Applied Theatre, an umbrella term for the use of drama practice in an educational; community or therapeutic context; is an area that really interests me. I have been lucky enough to have been working with Exeter University students on the applied theatre course this month. I ran a half day-workshop introducing the idea of using fiction to tell true life stories with a social message, working with the Impisi script – discussing why using animals to tell a story of discrimination; disability and self image can be so effective.
The students were then tasked with producing a short performance and workshop which they had to take into a community setting. Half the group went into In2act, a drama group for adults with learning disabilities who meet every week in Exeter, and they led a great creative session, exploring animal movements and sounds and then working with the students to tell the story of an ostrich who wanted to be able to fly. As a parable it worked brilliantly and the whole group had a great experience. Next week the second half of the group are going into Honiton Youth Drama group to work with secondary school age pupils in a similar way. I am excited to see what they come up with.
Through these three workshops I have not only learned a lot about how University students work in the community, but also how elements of a script can be adapted for different audiences with very different needs and levels of ability.