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Why Theatre Matters

Why Theatre Matters: Urban Youth, Engagement, and a Pedagogy of the Real

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    Why Theatre Matters
    Book Description:

    What makes young people care about themselves, others, their communities, and their futures? InWhy Theatre Matters, Kathleen Gallagher uses the drama classroom as a window into the daily challenges of marginalized youth in Toronto, Boston, Taipei, and Lucknow. An ethnographic study which mixes quantitative and qualitative methodology in an international multi-site project,Why Theatre Mattersties together the issues of urban and arts education through the lens of student engagement. Gallagher's research presents a framework for understanding student involvement at school in the context of students' families and communities, as well as changing social, political, and economic realities around the world.

    Taking the reader into the classroom through the voices of the students themselves, Gallagher illustrates how creative expression through theatre can act as a rehearsal space for real, material struggles and for democratic participation.Why Theatre Mattersis an invigorating challenge to the myths that surround urban youth and an impressive study of theatre's transformative potential.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2058-2
    Subjects: Education, Performing Arts, Film Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    Jonothan Neelands

    These are a few of the words spoken by Chrysanthemum, one of the student voices in this book (p. 171). She is talking about the pressures of performing on a stage and says, “And we were all back there jumping around like, it was kind of like trying to ramp each other up, and I think that one of the most important things that we were saying to each other was like ‘you know what, we’re on there. If you make a mistake, you know, we got you.’” When I first read that I heard it as a threat –...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-19)

    Kathleen: If I were writing something about my experience here, what do you think would be very important for me to communicate to the world about the perspective of young people in high schools, from your point of view?

    Marbles: The truth?

    Kathleen: What’s the truth?

    Marbles: That we’re not all wastrels that do drugs all the time. And we do learn …

    (Focus Group Interview, Marbles, Twila, Joe, Middleview, December 11, 2009)

    As I begin the writing of this book after five years of ethnographic research in schools in Toronto, Canada; Boston, USA; Taipei, Taiwan; and Lucknow, India, I...

  7. 1 The Complexity of People, Conversation, and Space as Data
    (pp. 20-35)

    Middleview has 1,797 students (62% male, 38% female, 56% of students with a primary language other than English) and is physically the largest technological school in the province of Ontario. It offers a comprehensive selection of academic and technological study programs. From their website, the school we’re calling Middleview, located in downtown Toronto, describes itself as:

    a composite school offering a wide range of programs, including all core academic courses with modern computer technology integrated into all core subjects, as well as concentration and specialization in visual arts and technical studies. [Middleview] also offers enriched levels and special education, including...

  8. 2 The Social and Pedagogical Context for Engagement
    (pp. 36-87)

    We know that important ideas and feelings are communicated through a space:

    Ms. s: You see the school is so old and so run down. You never get anything done at that school in terms of – like the space, the actual physical space – all schools were pretty much built horribly. They’re not … They’re not … Happy places. They’re very institutional … Just, the light … If I could make education better, I’d just tear down all the buildings and, you know, rebuild. With lots of light, and lots of wood, and lots of beautiful things to look...

  9. 3 The Multidimensionality of Engagement: Academic Achievement, Academic Enthusiasm, Voluntary Initiative, and What the Numbers Tell Us
    (pp. 88-117)

    First, a word about the use of quantitative research nested inside our qualitative ethnography. In this chapter, I take a leaf out of the book of cultural geographer Michael Brown, whose quantitative work on the cultural geographies of sexuality and the body has been taken to task by critical, postmodern researchers who have read his turn to quantification as a betrayal of his critical scholarship. Brown (2007) defends his new appreciation of quantitative research as a “moment of honest troubling” (p. 211), a kind of scepticism. His view of postmodernism is not a rejection of meta-narrative but an acknowledgment of...

  10. 4 Social Performances: Students and Teachers Inhabit Their Roles
    (pp. 118-162)

    A tremendous amount of time was spent thinking about the everyday performances taken up by students and teachers in their school meeting place. School prescribes certain roles, to be sure, but the idea of young people inhabiting the role of student and teachers performing the social expectations of teacher, remained a point of general interest throughout the study. This involved thinking intentionally about the dramatic roles students took on, in light of the social roles they were always in the process of performing. In what ways do the roles of the social actor (the student) and the dramatic actor (the...

  11. 5 Life or Theatre?
    (pp. 163-224)

    Chrysanthemum: Lots of times on Monday mornings my alarm clock goes off at seven thirty and I just set it back to nine o’clock.

    Bertham: Yeah, I do that too.

    Fabian: Because you’re already half asleep and you’re not really thinking you’re just like, “whatever, I’ll just miss first period” roll over and go back to sleep.

    Chrysanthemum: I press snooze like four times every day.

    Erica: (talking over Chrysanthemum)Yeah, so do I.

    Chrysanthemum: Because I just can’t – and then I get more tired because I’m like sleeping and then –

    Bertham: (talking over Chrysanthemum) I put my...

  12. 6 Up Close and Personal: Unfinished Stories
    (pp. 225-238)

    Kemba was a very interesting young woman. She shared openly with us and in her interview seemed to set an incredible standard for herself. She purported that she alone was responsible for her accomplishments and failures, and said she’d learned this from her mother. But, she no longer lived with her mother. Instead, she lived on her own and found it a great struggle to get herself to school each day. She liked school when she was there. Braeburn had come through for her where other schools had not, she explained. She appreciated the teachers, the support they provided, their...

  13. Appendix 1: Social Identity Categories
    (pp. 239-248)
  14. Appendix 2: Tables
    (pp. 249-256)
  15. References
    (pp. 257-274)
  16. Index
    (pp. 275-295)