Pre-text based process drama in the professions: a case study across cultural boundaries
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Chester
Unit of AssessmentMusic, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Sociology
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Performing Arts and Creative Writing
Language, Communication and Culture: Literary Studies
Summary of the impact
Allan Owens has worked worldwide to bring drama into the professions. He
has developed an
artistic form that has impacted in a wide range of contexts including the
social sector, in education,
health, and public service, and also in private business. The trajectory
of his research and practice
has been concerned with pioneering the use of pre-text based process drama
as a form of artistic
initiative beyond mainstream education. The underlying research consists
of authored articles and
pre-texts which were part of the 2008 RAE submission classed as
`internationally recognised with
world leading elements'.
The impact of Professor Owens' research is evidenced in the uptake of
pre-text based process
drama to create spaces for intercultural understanding. The key research
insight is that the
conceptualisation of `intercultural', as used in relation to this form,
extends well beyond its
conventional association with language and ethnicity.
It is concerned with the use of drama as an act of translationary
context, where people are talking
`at' or `past' each other. In such contexts, individuals and organisations
can be restricted by the
confines of their own world-view. In asking different questions and
looking at issues from varied
points of view, new world-views may emerge.
It is this process of seeing the world differently which allows
individuals and organisations to see
themselves from a new perspective. This form of research-based pre-text
people and organisations to work through processes that can lead to change
in working practices,
behaviours and values.
The underpinning research consists of two performance-based outputs and
two written outputs
which further interrogate the key concepts underpinning the dramaturgical
form (see section 3).
These four research outputs have impacted directly on the professional
practice of two theatre
institutions, two theatre companies and two national drama organisations
in a total of six countries
as detailed below. The research, the activity and the impact of these
cannot be easily separated as
they are interwoven in long term, on-going change processes at national
level, as the sources
corroborating the impact confirm:
- Finland (1995-2013): Theatre Academy of Finland. Over a period
spanning 17 years, Owens
has given master courses for multi-professional groups in theatres,
prisons, education, health
- Japan (2000-2013): Taichi Kikaku Theatre Company Tokyo. Pre-text
workshops have been
incorporated in Children's theatre training (JCTA) and performance
- Palestine (1996-2013): Owens has collaborated with the University of
universities in West Bank and Gaza using drama pre-texts as artistic
inquiry and bringing
about change in creative pedagogical practice.
- Spain (2002-2013): Theatre Pa'thothom, Barcelona, La Neveva, Girona.
Uses of pre-texts
have changed the professional practices of actors, and social, health,
and NGO workers.
- Sweden (2007-2013): Work with the University of Stockholm has
informed theatre educators
in the use of the pre-texts with a range of client groups.
- Estonia (2009-2013): Viljandi Culture Academy, Estonia. Owens was
leader in the first three Estonian National Applied Theatre Conferences,
which drew on the
initial research and which has led to use of the pre-text form by
professionals in theatre,
education, health, youth work and prisons.
Throughout this period Owens has been the key researcher in his role as
Senior Lecturer (1995-2007)
and Professor (2007-onwards) at the University of Chester.
References to the research
1. Owens, A. (2007). `Momo Taro'& `Lear', The Theatre Academy of
2. Owens, A. (2007). The Bird in the Cage. Pre-text based research
project performance. NEC,
Kogakuin Institute, New National Theatre and National Children's Theatre
3. Owens, A. (2004). `Generative Space: Skinship and Vulnerability in
Intercultural Applied Arts
Work'. Drama Research Vol.3, National Drama, ISSN 1470-0484, pp.55-65.
4. Owens, A. (2005). `Planning for the Possibilities of Dissensus in
Process Drama', Hyva
Hankaus: Teatterikorkeakoulun julaisusarja nro 38, ed. Korhonen &
Airraksinene, P. Helsinki,
Draamatyo. ISBN 9789529765386, pp.8-16.
All four outputs were submitted by the University of Chester to UOA65:
Drama, Dance and
Performing Arts in RAE 2008 and were assessed as 2* or above.
Key research grants
Owens' practice-based research has attracted more than £240,000 of
funding, much of it in the
period 2008-2013, including:
- Euros 16,000, Manager 2.0, Tekes-Finnish National Agency for
Innovation and Technology
Funding, with Lapeenranta Innovation Unit, Finland, 2012-2014.
- £30,000, Comparative study of Creative Pedagogy, North West England
and West Bank
Palestine, British Academy, 2012-2015.
- Euros 122,000, Intercultural Awareness and Competence: Drama. EU
Programmes. University of Chester (lead institution) with partner
Hochschule Wien, Austria; University of Flensburg, Germany; University
of Malaga, Spain;
Linkopings University, Sweden, June 2011-September 2013.
- US$150,000, Reviving Palestinian schools: Creative Pedagogies, World
Improvement Fund, with Bethlehem University, An-Najah National
University, Islamic University-Gaza, Palestine, March 2011-December
- £50,000, The use of Process Drama Across disciplines and professions
in Higher Education
and beyond, HEFCE NTFS Project, 2003-2013.
Details of the impact
The underpinning research has been developed internationally through a
range of projects and
networks in: the Social sector in Finland and Spain; Education in Finland,
Palestine, Japan and
Sweden; Health care and Leadership and Management in Finland.
The impact and benefit of the research can be traced chronologically:
- Through links with the outward-facing Creative Business Unit of the
Academy (Kookos) from the mid 1990s, Owens was invited to develop
approaches with other key Finnish institutions. His pre-texts were
translated into the book
`Dramakompassi' (2010). This is required reading for drama pedagogues in
universities. Examples of specific impact include the adopted use of
pre-text in 18 business
and organisational contexts through the nationally funded project
Manager 2.0 (2011-2012)
and in two health care institutions (2009-2011). Since 2008, Owens has
also worked on eight
other projects in universities, prisons, city theatres and the Tampere
reaching approximately 2,000 participants.
As noted by users of Owens' research in Finland, his work:
`...has had remarkable influence on Drama/Drama Education in Finland
ideas/theories have spread to our neighbour countries including
(Raija Airaksinen-Björklund, Publisher, Finland)
`... has mediated at least [the] following fields: Social
Sector, School context, Health care, [...]
Leadership, managing and innovative action, [...] wellbeing
in working life and developing
work in business context.'
(Pekka Korhonen, Senior Projects Manager, Kookos Services, Theatre
`...has made a significant contribution to the range of forms
available in for use in
professional institutions including schools, university departments,
health faculties [...]
(Dr Anne Pässilä, Researcher LUT & Partner Susino Ltd, Lahti,
- In 2000, Owens was approached by Mayumi Fukashima of NEC Tokyo to
that moved between Japan and the UK. These included performances in
Taichi-Kikaku Theatre in the New National Theatre, Tokyo, NEC, and for
Children's Theatre Association (JCTA). Specific impact included the
adopted use of pre-text
in Taichi-Kikaku's theatre practice and by approximately 30
professionals in JCTA
mainstream primary, secondary and special schools (2008-13).This paved
the way for a
book co-authored by Owens and Green—the first on the application of
drama pre-texts to
originate in Japan (2010). The 22 performances (10 since 2008) and
workshops in Japan
and the UK, over 13 years, involved approximately 2,500 participants
(1,200 since 2008) and
included three reviews in the JCTA publication. In 2010, Owens became an
member of the Asian Journal for Drama and Theatre in Education.
`There have been few practical and pedagogical drama education
methods in Japan before
Professor Owens' work.'
(Yosuke Ohashi, Vice-President Taichi-Kikaku Theatre, Tokyo)
- In 2011, the use of pre-texts in Palestine was substantially extended
by the two-year World
Bank-funded project `Reviving Palestinian schools' (2011-2012) and this
impacted directly on
the pedagogical approaches of 28 teacher educators. The extent to which
this form of
creative pedagogy transferred to Palestinian universities and schools is
evaluated through a British Academy Research Project (2012-15).The
number of colleagues
worked with between 1996 and 2013 is approximately 1,400.
`This process [...] is helping us as Palestinian academics
in integrating all new creative
pedagogies in teaching and learning in all educational levels
[and] in developing the
educational sector in Palestine.'
(Dr Hala Al-Yamany, University of Bethlehem, Palestine)
- An invitation to join the Finnish multi-partnership, EU-funded,
Grundtvig Project `Dramaway'
in 2002 led to the pre-text approach being taken up in Spain in 2002.
started long-term work with two of the key social participatory theatres
in Catalunya, Theatre
Patothom, Barcelona (2002-2013) and La Neveva, Girona (2007-2013), and,
in Lorca with Euroacion (2011) and the University of Girona (2013).
Specific impact has been
on the adopted use of pre-text approaches by these two companies and,
approximately 400 professionals working in education and social work.
The practical use of
the approach by professionals in the social sector led to the
publication in Spanish of the pre-
texts Mapas Teatales (2011), edited by the artistic director of
Theatre Pa'tothom. The
number of professionals engaged over 10 years is approximately 900.
`... his work with pre-text drama has been very present in
Catalonia with a strong influence
over drama workers. Many professionals are using his pre-text drama in
(David Martinez, Artistic Director, La Nave Va Theatre, Girona, Spain)
- The research has also been extended in the period 2007-2013, via the
with the Theatre Academy Finland, to Sweden, where `Draamakompassen' was
2007 and Owens' was involved in direct work with some 230 professionals,
as well as
Lithuania in 2008 (Draama Darbi) and Estonia in 2013, where work has
professionals. The development of this involved keynotes and courses run
by Owens in
Sweden (2008, 2009, 2011, 2013), and Estonia (2010, 2011, 2012).
`...Owens' has been involved in our long-term efforts to build
academic research in the
Swedish drama field...this collaboration has proven to be of great
value and truly inspiring for
(Eva Österlind, University of Stockholm)
`The role of Allan Owens has been to expand pre-text based process
drama method in
Estonia, to introduce the pedagogical, cultural and political theory
that informs it.'
(Katrin Nielsen, Viljandi Culture Academy, Estonia)
Sources to corroborate the impact
Evidence of the impact of Owens' research and practice in the countries
described in section 4 can
be found in the following:
- Seies, E-R. (2013). Draamatyöpaja kasvattaa esimiehiä, Fakta,
Business Journal, Finland
(Review of the two year research based project Manager 2.0. pp 18-23).
- Foreword to 2nd Edition of `Drama Kompassi', Pekka Korhonen, Finland
- Kobayashi, Y. (Tokyo City University) & Neelands, J. (University
of Warwick). Foreword to
Applied drama: communication through pre-texts. Tokyo: Tosho Bunka
- World Bank Project Report (2012). `Reviving Palestinian Schools:
- Preface to Forcas, J. (2011). `Mapas Teatrales'. Written by Artistic
- Grünbaum, A. (2009). Resande I process drama — Allan Owens på
Vasterberg, RAD Drama
Forum, 2009, ISSN 1652-9286, RAD, the Swedish National Drama