Theories of Change: Cultural Value and Applied Theatre
This chapter provides a context and history to the relationships between applied theatre practice, scholarship, evaluation and theories of change. To this end, we aim to attend to the long intellectual legacy of the concept that the arts have an impact socially on communities and audiences. Despite the breadth and growth of applied theatre practice in the last two decades, Kershaw notes that “applied theatre, community performance and related forms apparently have attracted few historians” (Kershaw, B., Critical Perspectives on Applied Theatre. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2016, p. 16). This chapter will draw on work that established historical considerations of the role of applied theatre, and the arts more generally in society, its relationship to theories of change, social policy, and the sovereignty of doing good. After a general discussion, this chapter explores the politics and history of change in relation to one area of practice – prison theatre –which has grown up in an era of managerialism and measurement. The chapter tracks the scope and diversity of prison theatre discourse and explores the need for greater precision in articulating theories of change.
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