and creative industries. Theatre for children is thriving, because children are now recognised as profitable cultural consumers and the creative industries have become instrumental to urban regeneration. Disused factories have been turned into arts centres, galleries, museums and theatres, promoted as cultural assets in the expectation of attracting entrepreneurial investment. In areas of economic deprivation, cultural participation is seen as a powerful way to heal social division. With funding increases for education and public engagement programmes, theatre-makers have developed new ways to contribute to formal education and community learning.

This is the first study to investigate the effects of the globalised economy and creative industries on twenty-first-century theatre education. Theatre education has always been often poised between the government policies of the day  and the social, educational and artistic aspirations of theatre-makers and educators. This remains the case now, where the rapid pace of technological and social change is impacting on both education and cultural policies. Within this climate, however, significant new sources of funding for creative learning have enabled theatre practitioners to work in ways that are not only artistically innovative but also encourage new forms of social imagining.

The book brings together educational theatre, theatre for children and the performative pedagogies associated with social regeneration. Case-studies from across the world provide examples of education and public engagement programmes in theatres, in the education and cultural sectors, and in the leisure, tourist and creative industries. The research investigates the boundaries between leisure and learning, entertainment and education. The study unites these different practices around three conceptual themes, drawn from cultural geography: place, space and mobilities. These are political metaphors for our time, asking fundamental questions about the role of theatre as a creative space, as a place of learning and as theatre-making as a transgressive act of displacement. Bringing together the voices of participants and theatre-makers with new ways of thinking about the arts, the book will impact on practitioners, policy-makers and educationalists as well as theatre academics.

Theatre, Education and Performance: The Map and The Story will be published by Palgrave in 2011



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