Dear SCENARIO Readers,
This issue (2017-1) is the first of two issues entirely dedicated to the SCENARIO Conference, held in University College Cork on May 25-28, 2017 to mark the 10th year anniversary of the SCENARIO Journal. The issue features seven research articles, a piece for our Texts Around Theatre rubric, and three conference reports.
The issue starts off with a report of the SCENARIO 2017 conference and a short film which conveys impressions of the four stimulating conference days. For those of us who attended the conference, Lane Sorensen’s vivid report will take us back to the vibrant range of talks, workshops, panel discussions, theatre performances. For those who could not attend the conference, Sorensen provides a lucid overview to the themes and key issues of the conference. His report is complemented by the official conference film, edited by Patricia & Maciek Klich.
The research articles explore a variety of themes:
Kathleen McGovern offers a comprehensive literature review of performative language teaching, focusing on various forms of drama and theatre applied to second language teaching. She takes the reader on a thorough overview of contemporary literature, both short-scale and long-scale forms. She suggests that, given the vast diversity of terminology in the field, it is important that practitioners and researchers become more transparent on what they actually mean by ‘drama’, as this can have many different nuances, according to contexts and paradigms. Taking performative language teaching as an umbrella term, she prompts educators to interrogate the reasons why they use drama, seen as both a pedagogic tool and a medium for changes in individuals and society.
Mona Eikel-Pohen’s contribution is an insightful practical guide to prepare our students to face an oral presentation. The dreaded ordeal of presenting in public turns into a layered, rich process that can enable students to find their presence and confidence in the classroom. Drawing on Stanislawski’s System and Johnstone’s Impro, Eikel-Pohen shares a valuable framework to implement in class, illustrated by a number of witty Lego figurines. Her discussion is practical and well-augmented. She includes useful TED talks and a variety of practical tips that will be beneficial to teachers and students preparing to speak in public.
Lee Campbell’s provocative paper explores the nature of interruption as a pedagogical and performative tactic. Campbell discusses the positive effect of interruption as a pedagogical technique, to provoke participation in the classroom. The paper alternates a solid theoretical framework with practical windows on classroom practice, including photographs of the activities discussed. Formulating the rich testimony of Campbell’s work as an artist/ provocateur, he shares several projects with various forms of interruption as a common denominator. His three-stage teaching process (Anticipation; Action; Analysis) is an entailing account on how the framework can be applied to the EFL classroom context.
Lane Sorensen offers a timely exploration of controversial issues as performance in his public speaking course. This course refrains from bias, promoting instead the concept of scopus whereby alternative perspectives are inhabited in inclusive, considered and dynamic ways. His work integrates complex theory with concrete pedagogy, and is both intellectually stimulating and pedagogically practical. He reminds the reader that scopus is not an easy task, on the contrary, it can be challenging to seek understanding of a position that is anathema to one’s own; however, this is where drama-based pedagogy can offer a psychologically safe environment in which various polarizing positions can be explored.
In "Virtual Frontiers", Catherine van Halsema argues persuasively and articulately that, far from technology being the enemy of foreign language education, online classroom models can actually address learner needs and overcome socio-economic barriers. In many countries worldwide, funding for the arts, humanities and foreign language education has been depleted in favour of the for-profit models of education, those of the more economically viable areas of science, business and technology. This has, in turn, left these worlds with a dearth of qualified foreign language speakers who are competent and sensitive with respect to intercultural communication. She traces the development of three online programs before focusing on the flipped classroom model, in which there are pre-class, in-class and post-class tasks, as a performative and digital learning space that is both social and technological. The message of her article is resoundingly positive, that online classrooms complement performative foreign language learning.
Although usually not associated with the language classroom, Isobel Ní Riain, Ciarán Dawson and Marian McCarthy promote holistic understanding of complex nuance in the analysis of folkloric storytelling in Irish literature lectures through the use of role-play. The authors take the reader through two very different reactions to this — in the first group, the students were proactive and enthusiastic about rendering literature text into the more dynamic form of role-play. In addition, through Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs), they were able to conclude that through the use of role-plays, the lectures were seen by students as neither lecture nor work, rather as a discursive means through which to learn the stories, the themes and also to hone interpersonal skills. The second group, however, could be seen as reluctant learners when it came to using role-play, thereby necessitating the need for scaffolding on the part of the lecturer. In this case, the modification of role-play in order to scaffold the students’ experience brought about a deeper understanding of learner needs, as well as teacher-responsibility.
Two more conferences are focused on in this issue.
Tom Klimant reports on a conference for Germanists (Bayreuther Germanistentag 2016) by focusing on a panel which explored how forms of storytelling we observe in everyday life can become a departure and reference point for performative approaches to literature.
Organizers Eva Göksel and Stefanie Giebert share highlights of the conference “2017 Drama in Education Days”, which was held on June 30th and July 1st at the Konstanz University of Applied Sciences, Germany. The main focus was on best practice and research in the field of drama and theatre in second and foreign language teaching. The target participant-audience of this conference was far-reaching: educators from primary to tertiary level, and drama-in-language practitioners from educators to researchers and performers. For details of the “2018 Drama in Education Days” please refer to http://dramapaedagogik.de/
Last but not least, in the Text Around Theatre rubric, Uschi Linehan shares a poignant extract, in English and German, from Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf. She brings to our attention a passage high in symbolism and aesthetic value, from Hesse’s timeless masterpiece. We hope you enjoy losing yourselves in reading this as much as we did.
Wishing you all the best for the new Academic Year 2017/18,
Erika Piazzoli & Eucharia Donnery
Dublin, Ireland & Fujisawa, Japan