More than a Sum of Parts? Responsivity and Respond-ability in Applied Theatre Practitioner Expertise

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter focuses on facilitation skills and expertise explored from practitioners' own perspectives. It presents a series of 'reflective dialogues' stimulated by re-viewing video recorded sessions. Initial observations capture detailed moments of facilitation in action within a range of community and participatory theatre settings. The subsequent discussions evidence how practitioners' concerns go beyond the detail of practice and indicate how their own theoretical discourses inform choices made in the moment. The dialogues reveal how theatre practitioners within applied or community contexts demonstrate more than just the ability to provide non-professionals access to artistic processes. They make additional decisions which seek to enhance the potential social and personal outcomes of participatory arts. The chapter explores the detail of how these wider imperatives inform in-action decisions, and how practitioners’ choices are made within well-constructed and philosophical frameworks. Examples show how practitioners blend theory and practice which can enable change through the work for the participants, and, indeed, for themselves. The chapter will explore how, during the reflective dialogues, practitioners not only analysed particular choices they made in action. They also responded by interweaving commentary on tiny details of practice with their wider aspirations and theories for the work. They evidenced how expertise is composed not just of what the practitioner does, but also by an ability to grow the work and grow within the work. Practitioners are constantly reflecting on their work: in planning, in the moment, and in hindsight. The practitioners here analyse how they too benefit from the work, through inter-action and collaboration with the participants. The chapter builds on reflective practitioner models, proposing that adding theoretical underpinning can benefit both the participants and the practitioners. Reflecting the journeys made by the participants, the practitioners here demonstrate their particular expertise not by presenting themselves as knowing experts, but by opening themselves to applied theatre’s philosophy of change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFacilitation
EditorsSheila Preston
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9781472576927
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2016

Publication series

NameApplied Theatre


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