The activities described in this case study were delivered through the School-University Partnerships Initiative (SUPI). Funded by Research Councils UK, SUPI involves 12 universities working in partnership with local schools, with coordination support from the NCCPE. SUPI projects aim to develop more effective engagements between researchers and school pupils, and to inspire a broader range of pupils to develop inquiring minds by engaging them in a diversity of exciting hands-on research related activities.
This case study outlines one of the innovative activities that took place during the first year of the Queen’s University Belfast hosted SUPI project.
- Lead organisations
- Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and four schools from the North Belfast Partnership.
- Project overview
- This project enabled researchers from the Applied Drama department at QUB to work with a cross-section of pupils whose schools form part of the North Belfast Partnership, in an interactive workshop exploring the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
- Project outputs
- Sixty Year 10 students from four schools attended a performance of a play called Mojo Mickybo, which was written by Belfast dramatist Owen McCafferty and directed by QUB’s Drama Lecturer, David Grant. The play depicts the start of the Troubles through the eyes of two ten-year-olds, one Protestant and one Catholic, whose friendship is shattered by the events around them.
Following the performance, an interactive workshop allowed the audience to respond to the themes of the play using ‘Rainbow of Desire’ techniques developed by Brazilian theatre practitioner, Augusto Boal, which replay situations from everyday life to help participants work through difficult experiences. The pupils worked together to create a ‘stage map’ (see image) that depicted their shared view of the attitudes of the play’s main protagonists.
Follow-up workshops at each school were facilitated by PhD students, allowing these issues to be explored in more depth.
- Pupils had the opportunity to explore cross-community relationships that resonated strongly with their own experiences. The event was particularly well suited to pupils in Year 10, because the pupils were close enough in age to the characters in the play to relate to their experiences, but sufficiently senior to them to allow a certain critical detachment.
The PhD students had the opportunity to develop a range of transferable skills, while working on an activity that complemented their research interests.
The response from teachers and pupils involved was very positive. One Headmaster reported that his students had described the day as ‘Inspirational and amazing – descriptions that I do not often hear about what they have done in school that day!’
- Keys to making it work
- - Developing activities with direct relevance to the pupils’ lives.
- Introducing pupils to new techniques to respond to and get involved in a dramatic performance.