Theatrical Practice As a Means of Citizen Participation in Social Research

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Katarzyna NIZIOŁEK, University of Białystok, Poland
Participation and social effectiveness seem to be the catchphrases of the day when it comes to art, and social research as well. On one hand, participatory action research has already become a well-established practice in the world of qualitative methods in sociology. On the other, the so-called “social turn” has placed the arts closer to sociological concepts and methodology as a means of not only interpreting art, but also constructing artworks. These changes are opening new doors for both sociologists and artists interested in working together and exploring the “in-between” areas of art, science and social involvement. One such niche is being occupied by participatory theatre - a wide array of diverse and largely innovative practices that create conducive contexts not only for interdisciplinary collaborations, but also for citizen participation. Hence, in my presentation, using the participatory theatrical projects that I have co-created or actively observed myself as examples, I intend to provide an empirically grounded and self-reflective insight into five distinct and at least to some extent original methodologies of direct audience/public engagement. Each of these can be referred to as a different role of the participant that one performs in the process: a protagonist (or content provider), a user (directed or animated by the artist in a theatrically constructed situation), a co-creator of the theatrical piece (enjoying a certain degree of agency and autonomy), a player (in an interactive game-like event), or a subject of induced self-reflection. The analysis is completed with some notes on the possible research and social uses that such practices - via embodiment, empathy, imagination, and understanding, to mention but a few defining qualities - may effectively serve.