Applied and Social Theatre Adaptations: care-full practice in times of crisis

Date of Event: February 19, 2021 Event Type: Interim Event
Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Applied and Social Theatre Working Group online event  Friday 19th February 2021 Care-full practice in times of crisis  with keynote presentation from Prof James Thompson: Care Aesthetics and Covid: we are all one-to-one performers now… James will discuss his ongoing research on care aesthetics and explore how it has changed during the pandemic. He will argue for the urgency of more artful care during this particular care crisis, and outline examples of care aesthetics in health, social care and everyday settings. In a time of social distancing, what does it mean for applied theatre practice when we are reduced to one-to-one walks, evenings in watching Netflix, and the endless square faces of Zoom? Dominic Johnson, in his book with Dee Heddon on the life and work of Adrian Howells, suggests that the virtuosity of Howells is qualitatively different to ‘receiving a high-street pedicure’. James’ paper is offered in defence of the care aesthetics found in the humble pedicurist, and argues that in many ways, we are all one-to-one performers now… Biography James Thompson is Professor of Applied and Social Theatre at University of Manchester. He is the founder of In Place of War – a project researching and supporting arts programmes in war and disaster zones. He has written widely on theatre in conflict and peacebuilding situations and my most recent books are Performance Affects (2009) and Humanitarian Performance (2014). His book, edited with Amanda Stuart Fisher, Performing Care was published in 2020 by MUP. Keynote presentation followed by Q and A break discussions in breakout groups Short plenary – looking forward to TaPRA conference 2021. 4.30 end You are then also warmly invited to attend book launch  for Kay Hepplewhite’s new book The Applied Theatre Artist: Responsivity and Expertise in Practice, published by Palgrave Macmillan, hosted by Northumbria University – link given at event. Please email any questions to the Applied and Social Theatre Working Group conveners, Kay Hepplewhite (Northumbria University), Kate Massey-Chase (Plymouth Marjon University), Matt Smith (University of Portsmouth), at: Please note this event is for TaPRA members only. If you are not currently a member and wish to attend, you can join here: Membership costs £18 (£10 concession) and will run until 1 September 2020, regardless of when you join.

Magic, Exits/Endings and Water: How does performance escape?

Date of Event: April 6, 2019 Event Type: Interim Event
Magic, Exits/Endings and Water: How does performance escape? Joint interim event 2019: Theatre, Performance and Philosophy WG + Applied and Social Theatre WG with contributions from: Federico Campagna, Tim Prentki, Vivian Chinasa Ezugha   In this day-long event at the University of Portsmouth, the Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group and the Applied and Social Theatre Working Group come together to interrogate how an exit from today’s crisis of reality might be envisioned and conjured through performance.   The image of a deadlock pervades current political, philosophical and artistic debates on the contemporary world, in its various articulations through discourses of crisis, impotence, paralysis. Fed by this condition of impasse, plans of escape are ubiquitously being drawn up, plotting exits, closures and endings. Writing a ‘phenomenology of the end’, Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi (2015) constructs a world with no end, a series of conjunctions and concatenations: ‘and, and, and’ – as in Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizome, ‘always in the middle’. Is this a real promise of transformation, envisaging modes of reality and renewing horizons of thought? Or might the inert to-ing and fro-ing also mean that we are somehow stuck in the possible,hardly able to contemplate clear cuts from a state of things that might take us to what only seems impossible. We (forever to be defined because of a paralysing concern of excluding anyone) seem to suffer from a collective vertiginous fear of finitude. Perhaps the vertigo of our superfluous selves in a watery world that could do without humans. Federico Campagna (2018) defies hegemonic assumptions that there is no alternative to today’s reality-system: his answer to the current impasse is to imagine a different form of existence that valorises the ‘magic’ of life. From the perspective of applied theatre, the question of what is possible/impossible, of endings, exits and leavings, is one that, at a very pragmatic level, also poses a variety of challenges – are we in a deadlock with what is possible in applied and social theatre? What happens when a project ends, for example? What continues? Does anything ‘change’? At a more broadly socio-political level, there are questions of ethics, legacy, and transformative potential. As Tim Prentki has written: ‘The transformative process of becoming human is never properly accomplished, is only halted by death, and is attempted anew in each generation. Theatre offers arenas where we can try out transformations, where we can see if the ass’ head fits, and where it does not we can try again. In the words of Samuel Beckett: “All before. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better” (Knowlson 1996: 674).’ (Prentki 2018: 170)   How does performance escape? Can it summon an alternative system of reality? Can it make an exit? Can it disperse, dilute, liquefy our fears? Can magic help us imagine a form of existence governed by different rules, foregrounding the mystery of life? Can water, the sea, the ocean, which are capable of dissolving, disorienting and engulfing, foreground the vulnerability of life not as a weakness to be mastered, but rather as the basis for an alternative understanding of solidarity?   The event aims to engage participants in roundtables and curated discussions at the intersection of philosophy and practice. The programme will include:

  • A keynote by the philosopher Federico Campagna, author of Technic and Magic (2018), which will catalyse the discussion around the need for a reconstruction of a reality system that does not abide by the rules of instrumentality and causality and that accounts for the ineffable dimension of existence.
  • A keynote by Tim PrentkiProfessor of Theatre for Development at the University of Winchester and co-editor of The Applied Theatre Reader.
  • An artist talk on water, magic and exits by Vivian Chinasa Ezugha
  • Themed roundtable discussions on magic, exits/endings and water
  • Puppet City, a family-friendly participatory workshop. Build and make a city for puppets to play in and interact with to explore what kind of cities we would like to live in.
This event is family friendly; accompanying children are welcome to join the activities. Participation fees: free for members of TaPRA. Non-members will be required to pay a discounted £15 membership fee (£10 for PG students). Please join TaPRA online here: A light lunch and refreshments will be included. Please register at the following link:   TaPRA is pleased to be able to offer assistance with travel expenses to a small number of PG students. To apply for a travel bursary, please email the organisers: contributions to travel costs will be awarded on the basis of distance from the event and non-availability of institutional funding, and will be considered on a first come first served basis. For travel bursaries and other information, please contact the Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group convenors Fred Dalmasso, Daniela Perazzo Domm and Nik Wakefield at or the Applied and Social Theatre Working Group convenors Michael Carklin, Matthew Jennings and Zoe Zontou at

‘Objects With Objectives’ – Applied & Social Theatre Interim Event

Date of Event: February 24, 2018 Event Type: Interim Event

TaPRA Applied and Social Theatre Working Group


Queen’s University, Belfast

Saturday 24th February, 2018


(and Open Meeting of the AHRC “Objects with Objectives” Research Network on Friday 23rd)


Click Here to Book

  Friday 23rd February, 3-6pm, The Board Room, 21 University Square, Belfast AHRC ‘Objectives with Objectives’ Network open session (Chair: David Grant, Queen’s University) A look back over the work of the Network since our meetings in Cape Town as part of the ASSITEJ Festival in May 2017. This will include the screening of training videos and a discussion about how best to disseminate and utilise these exciting new Applied Puppetry resources. These include: Essential ‘Direct Manipulation’ Puppetry Techniques: Focus, Breath and Gravity (Dr David Morton, Artistic Director, Dead Puppet Society, Brisbane, Australia) Making Puppets from Found Materials (Karen Torley, Banyan Puppet Theatre, Northern Ireland) Making a Life-Size Paper Puppets and using these to explore the use of the Rasa with Puppets (Dr Aja Marneweck, University of Western Cape and Dr Sara Matchett, University of Cape Town) Applied Puppetry and Sympathetic Presence in medical simulation and Nursing pedagogy (Dr Matt Jennings and Karl Tizzard-Kleister, Ulster University and Karen Torley, Banyan Puppet Theatre) Brown Paper Puppetry and the Celebration of Imperfection (Dr Laura Purcell-Gates, Bath Spa University) Embodying the Puppet Experience as a Training Strategy (Dr Matt Smith, University of Portsmouth)     Friday 23rd February, 8-9pm, Brian Friel Theatre, 20 University Square, Belfast Tinderbox Theatre Company (Belfast) The Bishop in the Bedroom by Richard O’Leary Richard relives the experience of growing up gay in Ireland with the help of a powerful series of real and resonant objects from his own past. Vibrantly material! CLOSED PERFORMANCE FOR SYMPOSIUM PARTICIPANTS AND INVITED GUESTS ONLY   Saturday 24th February, Brian Friel Theatre, 20 University Sq.,  10am-5pm 10.00-10.45am   A Demonstration of Applied Puppetry in medical simulation for Nursing students (led by Dr Matt Jennings and Pat Deeny, Ulster University, with the assistance of Karl Tizzard-Kleister, Karen Torley and UU Nursing colleagues and students). 10.45-11am         How to Access the ‘Objects with Objectives’ Training videos (David Grant, Queen’s University) 11-11.45am         Panel 1 (Chair: Dr Zoe Zontou) Anthropomorphizing in the Anthropocene: can a medical mannequin become a human patient? (Karl Tizzard-Kleister, PhD Researcher at Ulster University) The ‘pin’ and the ‘spoon’: Affective inter-relation with the objects of addiction in applied theatre-making (Cathy Sloane, PhD Researcher at RCSSD)   11.45-12.15 COFFEE/TEA   12.15-1.00          Panel 2 (Chair: Michael Carklin) Quintessence of Dust: a material approach to art with people with dementia (Dr Kay Hepplewhite, Senior Lecturer, Northumbria University) Pupa: engaging with new materialism to tell an anthropocentric tale of my identifying as disabled (Emma Fisher, PhD Researcher, Mary Immaculate College Limerick)   1-1.45pm             LUNCH (foyer)    1.45-2.45             Panel 3 (Chair: Dr Laura Purcell-Gates) Applied Theatre and Puppetry in child healthcare: objects, care and training (Dr Persephone Sextou, Newman University) Staging applied-ness: grappling with a social mess through traditional puppetry (and Dr Cariad Astles, RCSSD) Followed by a discussion about publication priorities and opportunities in the field of Applied Puppetry  2.45-3.45 –         Keynote (Chair: Dr Matt Jennings) Puppetry and Vibrant Materiality within Applied Theatre (Dr Matt Smith, University of Portsmouth)   3.45-4.15              COFFEE/TEA   4.15-5pm             Long Table (Chair: David Grant) An opportunity for a fluid exchange of responses to the ideas explored during the day

Age(s) and Age(ing) in Applied and Social Theatre

Date of Event: March 25, 2017 Event Type: Interim Event

At our interim event in March we would like to explore the following themes:
  • Reflections on practices that propose creative ways of exploring age (cultural, social or political)
  • Theatre and performance at, for, or with, different ages and life stages.
  • The interrelationship between age and applied theatre practice, particularly in challenging age as a normative category and interrogating stereotypes of age and aging.
The theme of this event arises from discussions about the social, cultural, political, and philosophical dimensions of age(s) and age(ing) which began to emerge at the last TaPRA conference. We think there is a value in exploring this with greater focus, particularly examining the role of age in contemporary culture. Within the broader context of thinking both about the way age is often characterised (‘age is wisdom’, ‘age is weakness’, ‘age is a process’, ‘age is an illusion’) and in the way it acts as description for an era or epoch (‘age of enlightenment’, ‘digital age’), this event will offer presentations and provocations that explore questions of:
  • Creative ageing;
  • Participation in, and barriers to involvement in, arts and creative work based on age;
  • ‘Longevity’ and the notion that everyone is always in a process of ‘ageing’ – how might this serve to challenge the separation of creative work based on age from other forms of art practice?
  • The ways that age influences how an individual might experience participatory drama.
The event will include presentations by a number of invited presenters: Sheila McCormick – Applied Theatre: Creative Ageing, London: Methuen, (Forthcoming, 2017) Gary Anderson: On children and age(s), The Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home David Grant and Jenny Elliot – Creative ageing and nursing For the full schedule of the event, please see here. Attendance at the event is free to TaPRA members, and £10 for non-members.
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