I’m a 5th Year Part-time student researching for a Practice as Research PhD in Theatre Studies. My theatre company is Green Blade Theatre, working in community and applied theatre since 2012. My undergraduate degree and MA are in Theology from Worcester College, Oxford.
The hypothesis at the centre of my research, is that storytelling can challenge and transform dysfunctional relationships in Church of England communities by its ability to counter the effects of cognitive dissonance, transcend tribal boundaries and, therefore, encourage individuals and communities to embrace change as a positive and empowering dynamic.
The current context of the Church of England necessitates an examination of the nature and role of clerical (and other forms of) power, and in particular, who has the power over the narratives, against the backdrop of decline, discrimination, marginalization and inquiries into the mishandling of historic abuse cases.
My central research question is: Can changing the story change the community?
I examine this question through the lens of Narratology, Narrative Theology, Social Psychology and Neuroscience. My practice is influenced by Augusto Boal and Liberation Theology, including past experiences in Latin America.
In my practice, I work with the biblical canon of narratives at the heart of Church identity and life. I do so in the context of small workshops with lay members of parish Churches, over a short course or within a liturgical context, replacing the sermon slot in regular worship. The current setting is a small group of members in a local parish Church in Kidderminster, Worcestershire. My methodology is to transform individual biblical narratives by telling them from a different and subversive angle. I work with the visceral dimension of story and its impact upon the participants in order to enable them to reclaim the narratives and relate them to their own stories. Each storytelling is followed by a loosely structured opportunity to explore both the visceral and subsequent cerebral responses to the story, with an openness to participant led application to current church life. When the application is made, this creates an opportunity not only for local people to find solutions to local problems, but to address the imbalance of power and control in Church life, both locally and nationally.
My supervisor is Dr Susan Haedicke