Banner image for Changing Lives & Empowering Communities

Changing Lives and Empowering Communities Through Applied Performance Practice as Research

Researchers in the University of Lincoln’s School of Performing Arts are breaking new ground in examining the use of performance by, with and for marginalised and disempowered communities.

Work by the Centre for Performance Innovation and Evaluation aims to inform and improve social welfare and inclusion through performing art practices, exploring how the research process can help communities come together. The Centre’s work has developed innovative projects with prisoners, social services, elderly people, the NHS, the BBC and the Royal Air Force.

Aylwyn Walsh, Lecturer in Drama at the Lincoln School of Performing Arts, won the Helsinki Prize from the International Federation for Theatre Research for her extensive work with female prisoners. Aylwyn received the prize, which is awarded on the basis of academic merit to outstanding scholars in the field, for her study into performance tactics used by incarcerated women as coping mechanisms. Her work included a performance created with and for female prisoners and prison staff.

As part of the Centre’s work with marginalised communities Kayla Bowtell, Senior Lecturer in Dance, conducted practice-based research with elderly groups which explored possibilities for intergenerational dialogue through dance.

As well as considering how performance can empower communities, the Centre also looks at ways in which practical, experiential performance can be used in the training of healthcare and social services professionals.

A collaboration between United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) and the University of Lincoln’s School of Performing Arts was shortlisted for the Nursing Times Team of The Year Award in 2013. The project aimed to raise awareness of the medical and emotional complexity of living with Hepatitis C by weaving ethnographic research into an interactive performance.

The Centre also collaborates with Lincolnshire Social Services on a partnership in which Drama students improvise realistic scenarios so that trainee social workers can rehearse effective ways of dealing with different conflict situations.

A number of additional projects have explored how site-specific performance can work as a tool for community dialogue and memory.

Led by Conan Lawrence, Senior Lecturer and Co-director for the Centre, the Lincoln School of Performing Arts collaborated with BBC Radio Lincolnshire and the Royal Air Force as part of the national commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the legendary Dambusters raid in 2013.

Following extensive research by staff and students into the World War Two mission of 1943, the team performed during the official commemoration at RAF Scampton, which was aired live on BBC2. The Dambusters Project, the first drama to be staged as part of a military commemoration, generated a site-specific performance before an audience of 617 Squadron veterans and RAF dignitaries, and an original radio drama, broadcast on the anniversary of the mission.

As a result of this work a new collaborative project between the Lincoln School of Performing Arts, the Armed Forces and BBC Radio Lincolnshire is in development to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One.