Collaboration: Rethreading Labyrinths of Learning (Together) through Pedagogy and Creative Arts Practices

Leslie Burton

Graduate Student, Drama and Theatre Studies, UCC

Róisín O’Gorman

Lecturer, Drama and Theatre Studies, UCC

In these video essays, we reflect on the experiences gleaned from co-teaching a second-year undergraduate theatre practice course at University College Cork’s Drama & Theatre Studies Department in 2015 [https://theatreperformancepractice.wordpress.com/]. Through the layered modalities of the video format we aimed to distil our critical reflections on those processes of learning and transformation that we want to believe a classroom can offer.  As our particular terrain is critical creative practice the video essay offered us a model we found to be very compatible with the creative and critical pedagogies that we wanted to represent.  Rather than layout a traditional exegesis of our pedagogy, the video essay allowed us to intimate the affective, creative, evocative and sometimes challenging journey we undertook with our students.  It allowed us playfully to acknowledge that we need to sometimes lose our way in order to learn and change.

Our pedagogical and artistic practices centre on entering bodily, materially and metaphorically into a play of ideas and worlds, to test and draw on ways of knowing that open up new creative possibilities through encounters with self, other and world in processual, dynamic and open ways.  We reach for the threads of arts practices and liberatory pedagogies that presume the necessity of critical making in these labyrinths.  Following methods from devising, feminist theatre practices, and performance studies, we worked with students to create an original performance based on their stories and research.  We followed processes of making with video, music, movement, shadows, and materials (including cloth, clay and papier-mâché.)  Our key interest was in the generative process, in finding the opportunities and challenges inherent in mixing media in a live performance, and in exploring the limits and possibilities that are part and parcel of devising collaboratively.  This approach included setbacks: students struggled with how to move across the various media forms (movement based explorations, puppetry, storytelling, singing, video-making); they struggled to show up, sometimes they didn’t know what to make or what to make of what was being offered.  But we also found breakthroughs: when we began moving and making while thinking, things began to happen; we found paths that we didn’t see before; we learned of and from each other; we began to see and engage differently with the world; we learned, we transformed and we learned that transformation is possible, in fact, that it is inevitable.  With these video-essays, we each investigate and invoke different aspects of risking new and unknown approaches to collaboration and devising in the theatre classroom in which we played seriously with devising and remixing rules of engagement: Be open, listen, attune, attend, show up, use what is here. The video-essay as a critical form was also a new experiment for us; we have learned new levels of process, critical engagement and the necessity of collaboration.  We intend to continue to rethread, rethink and remix the potential of the video essay form in the classroom and in our own on-going learning and making processes.

 

References, “Material Collaborations”

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Burton, Leslie. “Technical Drawing.” Photograph. 2015. JPEG.

______  “Vodnička, Early.” Photograph. August 2015. JPEG.

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Trejtnar, Mirek. “Leslie Carving 1.” photograph. August 2015. JPEG.

______ . “Leslie Carving 2.” photograph. August 2015. JPEG.

______ . “Leslie Painting 1.” photograph. August 2015. JPEG.

______ . “Leslie Painting 2.” photograph. August 2015. JPEG.

______ . “Vodnička.” photograph. August 2015. JPEG.

______ . “Vodnička’s Costume 1.” photograph. August 2015. JPEG .

______ “Vodnička’s Costume 2.” photograph. August 2015. JPEG file.

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References, “Collabyrinths: Rethreading Learning Together”

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The Cine-Files, issue 11 (fall 2016)