Stories and questions : agentive artistry and community-based youth theatre in regional theatre contexts
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Regional theatres in the United States of America produce an increasing number of educational theatre programs in which young people generate original performances based on personal and community stories. This qualitative research study employs a reflective practitioner research methodology to examine the experiences of high school students, teaching artists, and education staff during a community-based youth theatre Intensive at McCarter Theatre Center, a regional theatre in Princeton, NJ. The researcher draws data from her recorded experiences as the Intensive’s teaching artist in addition to data from student journals, staff interviews and artifacts from the performance-making process. Through thematic analysis, five aspects of the Intensive arise as important to student, staff, and teaching artist experiences: Ensemble, Generating Form and Content, Community Connection, Generating Performance, and Shaping Performance. This study finds that these five components were influenced by study participants’ multiple roles throughout the Intensive, roles that determined and enforced students’ agency while generating community-based performance. To conclude, the researcher suggests possibilities for supporting youth agency in future research and practice within community-based youth theatre processes in regional theatre contexts.
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