Camilla Barbanti, Veronica Berni

Reading Performing Arts in Education from a New Materialist Perspective. The Prison Theatre Example

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Artistic languages, Education, New materialism, Prison theatre

In this paper, we reflect on artistic languages and education from a new materialism perspective. First, we examine how adopting a new materialist stance allows scholars and practitioners of education to view the performing arts in education as performative practices: an ongoing intra-activity of human and non-human elements. Read performing arts through this lens can become resources for re-thinking and enacting educational practice as ‘affirmative’, and the subject as an embedded and embodied subjectivity. Second, we further explore these concepts based on an example of how art has materially come into action at the ‘C. Beccaria’ Youth Detention Center in Milan. We illustrate how the theatre laboratory and the opening of a door have transformed the delivery of education within the institution: the young detainees are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in a system of signs and meanings that are different to those of prison life, and which, materialized and translated into the here and now of everyday life, make it feasible for them to enact new ways of taking part in the world. In sum, we show how theatre work as a performative practice lays the ground for ‘challenging’ the notion of re-education and developing a broader concept of prison as a place of culture and social inclusion.

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