A final note – remembering love and care

Kelly noticed an advertisement for a private secondary school on the side of a bus recently (let’s call the school ABC college), it suggested that an ‘The ABC college student is curious and resilient’. A few days later, another private school billboard advertisement let Kelly know that XYZ College produced strong leaders. Kelly began wondering, what happened to kind? loving? caring? compassionate? Should we be so solely focused on producing future community members that are driven, resilient, strong, leading types, prioritising and privileging these (very gendered) traits? We wonder what we are losing in our single-minded focus on progress, privilege and success.

As educators of teachers, artists and humans, we have argued that the introduction of standards and result-focused, paper-drowning teaching that seems to be taking the world by storm has made invisible notions such as love and care in the way we talk about and understand the work of teachers. This is not to say that we are interested in seeing these words appear in our policies, curriculums or teaching standards - we don’t want ‘love and care’ to be governed by a top-down understanding of how these things play out in all the different drama classrooms or theatres around the country. We would, however, like to see them gain more prominence in the way we talk about and understand our work. We’d like to see them thrown about, unpacked, drawn up and argued over as core tenets of what it means to work well with others, build rapport with participants, explore controversial issues and make art. There are instances where this is happening in schools, theatres and the academy. Our colleagues suggest there is the ‘potential of drama work as a relational ethic and a beacon of possibility against the mounting evidence of cultural despair (Gallagher & Rodricks, 2017, p. 116); and when at its best it, ‘offers creative re-interpretations of what it means to live well and to live ethically’ (Nicholson, 2005, p. 165). For us, the space of possibility in terms of drama’s relationship with the world is best defined by the idea of social hope, and the impulse to care. As a community of practitioners and scholars, we are hopeful of our contribution to a more loving and caring public imaginary.

Love and care. In these times, they feel like a resistance in and of themselves. We wonder if we talked more about love and care in our work, whether we could build a social movement with drama at the centre. This movement would be something akin to what Gallagher and Rodricks (2017, pp. 114-115) consider a ‘creative and artistic engagement’ to ‘provoke forms of engaged citizenship worth considering in times of increasing social economic and political instability’. A social movement that organises spaces, places and stories with people sharing, playing, expressing, collaborating and making, joyfully. Manifestations of hope.

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