Reclaiming The Radical: Drama In Dangerous Times – An Evening of Exploration

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On Thursday, November 19th, 2015, educators, artists and scholars gathered at OISE/UT for a unique event-- an evening of compelling conversation with researchers from around the world exploring ‘drama in dangerous times.’ 

These speakers included Dr. Kathleen Gallagher (Canada), Dr. Myrto Pigkou-Repousi and Nikos Govas (Greece), Dr. Rachel King (UK), Andrew Kushnir (Canada), Dr. Urvashi Sahni (India), Dr. Wan-Jung Wang (Taiwan), Michael Limerick (Canada) and respondent Christine Jackson (Canada).

As part of a three year research project, Dr. Kathleen Gallagher has brought together a provocative and passionate team that will be using theatre forms such as verbatim theatre, oral storytelling and devised ensemble work to explore issues of hope and identity in an increasingly-complex world. On Thursday, they gathered as a panel to respond to a variety of compelling questions, such as:

  • What kind of a metaphor is theatre for the world?
  • What is ‘dangerous’ for students and educators, and how do we act responsibly?
  • In light of ongoing and overlapping global crises, what can we do with art?

Amongst many of the engrossing ideas discussed on the panel were Andrew Kushnir’s description of drama as a ‘temple’ for metaphor; Dr. Wang’s work on ‘Reminiscent Theatre’ as a means for exploring memory, building empathy and affirming identity; and Dr. Sahni’s assertation that drama classrooms are ‘radical spaces of possibility.’

Dr. King described a UK-based theatre project aimed at combating religious extremism in young people, and Nikos Govas moved the audience with his photographs and description of the refugee crisis taking place in Europe. Dr. Pigkou-Repousi affirmed the importance of addressing the concerns of young people in our drama work, and Michael Limerick spoke of the primacy of heart and feeling in his classroom, one of the project’s research sites. Finally, Christine Jackson pulled the evening’s rich ideas together, asking ‘Is there more we could be doing as artists? As teachers? And what should we be doing differently’ in these dangerous times?'

CODE is incredibly happy to have attended this event and to have contributed to some of this ongoing work through its creation of the Verbatim Theatre unit used at one of the research sites (follow this link to access this resource). We thank Dr. Gallagher and the research team for an inspiring and courageous night of conversation, and for the important work they are doing for drama education around the world.