Learning Drama Pedagogy through Story at NIE
Friday, 20 January 2017
by Assistant Professor Charlene Rajendran & Assistant Professor Prudence Wales
Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) Academic Group
"Drama has provided me with a safe platform to explore pressing issues which may be deemed controversial, but demand attention in a rapidly globalising world. The drama courses that I went through helped me to approach the issues from multiple angles, which then led to a final production, where these issues were presented to a wider audience to provoke thinking and elicit responses from members of the community."-Rusydiana bte. Kusni
Drama at NIE is being used as a vehicle to explore contemporary social and cultural issues in Singapore. This is having an impact on the way our student teachers see themselves and others in a global and fast-changing society. Much of the work they do in drama involves exploring their ideas and feelings about issues such as cultural difference, social inequity and national identity. Student teachers examine their own stories of conflict and struggle as material for drama, deriving ideas for character, plot and storyline from a combination of situations they then research on and interrogate. In unpacking their own stories, they reveal and reflect on the stories of others, developing a capacity to articulate and recognise the complex multiplicities within allegedly single cultures.
This approach to drama led to a graduation production in 2015 called Lost in Trans(Nation), attended by the NIE/NTU community and a wider audience. It generated energetic and fulfilling post-show discussions led by the student teachers, about the need to recognise identity as a construct of several elements and histories. Student teachers devised the script based on a collage of experiences they encountered and cultural frameworks they had researched on. These approaches first began in a Drama Education course, and were further developed in courses on Cultural Theory, Applied Theatre, Directing and Dramaturgy. In preparing for their Performance and Production course, student teachers were tasked with creating performance that drew from drama theory and practice, critical pedagogy, national education and 21st century skills. Drama was performed as both pedagogy and art.