29 SES 03, Drama and Performative Research
This presentation draws on two recent studies (Greenwood, 2018; Greenwood & Hasnat 2017) and one older one (Greenwood 1991) to examine the communicative effectiveness and affective impact of creating a performative presentation out of case study data.
In all three studies the data was initially collected and analysed through relatively conventional methods of ethnographic data gathering - interview, observation and document analysis - rather than through arts based methods. In the older example, an investigation of a rural New Zealand’s school’s decision to make the indigenous Maori language compulsory and of the fight of one family against that decision, the intention had always been to create a docu-drama. In the two more recent studies - a study of parental engagement in schooling in Bangladesh, and a study of navigations demanded of international doctoral students - the data and findings were initially presented in verbal, academic form, and only later were they reconceptualised in performative terms, involving hand puppets, dramatic dialogue and dramatic symbols. In the case of the Bangladesh study the research originally appeared as a doctoral thesis (Hasnat, 2017). After Hasnat gained his doctorate we played with evolving a dramatic script. We wanted to allow the data to be understood as a social drama and so highlight the interplay of experiences of frustration, inadequacy, courage and hope that are the human aspects of what tends to be seen by policy as a statistical problem. We also saw it as a dress rehearsal for a way to take the findings of the research back to the people it is about, many of whom are illiterate and none of whom are likely to read an academic thesis.
In the process of dramatisation – in all three studies – data that came from separate interviews with people who probably did not communicate directly with each other was brought into tighter to create dramatic dialogue, and action. The stage - a table top in the cases where glove puppets were used –allowed space and time to be fused or fragmented in various ways and physical objects and words to acquire symbolic meaning. In the process new connections, new possible implications evolved.
The questions this paper poses are about the effects of playing with the data. It argues that many of the effects were useful additions to the original verbal texts: the material was made readily accessible to audiences and it brought back the human dimension of the recorded data. It also acknowledges that the play –in the multiple senses of the word - permitted shifts in apparent meaning. It asks whether those shifts should be considered as critical analysis in terms of research traditions or as creative interventions in terms of the affordances expected in art-making. It also asks about the ethical responsibilities of the researcher in playing in this way.
What underlies its many forms and makes art-based research distinct from other methodological approaches is its involvement of the aesthetic- of those visceral, sensual, emotional, embodied, not-absolutely-conscious processes of reaction to and engagement with the material being investigated. The art within art-based research carries power, and that power can potentially serve to reveal or to distort. How important – or even possible - is it to identify the difference?
The paper draws on discussions of arts-based research (Leavy, 2017, Barrett & Greenwood, 2013; Eisner, 1998), ethnodrama (Saldaña, 2008; Mienczakowski, 1995; Conrad, 2012) and of a range of post- approaches to research (Altheide & Johnson, 2011;Neilson, 2008; Preissle, 2011), as well ASs building on my own earlier work (Greenwood, 2005, 2011, 2018).
This is primarily a theoretical paper, drawing on examples of previously disseminated research studies (as identified above) and also referencing a number other researchers’ experimentation with performing data (as identified in references below)/ It addresses the research question: How does data change if it lifted from written text and made into a dramatic presentation? And also poses a number of resulting questions, including: • What are the ethical responsibilities of the researcher who draws on art to present data? • How does affect impact on data? • When does arts-based research stop being research and become simply art? • Is it still useful to distinguish between art and research? As well as offering a personal critical perspective, the presentation hopes to open further discussion.
As artists many of us are drawn to art-based research because want to explore the intricacies, fluidities and complexities of human experience and because it allows us to use tools we know the power of. However, we are also often aware that while the manipulation of arts processes within research enables complex investigation and multi-facetted representation, the lines between pure art and art-based research can easily become blurred. This presentation aims to contribute to discussion of the blur. On the final day of the 2017 conference there was an animated discussion about whether certain arts projects were or were not research. Such discussion is I believe, very valuable for our network. This papers aims to offer further stimulus for such discussion. The conference theme highlights inclusion and exclusion. This paper aligns with a twist on that theme. What is brought in and what might be shut out when data is played with in performance?
Altheide, D. & Johnson, J. (2011). Reflections on interpretive adequacy in qualitative research In N.K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (4th ed., pp. 581-594). London: Sage. Bagley, C. & Cancienne, M. (Eds.) (2002). Dancing the data. New York: Peter Lang. Barrett T. & Greenwood J. (2013). Betwixt sights and sites: A third space for understandings and engagement with visual arts education. The International Journal of Arts Education 7(3): 57-66 Conrad, D. (2012). Athabasca’s going unmanned. Rotterdam; Boston: Sense. Eisner, E. (1998). The enlightened eye: qualitative inquiry and the enhancement of educational practice. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Merrill. Greenwood J. (2011). Aesthetic learning, and learning through the aesthetic. In S.Schonmann (Ed.), Key Concepts in Theatre/Drama Education: 47-52. Rotterdam: Sense. Greenwood J. (2012). Arts-based research: Weaving magic and meaning. International Journal of Education & the Arts 13(Interlude 1). Retrieved from http://www.ijea.org/v13i1/v13i1.pdf. Greenwood, J. (1018, in press) Arts-based research. Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Education Greenwood, J. (1995). Broadwood: Na wai te reo? Performance. Northland Youth Theatre. Greenwood, J. (2018). Pou whenua and waka, marking distance and closeness: an arts-based research study of international doctoral students’ experiences. Presentation at IDIERI Conference, Auckland Greenwood, J. & Hasnat, M, (2017). I am illiterate, they are educated; what can I say to them?: A playful exploration of the impact of performative presentation of case study data. New Zealand Journal of Research in Performing Arts and Education. Mienczakowski, J. (1995). The theater of ethnography: The reconstruction of ethnography into theater with emancipatory potential. Qualitative Inquiry. 1 (3) page(s): 360-375 Neilson, A. (2008). Disrupting privilege, identity, and meaning: A reflexive dance of environmental education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Owen, N. (2009). Closing Schools for the Future. Paper presented at the International Conference on Educational Research for Development, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Preissle, J. (2011). Qualitative futures: Where we might go from where we’ve been. In Denzin, N. K. & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (4th ed., pp. 685-698). London: Sage. Saldaña, J. (2008). Ethnodrama and ethnotheatre. In J.Knowles & A. Cole (Eds.), Handbook of arts in qualitative research (pp.195-207). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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