Theatre, Performance and Education: The Map and The Story. Completion of monograph

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Holloway, University of London
Department Name: Drama and Theatre


Theatre that takes place in educational settings has been re-branded. Once associated with civic activism and political mobilisation, theatre is now allied to public engagement and to the leisure and creative industries. Theatre for children is thriving, recognising that children are profitable cultural consumers. Government policies that promote creative learning aim to produce a flexible workforce in a post-industrial economy, and the creative industries have become instrumental to urban regeneration. Disused factories have been turned into arts centres, galleries, museums and theatres, promoted as cultural assets in the expectation of attracting entrepreneurial investment. Furthermore, in areas of economic deprivation, participating in the arts is seen as a powerful way to heal social division. As funding has increased for education and public engagement programmes, theatre-makers have responded to this economic and social climate by developing new ways to contribute to formal education and community learning.

This study is the first to investigate the effects of a newly globalised economy and re-branded creative industries on twenty-first century theatre education. Theatre education has always been often complexly poised between different agendas, negotiating the policies of the government of the day and the social, educational and artistic aspirations of theatre-makers and educators. This remains the case in the twenty-first century, where the rapid pace of technological and social change is impacting on both education and cultural policies. Within this climate, however, significant new sources of funding for creative learning have enabled theatre practitioners to work in ways that are not only artistically innovative, but also encourage new forms of social imagining.

This is the first study to bring together educational theatre, theatre for children and the performative pedagogies associated with social regeneration. Case-studies from different parts of the world will provide examples of education and public engagement programmes that take place in theatres, in the education and cultural sectors, in the leisure, tourist and creative industries. The research will, therefore, investigate the boundaries between leisure and learning, entertainment and education. The study unites these different practices around three conceptual themes, drawn from cultural geography, of place, space and mobilities. These act as central political metaphors for our time, asking fundamental questions about the role of theatre as a creative space, as a place of learning and as theatre-making as a transgressive act of displacement. The research, which brings together the voices of participants and theatre-makers with new ways of thinking about the arts, will impact on practitioners, policy-makers and educationalists as well as theatre academics.


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Description There were three main findings:

1) Continuities and discontinuities between past and contemporary theatre education
2) the role of creative learning in a creative economy
3) the significance of place and location on theatre education practices.
Exploitation Route The book provides a critique of the politics of creativity and creative education. It opens questions about the politics of taste and the motives of contemporary practices and policies that harness creativity to success in a globalised economy. It makes suggestions about how theatre education might sustain is historical commitment to innovation and radical thought.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The findings for this research have been used by theatre educationalists in Eastern Europe (parts of the book have been translated into Hungarian), Italy, USA, New Zealand and Singapore. The critique on the relationship between the creative economy and creative learning prompted revision of policies in theatres in globalised economies. This has now been extended to policy work at Tate, particularly focussing on Tate Exchange where I am a member of the steering committee. The book has informed the ways in which Tate has developed their creative learning programmes. The research has also been instrumental in informing my contribution to Paul Hamlyn's ArtWorks programme on training artists in participatory settings. In 2017 I was invited to become Visiting Professor at the University of Stockholm where I am collaborating with a group of theatre-makers and early career researchers who are working in educational settings.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Polka Theatre
Amount £2,000 (GEL)
Organisation Polka Theatre 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
End 09/2018
Description Royal National Theatre 
Organisation Royal National Theatre
Department National Theatre Archive
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I undertook research on their new flagship programme, Public Acts, from 2017-2020
Collaborator Contribution They invited me to research their programmes, particularly focused on participatory theatre and theatre education.
Impact Research reports, currently being completed, will inform their policy.
Start Year 2017
Description University of Stockholm 
Organisation Stockholm University
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am currently Visiting Professor (10%) at Stockholm University. My role is to work with arts educators to develop new approaches to research, including training in practice-based research methods. This collaboration began in January 2018, with the expectation of two years shared work. I have undertaken training PhD students and ECRs, working with artists in educational settings.
Collaborator Contribution This collaboration is in its early stages. My collaborators are contributing to my research on the role of theatre in educational settings by testing the reach and applicability of my research in the UK.
Impact The outcomes are largely in the form of events and activities for Nordic early career researchers. They have benefitted from a course I have led on publication in English, and particularly on writing about theatre practice that takes place in community and educational settings.
Start Year 2018
Description Public Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Over 50 people attended a public lecture I gave at the Theatre Festival in Pecs, Hungary in June 2017. It prompted questions about the ways in which artists can engage with young people in schools, and how this can be evaluated and assessed, There were some key respondents from Romanian and Hungarian universities, but the main focus was on translating my research into theatre in educational settings for a wider public and creative professionals. I have since been invited to further collaborate with arts organisations in Hungary.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Public Lecture in Pecs Theatre Festival Hungary 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Funded by The British Council, Helen Nicholson was invited to undertake a week's training on inclusive arts practice in Taiwan. Although this did not draw on Dr Hatton's PhD research, it represented Helen Nicholson's independent research in the same area (Hatton's supervisor)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017