My Experience with Associate Companies – OurWarwick
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My Experience with Associate Companies

Laura Hayward
Theatre and PerformanceRunning SwimmingWalkingWarwickshireArtsCookingGardening Puppies!MusicTravelCoffee
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What I love about the feild of Applied Theatre is the people. Practitioners are propelled by a desire to change the world for the better. They work with others to make these changes using art, creativity and compassion.

The university is affiliated with a plethora of exiting people and companies who have been invited to lead inspirational seminars throughout the course. In an earlier blog, I wrote of the intensive weekend we had in November where we were gifted the opportunity to take part in workshops with Creative English, Open Theatre, Tony Ceally and Tender.

In January, we had another intensive weekend as part of the Socially Engaged Module with theatre troupe, Common Wealth. Co-founder Rhiannon White and Creative Bursary Fellow, Fahadi came to share their unique approach and style. They work with people who don’t think “theatre is for them” having not been given the chance to explore theatre as an art form, and associate it as “just being for the middle-classes.”

Common Wealth empower people to express themselves by telling their stories in public spaces using verbatim and physical theatre no matter what walk of life they are from. It is outrageously political and touches on topics that need to be heard by people who need to hear. 

This was an excellent weekend intensive; we danced, we chatted,  listened and played. I felt that I learnt a lot about myself and my student friends who all had their own unique story to share. Ri and Fahadi guided our exchange of stories by using their unique style as we recorded our voices, telling ours and other’s stories, and physically expressed this through movement. We devised a small performance using some of the tools which the company had shared to artistically communicate our personal and group journeys.   

Applied and Socially Engaged theatre explores various theatrical mediums that are capable of holding people safely and supportively in a space. One unforgettable seminar for me was with Max Dean, co – founder of C&T (Computers and Theatre.) He led a discussion about human connectivity in our ever-growing technological world, exploring how we can use technology as an art form to enhance a sense of community.    

This was an eye opening realisation for me as I often worry about how technological advances are changing social discourses in unhealthy ways; people seem to be becoming more disconnected and isolated with the rise of “social” media. Max shone a light on the ever growing importance of Applied Theatre’s capacity to bring communities together, and how we might embrace new forms of technology in theatre as a way to a more connected future.

Another memorable seminar entitled “Responding to and Shaping the Cultural Zeitgeist” was led by visiting practitioner Susan Clarke from B-Arts, chiming with how the feild demands practitioners to be reactive to the times. Susan shared how her company formed back in the 80’s. It was originally called “Beaver Arts” and began as three women from Stoke who were fed up with the conservative government taking over spaces for visitor attractions and fed up with being dominated by males.

Females leading their own organisation was unheard of back then, but right from the beginning they were driven by the power of “Yes.” They put on radical out – door performance pieces involving bicycles, gaffer tape a tea ceremony and a cabbage with a prize inside with hope to speak to public audiences’ about all the things that made them tick. 

Since, they have toured internationally finding reasons to make theatre with marginalized communities worldwide, including citizens of Bosnia during the war, residents living under communism and fascist regime in Hungary and giving working class students living in Turin, Italy the chance to be heard.

To this day, they strive to improve the lives of people and places where they live through creative and cultural interventions. Now, they have a base in Stoke on Trent in an ex – industrial building led by a community real bread bakery, Bread in Common. Here, they aim to strengthen the cultural infrastructure to make art accessible for all with a vision for a society where everyone has an equal chance to participate. 

My experience with the companies on the course has geared me up to realise what my personal passions and desires are to make the world a better place. I’ve realised that artists strive to produce work that comes from internal places within themselves and the more passionate one is about a certain injustice, issue, topic or inescapable revolution the brighter their flame will burn to make changes for the better.

Not only has the course helped me to understand my role as a practitioner from a creative point of view, but also as a researcher and a professional in the feild.

In the first term, we had a great insight into research methodologies with visiting practitioner’s Greg Homann and Reka Polonyi.

Gregg shared tips into ethnographic research, sharing how he engaged participants by conducting interviews that fit well in a performance/theatre form. His project, In Our Skin was a work in progress research peice in collaboration with the Midland Arts Centre at the time of his visit to Warwick. More information about Greg can be found here:

Greg Homann – Director / Playwright / Dramaturg / Academic

Reka Polonyi is a social theatre practitioner and PHD researcher and teacher at the university of Manchester. She shared her current research on the practice of play and creative disobedience as forms of protest and activism with us, as we explored the methodologies of Practice as Research. More information about Reka and her work can be found here:

Ms Reka Polonyi | The University of Manchester

Other fantastic practitioners, companies and professionals we have had the pleasure of meeting and being inspired by during the course include:

Adrian Jackson from Cardboard citizens, Adrian Jackson MBE, director del Cardboard Citizens | British Council

E-J Scott, the founder of The Museum of Transology, E-J Scott — Museum of Transology

Simon Rudding from TiPP, TiPP Team — TiPP

Kate Organ, cultural consultant Kate Organ

Laura Hayward
Theatre and PerformanceRunning SwimmingWalkingWarwickshireArtsCookingGardening Puppies!MusicTravelCoffee
Find out more about me Contact Laura

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