Applied Theatre and Practice as Research: Polyphonic Conversations

Mackey, Sally (2016) Applied Theatre and Practice as Research: Polyphonic Conversations. Research in Drama Education, 21 (4). pp. 478-491. ISSN 1356-9783


Applied theatre practice as research might be perceived as a curious conflation. Not greatly foregrounded in the literature on applied theatre or performance practice as research, this article engages with the particularities of such a pairing. Beginning with identifying why a consideration is timely, ‘the practice as research’ and ‘social’ turns are invoked and analysed as relevant contexts to consider applied theatre practice as research. Two projects are offered, providing specific examples for discussion. Revealed by increased scrutiny, some broader epistemological questions emerge concerning power, hierarchy of knowledge and research ‘authoring’. A metaphor of polyphonic conversations is offered as an amplification of the applied theatre practical research methodological terrain. Encouraging the basis of many sets of voices contributing to research and potentially negotiating concerns about power hierarchies and knowledge production, the metaphor provokes a fluidity of epistemology, including expanding on the now familiar debates around theory and practice particularly relevant for socially engaged performance-related practical research.


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