The Performing Places website was created to disseminate innovative and practical performing arts interventions arising from an AHRC funded research project funded called ‘Challenging Place’ (Title abbreviated from AH/I000364/1). Challenging Place asked whether performance-related practices could ease or enhance personal feelings about local place. In an age of unwelcome rootedness as well as extensive movement and dislocation, it was found that such active engagement can make a difference to people’s lives.
From 2011 to 2014, Professor Sally Mackey (Applied Theatre) from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, led a co-investigative team with Aberystwyth University (Margaret Ames and Professor Mike Pearson) to work with three community arts organisations:
- Cyrff Ystwyth, Aberystwyth, is a disabled and non-disabled performance company. With some members being longstanding, this project enabled a reconsideration of their local heritage and rurality to produce a new site-responsive performance to place and environment. Here, performance was used to find and express a collective identity in a rural and marginalised context, overcoming and celebrating this.
- Half Moon Theatre, London, is a professional and participatory organisation for young people. Here more ‘senior’ members of the youth theatre group took the 'everyday' to make ‘extra-ordinary’ performance art. Taking their daily routines as exploratory material, participants subverted and extended these, finding new resonances in place interaction.
- In Greater Manchester, England, the project worked with the local authority and Oldham Theatre Workshop to address potential feelings of dislocation and enhance adaptations to local place. Drop-in migrants were invited to extend and ‘perform’ new approaches to local sites developing ‘rooted’ confidence during their transition period.
The Performing Places website (www.performingplaces.org) was launched on 9 October 2014 to an audience of 75 arts practitioners. It offers a resource for work with performance, people and place and will be the basis for on-going research in the field and partnership development at ‘home’ and internationally.
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