The Spring term for MA Applied Theatre students begins with an exciting five weeks working with visiting artists who bring song, podcast performance, puppetry, dance, autobiographical writing, adapted Shakespeare, Headphone Verbatim and installation. The aim is to expand the range of ways we work and push us to access all of the creative methodologies we can – it’s easy to get stuck in familiar ways of working. Given that our International MA group are already skilled and imaginative, this is a bit of a festival.
But there’s another layer to the classes. Socially engaged theatre processes are deeply relational; we are always working with others in one way or another, and building relationship becomes a core part of what we’re doing. Different art forms open up different ways in which we need because we work with groups who have a wide variety of vulnerabilities and possibilities.
Understanding how an art form works in the room, in action, can help us to think what’s going to work best for a particular group at a particular time. Looking through this lens it’s possible to see the way in which, for example, singing together grows a strong sense of community, but no one needs to chat or to be in physical contact. Dance involves carefully supported touch, getting your hands dirty making a papier-mâché puppet with a group of other people allows for lots of informal chat, improvising a scene sharpens your attention to others. The shapes in the room, the opportunities for separateness and togetherness, the guided and the informal conversation…..the possibilities are endless.
– Sue Mayo