initiatives

Mapping the archives: 5

Anthony Jackson

This is the fifth instalment of Research in Drama Education (RiDE)’s occasional series of short informational pieces on archives in the field of drama and theatre education and applied theatre and performance. Each instalment includes summaries of one or more collections of significant material in the field. This cumulative directory of archival resources, updated as and when necessary, will provide an ongoing resource for researchers, teachers, students and practitioners. The aim is to include not only the established, fully catalogued and well-known collections, but also the lesser known, possibly quite small and ‘emergent’ collections (e.g. those which exist in one location but have yet to be systematically catalogued), and significant collections contained within larger archives. This instalment contains information on the Kees Epskamp archive at Winchester, and on two theatre in education (TIE) company records at Manchester (Pit Prop Theatre and Tiebreak), and a ‘work in progress’ report from colleagues in Australia. The latter piece usefully reminds us of the importance of placing archive collection, preservation and access firmly on the applied theatre agenda.

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Protecting into emotion: therapeutic enactments with military veterans transitioning back into civilian life

Michael Balfour, Marvin Westwood, Marla J. Buchanan

Over 18.5% of military personnel returning from war zones to civilian life suffer mental health issues, which can lead to family breakdown, homelessness and other problems. Almost 4000 Australian soldiers have returned home from active service in the last decade suffering from combat stress and mental health conditions. A 2009 Australian independent government review warned that a new generation of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe mental health disorders will emerge in the next five years, with as many as one in four likely to need mental health treatment. The Difficult Return: arts-based approaches to mental health literacy and building resilience with recently returned military personnel and their families is a three-year Australian Research Council funded arts project aimed at supporting the mental health and well-being of recently returned veterans in Australia, USA and Canada. The project combines a range of arts-based strategies to help returning veterans, including online digital films to improve awareness and help seeking motivation, a performance project with ex-soldiers and actors, and a process-based group work programme. The paper will focus specifically on the development of the Veterans Transition Programme (VTP) a partnership between Griffith University and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. The VTP leverages the resilience and resources of veterans, providing help to participants attempting to better understand the impact of military experience on their lives. It draws on a range of psycho-educational and action-based approaches, including life review and drama enactments to engage participants in ways of dealing with disturbing events from their lives. The paper will describe and reflect on a number of the strategies used in the VTP, for example, how the drama enactments help to integrate emotion, cognition and embodied awareness, the significance of contact when working with trauma, and the importance of a therapeutic milieu in constructing ‘units’ of support for the veterans.

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Straight into conflict zones, scientific research empowers the minds

Leïla Perié, Livio Riboli-Sasco, Claire Ribrault (JCOM)

Sharing scientific knowledge in conflict zones may not sound like a priority. Still science communicators can contribute to address social issues by inviting people to experience research practice, engaging them in scientific questioning and constructive dialog.

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Knowledge rooms — science communication in local, welcoming spaces to foster social inclusion

Barbara Streicher, Kathrin Unterleitner, Heidrun Schulze (JCOM)

Socially inclusive science communication has to take place where people spend most of their time — within their communities. The concept of knowledge rooms uses empty shops in socially disadvantaged urban areas for offering low-threshold, interactive science center activities. The commentary carves out essential features that contributed to the success of the pilot project. Most importantly, the knowledge◦ rooms had to be welcoming and comfortable for visitors of various backgrounds. The spaces were easy to access, the initiators were seen as trustworthy actors by temporarily becoming part of the community and the offer was respectful of the time and knowledge of its users.

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