I had the pleasure of seeing Jo-Ann Episkenew at UBCO, sharing a group meal with her and then attending her lecture at the Alternator. The breadth of information and the implications of arts based research used in REAL contexts was very exciting and thought provoking. Her presentation coincided with my week of working on my own project and it was a good reminder of why I need to stay attentive to the contexts in which I want to explore my research ideas.

I am returning to this post much later than expected and yet I have been carrying this experience with me for the past three weeks. I was intensely interested in the idea that a sense of agency is linked to imagination in the youth participants she was working with. She is using methods from Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed  in the schools and discovered that when the students were able to activate or even access their imagination, imagine themselves as being empowered, they felt a sense of agency about their lives. For Jo-Ann, this meant the image theatre, forum theatre and theatre games of Boal provided a space for the students to enact scenarios as they were in the community  and then change the script with participants. Changing the script meant rehearsing the change they wanted to build into their everyday lives. This is so exciting to me and I have yet to reach this stage of integration in my own work. I am still at the point of trying to bring awareness back into the participatory experience. I think the dramatization is a part of conceptualizing that I have skirted around, thinking that it is too much about role playing, creating narrative and acting. Now suddenly I am understanding the strength of “rehearsing for real life,” using theatre as a forum for learning how to extend outside of the art moment. I still don’t know how I want to bring these methods into my work, how I want to bring participants through a process, but at least I am starting to get the theatre part of the experience and not just the embodied exercises…