In 2004 Collective Encounters began life as a practice-as-research initiative whilst Artistic Director Sarah Thornton was a lecturer at Liverpool Hope University. The idea behind the project was to see if and how theatre could be an effective tool for social change. Since then we’ve delivered a wide range of programmes with communities in north Liverpool and beyond, working through collaborative practice with local communities, voluntary and public sector organisations, artists, and others committed to social change. We’ve evaluated all our work and have developed our own Quality and Evaluation Framework which sets out exactly how we do this, identifying social change indicators, quality indicators and the processes and ethics involved.
Over the last few years, however, we’ve become increasingly interested in how theatre can be used as a more radical tool for political change. Our evaluations have demonstrated significant personal and local impacts. You can find out more about that by looking at some of the evaluations of our projects or by browsing through our archive. We’re very proud of this work and continue with it.
But now we’re pushing the research further. Sarah is currently engaged in a professional doctorate with Manchester University, exploring how to move from personal to political change. Her research is asking how theatre can contribute more effectively to civil society, to challenging hegemony; how it can become a more effective weapon in the armory of change, and how Collective Encounters can connect its work more directly into the global multitude of opposition to our current neo-liberal systems. Fundamentally, the research is exploring how we can work through collaborative practice to ensure that everyone in our society has a voice, and how, working together we can combat poverty and inequality and work for a fairer, better world.
If you’re interested in sharing ideas or being part of a research community do get in touch.