Resisting the Auditable Surface: Participation and Process in Community Theatre

Baynton, Rachel (2018) Resisting the Auditable Surface: Participation and Process in Community Theatre. In: Irish society for Theatre Research - 2018 Conference | Regions, Ruins and Regeneration, 1-2nd June 2018, University of Lincoln.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper marks the first phase of initial thinking and research into robust community participation practice and asks if we can propose a model for meaningful participation and engagement.

Community theatre work can often become a box ticking exercise with venues and companies trying to broaden their participant/audience base perhaps without enough regard to the quality of experience or even the artistic output; the best intentions being swept away by limited resources, external pressures and the need to quantify everything.

Taking as a case study the community theatre piece Everything We Are, created for Paines Plough’s ‘Pop-Up’ Roundabout Theatre, the paper considers community work within the city of Lincoln, the responsibilities of arts organisations and funders, and the impacts that community focussed, sited participatory performance can have on place-making, and building community cohesion. Particularly important at this time of increasing national, social and regional isolationism.

The paper responds to the work of psychoanalytic psychotherapist Dr Rosemary Rizq and her identification of the ‘auditable surface’ - subject to continual surveillance, monitoring and evaluation. It considers how we might resist reducing experience into quantifiable outcomes and how, as facilitators of participatory theatre we might “work with the relevant communities themselves to identify issues of concern and create performances”, whilst acknowledging that “while usually the focus is put on the outcome of a project […] the process of engagement and creation of such a performance is just as important.”*

*Scharinger, J. (2013). Participatory theater, is it really? A critical examination of practices in Timor-Leste. ASEAS - Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 6(1), 102-119.

Keywords:Community, Community participation, Participatory practices, Theatre, Funding, Impact, Metrics, Engagement
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W430 Producing for Theatre
L Social studies > L540 Community Work
W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W420 Directing for Theatre
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
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ID Code:33219
Deposited On:20 Oct 2018 21:45

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