The ensemble process fuses elements of applied drama, actor training and theatre laboratory to explore practice in a collaborative and meaningful way. One student writes:
[This work] has furthered my knowledge about theatre and education in a way I would have never expected. The company values the work and ideas that the students have been contributing to and put it at the very fore of its theatre. Like a theatre laboratory, we have the ability to try out new things regardless of the outcome and this feels extremely liberating in an academic environment in which we are constantly being assessed.
We have established a space to co-create knowledge with students, a safe space in which to take risks, giving participants the right to fail. A postgraduate student who documented one of our projects recognised the pedagogic and artistic re-valuing of failure in our creative decision-making, writing that one event:
offered a chance for young writers, directors and actors to present their work on stage… What was also interesting was that some of the performances were still works-in-progress… By exposing an unfinished work one has to deal with the risk of failure… “What I’ve come to learn is that we need to create opportunities for failure”… “It’s a space of reimagining possibilities.”
Those final meditations on failure and learning are central to our collective teaching philosophy and what better way to imagine learning than as a ‘space of reimagining possibilities’.
These weekly theatre laboratory sessions created an engine room for our student-centred workshops. Ideas born and tested in the laboratory were offered to the general public through theatrical productions, and to the academic community through OSL workshops and events in the following departments: English, Theatre, Philosophy, Medicine, Chemistry and Maths. Knowledge that had been co-constructed with students was shared with the whole campus through embodied pedagogies.