60 second interview with Karen Kirkwood
Theatre ADAD uses interactive drama to engage young people at risk or excluded from mainstream education to promote personal and social responsibility and citizenship. Karen Kirkwood is their Artistic Director.
Do you do PLE?
Yes we do, although I didn’t realise until recently. We create and deliver issue based Theatre In Education projects. An underlining objective of all our work is about reaching young people before they make important life decisions and giving them the information they need to make educated choices. This remains true whether we are addressing substance misuse, knife culture or domestic violence. We are also giving our audiences information about the law regarding certain issues and through our Teachers Packs (given to each of the host organizations) we are able to give people more detailed information about the law and also where they can go for further help and advice.
Why do you think PLE works?
It is not simply about being given information when requested about something specific, it is about an overall awareness and understanding, it helps people to gain confidence and skills that can be built upon and so is far more empowering.
What are the biggest challenges for your organisation doing PLE?
Funding. We have a lot of evaluations and anecdotal evidence that shows there are many organizations (particularly those who work with young people at risk), who believe this way of working has a great relevance for and impact on their young people (many of whom have not responded to or have felt alienated by more traditional forms of education). However, their restrictive budgets, coupled with the fact that we are not always able to get work subsidized, often mean they cannot afford to buy in the work.
What's your top tip for doing good PLE work?
As with anything else, make it interesting. Engage people on different levels, mentally, physically, emotionally. We so readily fall into the trap of thinking that if there is information to impart and discussions to be had, everyone needs to sit down and do it in a very static environment and serious manner. Not true. I believe the best learning takes place when someone is properly engaged and having fun, once engaged, real learning with longevity can take place. This is the difference between an individual seeing a play with identifiable characters in real life situations where they are facing important dilemmas and choices (and then being given the opportunity to explore and discuss this with other audience members), and being given a leaflet to take away and read.
More about Theatre ADAD