Jelle De Grauwe, PhD in the Arts

Theatre always touches the world. The process of theatre-making offers time and space to reflect on the world together, after which the world is opened up to the public again in a transformed way.

Based on this conviction, I explore in my research how, as a drama teacher in ‘woordkunst-drama’ as field of study in the Flemish Artistic Secondary Education (KSO), I can understand the drama class as and transform it into a rehearsal space where 'the world is opened up' as a basis for processes of collective theatre-making. This approach I call the 'school drama', based on the idea of the school as 'leisure time' (scholè) that makes it possible to put the world 'in brackets', to contemplate it, to be touched by it and to relate to it as a young person.

In this world-centred approach to drama education, I therefore do not focus on training the competences of the younsters as actors and theatre makers, but I investigate how I can create a collective space for contemplation together with them within an artistic process of theatre-making. In my research I therefore approach 'contemplation' as a creative act. In doing so, I investigate how different perspectives and voices can be heard, so that the space for contemplation becomes a polyphonic space in which the world is approached in its richness. Plurality is therefore essential. Finally, I explore how this immaterial space for contemplation can also develop artistically and materially into a tangible theatrical space that can be 'unlocked' to an audience.

Starting from the (educational) design research as the choosen research strategy, I set up three theatre projects in the Artistic Secondary Education as practical experiments. These projects are confronted with projects by fellow drama teachers and will be inspired by the practice of a number of (contemporary) theatre makers who can be connected to this world-centred approach.

The finality of the research is a description of the 'grammar' of school drama as a methodical-didactic framework that zooms in on working methods to open a collective space for contemplation in which exposure to the world is possible and on ways to open up this space in a theatrical way.

  • Supervisor: dr. Nancy Vansieleghem (KU Leuven / LUCA)

Research unit: Music & Drama

Duration: 2021 - 2025