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Drama Research

Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary

An intercultural investigation of drama pedagogy, performance and civic engagement


The Radical Hope project is a SSHRC-funded five year multi-sited international ethnographic study. Working with partners in Taiwan, India, Greece, England, and here in Toronto, the study builds upon the work of the Urban School Performances project by investigating how the drama classroom/workshop can cultivate relationships, dispositions, and values that orient young people towards, and support them in, engaged citizenship.
The previous study discovered 'hope' and 'care’ as significant philosophical constructs in young people’s engagement with schools. This new project expands its exploration of 'hope' and 'care' by investigating how these concepts relate to the development of young people's broader civic engagement.
By crossing linguistic, cultural, pedagogical, performance, and digital media borders, this project will explore how the collaborative nature of drama work can incite intercultural dialogue and civic engagement for youth in global contexts.
Research Project Overview and Findings click here to view the PDF version of our Radical Hope research poster.
The International Collaborators Meeting for the Radical Hope research team took place at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at University of Toronto in November. We welcome the following collaborators from around the world to join us in this week-long event. See our interviews with Radical Hope collaborators as they think through the work happening in their own sites and the major themes of the ethnographic study: 
Dr. Myrto Pigkou-Reposi, Open University of Cyprus, Athens, Greece
Nikos Govas, Hellenic Theatre/Drama Education Network, Athens, Greece 
Dr. Urvashi Sahni, Prerna School, Lucknow, India


Dr. Wan-Jun Wang, National University of Tainan, Taiwan 




Dr. Rachel King & Emily Temple, University of Warwick, Coventry, England



Images from the previous research project Urban School Performance

Inspire Me wall in India Hands in the circle International collaborator's meeting
The wall of the art classroom in our Lucknow, India partner's Prerna school. Dr. Urvashi Sahni partnered with the team on the Urban School Performance project and joins us again as an invaluable member of the international team. Students, teachers, researchers, and drama workshop leaders work together in this project to explore how 'hope' and 'care' can encourage civic engagement in youth.

A moment from our 2010 International Collaborator's meeting for the Urban School Performance Project. A similar meeting that brings all international partners together at OISE is being planned for Spring 2015.




The International Collaborators

Athens, Greece

Dr. Myrto Pigkou-Repousi is a new scholar, whose important doctoral dissertation charted how ensemble theatre contributed to citizenship education in disadvantaged schools in Greece. Her colleague, Nikos Govas, President of the Hellenic Theatre/Drama Education Network is well positioned to bring us into schools and other education networks in Greece where the project will be situated. Dr. Pigkou-Repousi, as a Research Fellow at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, worked with Nikos Govas to select the Greek research site, work with the practitioners, and conduct the research.

Hellenic Theatre/Drama Education Network Logo Visit the Hellenic Theatre/Drama Education Network website to learn more.

Click here for an update on student drama workshops from the Gerakas Arts High School site.

Lucknow, India  

Dr. Urvashi Sahni works in the area of personal and collective transformation through drama with lowest caste girls in Lucknow, India. She studies the scripted rules imposed on girls by home. For her, the domestic is not purely a private realm but becomes public through drama, as students explore and express the politics of power that limit their lives.  As founder and executive director of Prerna School, her enormous opus of work with young people is premised upon the idea that through the imagination, students can find a sense of being at home without succumbing to the parental and societal pressures that insist on confining them to the home.

Tainan, Taiwan

Professor Wan-Jung Wang, of Tainan University, although a newer scholar is considered a leading expert in the exploration of oral history performance developed in classrooms. Very relevant to our proposed research, her recent project comes from the lives of students created from childhood memories associated with their hometown, parents, and relatives. Her assertion is that because so many of the stories focus on the home and the domestic realm, they challenge the accepted division between the public and the private. She will mentor the other sites on the model of oral history theatre performance to be used in year two of the study.

Toronto, Canada

Andrew Kushnir is a Toronto-based playwright, actor, and community arts worker, and the creative director of Project: Humanity (P:H), an organization raising awareness of social issues through the arts. His play The Middle Place is an award-winning piece of verbatim theatre about youth homelessness, which has toured Toronto high schools, has been produced for general audiences in three Toronto theatres, and has toured nationally. He will also guide all sites on the model of Verbatim theatre to be explored in the first year of the study and produce the playscript from the data of the project in the final year of the study.

Warwick, England

Dr. Rachel King is the Assistant Professor in Creativity, Performance and Education at the Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick. From 2011-15, Rachel worked as Senior Teaching Fellow for the MA in Drama and Theatre Education at the University of Warwick. In July 2015, she received a Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence (WATE). In 2007, she received a Collaborative Doctorate Award (CDA) from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to work in collaboration with Warwick Arts Centre (WAC) and the School of Theatre Studies, University of Warwick under the supervision of Professor Baz Kershaw and Alan Rivett, Director of WAC. Having completed her PhD in 2013, she examines the ways drama and theatre-based pedagogies can be used to create hospitable and convivial spaces for interaction between multi-ethnic communities. From May 2014 to June 2015, Rachel worked as lead education facilitator for Baz Kershaw’s eco-pedagogy project entitled ‘Meadow Meanders’ funded by the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Leaning (IATL), University of Warwick.



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