theatre in education

theatre in education
   The first theatre in education (TIE) company was established at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, in 1965, as part of that theatre’s project of developing its links with the community. TIE is not a theatrical form as such but is rather a movement, characterized by its aims and by its working methods. Whereas the primary aims of children’s theatre are to entertain and to make theatre accessible to young people, TIE uses theatre as part of an educational process, focusing on contemporary social and political issues. Collaborative working practices are at the heart of the TIE movement. Where writers (such as Lisa Evans, Noel Greig, David Holman and Mike Kenny) work with companies, they tend to work collaboratively with other company members. Plays are rarely self-contained, stand-alone entities: interactive workshops are an important part of the educational process. The ‘performance’ of a programme is thus no less collaborative than the devising process. At its best, TIE is challenging, provocative and radical; in many ways it is a development of Brechtian practice, in that the emphasis of the programmes is on making an audience active and reflexive.
   In its heyday, funding for TIE companies came from a variety of sources, but predominantly from Local Education Authorities (LEAs), Regional Arts Associations and the Arts Council of Great Britain. Some companies received support ‘in kind’ (for example the use of space in schools and access to local authority infrastructures), while some were closely tied to the development of regional theatres’ community programmes.
   By the early 1980s, LEA financial cutbacks had already begun to result in the closure of some of the less well-established TIE companies. After the 1988 Education Act, which introduced local management of schools (demanding the devolution of budgets away from local education authorities to individual schools), most LEAs cut off their financial support to TIE companies, many of which had prided themselves on being able to develop and tour programmes without charging individual schools, seeing their work as an essential part of the educational process (and a necessary counterbalance to the institutionalization of education). There are now only very few companies operating; none of them are as securely funded as they were in the heyday, and the idealistic impetus of the movement seems (perhaps temporarily) to have been stifled by lack of finance and the increasing demands of the National Curriculum within schools.
   See also: community theatre
   Further reading
    Redington, C. (1983) Can Theatre Teach?, Oxford: Pergamon Press.
   BRIAN WOOLLAND

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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