As one of the finest ways to understand and experience societies, communities and people, theatre empowers and represents at the same time. Contemporary theatre making approaches such as applied drama can act as prompters of a community’s voice and call out for dialog about the most fundamental issues that impact on our daily lives.
What is Applied Drama
Applied Drama refers to performance making that resonates methodologically and aesthetically with socially engaged art, community-based interventions, education and pedagogy, acts of contestation and resistance in the public domain, cultural struggles or the critical understanding of contemporary political discourse.
The turbulence of the political landscape in the 21stcentury has opened the door for more radical forms of performance making, shaping activism and social intervention, while the history of Applied Drama has bounded its practice to cultural activism. Decades of practice in the Western world have given birth to techniques as varied as Forum Theatre, Invisible Theatre, Reminiscence Theatre, Verbatim Theatre, and Playback Theatre. Therefore, the craft of the Applied Drama artist is broadened and enriched by the multitude of strategies and disciplines that fall under their umbrella, from the total audience interventions of Forum Theatre to the improvised acted vignettes of Playback Theatre and the directly but objectively collated reports of Verbatim Theatre.
Applied Drama artists have empowered marginalised voices and peripheral communities to generate critical tools that enable them to shape 21st century thinking. The work of the Centre for Applied Drama seeks to contribute to how we as artists, can facilitate change and empower the communities we live in; to understand how globalisation has given birth to new ways in which communities are performing their culture and how this trend can envision practical and strong democracies.
The role of participation
By participating, audiences are enabled to make decisions, to address critically the issues presented to them and to reflect on the social life within a safe environment offered by the theatrical design. Moreover, immersing in different situations has an unequalled power to entertain. Imagine playing an online computer game, where the success of a task depends on the collaboration with an unknown player. Computer games are known for their property to entertain, to raise self-confidence of the players in the skills they are acquiring and to provide a safe social and cultural environment where different individuals create an ideal community. Now imagine a similar design, but in a real space, with people you can see and interact closely. Imagine how human interaction can intensify the experience and boost the proliferation of skills and knowledge while participants are enjoying a highly entertainment activity.