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

The Cine-Files, issue 11 (fall 2016)

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 []. 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”

“Acorn to Oak filmed over an 8 month period time-lapse.” Youtube, 03:02. Posted by Neil Bromhall, April 13, 2011.

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

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

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

Čížková, Hanka. “Vodnik.” Photograph. Galerie Tvorby. March 20, 2013. Accessed May 19, 206.

Gaya, David. “Michelangelo’s David.” Photograph. Wikimedia Commons. n.d. Accessed May 20, 2016.

“Inside Ford’s Moving Assembly Line.” YouTube, 01:41. Ford Media, October 7, 2013.

Homestories: A Blossoming of Secrets. Video, 42:21. 2nd Year Drama & Theatre Studies Department Theatre Practice class, University College Cork, Ireland November 2015. Unpublished.

Ingold, Tim. Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture. London: Routledge, 2013.

“Ingold – Thinking Through Making.” YouTube, 25:59. Posted by Institute for Northern Culture, October 31, 2013.

Krčál, Vaclav. “WaterMan Marionette001.” Photograph. Loutky Krčál. June 30, 2008. Accessed May 19, 2016.

“Ornament.” Vimeo, 03:01. October 14, 2013.

Pomáháme Dárkem. “Vodnik.” Photograph. n.d. Accessed May 19, 2016.

“Processes.” Vimeo, 05:29. Posted by L. Burton, October 14, 2013.

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“Puppets in Prague Marionette Carving Workshop.” YouTube, 03:43. Posted by Pupperoos, July 2, 2011.

Růžička, Martin. “Lake deamon (sic).” Photograph. R&R Marionetisti. n.d. Accessed May 19, 2016.

“To Women.” Vimeo, 03:23. Posted by L. Burton, October 14, 2013.

“Silence.” Vimeo, 14:18. Posted by L. Burton, October 14, 2013.

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.

Zyzanna. “Vodnik.” Drawing. February 17, 2014. Accessed May 19, 2016.



References, “Collabyrinths: Rethreading Learning Together”

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[Brain image drawing, no title]. “Brain Development.” Brain Facts. Society for Neuroscience, 2016. Accessed April 25, 2016.

“Children Holding Hands Silhouette.” Image. Freepik. n.d. Accessed June 29, 2016.

Burne-Jones, Edward. “Theseus and the Minotaur” (1861). Accessed June 29, 2016.

Flow Hive. “Bee pollen slow motion Flow™ Hive.” YouTube, 01:42. April 7, 2015.

Friedrich, Caspar David.  “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog.” (1818). Accessed June 29, 2016.

Haraway, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities, Vol. 6 (2015): 159-165.

______ . “SF: String Figures, Multispecies Muddles, Staying with the Trouble”. Public Lecture March 24, 2014. University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. YouTube, 1:48:45.

Homestories: A Blossoming of Secrets. Video, 42:21. 2nd Year Drama & Theatre Studies Department Theatre Practice class, University College Cork, Ireland November 2015. Unpublished.

Inside The Labyrinth, The Making Of Labyrinth (1986). YouTube, 56:28. February 3, 2016.

Jones, Terry, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin. Monty Python. S.I.: Paragon Entertainment, 1999. (1979). YouTube, 00:44. “You’re all individuals.”  February 6, 2010.

Kushner, Tony. Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness. USA, Theatre Communications Group, 1995.

[Labyrinth image. No title.] “The Labyrinth of Crete: The Myth of the Minotaur.” Explore Crete. Accessed April 25, 2016.

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“Rosas re-mix rehearsals video.” 2nd Year Drama & Theatre Studies Department Theatre Practice class, University College Cork, Ireland, November 2015. Video. Unpublished.

Tamm, James Ward and Ronald J. Luyet. Radical Collaboration: Five Essential Skills to Overcome Defensiveness and Build Successful Relationships. New York: Harper Business, 2005.

“The Top 10 Bad Business Handshakes.” YouTube, 3:00. June 4, 2013.

Wainwright, Martha. “Proserpina.” From Come Home to Mama.  YouTube, 04.13. August 30, 2012.

Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society. Revised edition. New York: Oxford UP, 1976, 1983.



The Cine-Files, issue 11 (fall 2016)