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Resource list from
Not Just Dramatizing the Data: Theatre as an Integral Part of Research



Near the end of my talk on the opening night of the Provost’s Diversity Forum I promised to post a list of resources that may help in learning more about how to integrate performance and arts into one’s research—data collection, analysis, and dissemination—and into teaching. This is not a comprehensive list, but will start you down this adventurous road. Enjoy!


* One of the performances I described was a show we created for the Forum a few years ago using physical comedy as a collaborative research methodology. In the fall of 2014, I extended our experiments at UVic into an eight-week arts-based community project produced in Victoria West by the group Building Resilient Neighbourhoods. My co-facilitators were Rob Wipond and Michelle Colussi. The project brought together around a dozen community members to engage in participatory research into the reasons why people choose to not get involved in neighbourhood community-building efforts. The show we developed and performed to a standing-room-only audience was called Laughing Allowed! — The Slapstick World of Neighbourhood Activism. Subsequently, Rob, Michelle and I wrote a step-by-step handbook called Laughing Allowed: A How-to Guide for Making a Physical Comedy Show to Build Neighbourhood Resilience. It is available online along with video of all the comedy sketches from the show here:



* I also described a project we created one year drawing on the performance form métissage to present various perspectives of UVic staff employees. Subsequently, my co-facilitator Catherine Etmanski and I collaborated with Grace Wong Sneddon to write  "Weaving Tales of Hope and Challenge: Exploring Diversity through Métissage", which presents the intention behind the work and the experience of carrying it out. The chapter appears in the book Lifelong Learning, the Arts and Community Cultural Engagement in the Contemporary University: International Perspectives, edited By Darlene E. Clover and Kathy Sanford. Manchester University Press, 2013.


* You will find a good overall examination of the ideas I spoke about, in Method Meets Art: Arts-based Research Practice, by Patricia Leavy Guilford Press, 2009. A limited preview is available HERE:


* The book I referred to during my talk, a book that has greatly inspired me, is Applied Theatre: Research: Radical Departures by Peter O'Connor, Michael Anderson.  Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015. A limited preview is available HERE:


This is from the editor’s summary of Applied Theatre: Research: Radical Departures

The first section of the book details the history of the relationship between applied theatre and research, especially in the area of evaluation and impact assessment, and offering an examination of the literature surrounding applied theatre and research. The book then explores how applied theatre as research (ATAR) works as a democratic and pro-social adjunct to community based research and explains its complex relationship to arts informed inquiry, Indigenous research methods and other research epistemologies. The book provides a rationale for this approach focusing on its capacity for reciprocity within communities. The second part of the book provides a series of international case studies of effective practice which detail some of the key approaches in the method and based on work conducted in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the South Pacific. The case studies provide a range of cultural contexts for the playing out of various forms of ATAR, and a concluding chapter considers the tensions and the possibilities inherent in ATAR.


* Another very useful book (and associated website) is Joe Norris’ Playbuilding as Qualitative Research: A Participatory Arts-based Approach. Learn more here:


* As Grace mentioned during her introduction, I have written several books on the topic of arts/theatre-based community development, including Strategies for Playbuilding: Helping Groups Translate Issues into Theatre. (Heinemann, 2001); From the Heart: How 100 Canadians created an unconventional theatre performance about reconciliation. (VIDEA, 2015; and The Alchemy of Astonishment: Engaging the Power of Theatre, published by the University of Victoria. The book and its supplementary deck of 55 teaching cards give students, researchers, artists, teachers and community members access to a vocabulary of theatrical language to express complex and nuanced ideas through dynamic and compelling performances. The book and cards are based on the theory I developed in my 2011 doctoral dissertation here at UVic. It is available at the bookstore and online here:


* In collaboration with my colleague Monica Prendergast at UVic's Faculty of Education, I co-edited (and contributed a chapter to) a very exciting project that makes the cutting edge field of Performance Studies accessible to young people.  Web of Performance: An Ensemble Workbook is published by UVic and available online for no cost HERE


* Monica Prendergast and Juliana Saxton have recently released the second edition of their co-edited book Applied Theatre: International Case Studies and Challenges for Practice, University of Chicago Press/Intellect Ltd., 2010.

A limited preview is available HERE:

This is from the editor’s summary of Applied Theatre: International Case Studies and Challenges for Practice:

[This is the] first collection to assist practitioners and students in developing critical frameworks for their own community-based theatrical projects. The editors draw on thirty case studies in applied theatre from fifteen countries—covering a wide range of disciplines, from theatre studies to education, medicine, and law—and collect essential readings to provide a comprehensive survey of the field. Infused with a historical and theoretical overview of practical theatre, Applied Theatre offers clear developmental approaches and models for practical application.


* Finally, ArtBridges is a Toronto-based hub and forum for connection available to anyone interested in or active in community-engaged arts and arts for social change in Canada. This link to their Resources and Tools for Community-Engaged Arts page includes a bibliography called Arts Practice & How-To with live links to dozens of all-Canadian-content resources.

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