Acting Together: Ensemble As a Democratic Process in Art and Life

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In the ensemble based model of drama the effects of drama go beyond the boundaries of the subject and the classroom and have the ambition of impacting on young people’s quality of life and learning in the wider community. This keyhole will explore in theory and practice important connections between theatre making and authentic (rather than representative) democracy. The ideal of the Athenian polis contains within it the powerful combination of philosophy, theatre and drama as the mediating ground for active citizenship based on the exercise of the social imagination. This keyhole will explore the relevance of this ancient triad to the idea of authentic democracy and active citizenship in our own time and in particular the idea that active engagement in theatre processes of all kinds may both model authentic democracy and breed a second order identity as radical citizen.

The workshop presentation is based in scholarly, empirical and artistic research which aims to formulate the idea of 'ensemble' as a bridging metaphor between those different domains of theatre which still take seriously the idea of the regeneration of the public sphere and theatre's political place in it. The artistic models informing the presentation range from the Royal Shakespeare Company to urban classrooms and the theoretical antecedents include Hannah Arendt, Cornelius Castoriadis, Nancy Fraser, Paulo Friere and James Tully amongst others.

The practical element will focus on a revision of Antigone as a key play for understanding the einstellung of authentic democracy - hubris, universality and impartiality.


Keywords: Ensemble, Process, Democracy and Theatre, Life Long Learning, Community, Political Theatre
Stream: Performing Arts Practices: Theatre, Dance, Music
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof Jonothan Neelands

Chair of Drama and Theatre Education, Director of Teaching and Learning, Institute of Education, University of Warwick
Coventry, Warwickshire, UK

Professor Jonothan Neelands is a National Teaching Fellow and Chair of Drama and Theatre Education in the Institute of Education at the University of Warwick, where he teaches graduate and research students. He is an experienced trainer and workshop leader with a national and international reputation for delivering high quality professional training and development opportunities. Research interests include the politics of cultural and education policy-making, teaching in urban settings, the sociology of educational disadvantage and the articulation of a pro-social pedagogy of dramatic practice. He is an associate of the CAPITAL Centre for creativity and performance in teaching and learning, which is a joint initiative between the University of Warwick and the Royal Shakespeare Company

Ref: A09P0417