Echo Theatre: From Experience to Performance
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This research project investigates the characteristics of Echo Theatre, its potential to foster performative and narrative competencies in students, and the role of the teacher in this performative and educational practice. Echo Theatre is a method devised during my storytelling practice and this research confirms that there is no identical research or teaching practice which involves students staging personal narratives in the classroom in this way. The study has been informed by cross disciplinary theory studies from the fields of phenomenology, cognitive sciences, and theatre practice. To analyse and discuss Echo Theatre’s potential contribution to the development of the child I have defined the concept of a performative competence as well as redefined the concept of a narrative competence. The situated, embodied and performative character of human cognition is emphasised as physical actions and thinking in movement is related to both gestural and conceptual understandings. Studies in philosophy and psychology confirm that narrative structure, related to identity construction and meaning making, can be attained through the performing body. We tell stories to know who we are. Telling stories then in the Echo Theatre model develops multiple competencies related to the performative aspects of theatre practice as well as the narrative aspects of storytelling. The practice-led aspect of this research project includes two fieldwork projects involving a primary school class who created sixteen different Echo Theatre stories. Student participation reveals that Echo Theatre is most constructive when it moves through five phases; recalled experience, narrative, drama, performance, and evaluation. Ongoing reflection is a part of all five phases. The study also confirms that while there is potential for Echo Theatre to support the development of performative and narrative competencies in students, the effectiveness of this directly relates to the teacher’s theatre knowledge and skills and his or her didactic attitude towards the students. The study concludes that the potential for learning through the moving and performing body of Echo Theatre is strengthened by working with personal narratives in the classroom and led by teachers displaying heightened skills and knowledge of the aesthetics and dynamics of theatrical form.