Faculty of Education and Social Work

What is applied theatre?

Applied theatre is generally accepted as an umbrella term, embracing a wide range of theatre practices that share an intentionality to provoke or shape social change, including: theatre in education, theatre for development, youth theatre, disability theatre, museum theatre, reminiscence theatre and prison theatre.

Applied theatre has developed alongside progressive radical people’s movements in various places around the world. In many cases, the left-leaning politics of these antecedent movements has shaped both the aesthetic and pedagogic intents of applied theatre practice.

Central to these theatrical movements has been the development of new sets of relationships between actors and the audience. The onus of a participatory theatre is on creating actors not for the stage but actors for, on and with the world.

Much applied theatre continues to derive its aesthetic from forms of theatre and performance that challenge or subvert political and social hegemonies. Applied theatre can be seen as part of a wider theatre movement that enables, as Gatti has argued, ‘the disinherited classes to create a theatre that reflected their concerns, not through performances for them but with them’ (cited in Prendergast & Saxton, 2009: 10).