Staging Our Selves: Towards a Theory of Relationality, Possibility, and Creative Youth Selfhood
This chapter investigates the unexpected emergence of novel connections between self-creation, documentary theatre technique, performance pedagogy, and educational community that manifested themselves within an international, ethnographic study of youth civic engagement and theatre. Over the course of two years of observation and 45 individual and focus group interviews in one Toronto high school, we witnessed a sophisticated and novel voicing of the nature of self and its unique growth within the social nesting of a drama classroom, even under the occasional shadow of oppressive conditions. We examine, through the multidisciplinary lenses of feminist political theory, performance theory, and the students’ own theorizing, the unique roles that collective narrative creative practices (including verbatim theatre and oral history performance), relationality, critical dialogue and performative/playful skill-building enact in a creative and resilient expansion of the quotidian lives of youth. We conclude by gesturing towards a theory of youth selfhood and creativity.
KeywordsSelfhood Youth Social nesting Performance pedagogy Documentary theatre Relationality
We would like to acknowledge the drama students and teachers at Regal Heights Collegiate, our international collaborators on Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary, particularly Urvashi Sahni and her students at Prerna School, and our research team member Kelsey Jacobson who offered invaluable support in conceptualizing some of our initial ideas. The research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant #30536.
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