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Act I Scene I

Kathleen's Soliloquy

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2018- A New Year

Welcome 2018!

I think it's fair to say 2017 is a year that is well behind us. Globally, political uncertainty and growing social polarization continue to take a toll on all of us. I continue to marvel too- as I am surrounded by them- at the very good people who soldier on and keep alive the many dreams for a more just and less self-possessed future for us all. 

We ended the year on a high. Our long-standing collaboration with Project: Humanity and our newer one with Crow's Theatre resulted in a most productive and informative two-week development workshop with a fine company of actors, directed by Chris Abraham. The writing and creativity of Andrew Kushnir never fails to impress and watching his work on the five documentary plays he's made from our Radical Hope research project, called Towards Youth: a cycle of plays about radical hope really spoke to audiences as the work was shared to two full houses at the close of the two-week workshop. I am deeply grateful to all the artists and stage managers who brought their craft, their curiosity and their care to this project.

I am looking forward to the new term, a new group of Applied Theatre graduate students, a period of deep analysis with my expectional team of research assistants, Dirk Rodricks, Nancy Cardwell, Sherry Bie, Kelsey Jacobson, Scott Mealey, Rebecca Starkman, Rachel Rhoades, and newest member, Christine Balt. Their continued work on our research projects is a constant source of intellectual nourishment to me.

Thank you for your interest in our research. And we are all wishing you a productive, creative, and satisifying 2018.



Welcome 2016

Hello All,

I hope the year has begun well for you. I wanted to draw attention to several new video clips on our site. We had an extraordinary meeting here in Toronto in November with our international collaborators on the Radical Hope project. It involved a week of sharing data from the first year of our study from our respective sites, seeing theatre in Toronto, visiting schools and talking with drama students, and holding a public panel event where the research collaborators could share ideas about the main interests of the study: theatre-making and youth civic engagement. 

I invite you to watch the panel and also to listen to the envigorating interviews with each of our collaborators, as they reflected on their time in Toronto and the ideas that continue to drive them in their research work.

My best,



Welcome back and hello Fall

To all those returning to the routines of fall, welcome back! We have got off to a great start here at UofT. Our research team is madly as work preparing for our collaborator meeting in November. We also have two new team members, Nancy Cardwell and Sherry Bie. Welcome to them. Baptism by fire! 

We're organizing our collaborator week at the moment which will include a public symposium I will tell you more about as the details are firmed up. We will be connecting with our TDSB arts teachers and others with a keen interest in the relationship between theatre-making and youth. We will also work with our artist collaborator extraordinaire Andrew Kushnir, who will work with our team during that week and after our first year of the Radical Hope project in which we deeply explored Verbatim theatre as a genre for considering those things the youth tell us they care about. 

With respect to our youth shelter research, as part of the Neighbourhood Change Partnership Project, we have been making some sense of our data from that study and writing some interesting pieces about the things we learned with those young people.

There is, as you might guess, no shortage of interesting work unfolding. And I will get to travel to Columbia in October to share my new work with researchers and teachers in Bogota as well as attend the Critical Applied Theatre conference in New Zealand in November to give a keynote about one of my favourite subjects these days: hope. Radical hope is part of a response to growing social inequality in the Global North and South. I'll share more on that when I return from New Zealand, buoyed up no doubt, by the perspectives I will find there.

Holding on to the warm weather for as long as we can here in Toronto, I wish you all the best as the season changes and the academic year gears up.



Winter Wonderland

There's nothing quite like heading out to a research site in the snow. Our team has begun working in our new Toronto school for our Radical Hope research project. Our collaborators in Tainan, Lucknow, Athens and Burnely are also getting their sites ready to work with Verbatim Theatre. We are working on our digital communications tools so we can communicate discoveries and challenges with each other. In Toronto, we began with a workshop with the lovely Andrew Kushnir, who introduced a group of grade 11 students to the genre of Verbatim. We've completed a small video-clip of that work to share with our collaborators. We've only just scratched the surface, but are looking forward to more experimentation.

The launch of my new book, Why Theatre Matters: Youth, Engagement and a Pedagogy of the Real, was a great success this month. A warm evening in the Nexus Lounge at OISE, teachers, students, researchers, colleagues, friends and family came together. I would like to especially thank my wonderful 2014/15 research team for all their hard work preparing for the event. We also enjoyed delicious food, lovingly prepared by Yam Chops. 

Looking forward to the months ahead as we move forward with Radical Hope. Our Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership work also continues to challenge us as we sit with data and make sense of the challenging landscape of socio-economic polarization unfolding in cities across the country.

Wishing you rich engagement with your own projects.

And thanks for staying in touch.



Fall 2014

Welcome back to those who have begun a new fall term. We are well underway at OISE and have a new research team ready to jump into action. I'd like to introduce our returning team members, Dirk Rodricks and Rebecca Starkman (both PhD candidates), and our new Drama Research team members Rachel Rhoades (PhD student), Anjali Helferty (PhD student), Scott Zoltok (MA student), and Ortega Tapambwa (MA student). We are returning to our analysis work of the Shelter Youth project, the collaboration with community partners Project: Humanity theatre company and Youth Without Shelter. The theatre programming finished up in June. We are now looking forward to several research outputs and taking the time to reflect upon the work we've completed. 

We are also positioned to begin our new project on Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary with our global partners in Greece, England, India, and Taiwan. You can read more about this project on our site. Our partners are gearing up for their local projects as we plan our (digital) communication across sites. 

The cooler air has arrived in Toronto and the halls and classrooms of OISE are buzzing. I wish you all an engaging year ahead.


Dog Days of Summer

I hope you have been enjoying a glorious summer. The weather in Toronto, and Newfoundland where we had the good fortune to visit, has been delicious. The days are long, the evenings warm, and it's hard to believe the fall term is just around the corner. And yet, the fall is always a time of hope for me. I am particularly looking forward to the beginning of my new research project. I will be working with a stellar team of graduate students and an accomplished team of researchers and artists. The project-- Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary: an intercultural investigation of drama pedagogy, performance and civic engagement-- offers just the kind of hope I am looking for. There is such terrible global unrest, war, genocide, conflict, unbridled power all over this world of ours. If our work together can produce but a glimpse of an ethical imaginary, it will have been worthwhile.

I look forward to sharing more thoughts as this project gets underway.

Thank you for your interest.


Street theatre to stop child marriage in India

Have a look at our collaborator Dr. Urvashi Sahni's latest activist street theatre campaign to stop girl child marriage in India.

New Book!

I'm pretty thrilled to share my forthcoming book. Why Theatre Matters: Urban Youth, Engagement, and a Pedagogy of the Real will be published by the University of Toronto Press. It is the story of the five year multi-sited ethnographic study called Urban School Performances: the interplay through live and digital drama of local-global knowledge about student engagement. It's the culmination of some of the most interesting research work I've ever been involved in. Enjoy Jonothan's Neelands' formidable foreword. Hear the inspiring voices of many young people thinking through the complexities of their lives and making theatre that matters.

Tell me what you think.



Spring has Sprung

Welcome!  The green has finally returned, the blossoming trees are spectacular. The spring flowers are enlivening everything. What a great time to launch a website!

We have been working hard over the cold winter months to create a space to share some of our work with you. Some students, featured on these pages, and I have been trying to imagine a virtual space that would reach out to different publics and invite some reflection and conversation about the work and research we find so inspiring. Our conception of "Drama Research" is broad. We are interested in performance and in the performances of the everyday.

In these pages, you will find accounts of some of our recent projects. The stories we share in these virtual pages– using theatrical, popular, and scholarly languages –challenge the ubiquitous discourses of problematic, civically disengaged, apathetic youth, and marginal arts and theatre practices. We are especially happy to share with you the news of our new SSHRC-funded project titled, Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary: an intercultural investigation of drama pedagogy, performance and civic engagement. We will be collaborating with young people, artists, and researchers here in Toronto, and in England, Greece, Taiwan and India. Please have a look at the research project section for more details.

Be in touch, if you have questions or thoughts you'd like to share. And welcome to "Drama Research"!



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