April 30 2010

Theatre Applications Conference 2010

Drama Workshops 2010

Theatre Applications Conference: Performance with a Purpose at The Central School of Speech and Drama 21 -23 April 2010

Our Drama Development Workers Ali Franks and Jez Thomas attended the recent Theatre Applications Conference at Central School in London.

The Theatre Applications conference explored the uses and purposes of theatre and performance in education, community, therapeutic and institutional settings. It addressed applied, social and community theatre, and forms of performance that are intended to make a difference to participants’ lives.

The Theatre Applications conference aimed to provide practitioners, participants and funders with an opportunity to engage in debates about changing artistic practices, new circulations of power and new concepts of the political in theatre.

‘I found this three day event exciting and challenging in terms of applied theatre practice worldwide. We attended many presentations and panels examining many of the crucial themes in applied and community theatre today.

Particular highlights for me were the keynote speech from Jan Cohen-Cruz (delivered live via Skype from New York, due to volcanic ash clouds!), calling us to be “Unfaithful Disciples”, unfaithful in that we break rules and conventions, explore how we can use these as tools and adapt them to different contexts; disciples in that, in our naughtiness we stay still stay true to some of the wider purposes of applied theatre.

Other highlights included James Thompson’s Performative Lecture, ‘An Incidence of Cutting and Chopping’, presenting his research on areas of conflict in Sri Lanka; Tony Coult’s presentation on ‘RiversCross: The Snowfields Super-Soap’ with young people at Guy’s Hospital CAMHS Unit; Junction25: an experimental youth theatre based at Glasgow’s Tramway; ‘The Illegals’, Ice and Fire’s rehearsed reading of a brief section of the script concerning the stories of four illegal immigrants who deemed themselves ‘irregular,’ ‘undocumented,’ ‘unauthorised’ and ‘in violation.’

Personally it was an encouraging and refreshing week as I had a chance to immerse myself in exciting practice that is taking place worldwide and also a chance to examine my own community drama work within a wider context.  I realized that much of the work we do is risky, exciting and often ground-breaking, and that the difficulties and problems we spend so much time discussing and reflecting on is an essential part of our practice in terms of moving the work on.

As a result of attending the conference I feel the need to not only read more about others work and research, but to also challenge myself to write and record more about the issues that arise from the work that we do in an attempt to document and explore on an on-going basis.

For any more information about the Theatre Applications Conference see the blog at http://theatreapplications.posterous.com/

Projects that I am looking forward to over the next few weeks are recommencing the ‘Trinity Sessions’ with the Asylum Seekers in Cardiff, developing a film and teaching resource with young people from Bryntirion School about Teenage Dating Abuse, continuing our Getting On OCN at comprehensive schools in Bridgend, and documenting the methods and outcomes of recent work funded by Cymorth and the ACW Beacon Award.’

(Ali Franks, Drama Development Worker, Valley and Vale Community Arts)