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A Kind of Integrity: explorations in history and drama

Kempe, A. (2013) A Kind of Integrity: explorations in history and drama. In: How Drama Activates Learning : Contemporary Research and Practice. Bloomsbury, London, pp. 195-207. ISBN 9781441136343

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All of our knowledge of history is mediated in one way or another. Even the experience of first hand witnesses are, it may be argued, subject to semiotic influences such as physical and emotional position, attitudinal point of view and accuracy of recall. A great deal of historical knowledge is acquired through dramatised versions of historical events. As the characters who actually took part in historical events become the dramatis personae of re-enacted accounts, their stories are edited not only to meet dramatic necessities but the social, psychological and cultural needs of both storytellers and audience. The process of popularising history in this way thus becomes as much about the effects of events on people as the events themselves. This chapter describes and analyses the way in which four historical events have formed the basis of school based drama workshops that explore this process. The Player in Tom Stoppard’s ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’ posits that actors do on stage what others are supposed to do off, which, he claims, ‘is a kind of integrity.’ The chapter discusses how drama may be used to explore not only stories from history but how those stories may be mediated and so become open to multiple interpretations. The process of dramatising events from history provides opportunities to develop and exercise a critical literacy that is concerned not so much with either fact or empathy as with interrogating both why and how stories are told. Thus, the experience of exploring the symbiotic relationship between drama and history is dependent on an internal logic which may indeed be perceived as a kind of integrity.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:35765

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