What is “applied theatre?” It is an umbrella term “embracing a wide range of theatre practices that share an intentionality to provoke pr shape social change” (What is Applied Theatre). Applied theatre consists of several fields in our societies, it could be simply a doorstep music band on the street, a health promotion collaboration, or an intergenerational dance project – it is a space for communities to tell stories – the bridge that blends the beauty of mundane lives and art forms together. It is true that any theatre, as an art form, pursues and creates beauty on the stage; however, applied theatre challenges the traditional meaning of the stage, exploring the beauty of everyday life and society. In a traditional theatre, there is “the fourth wall” that separates actors and the audience; applied theatre tends to deconstruct this wall, seeing the audience not the outsider but both the author and the actor of the show. Why would we need theatre? It is not only an activity of entertainment but an artistic creation that helps us understand the world and ourselves through stories. We come to the theatre expecting to watch the story, but we gradually forget that the story we seek from the stage could come from ourselves and our communities.
It could be just a ritual, an action, or a random adjective in our lives as a source of beauty. Applied theatre extols that the heart of theatre is not to create beauty but to find the beauty inherent in our lives. We need a space to learn this beauty within our communities and us. In Sue Mayo’s intergenerational dance project, “I Live in It,” with Mulberry School for girls and older women from Tower Hamlets. Women in this project dance, write and create music together to think about thanking our own bodies. She stresses that the concept of “I live in it” comes from radio where a young woman says this phrase; this project allows intergenerational women to feel their bodies and to feel that they are alive. By recognizing our bodies, we could feel the world and our existence – it is the real beauty we have already possessed.
Applied theatre explores a new meaning of theatre: the openness of stories. The openness of stories comes from the connection between life and art because we can never design the ending of life – what we could do is to embrace it. Through connections to communities, theatre discovers more stories that help people feel the collective consciousness, giving them the opportunities of storytelling – because all of us need to express. As Fişek endorses: “The relationship between theatre and community is characterized by the flexibility and unpredictability of both terms;” and because of the openness to possibility, “theatre looks like an exemplary space of community formation and collectivity” (Fişek, 55). Theatre is not only for actors but for the ones who want to say something through drama.
Fişek, Emine. “Efficacy and Agency.” Theatre & Community, Macmillan International, 2019, pp. 44–55.
“What Is Applied Theatre.” What Is Applied Theatre – The University of Auckland, http://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/education/research/research-centres-and-units/critical-research-unit-in-applied-theatre/what-is-applied-theatre.html.