Conference Presentations

Some of the conference papers can be downloaded at http://manchester.academia.edu/EdmundChow

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30 May – 2 Jun 2013
SDEA Theatre Arts Conference, Arts House
Singapore

PLAYING AGAINST/BY THE RULES: WHAT IS SO DIFFICULT ABOUT DRAMA AND RUBRICS?

WORKSHOP ABSTRACT: By exploring the issues and difficulties of capturing the liveliness, ephemerality, and ‘in-the-moment’ moments of drama sessions in schools or community settings, this workshop aims for participants to engage in an improvisation leading to a dramatic presentation, and eventually creating diagnostic, as well as assessment, tools for measuring both drama processes and products within and outside the action. Principles in creating drama rubrics will be investigated, both theoretically and practically. There will be segments of personal sharing, theoretical discussions, role-playing and group presentations.

Teachers or cultural workers in community settings who might be struggling with a bureaucratic language would benefit from this session, as the facilitator demonstrates examples drawn from the repertoire of educational theories, drama therapy theories, and drama/theatre/performance theories in process drama and applied theatre connected to personal, social and emotional goals to, possibly, larger organisational outcomes. While this workshop offers participants a tangible experience that may be adapted to their own needs, these exercises are perhaps more instrumental in equipping participants (and eventually their charges) by asking the right questions – as a qualitative measure of positionality, criticality and reflexivity.

<Note: Withdrew from conference because laptop was stolen weeks earlier>

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5-7 Sep 2012
8th TaPRA, University of Kent
Canterbury, UK

MEASURING ARTS PROJECT OUTCOMES:
A PROVISIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR ELDERLY PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA

ABSTRACT: Assessing the impact of applied theatre projects, according to Etherton and Prentki (2006), tends to gravitate towards impact assessment that is extensive not just in time and expenditure, but expands to areas in economics, development, sustainability, human rights, and politics. To enquire to what effect applied theatre projects bring about social change is not only unhelpful to the artists and communities they are serving, but it undermines the quality of work in itself. We are asking the wrong questions to artists working in often marginalised communities. Artists create Art. This paper examines impact, perceived and accepted unidirectionally, with ‘art’ as the cause, and ‘society’ as the effect as inadequate. I argue that ‘society’ is the cause, and ‘art’ the effect, while considering potential omni-directionalities towards impact measurement. In other words, the essential questions to be raised are: to what extent are our arts practices impacted by outside forces, locally and globally, and how should we re-negotiate the making of art to meet a community’s needs? The belief that our arts practices can create impact on society, I argue, is not only ambitious and idealistic, seeing the arts as a panacea for all social injustices, but also inherently arrogant, with the superior positioning of artists proselytising neoliberal values. With an example from an interdisciplinary arts project for the elderly with dementia, this paper proposes a framework borrowed from Bloom’s Taxonomy and Laban’s Movement Analysis to help artists monitor project outcomes which are more immediate, but no less impactful. (247 words)


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10-15 July 2012

IDiERI 7, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick
Ireland

TRANSLATING AESTHETICS FROM THE PERIPHERY TO THE CORE: A CASE OF THEATRE IN SINGAPORE PRISON

ABSTRACT: This paper aims to explore the concepts of aesthetic evaluation of one theatre performance, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in a Singapore prison. Performed by incarcerated youths to an inmate population, as well as to invited members of the public which comprised professional theatre practitioners, the play evoked two extreme responses amongst these diverse audiences. The inmates enjoyed it, but the theatre-makers presumably thought nothing of it. This paper takes from that one significant, albeit subjective, moment in which the theatre-makers left the prison premises with pursed lips of silent appreciation, not for the quality of the show, but for having been invited to watch it in a prison. The implied disapproval by the theatre-makers, many of whom are engaged in schools and community-based work, has raised questions of production values, professional standards, and the nature of aesthetic impact. A production is normally judged according to standards esteemed in Performance Studies, but this paper argues that it is inadequate. By taking on a theoretical framework from Translation Studies, this paper offers a preliminary understanding of the differentials in aesthetic appreciation. This paper goes on to  propose that applied theatre performances should be evaluated from the core, not periphery, and argues why aesthetic evaluation cannot be divorced from the aesthetic process and pedagogical goals. In this paper, I will first examine Kant’s paradigm of “disinterestedness” towards creating art for art’s sake, Bharucha’s dialectic between “good intention” and “effect”, and Ranciere’s argument for the “emancipated spectator”, and then claim that this performance, if seen from the usual Performance Studies frame, possibly reduces what applied theatre stood for: active engagement and participation. I will illustrate some of the rehearsal methods that fail to meet the expectations in many respects – from the selection of a play to the facilitation by the director. Furthermore, there was no provision for measuring ‘impact’, which is quintessential in applied theatre practice today. But if analysed from Translation Studies, the differences in aesthetic responses could be understood in terms of formal equivalence (Kant’s fidelity to content and form), as well as dynamic equivalence (Bharucha’s and Ranciere’s relevance to culture and effect). Eugene Nida’s translation process and Susan Bassnett-McGuire’s communicative process diagrams are especially helpful in situating these conflicting responses on a continuum. However, this paper suggests that aesthetic judgements of prison performances – when swung to the right, nearer to the receiver’s end in the translation diagram – is unhelpful and unethical. This paper argues that an aesthetic judgement cannot be separated from the aesthetic experience that is found and structured within an educational process. By introducing new art forms, for example through jazz dance, stage combat and shadow puppets, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde offers prison inmates an alternative aesthetic experience. This paper therefore positions performance aesthetics within prison discourse as an expansion of cultural capital, and argues that the lack of exposure to different art forms and cultural spaces re-imprisons inmates to familiar spaces of crime. Those are the creative and pedagogical goals from which aesthetic evaluations must consider.  (500 words)

REFERENCE:
Bassnett-McGuire, S. (1980). Translation studies. London: Metheun & Co. Ltd.

Haseman, B. & Winston, J. (2010). Why be interested?’ Aesthetics, applied theare and drama education. Research in Drama Education: The journal of applied theatre and performance, 15(4), 465-475.

Venuti, L. (Ed.). (2001). The translation studies reader. London: Routledge.

Download pdf notes here: EdChow_IDIERI2012_TranslationalAesthetics_ScriptWithDiagrams

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26 May 2012
Impact: Postgraduate Research Symposium, University of Manchester
Manchester, UK

MEASURING ARTS PROJECT OUTCOMES:
A PROVISIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR ELDERLY PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA

ABSTRACT: Assessing the impact of applied theatre projects, according to Etherton and Prentki (2006), tends to gravitate towards impact assessment that is extensive not just in time and expenditure, but expands to areas in economics, development, sustainability, human rights, and politics. To enquire to what effect applied theatre projects bring about social change is not only unhelpful to the artists and communities they are serving, but it undermines the quality of work in itself. We are asking the wrong questions to artists working in often marginalised communities. Artists create Art. This paper examines impact, perceived and accepted unidirectionally, with ‘art’ as the cause, and ‘society’ as the effect as inadequate. I argue that ‘society’ is the cause, and ‘art’ the effect, while considering potential omni-directionalities towards impact measurement. In other words, the essential questions to be raised are: to what extent are our arts practices impacted by outside forces, locally and globally, and how should we re-negotiate the making of art to meet a community’s needs? The belief that our arts practices can create impact on society, I argue, is not only ambitious and idealistic, seeing the arts as a panacea for all social injustices, but also inherently arrogant, with the superior positioning of artists proselytising neoliberal values. With an example from an interdisciplinary arts project for the elderly with dementia, this paper proposes a framework borrowed from Bloom’s Taxonomy and Laban’s Movement Analysis to help artists monitor project outcomes which are more immediate, but no less impactful.

From Dementia Studies

Presentation made on 26 May 2012 at Impact: Postgraduate Research Symposium, at the University of Manchester.


If the above clip does not load, you may download/watch the video presentation here: https://vimeo.com/edchow/impact2012

Download presentation script here: EdChow_Dementia_Script_Impact2012
Download proposed rubric here:  EdChow_DementiaRubric_Impact2012

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Aug 2011
UNESCO-NIE CARE, National Institute of Education
Singapore

CARE FORUM SERIES “Applied Theatre: Examining the Singapore Context”
APPLIED THEATRE IN THE PRISON SCHOOL

ABSTRACT: What effect does drama have on prison inmates in Singapore? What are the challenges faced by both inmates and facilitator? How can an applied theatre programme be sustained for long-term rehabilitation? These are some of the issues that will be raised as Edmund shares his experiences working as a full-time educator in a prison school from 2004 to 2009.

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Jun 2011
SDEA Theatre Arts Conference, LaSalle College of the Arts
Singapore

REHABILITATION IN A PRISON SCHOOL

<missing abstract>

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Dec 2007
Arts Education Conference, New York University
New York, USA

EXPLORING (DRAMATIC) PRINCIPLES FOR SUSTAINABILITY:

LESSONS FROM SINGAPORE PRISON SCHOOL

ABSTRACT: The arts enjoy premium status in Singapore schools. For many years now, performances in drama, dance, band, and choir have become a platform for schools to showcase the quality of the arts on a national level at the Singapore Youth Festival Competition organised by the Ministry of Education. In the fight to win prestigious awards, school administrators have resorted to hiring theatre directors, actors, playwrights to hone their secondary students to perform ‘professionally’. Based on such pursuits, funding and material support are often part of the budget planning in mainstream schools, a leverage that is sadly not equitable in all schools, especially in Kaki Bukit Centre (Prison School).

Support in the prison was characterised by serious censorships, security lockdowns, and non-funding of materials three years ago. Today, this team of incarcerated drama students has proudly performed to both inmate populations and members of the public with works of theatre and visual arts, while negotiating art for themselves through a series of therapeutic expressions. This continuous cycle from ‘theatre as product’ to ‘drama as process’ has woven a network of support that has enabled the arts in the prison school to flourish and be self-sustaining in a multi-disciplinary manner. Since building community and forming partnerships in this educational context has redefined the role of arts education as a system for long-term community building, within and without, this paper explores these principles for sustainability, wherein the artists meets the arts to promote a structure for personal rehabilitation and civic engagement.

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