Chapter 11 Using theatre and performance for greater reflexivity in planning and design education
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Relational thinking has entered spatial planning, unsettling some of its basic assumptions and thus bearing practical implications for the way planning activities are conceptualised. To prepare our graduates to enter an increasingly complex and dynamic world in which uncertainty, struggle and conflict are more common than predictability, consensus and straightforward collaboration, we employed theatre-based approaches as a productive complement to the more traditional setup of planning and design training programmes. Building on perspectives from Erving Goffman’s interactional sociology and Judith Butler’s work on performativity, we introduced two different ways of theatre-based teaching: i) as an exploratory device to evaluate the interplay of theory and practice; ii) as a heuristic to uncover the diversity of ‘planning spaces’ and related routines in opening a conversation about alternative behaviours. In both instances, embodied performance added to the learning experience a layer based on practical skills and a reflexive attitude enabling the exploration of the interplay between rationality and power, knowledge co-creation and reflexivity, as key tenets of transformative planning practices.

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