Research questionsPlace at Half Moon Young People’s Theatre was one part of Sally Mackey’s larger research project entitled: ‘Challenging concepts of ‘liquid’ place through performing practices in Community Contexts’ (Challenging Place) funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council). Three research questions led this full enquiry:
- What can practical intervention tell us about how abstract concepts such as place, community, dislocation and belonging, as theorised by contemporary academics, map onto the 'real life' experiences of vulnerable social groups?
- Can one or more models of performance practices help ease feelings of 'dislocation' among community participants, where such feelings exist?
- How might such models be evaluated, disseminated and made fully accessible to community theatre organisations?
Further details on overall research project (pdf)
After a two-day planning intensive with Half Moon artists and facilitators (April 2012), we devised a subset of these research questions specifically for the Half Moon Place project.
- How might the performance project at Half Moon identify and ‘ease’ a fear of place?
- How is everyday place ‘performed’? How does expressing everyday place through performance shift the quotidian?
- Are extraordinary e.g. ‘special’ places important? How do performance practices help demonstrate ‘special places’? How does performance help enhance a relationship with a special or extraordinary place?
Relationship between the two sets of research questions (pdf).
Half Moon’s Place project was designed to interrogate these questions.
Research Project overviewIn all, the Half Moon Place research project comprised:
- 2 x 2 intensive days of exploration with artists, researchers and community partners into the themes of the research (July, 2011; April 2012)
- a ten-week summer term participatory drama workshop programme with the Half Moon’s senior youth group (12-17 years old) led and observed by artists and researchers
- planning and preparation outside the sessions where the research was continually probed, leading into material to specifically address the research questions and utilise relevant performance practices
- *early dissemination of the project at an ‘Exchange for Change’ symposium at Half Moon, 13th June 2012, with 50 members of the industry
- *two performances to the general public, July, 2012. Place programme (pdf)
- *an edited film of the show (see below)
- a range of additional research activities as part of the PaR process such as: interviews, questionnaires, archiving and analysing significant documentation, audience feedback, follow up sessions with participants, reflection on the research in the light of additional reading, preparation for a book chapter
- this website
* represents formal outcomes. Additional dissemination has taken place at academic conferences and seminars. Further outcomes will succeed this Practice as Research website when the remaining two practical Place projects are completed.
Half MoonSituated in east London on the borders of Tower Hamlets and Limehouse, Half Moon Young People’s Theatre is a rare building-based organisation focussed solely on theatre with and for young people. It produces theatre, runs youth programmes and is a receiving house for young people's theatre.
About Half Moon (pdf)
Chris Elwell describing Half Moon
(video from first 2-day intensive, July 2011)www.halfmoon.org.uk
Choosing Half Moon Young People’s Theatre as one of three community bases within the overall research project was because of its geographical location, the age of the participants and a longstanding productive working relationship between Central and Half Moon. See Sally Mackey talking about Half Moon below for more on this.
Sally Mackey talking about Half Moon
Research MethodsThe primary research methodology for Challenging Place has been practice as research. Further details about the Research Methodology (pdf) offers more detail about this and reflects on some of the opportunities and challenges inherent in the project. ‘Planning the Activities’, one section further into the site, offers a range of evidence of the research methods used.
Scoring the entire research process has been the complex theoretical and practical exploration of ‘place’. The next section offers some selected thinking about place.