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Applied drama as engaging pedagogy : critical multimodal literacies with street youth Wager, Amanda Claudia

Abstract

This critical ethnography investigates the pedagogical spaces constituted within a youth-led, participatory theatre production, Surviving in the Cracks (Wager et al., 2009). The popular theatre production documented the lived experiences of eight street-youth, including their struggles to survive in the face of cuts to public health resources in Vancouver. As an applied theatre study, this theatre project is defined as a messy and rich site of pedagogical inquiry that is examined through multiple theoretical and methodological frameworks. It draws on critical feminist pedagogy, critical youth studies and theatre and literacy research with the purpose of revealing how drama and theatre spaces provide “anomalous” (Ellsworth, 2005) learning places, or out-of-the-ordinary learning spaces, that youth and researchers collectively embodied during the applied drama and theatre process and production. Analysis of ethnographic data generated before, during, and after the theatrical production of Surviving in the Cracks suggests how drama and theatre with street youth opens up embodied pedagogical spaces. Two different methods of analysis bring multiple perspectives to this work through exploring how meaning was collectively constructed, how multimodal literacy practices were used in critical ways, how power was negotiated, how desire was manifested through imaginaries, and how safe spaces were generated by this community of youth within selected pedagogical moments of resistance during the theatre process. Specifically, the script is analyzed with a youth participant, followed by the analysis of particular moments of resistance during performance creation and production. This research advances knowledge of how informal learning spaces and youth resistances within education become crucial parts of pedagogy and should be considered as future foundations and expansions of education. Implications include using multiple methodological lenses in order to work alongside, for and with youth, as well as being able to reach larger audiences of youth, communities, educators, and scholars through different analytical perspectives. By examining how theatre provides a space for marginalized youth to engage in dialogues about complex social issues, this research contributes to the fields of critical and feminist pedagogy, language and literacy education, drama in education, critical youth studies, and collaborative methodological studies in qualitative research.

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Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada

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