Dramatising Social Care
: Applied Theatre as a Tool of Empowerment for Looked After Children

  • Claire Marie Hope MacNeill

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research examines the contextual layers and concentric frames that define the worlds of looked after children within contemporary British care systems in the search for an empowering, creative practice. This investigation has used practice as research to examine the current cultures, power relations and corporate contexts that intermesh to construct the care system. The core group of this enquiry is looked after children but, as an expanding 12 year action research model, the investigation examines the concurrent trends between children in care, children living in poverty and incarcerated young people. The use of macro and micro practice examples enables the thesis to examine the life cycles, trappings and pitfalls for contemporary poor law children as well as demonstrating how creative practice can impact on interventionist approaches to research and development, before young people end up in care. The potential for applied theatre as a tool for empowerment is interrogated through an exploration of what empowerment means in terms of radical freedom as well as the necessity of changes to existing structures and dominant assumptions. This research examines the different shapes, forms and possibilities for this practice from processes of inner discovery to narrative therapies, to collective encounters, to performances to relevant audiences. This research constructs a clear proposal for the efficacy of applied theatre/arts within these arenas and offers a colourful and innovative contribution to this field of knowledge through a range of rich and varied practice experiences and ethnographical sources.
Date of Award9 Jul 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorTim Prentki (Supervisor) & Graham Crow (Supervisor)

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