Melodrama and Methodism: An Approach Through Practice
The relationship between academic research and workshop sessions is not a relaxed one, but there are occasions when it may be uniquely dynamic. The project I will be describing in this chapter was, for me, one such occasion. What had begun in my head as the inkling of a perception was tested and, to a measurable extent, validated through the skills and experience of a group of students. The association of melodrama and Methodism that I shall be proposing is based on two claims, neither of which I have room to argue fully. The first is that the study of drama invites from its teachers an investment in a visceral pedagogy whose outcome for the student is by no means always predictable. The second, more contentious perhaps, is that the popularity of melodrama in nineteenth-century Britain was culturally aligned with the mingled guilt and hopefulness of salvationary Nonconformism. My immediate purpose is to describe a drama project which attempted to explore the propriety of the second claim in such a way as to advance the first. At the time, it had some of the anxiety-creating uncertainties of a genuine melodrama.
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