Drama for Life and Norwegian University of Science and Technology awarded the UTF 2017 four year joint grant

Drama for Life and Norwegian University of Science and Technology awarded the UTF 2017 four year joint grant. The grant will fund the development and growth of Drama for Life's PhD and MA programmes, nurture staff development, and support project based work specific to the theme of “Building Democracy in War and Post-War Contexts.

This project aims to strenghten applied theatre postgraduate education and research through course development, student and teacher exchange and by jointly addressing a thematic focus of investigation: contemporary and crucial issues of democracy in Norway and South Africa. By this chosen focus, the project furthermore investigates theatre as humanistic education and arena for participant-driven communication and utterance. Through theatre education and research, which involves non-academic partners, the practice also builds knowledge and cultural agency for all participating members. These members include students, artists, participative audiences in cities and communities. The main activities are teaching theatre-based research methods, practical theatre interventions including thematic and aesthetic investigations and productions, progress evaluations and public conferences. The joint educational and research activities furthermore include visual and written production (publications); from students and from non-academic/academic collaborations; artist/researcher/supervisor/student.

The partners involved are students and teachers/supervisors/researchers from the arts-based research group at Drama/theatre, Department of Arts-and Media Studies at NTNU, Norway and from Drama for Life at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Also involved are selected non-academic partners associated with the academic partners. They provide sites for investigation and knowledge generation (research knowledge, participant’s knowledge). The partners expect to achieve strengthened applied theatre programs and strengthened resource centers of applied theatre practice-led research and research education, securing further international collaboration in mobility, education and research. The partners expect applications of theatre that provide educational training, arenas for thematic and aesthetic investigations, as well as sites for democratic and post-democratic exploration.


The project addresses needs from a variety of target groups in the joint academic-cultural context. The targets groups are theatre students and teachers/researchers, as well as cultural workers and community members . The specific need of linking and applying humanistic education and research to society (as addressed in the current strategies for humanities) is urgent to this project. In the academic context there is a general need to raise the quality and influence of theatre studies as a “small” and marginal university discipline. There is a specific need to further establish applied theatre education and research as a contemporary and relevant new development from traditional theatre science. This may be done through building strong centers of excellence in regions amongst others in the Nordic and African region/continent.

Both partners share this ambition and have for many years slowly developed their current positions, sharing innovative ways of developing (practice-led) research and work-targeted and relevant education. Following this ambition there is a need to strengthen the relation between practice and research. There is also a need to strengthen the complex identity of applied theatre education and research; Researching theatre (discipline studies), researching and teaching topics through theatre (research and learning method). In the context of community target groups there is a need to develop and offer communication arenas for the utterance and processing of people’s experience, in order to build democracy at the level of everyday living; mutual understanding, tolerance, peaceful voicing of difference, staging conflict and conflict solution, empowerment through cultural participation.

About Drama for Life

Drama for Life, based at the Wits School of Arts of the University of the Witwatersrand, is dedicated to arts for social transformation and healing.

Drama for Life is internationally recognised as the University of the Witwatersrand’s unique postgraduate academic, research and community engagement department that brings together the disciplines of Applied Drama and Theatre, Performance Ethnography, Performance as Research, Arts Education, Drama Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapies within the context of a critical reflexive praxis.