How do those ‘on the margins’ make meaning through creativity? This question will be addressed specifically, in the practice of this strand, to the development of co-created community theatre it envisages. But more broadly, in the histories of civil rights struggles in Northern Ireland that this project will examine, the question will be addressed to the ways in which marginalised groups in NI used artistic practices—from song, to visual art, to comic strips, to agitprop, to radio—to challenge oppression fifty years ago.
The archival research and theatre-as-research approaches engaged by this strand will uncover new knowledge regarding how excluded communities agitate(d) for social change through the arts. It will connect communities, not to the ‘centre’ but across the peripheries, and develop further— through a sustained engagement with existing AHRC and other research on co- creation and participation through the arts—a model for ethically supporting critical practice in community theatre through ‘non- corrective’ interventions with marginalised groups. Community theatre can have the capacity to move “participants towards being visible where previously they were not” (Mienczakowski, 1997:170). This project will ask how visibility and voice can be found through theatre, and thus how theatre can perform as research.
This strand explores past (1960s Civil Rights) and emerging (rights struggles now – LGBT, women’s, migrant) moments of creativity and instances of possible ‘empowerment’, but also how these moments, in turn, can ‘successfully’ destabilise dominant structures.
The performance and scholarly outputs of the work will produce a ‘nothing-about-us- without-us’ approach to the project, with academic and creative outputs alike subject to dialogue and debate during and after the production/publication process. In doing so, the work will attend to some of the wider Creative Interruptions project questions:
- To what extent does co-produced research act as a creative, interrupting, destabilising and equal process? What is the role of this research in the academy and how can it work as ‘lived theory’? and
- How can connecting disconnections facilitate new and enabling bonds between communities at the peripheries?
Our Creative Interruptions Research Development project (AH/M006069/1), with Greenwich Inclusion Project pledged to connect “different stakeholders working in contexts of alterity and exclusion” and “enable an interrogation of the ethical concerns regarding researcher reflexivity”. These too are an integral part of the project conceptualisation that will be scoped further through the research and creative processes.
Mienczakowski, Jim (1997) Theatre of change. Research in Drama Education, 2(2), 159-172.