Audacious Citizenship

Dr Rachel Turner-King and Dr Bobby Smith are UK-based research collaborators in a global, multi-sited ethnographic study led by Professor Kathleen Gallagher (University of Toronto) entitled Global Youth (Digital) Citizen-Artists and their Publics: Performing for Socio-Ecological Justice (SSHRC) along with research partners and young people located in Canada, Greece, India, Colombia and Taiwan.

This longitudinal study aims to investigate young people’s feelings and understandings about the climate crisis and environmental degradation using various forms of theatre-making as modes of personal, social, and political inquiry. Kathleen’s longstanding commitment to doing drama research that methodologically, pedagogically, and artistically positions young people as ‘co-creators’ has been a central influence on our project.

Working with our Coventry-based young people and professional artists, we responded to and adapted Kathleen’s pedagogical design. The work presented in this online resource captures the range of tactics, strategies and modes used to engage our young people in complex and often controversial conversations about their emerging relationships with land and ecology.

Image: Global Youth collaborators. From top left, clockwise: Jorge Arcila (Colombia), Betsy Lan (Taiwan), Nancy Cardwell (Toronto), Christine Balt (Toronto), Bobby Smith (UK), Rachel Turner-King (UK), Kathleen Gallagher (Toronto), Urvashi Sahni (India), Myrto Pigou-Repousi (Greece), Andrew Kushnir (Toronto).

Following Kathleen’s work, we used a combination of verbatim theatre, devising techniques, site-specific and site-responsive performance, as well as autobiographical storytelling, to make sense of our hyper-localised understandings of space/place as well as questioning and reflecting on our global connections.

During our workshops, the young people were part of Kathleen’s Global Drama Club. This was an exciting opportunity to meet online with members of the Toronto research team, including playwright and activist Andrew Kushnir as well as creative writing specialist Ashleigh Allen.

Some of these young people also met online with young people in the Lucknow site in India. Together, we shared stories about places we care about and listened to recordings of our local environments.