Teamworks (2004 – 2006) was an exploratory performance/digital-media action-research project, funded by NESTA as part of the National Theatre’s Art of Regeneration programme. It enabled a group of emerging artists to work together with young people and teachers, alongside experienced theatre director, Kate Beales, and myself. The project explored the interface between interactive digital media technologies and live performance and the potential applications to learning across the UK National Curriculum as well as in non-formal education. This took place through a combination of intensive exploratory workshops, individual mentorship and workshop facilitation training, with a particular focus on the creative use of the Isadora authoring software – an object oriented programming environment used in the creation of (physically) interactive multimedia content for live performance. The software was developed by Troikatronix, the software development arm of the acclaimed Troika Ranch dance company.

Teamworks’ emerging artists were interested in exploring the creative cross fertilisation that occurs when we break down the barriers imposed by discipline-led roles. Each member of the team (whether actor, designer, choreographer, director, sound artist or performance artist) was encouraged and supported to work across disciplines, challenging themselves to learn unfamiliar skills, moving into new creative territories in order to discover alternative ways of exploring performance. This cross-disciplinary approach subsequently informed workshops with young people and teachers delivered by the emerging artists under our supervision.

To escape the limitations of familiar cultural tropes that young people are often prone to limiting themselves to, we chose to base our workshops on powerful classic texts and timeless stories with universal themes: Ted Hughes’ Tales From Ovid (principally Echo and Narcissus) and Derek Walcott’s Odyssey. Using a mix of drama exercises and live media experimentation we offered young participants the opportunity to explore the opulent language and rich imagery these texts afforded.

The 3 year project delivered:

  • a hands-on training programme for the emerging artists of 6 months in duration across 2 years
  • two summer schools for young people each culminating in a multimedia theatre performance
  • an INSET day for teachers of subjects across the national curriculum, including geography, history, drama, art and science
  • a handbook/manual providing a practical guide to the methodology including workshop examples, a guide to Isadora and sample code/programmes
  • a report on the efficacy of the processes for NESTA and NT Education
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