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Friday March 15 | Session 10:45 - 12:15 (20 min)
De Brakke Grond | Rode Zaal
This performance lecture will explore how British drama educator Dorothy Heathcote adapted the aesthetics of the theatre for the classroom. Her thirty three ‘conventions for dramatic action’ help educators frame schoolchildren into positions of affective involvement with imaginary events.

The lecture will draw upon the theories of Vygotski (2005), Freud (2006), and Lacan (2006) to understand how, in common with conventionally staged plays and child-play, Heathcote’s conventions allow participants an intense engagement with fictional situations, without believing them to be true in the literal sense. Performative aspects of the lecture will demonstrate how, by staging violent events behind a wall, the Theatre of Dionysus positioned audiences in the ‘real’ of dramatic crisis; and how Heathcote’s conventions separate the auditory from the visual to the same effect. The first fifteen conventions allow children to look intently: dramatic action can be slowed, frozen, and re-enacted, while protagonists can be presented as ‘living’ portraits, effigies, or identikit pictures. The second fifteen conventions engage with the dramatic soundscape. Like actors in rehearsal the children have access to the protagonists’ words, documents or ‘marks’; investigating when, why, and how they may have been spoken, written, or made, brings situations to life.

The key feature of these conventions seems to be that they allow learners to look, act, listen, and speak, without the constraint of the social gaze so prevalent in educational institutions. Liberation from this ‘desire of the other’ appears to give learners the autopoietic freedom to engage with the symbolic on their own terms. 

Kate Katafiasz is Senior Lecturer in Drama at Newman University, Birmingham, UK. Her research reads drama with Lacanian Desire to explore its radicalising effect on the relationship between words and bodies in ancient, educational, and poststructural contexts.
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