Imagining the Real

Towards a new theory of drama in education

Paperback / softback, 196 pages, 234 mm x 156 mm
15 Jul 2014
Trentham Books

Price: £24.99

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The current education climate has brought the development of classroom drama as an art form to a standstill. Practitioners need to make a qualitative leap forward in both theory and practice in order to respond to the cultural demands of the times.

By linking the best of the ground-breaking work of Dorothy Heathcote and Gavin Bolton with the pioneering developments in theatre form by the playwright Edward Bond, David Davis identifies a possible way forward. In part one he critiques present drama in education – Mantle of the Expert approaches, conventions drama forms and post-dramatic theatre. In part two he restates and develops the best practice of the last fifty years, centring on the key importance of ‘living through’ drama. In part three he applies the new drama/theatre form of Edward Bond to begin building a new theory of drama in education and so transform classroom practice.

Imagining the Real will be essential reading for drama students at first and higher degree level, students on initial courses of teacher education, drama teachers, lecturers in higher and further education and theatre workers generally.

  • David Davis

    David Davis is Professor of Drama in Education at Birmingham City University, where he founded the International Centre for Studies in Drama in Education.

CONTENTS: Foreword by Gavin Bolton; Introduction; PART ONE – 1. The context; 2. Responses and responsibilities; PART TWO – 3. Key dimensions of classroom drama; 4. Towards a theory of ‘making’ drama; 5. A process drama; PART THREE – 6. Towards a new theory of ‘making’ drama; 7. Bondian drama (with Chris Cooper); 8. Towards new components of classroom drama as art; Conclusion; Afterword by Mike Fleming; Appendix; References; Index

Written by one of the most important figures in drama in education, Davis will provoke necessary discussion about dramatic conventions and form, ideology and globalization, as well as the political imperatives that should power teaching. A required reference for all interested in the field's history and future directions, and what it means to be an engaged educator for the 21st century.

Professor Philip Taylor, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, USA

Interested in content and drama form, Imagining the Real takes a long hard look at drama teaching in the 20th and 21st centuries and questions whether we are moving backwards instead of forwards. Concerned about the widespread adoption of a potentially reductive conventions approach, Davis takes the reader on a thrilling socio-political, historical and ideological critique of the big issues pervading drama in education since its inception. Inspired by Edward Bond’s concern for understanding the world and ourselves in it, Davis is interested in developing a relevant form of post-Brechtian (non-distanced) drama for young people, and this book provides readers with a unique insight into the aims, purposes and processes of drama teaching from one of its greatest proponents. Skilfully interweaving his highly engaging narrative with practical examples and a wealth of references from philosophy, cultural theory, political science, economics, education and the arts, the reader will emerge with a well-balanced critique of contemporary drama theory and practice, and a framework for Davis’s own tried and tested approach developed over a lifetime of commitment to the art of drama teaching with young people. Featuring some of the best explanations I have ever read on role play, frame distancing, sequencing, modes of involvement, protection into role, and Bond’s new theory of making drama, this is an absolute must-read for all involved in classroom drama teaching and in research in the field. It sows the seeds for a much-needed re-engagement and re-envisioning of drama in education in the 21st century.

Professor Carmel O’Sullivan,

This book goes far beyond the other books available, which only provide drama activities with teacher-dominated exercises. It is basically a theory-based book and can be used as a great textbook for undergraduate and graduate level education. David draws readers’ attention to how to build direct engagement in drama events, which may lead to meaningful learning. I believe that it will be a valuable resource for Turkish drama teachers and will fill an important gap in the drama in education area.

Professor Dr Ulku Koymen,

Imagining the Real is an inspiring book lighting up a new horizon for drama in education not just in Britain but internationally.
This book comes out of a very deep experience of working with students, teachers and artists and it allows us as practitioners in the field of drama in education to re-examine, not just our practices, but the theories behind those practices.
The importance of this book is that it provides us with the opportunity to explore anew the nature of humanity, justice and freedom through a new understanding of the role of the arts in the present epoch. In particular it opens a new dialogue and asks new questions to create a continuous dialogue between education and drama as an art form.

Wasim Kurdi,

It has been almost two decades since drama in education was first introduced to Hong Kong and mainland China through the teaching of Professor Davis. Like an adolescent growing up into a mature person, drama in education practitioners here (including myself) are in a transitional stage, hungering for new thoughts and rebellious stimulation to imagine a new drama in education vision for our generation. This publication is such a timely, refreshing and inspiring gift to meet our growing needs, and will definitely become one of the most influential books on the development of drama education in Chinese communities.

Estella Wong,

Nowadays, educational drama is flourishing in Korea. For educational drama to develop in its true sense, critical and reflective perspectives are needed. This book will play that role. Full of stimulating questions and reflections, it is a timely work much needed for the current Korean educational drama scene.

Dr Ju-Yoon Kim,

The distinction between ‘I want to be grown up’ and ‘I want to grow up’ lies at the heart of this text. In understanding that difference, we perceive the urgency of Davis’s passionate, considered contribution towards a new theorizing of drama as education.

Professor Juliana Saxton,

There is an obvious need internationally for a recontextualization of drama, defining its aims and tools based on the problems and challenges we face in the 21st century. David Davis does this with passion in his book, connecting theory and practice, art and pedagogy in drama in education. The thorough critique of his own work, besides that of others in the field, shows his dedication to the development of our field. The questions raised by the book need to be addressed by drama teachers and theatre in education practitioners, not just in the UK and Hungary, but around the world.

Adam Bethlenfalvy,

David Davis’s book is a timely one that serves several important functions. For one, it acts as a sage guide, taking the reader carefully through a personal history of drama teaching, tracing the pioneering work of Dorothy Heathcote and Gavin Bolton in a trajectory that leads us to a fascinating practical exploration and assessment of Edward Bond’s innovatory drama for young people. Here, Davis’s analysis is always clear-sighted and always concerned to demonstrate how theory can be applied practically within the classroom. The book is also an unapologetic, passionate and uncompromising call to arms in its advocacy for the central place that the teaching of drama should occupy within the National Curriculum. This comes at a time when its future has never been so uncertain. Subsequently, this book will inform, rally and inspire.

Dr Graham Saunders,

In the past decades drama in education has seemed to be at a standstill. Davis’s book is rejuvenating by offering an inspirational new beginning. It breaks new ground in the area and at the same time it is an indispensable must-read for beginners. In the Greek context, where process drama is still developing and in its preliminary stages, this book can push forward Greek teachers’ theory and practice. The book illustrates, in the best possible way, complex concepts that traverse drama, politics, philosophy, and pedagogy in a reader-friendly way.

Dr Kostas Amoiropoulos,