Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Central is delighted to announce that It has been shortlisted for two 2017 Guardian University Awards!

The shortlisted categories of International Projects and Social and Community Impact recognise work undertaken by Dr Selina Busby and Professor David Harradine with Fevered Sleep respectively.

The International Projects category recognises an outstanding project, venture or collaboration – in teaching, research or student attraction – that shows the university operating with global vision and ambition.  The School has been shortlisted for Dr Selina Busby’s project Concrete Utopias in Dharavi

Dr. Busby and her BA Drama, Applied Theatre & Education and MA Applied Theatre students have been working annually for the past 7 years with an NGO in Mumbai and alongside a collection of local, Indian artists and practitioners on a project in Dharavi to improve English language skills and facilitate intercultural dialogue and creativity through Applied Theatre.  Dr. Busby works alongside a Dharavi-based NGO who aim to work at a community level to empower women and slum communities to be their own catalysts for change, as well as Indian Theatre artist Divya Bhatia.  For the young participants in Dr Busby’s project, the change they seek is the ability to imagine a different future for themselves including improved job prospects. Many of the young people are homeless and have no responsible adults in their lives. They see little prospect of change, and many dream of escape through being discovered as a Bollywood Star.  Dr Busby’s work capitalises on these fantasies, allowing for workshops that encourage learning and which are facilitated through the mediums of theatre, dance, performance and play. 

Building on this philosophy of empowerment and improved life chances through Applied Theatre, the team returned to Dharavi in the summer of 2016 to continue work on established activities and to launch the next stage of the project: working alongside the teachers in a slum school to provide training and help them to further develop their skills. 

Throughout the month of June, the team facilitated workshops for 20 of the young women employed as teachers at the school, and assisted them in developing their English language skills.  Creative interactive sessions using songs, drama and dance were also held – with the teachers encouraged to take these tools back to their classrooms and use them with their own students. 

Through work with the school’s team of educators, Dr Busby’s methods are now used with the young students aged between 3 – 6 years old who live in the slum and study at the school, and these have a profound impact on the lives of both the children and their teachers.

Read the full research article by Dr. Busby.

The Social and Community Impact category recognises an initiative that has benefited significant numbers of people in the local community, at a national level, or globally.  The project may have been run by the university on its own, or with the collaboration of a business partner.  Recognised for this category was Men & Girls Dance.  Produced by Fevered Sleep and Professor David Harradine – Fevered Sleep’s co-founder and co-Artistic Director, and Professor of Interdisciplinary Practice at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama – Men & Girls Dance brought together two very different groups of performers: adult, male professional dancers, and 8 – 11-year-old girls who dance for fun.

Conceived as a response to the dominant media and social discourses around intergenerational relationships, in which men’s relationships with children are depicted as overwhelmingly negative, Men & Girls Dance reclaimed the rights of adults and children to be together, to play together and to dance together. At times playful, at times provocative, emotionally charged, and deeply political, it’s a celebration of tenderness, empathy, care, protection and love. 

At the heart of Men & Girls Dance was a semi-choreographed, semi-improvised performance, which was recreated in each place the project was presented, with a company of nine local girls aged 8 – 11 joining five male professional dancers to recreate and perform the work.

Alongside these performances, a programme of conversations, meetings, post-show discussions and social media activity, collectively called The Talking Place, created opportunities for people in the places where performances happened to come together and talk about the themes of the project.  As well as exploring the politics of intergenerational relationships through dance, the project as a whole proposed an innovative approach to touring, by advocating new kinds of collaboration between touring companies, venue partners and audiences, promoting greater integration of artistic, participation and audience development activities.  This new approach to touring is local and bespoke, shifting the conceptualisation and delivery of touring and reimagining it as a local rather than a national activity.

The Guardian University Awards showcase best practice, achievement and innovation across a range of categories.  Honouring excellence in everything from teaching practice to inspiring facilities, the awards act as a sector benchmark and offer universities a seal of approval for their most outstanding work.

In 2015, Central won a Guardian University Award in the category of Student Diversity and Widening Participation for its work with Access All Areas to establish the Performance Making Diploma for Learning Disabled Adults.

The official awards shortlist for 2017 was released on Monday 2 March with winners to be announced at a special awards ceremony on Wednesday 29 March.  Further information about the Guardian University Awards can be found on the Guardian Website.

The Guardian University Awards showcase best practice, achievement and innovation across a range of categories.  Honouring excellence in everything from teaching practice to inspiring facilities, the awards act as a sector benchmark and offer universities a seal of approval for their most outstanding work.