Poking the WASP Nest

Young People, Applied Theatre, and Education about Race


This innovative project wrapped research around a youth theatre project. Young people of colour and from refugee backgrounds developed a sustained provocation for the people of Geelong, a large regional centre in Australia. The packed public performance—at the biggest venue in town—challenged locals to rethink assumptions. The audience response was insightful and momentous. The companion workshops for schools had profound impact with adolescent audiences. Internationally, this book connects with artistic, educational, and research communities, offering a substantial contribution to understandings of racism. This book is a provocative, transdisciplinary meditation on race, culture, the arts and change.

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André de Quadros, Ed.D., is an ethnomusicologist, music educator, and human rights activist, with professional work in the most diverse settings in more than 40 countries. He is a professor at Boston University and visiting professor at Victoria University.

Dave Kelman, Ph.D. (2009), University of Melbourne, is an independent theatre practitioner and researcher. He has published widely on applied theatre and drama education, including: 'Am I not beautiful?’ Cultural identity and the process of co-authorship. Research in Drama Education, (2018).
Julie White, Ph.D. (2004), University of Melbourne, is Associate Professor of Education at Victoria University. She has published more than 70 articles and books about education, equity and exclusion. Her current work focuses on the education of young people in youth justice.

Christopher Sonn, Ph.D. (1996), Victoria University, is Professor of Community Psychology at Victoria University, Australia. His publications include the co-authored book Social Psychology and Everyday Life (Red Globe Press, 2020) and co-edited book Decoloniality and Epistemic Justice in Contemporary Community Psychology (Springer, 2021).

Alison Baker, Ph.D. (2011), North Carolina State University, is Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Victoria University. Her focus is on the use of community-based arts as a catalyst for community and civic engagement among young people from underrepresented groups.
"This manuscript contributes more than just a unique case study from the Australian context, it offers ways to think through the role of applied theatre and other creative approaches to anti-racist praxis. It also offers some insights into the realities of young people facing structural violence and racism and the ways creative approaches can be spaces which are both healing and empowering. [I]t is an informative, provocative and instructional work. It manages to weave together an array of theorising, case studies, positionalities, practical applications, and reflections in a deeply contextualised manner. The writing is accessible, and it would offer researchers, practitioners and educators some very useful ways to think through and develop anti-racist praxis via creative modalities" – Sam Keast, Victoria University
"The 6 Hours in Geelong project nudges us, ever so gently, to think, wonder, and move with critical praxis through a process grounded in decolonial theory, transformative education, public pedagogy to a performance which acknowledges, exposes, and challenges us to think differently about who we are in relation to race. “The arts,” Maxine Greene suggests, “cannot change the world, but they may change human beings who might change the world." – Elizabeth (Liz) Mackinlay, The University of Queensland
"I find this book to be extremely timely and of the utmost importance, especially to readers from the United States given the attacks that are currently being made on the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public schools in the US. [...] Overall, I believe this book will be a significant contribution to anti-racism literature providing practical information and powerful messages to teachers, community arts leaders, and others who are concerned about issues of racism in society." – William G. McManus, Boston University
List of Illustrations
Notes on Authors

PART 1: Setting the Scene

1 Tackling Racism: Community Theatre, Critical Inquiry, and Epistemic Disobedience
 1 Laying the Conceptual Foundations
 2 Placing This Study
 3 The Structure of This Book

2 Researching from Somewhere: Our Personal and Collective Positioning
 1 Alison Baker
 2 André de Quadros
 3 Dave Kelman
 4 Christopher Sonn
 5 Julie White

3 Crafting an Approach across and through Difference
 1 Bringing Applied Theatre and Research Together
 2 Working across, with, and through Diffference as Intra-Action
 3 Methodological Approach
 4 Conclusion

PART 2: Applied Theatre: The Arts Education Project

4 Looking Inward: 6 Hours in Geelong as Process
 1 Who Were the Actors?
 2 Applied Theatre
 3 6 Hours in Geelong
 4 Devising Process
 5 Characters
 6 Authoring Process
 7 Play Excerpts
 8 Conclusion

5 Looking Outward: How Community Audiences Viewed 6 Hours in Geelong
 1 Geelong after Dark
 2 School Interactive Performances
 3 The Community Performance Events
 4 Conclusion

PART 3: Theorisation and Perspectives: Interdisciplinary Discussion

6 Applied Theatre: The Practitioner’s Dilemma
 1 White Privilege, Race, Power Relations, and Positionalities
 2 The Slippery Nature of Artistic Meaning in Context
 3 Individual and Group Identity
 4 The Nature of the Challenge
 5 Processes and Practices for Negotiating Intersections in Making 6 Hours in Geelong
 6 Group Authorship
 7 A Provisional Offfering

7 “People Don’t Know Our Story”: Exposing Coloniality through Counter-Storytelling
 1 Critical Studies of Race, Decoloniality, and Stories
 2 Unpacking Stories through the Lens of Coloniality
 3 Young People Negotiating Coloniality in Everyday Lives
 4 Conclusion

8 Essentialism and Cosmopolitan WEIRDness
 1 WEIRDness, Essentialism, and Coloniality
 2 Entanglements of Racism, Theatre, and Theory
 3 Analysis of Racism and Identity in 6 Hours in Geelong
 4 Embracing Complexity

PART 4: So What? Implications for Practice

9 Schooling, Racism, and Powerful Conversations
 1 Context for Conceptualisation
 2 Schools as the Site for Discussions about Race
 3 Conceptual Framework for Powerful Conversations
 4 How Teachers Can Overcome Obstacles
 5 Conclusion

10 Community Arts: Politics and Privilege
 1 Community Arts in Context
 2 Politics and Privilege in Community Arts Practice
 3 Race as Context for Practice
 4 Implications

11 Aftermath and Afterwards

Appendix: 6 Hours in Geelong Script
This book is of interest for arts educators, theatre directors, community artists, lecturers/professors at universities, post-graduate/graduate students, and theatre researchers.
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