- ItemCreative process and co-research with very young children through flight(2023) Ayles, Robyn; Fitzsimmons Frey, Heather; Leach, JamieWith their abundance of openness, curiosity, and imagination, children are natural researchers. They ask questions and seek answers. As theatre artists and practice-based researchers, we strive to welcome these young, sometimes preverbal inquisitors, into our research process in meaningful, democratic ways. Our practice-based research centres on questions regarding the relationships between very young children (aged eighteen months to five years), actors, and materials, with a view toward democratically creating theatre as a collective and immersive event. Through workshops, artist residencies, immersive theatre offerings, and a Cycle of Co-inquiry, we develop a loose scaffold of dramatic work that forms the skeleton of a theatrical piece, which in turn becomes an immersive theatre offering for the very young. Our process creates spaces that welcome active participation for children and actors to play, and where exploration is encouraged and planned with purpose and intention. This intention crystallizes into reciprocity and generosity of ideas between the participants. The final creative work includes very young children as co-creators in the experience. Although our current immersive theatre offering explores local urban wildlife, our process could be applied to any topic or theme.
- ItemHarnessing the power of flight: devising responsive theatre for the very young(2022) Ayles, Robyn; Fitzsimmons-Frey, Heather; Mykietyshyn, MargaretSuccessful theatre hinges on relationships. In our research, we devised an immersive theatre piece about urban wildlife through key early childhood education concepts outlined in the Canadian document Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework. The project’s guiding question was: How could we better understand audience engagement in the early years demographic by using the reflective process, rights-based perspectives, and holistic play-based goals of the Flight framework to interpret children’s experiences? Our creative team aimed to develop democratic and playful relationships with children during theatrical exploration, and using the Flight framework to analyse what children were communicating grounded our theatre creation and dramaturgy in respectful and agentic relationships between actors, theatrical objects, and young children.
- ItemWhen design is inspired by theatre: acting techniques as prospective design methods(2021) Roberge, Jacynthe; Sperano, Isabelle; Rivenbark, Leigh; Rubio, Daniel CajaIn acting training, psychophysical exercises are used to strengthen the relationship between mind and body, thus fostering a deeper understanding of the character . Intrigued and inspired by the potential value of these techniques in design contexts, we explored their application for interaction designers as research methods in a pedagogical setting. To do so, we first created a single-session workshop that introduced design students to basic actor movement techniques in the winter of 2019. The goal of the workshop was to help students empathize with their users and discover solutions when designing digital products. Later, in the fall of 2020, we used reflections from the first activity to develop two longer workshops; both consisted of three sessions and were carried out consecutively in two different universities. In this article, we present a case study of those three workshops. After discussing considerations for the evolution of the workshops, we describe how each was conducted. Finally, we share our findings and insights that arose throughout the process.
- ItemTeaching acting techniques to designers: observe, embody, create(2021) Sperano, Isabelle; Rivenbark, Leigh; Roberge, Jacynthe; Rubio, Daniel CajaTo design quality digital products, designers need to understand the user and their experiences on a deep level (Ritter et al. 2014). To do so, design practitioners have developed research methods that mainly focus on an “intellectual” approach to gain insight through quantitative research and analysis. While useful, these approaches often undervalue the role of the body in the process of understanding the user. In response to this, a more embodied approach to user research has emerged. Methods such as roleplaying and bodystorming are increasingly used to gain new kinds of insight during the design process (Burns et al. 1994, Schleicher et al. 2010, Wakkary et al. 2007). However, designers often encounter limitations with these methods (Think Design 2021). Some have trouble engaging in role-playing exercises due to a lack of acting training. Others struggle to apply insights to their work. Our team developed a workshop for design students exploring how acting techniques can be used as design methods to address these challenges. It was conducted in interaction design classes (Winter 2019 and Fall 2020) in 2 universities. Our goal at the Interaction Design Education Summit 2021 was to present this workshop to design instructors and practitioners so they can share it with their students or design teams. In this article, we describe an overview of the workshop and discuss potential benefits, challenges, and limitations of this approach to design.
- ItemFlight paths and theatre for early years audiences(2021) Ayles, Robyn; Fitzsimmons-Frey, Heather; Mykietyshyn, MargaretThis article proposes using the holistic play-based goals and model of co-inquiry discussed in Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework (2014) as a way to interpret very young children’s responses to theatrical experiences as theatre criticism. The process encourages wondering and reflecting on multiple possible meanings of children’s embodied, vocal, and play-based responses. Through an exploration of documentary evidence from The Urban Wildlife Project, our immersive theatre research outlines how the early childhood education processes can be adapted to a theatre context to listen to children’s responses on their own terms.