An innovative collaboration between theatre company Cap-a-Pie and Newcastle University, this project brings together the newest ideas with theatre.
In residency at Newcastle University, Cap-a-Pie is exploring how theatre can create appropriate and rewarding impact, a vehicle for disseminating research and a means of conducting community engaged research. Performing Research explores how theatre and drama processes builds, strengthens and adds value to partnerships between universities and communities.
Working with director, Brad Mc Cormick from Cap a Pie, was a great opportunity to present my research to a new audience and in a different way. My research is about how genetic testing for cancer susceptibility can affect family relationships. Although having a test is believed to be an individual choice, my research showed how making a decision to have a genetic test can be viewed as a family and social responsibility and those who declined were judged. The piece, called 'The Test', was created by an ensemble made up of researchers, a student and an interested lay member. We created character monologues based on research participants' responses and imagined the responses of test decliners. We also created images representing key concepts in my work such as: family relationships, judgment, good biological citizens, politics of choice, ostriches and genetic guilt. Working with the cast helped me to think through how to communicate the key messages from my research in a creative way to audiences who are not necessarily familiar with the language of genetics. I have learned a lot from this process which will enhance my communication in clinical practice and my approach to future public engagement. On a personal note the experience has led me to rediscovering an interest in theatre improvisation and I had a great time working with such talented and friendly people. I would highly recommend any researcher to work with Cap a Pie if they get the chance.
Liz Robson, who has recently joined sociology to work with Professor Bridgette Wessels, led a Performing Research piece at Northern Stage on the implications of automation and robotics on society and work. Guided by Hannah Goudie and the Cap-a-Pie theatre group researchers put together a 20 minute piece to stimulate thinking on whether we might be allowing digital age technology to shape us rather than the other way around. “This was an innovative way of presenting research and reaching out to new audiences and an effective way to build presentation skills and confidence”
Taking part in Preforming Research has been an immensely insightful experience. I worked with choreographer Martin Hylton and four other researchers to create a performance piece using improvised movements to explore themes of sexualities, embodiments, and spaces. Our piece, entitled Here With, drew on themes emerging from my research with gay men in Hainan and centred on performances of intimacy across different spaces and within shifting social relations, asking how such performances relate to issues of identity, subjectivity, agency, and community. Performing Research has been a valuable opportunity to share the research with a wider audience as well as to work collaboratively with other researchers and artists; this has given me confidence to continue to explore the power creative practice in social research.
published on: 19 June 2017