Circles of Conversation and Practice in Applied Theatre

“Circles of Conversation and Practice in Applied Theatre”

Moderators: Barry Freeman, Kathleen Gallagher, Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta

The drama circle, in contexts from classrooms, to community organizations, to theatre studios to the outdoors, has come to stand in for the mode of communication undertaken in theatre-making spaces. Our circles situate people equidistant from a centre and position participants face-to-face in a kind of model of an egalitarian community. Our circles can be balanced against something– wider cultural, colonial narratives of linear accumulation and progress perhaps, narratives that have left us in the English language with negative connotations about circles: “go around in circles,” “vicious circle,” etc. By contrast, the circle is an arch-metaphor for life in Indigenous cultures—the omnipresent shape of social organization and the cultural imaginary.

In this session, we want to talk about the wider arts ecologies of applied theatre. As in previous versions of this conversation, we use the term applied theatre expansively to gather together various community-engaged or interdisciplinary practices. In this version, we would like to pay special attention to the arts’ ecologies those practices live in, how and why they might give rise to particular genres or themes, what kinds of pedagogies they invite, and what forms of engagement are or are not encouraged among multiple publics. Who, or what, do our circles of practice include or exclude? What forces lean against our circles? How do our pedagogies proceed from our circles and affect the social life and creativity in the spaces in which we work?

Questions that may be addressed at the roundtable:

  •  How is our work as teachers, scholars and practitioners delimited by our context?
  •  Who gathers for our work? What are their expectations for being present?
  •  Can the geometry of the circle bring about alternative modes of engagement?
  •  How are our intimate creative ecologies always-already entwined with external or larger social forces and concerns?
  •  As teachers or creators, how do we understand ‘leadership’ in our ecologies?
  •  As scholars and practitioners, how do we account for the messiness or contingency of our creative ecologies?
  •  What affects do our ecologies seed?
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