With a global crisis in democracy looming, is there a role applied drama can play at this pivotal point in history to secure and reinforce ideals of democracy? Throughout the course of history, drama/theatre and democracy have been substantially linked. Research so far suggests a correlation between shifts towards democracy and the use of drama/theatre as a tool for communicating with the populace, and shifts away from democracy and the use of drama/theatre as a tool for speaking to/at the populace. The practice of applied drama is uniquely positioned to create space for greater communication, collaboration, and creative problem-solving. Each is a crucial skill for effective democracy.
Applied drama is a practice that has been used worldwide to promote and create opportunities for greater social justice and community development through known labels such as Theatre of the Oppressed and Community-engaged Theatre. It is also used in education as a tool for learning and development. Key questions of the research include: In what ways does applied drama practice align with democratic ideals? How can applied drama process inform political process to more actively engage citizens and strengthen democratic values? What can be learned from analysing historical case studies focused on the relationship of drama/theatre and democratic governance?
Through an analysis of the historical relationship between drama/theatre and democracy, as well as the ideals of applied drama and democracy, a methodology for restructuring town hall meetings informed by applied drama practices will be articulated. Furthermore, this research will conduct a series of field experiments to observe and survey the effect of this new methodology on civic engagement.