Critical Play/s: embodied research for social change

Year: 2013

Author: Harris, Anne, Sinclair, Christine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This performative presentation shares excerpts from our forthcoming book of the same name (Sense, 2014) which is innovative in its use of the playscript as arts-based research text. This co-creation takes the form of a play that is a series of classes in performance ethnography and arts-based research methods, and is published as part of the Social Fictions arts-based research methods series edited by Patricia Leavy. Through a performance- and auto-ethnographic frame, we examine the roles scholars take on when interrogating arts-based methodologies and complement this through the lens of fiction to canvass reflections from the ‘students’ and ‘collaborators’ in this notional Performance Ethnography class. Performance ethnography and script-related arts-based education research (ABER) is threaded throughout to remind readers and practitioners of the interdisciplinary links between these qualitative forms. In so doing, Critical Plays extends these research approaches to include the ways in which fiction and composite-characters can generate a critical distance while asserting and embodying emergent themes in educational research in irreverent, humorous and always engaging ways. For the artist who thinks he might not be up to academic research, and the researcher who wants to return to her roots in the arts, this presentation is for all social science and education arts-based researchers who believe in the power of the body, voice and story to make research relevant to everyday lives.