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Act I Scene I

Urban School Performance (USP)

Theatre's Impact in School and Beyond...

USP (Urban School Performance) is an international research project that examined, through attention to theatre contexts and practices in schools, how the relationships among culture, identity, multiculturalisms, student engagement and theatre have an impact on the lives of youth in schools and communities traditionally labelled ‘disadvantaged’ in the cities of Toronto (Canada), Taipei (Taiwan), Lucknow (India), and New York City (USA).

This Canadian-led project brought together diverse cities to examine student engagement, theatre pedagogy and performance, and success at school from a local-global perspective and to illustrate how such a multi-sited ethnography is changed by arts-based, participatory, digital and performative research methods.

Because the insights of youth about questions of engagement with school remained a central concern, this project sought new ways to engage diverse youth in the research process, in the context of four communities equally concerned with ‘raising the bar’ for those students most disengaged from traditional practices of schooling.


USP Project Audio Documentary:
Dr. Gallagher, research team members, project partners and students speak about theUSP research experience.












Study Site Overview:

  • One school, in each of LucknowTaipei and Boston, and two schools in Toronto, constituted the study sites.
  • Researchers in all four sites engaged in ethnographic work in each school, working collaboratively with classroom teachers, students and visiting artists contributing to the drama curriculum.
  • In Toronto, Boston and Lucknow, and to a lesser extent in Taipei, the researchers were also involved in the pedagogy of the classrooms, participating in individual drama projects or working closely with groups of students over sustained periods of time.
  • The curricular expectations, and the way drama was positioned in the larger school, remained different in each site, as was the kind of drama pedagogy experienced by the students.



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