Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Collaborative Projects

  • Find out about WCE partners' current and successful research collaborations (below).
  • Search for potential project partners and their research interests here.

Warwick Creative Exchange Collaborative Awards 2014

Following a Partnership-Building Seminar and Workshop on 5th February 2014 (see Events page for more details), Warwick Creative Exchange awarded two development grants of £1,000 each (funded by the University of Warwick’s GRP Connecting Cultures programme) as part of its Collaborative Programme. The two projects receiving the awards were:

• "Drama and Democracy: engaging young people in political and democratic narratives through educational theatre and drama" - Partners: Dr Renske Doorenspleet, Associate Professor, Politics & International Studies AND Big Brum Theatre in Education Company.

• "DSCH (Dmitri Shostakovitch)" - Partners: Professor Christopher Read and Dr Christoph Mick, History AND Talking Birds Theatre Company.

Read on to see how these awards enabled the projects to build their collaborations, bringing together academic and artistic methodologies and insights:

"Drama and Democracy: engaging young people in political and democratic narratives through educational theatre and drama"

The award enabled the collaboration between Renske Doorenspleet and Big Brum to be realised over a 3-month period of research activity. Field work (using participant observations, audio recording, and video recording) consisted of two visits to a participatory and site-specific theatre programme ‘Home Front – Front Line’ by Big Brum during May and June 2014 in Highbury Hall, Birmingham, with three different pupil groups from upper primary and lower secondary years. This field work made it possible to get closer to more questions and explore the scope of the research. An audio recording of the fieldwork was also made, and represents an important source for both the researchers and the Big Brum artistic team. A short video film - (8 min), was created, documenting the fieldwork experience and accompanied by an interview with a Big Brum actor-teacher. Its purpose is to spread the research achievement to any public (academic or not) interested in the subject.

We will be posting clips from the video film – so keep an eye out for these in the next few weeks.

“Why am I working better here than in lessons?”
(Year 8 pupil)

‘Home Front – Front Line’ is the first part of Big Brum’s new 5 year project, ‘The End of Reason’, where the Company aims to create new TIE programmes each year from 2014-2018, reflecting 1914-1918 from the outbreak of the war to the armistice.

Young people more than anyone need a meaningful understanding of a period that ultimately triggered the end of empire and the movement of people across the globe that is intrinsically bound up with our collective social and cultural identity in 2014; not only to know where we have come from but where we are going. A process of meaningful understanding goes beyond numb remembrance and aims to glean new insights over the full period of the centenary in order to emerge at the conclusion of this process with fresh perspectives. We cannot in this age of uncertainty afford to fail young people.

"DSCH (Dmitri Shostakovitch)"

The award was used for a two-day R&D workshop, involving artists Derek Nisbet and Janet Vaughan of Talking Birds Theatre, dramaturg Ola Animashawun, musicians Simon Chalk and Toby Deller, and choreographer Karen Wood, and Warwick University historians Chris Read and Christoph Mick.

It opened with a half-day discussion of the historical context for Shostakovitch’s life and work, based on the academic work of Chris and Christoph, researches by Derek, and musical insights and illustrations from Toby.

DSCH as notes

Afternoon of day 1 was spent on the choice of music to represent the three periods of Shostakovich’s life being focused on (see images).

Day 2 was a practically-focused day which began with looking at Dramaturg Ola Animashuwan’s write-up of material from day 1.

Choreographer Karen Wood and musician/conductor Simon Chalk brought their sensibilities to the material and we were joined by an advanced dance student.


We created three passages of choreographic / visual material alongside musical material, which was realised live using harmonium, violin and percussion. Chris Read again joined us and contributed ideas and also voiced passages of Tania’s Diary over a realisation of the final passage of the 15th Symphony.

People sat and stood engaging with images and musci

hand drawings

The 3 panels above: Silent Movie Era; Leningrad Era; Late Period, represent a proposed structuring of the material.

Next Steps

The 2 days confirmed the richness and potential of the idea, as well as giving practical grounding to the process of developing material further. Following evaluation with creative partners it is hoped to approach potential co-producing partners / funders. Potentially the ‘audience’ for the piece could include (though not be limited to) older children/teenagers - with potential impact in terms of historical learning - which may inform how funding is approached.

The REP’s Children (University of Warwick and Birmingham REP)

supported by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Cultural Engagement Fund 2012/13

Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP), Professor Jonathan Neelands and Dr Jane Woddis have been collaborating on the REP’s Children programme. REP’s Children offers free theatre activities and performances for a cohort of babies and their families during the first ten years of the children’s lives (2013 to 2023), with the aim of benefiting the personal, social and educational development of the children and their families.

An AHRC Cultural Engagement Fund award (February to May 2013) made it possible for the University of Warwick to prepare the work of researching the impact of the programme:

  • An exploratory paper was produced outlining a range of focuses for a longitudinal study of the programme’s impact. The intention was to give those conducting the research (the plan is for three consecutive PhD students to work with The REP) a common basis from which to develop their research to ensure continuity and coherence across the ten years, while allowing sufficient scope for the researchers’ own initiative and creativity.

REP's Children

  • Key factors investigated in the paper:
    • Barriers to cultural access, including: the changing demographics of a multicultural city; the meaning and definition of ‘non-user’ or ‘non-participant’; the ways in which arts activities are ‘offered’.
    • Early-years arts, education, and child development.
    • Children in research, including the ethics of very young children as subjects of research and children as researchers themselves.
    • Methodological issues relating to quantitative and qualitative research methods, impact studies and the longitudinal nature of the research; as well as the reporting of the research, particularly in terms of conveying findings to the programme participants and wider public.
  • A questionnaire was prepared in consultation with The REP, to collect baseline data from parents signing up to the programme, and if possible also from parents declining to participate - the intention being particularly to investigate reasons for participation and non-participation.
  • Application for an ESRC Collaborative Doctoral Award for the first of the Phd researchers was successfully made, and this phase of the research will be undertaken from October 2014 to September 2017.