Final report by Ekene Okabi, MSc Applied Psychology in Fashion, LCF
Funded by the Post-Grad Community Project Fund
I initially proposed this project as a performance that would incorporate data from a number of sources, including that collected as part of a UAL-commissioned longitudinal study into the university’s own Attainment Gap conducted by Duna Sabri. Its purpose was to provide an opportunity to promote engaged, compassionate community problem-solving. My plan was to recruit up to six creative alumni and PG students across UAL and other local campuses.
This project was also supported by the UAL Teaching and Learning Exchange. Lucy Panesar, an Educational Developer at the exchange planned the UAL Attainment Conference where the final version of this project was staged. It was held at the LCF JPS campus on 11 July, 2018. Panesar personally reserved the rehearsal spaces in UAL buildings where, from mid-May, a series of facilitated playmaking and devising workshops with a revolving cast of PG, alumni, undergraduate and outside participants were held. They included: Vicky Baker-Preddie (recent alum), Rayvenn D’Clark (PG MA Fine Art, Chelsea), Torisheju Francesca Dumi (recent alum), Mary Lo (recent alum), Edita Monterisi (outside performer), Autumn Nailes (PG), Paulina Olivares (PG), Naira Mushtaq (PG), Vanya Stoyanova (outside performer) and Michael Taco (recent alum LCC BA Media Communications). This crew cut across all identities, many were international students others were Black and Brown students raised in the UK. They all explored theatrical conventions such as movement, light, props and sound, and created movement pieces inspired by prompts based on themes pulled from Sabri’s research. There were two iterations of the project; the first was a mask-making workshop staged at the British Museum as part of the Arts SU takeover of that institution’s Friday Night Late programming. The second was a Legislative Theater piece that served as the final session of The Attainment Conference. The audience in attendance consisted of UAL faculty, administrators and students, some of whom are enrolled in the UAL Teaching and Learning PG certification program.
After watching the movement pieces developed during workshops, the audience was asked to share their impressions of what had transpired. The pieces were then re-staged, narrated this time by performers reading text from interviews conducted by Sabri. The audience was directed to converse in groups about how hearing the text affected their “reading” of the scene. These thoughts were then shared with the entire audience before being tasked with suggesting possible titles for each scene. The performers chose the title they liked best. When all three scenes were performed (and titled). the audience was asked to choose one they wanted to revisit, and to consider potential interventions on behalf of its featured student character that might change its final outcome. A vote was taken, a scene was chosen. I showed the audience how to stop the scene at any point in which they’d like to intervene on behalf of the student character. The scene was run again. CSM tutor Richie Manu and CSM PG student Shannon Bono (MA + Science) were the two brave souls who attempted interventions. At the end of the session, the audience broke up into small groups, tasked with creating a list of suggested institutional actions that could address the issues portrayed in all of the scenes staged that afternoon.
These “ballots” were collected, photocopied and sent via Panesar to Professor Simon Ofield-Kerr, UAL Academic Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Ofield-Kerr was also in attendance on that day, and delivered the conference’s closing remarks. Panesar reports that feedback from participants on the session has been overwhelmingly positive.
Find out more about the project on the blog: http://ualattainmentgapproject.myblog.arts.ac.uk/