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Working methodology for translating on the margin. Spider Girls workshop with Young Vic and Head for Heights

Working with students from the Urban Academy, the Young Vic, and  Head 4 Heights Theatre Company the project put into practice Professor Catherine Boyle's research on methodologies for community-based theatre developed in Chile, using the play Spider Girls by Luis Barrales as a starting point.

Spider Girls is based on the true story of three impoverished teenagers in Santiago who scaled tall buildings and burgled the apartments of the rich.

Using improvisation and games based on Chilean methods for devising theatre, the students engaged in developing a script for a performance. The knowledge of an experienced director, choreographer, and voice coach was employed to provide the girls with important skills and performance experience that they have put towards their Arts Award Bronze Level.

The project had knowledge transfer at its core, using both primary research and practice methodologies to offer innovative methods of building storytelling, dramaturgy and theatre practice. The project sought to explore the ways in which methodologies for performance can be tested - how, through translation, we can bring Latin American community theatre practices to life in the UK - culminating in a full production of the performance material created during a workshop on Spider Girls

The aims of the project were:

  • to use Latin American methodologies of community theatre to engage with the Urban Academy students in the development of theatre languages;
  • to mentor participants in practices of rehearsal, script writing and performance;
  • to exchange different types of knowledge, practice and life experience in the creation of a new cultural objective;
  • to record, analyse and disseminate the methodology for British practitioners.

The outcomes of the project have also been presented in written research. This project is part of King's ongoing research impact measurement, with one case study presented for the REF 2014 and another being prepared for the REF 2020.

Project Team

Professor Catherine Boyle

Catherine took up a post in Latin American Studies at King’s in 1990 and became Head of the newly formed Department of Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies in 2010. Catherine Boyle’s research has always been informed by the investigation of the ways in which cultural expressions are produced within their socio-historic context. Since her doctoral thesis (1986), published as Chilean Theater, 1973-1985. Marginality, Power and Selfhood (1992), she has developed methodologies for the study and practice of theatre in text and performance, incorporating ideas of cultural transmission and translation into the investigation of theatre practice, particularly in the Southern Cone. She was co-founder and editor of the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies (1992) and was the co-editer (with David Johnston), of the book The Spanish Golden Age in English. Perspectives on Performance (2007) which explores the ways in which the ‘academic’ and the ‘creative’ meet in the performance space.

Young Vic

The Young Vic opened in 1970 as a place in which younger directors, designers, actors, writers and technicians could work alongside theatre artists to present exciting productions at the lowest possible seat prices. Over the last forty years, the company has established a powerful reputation at home and abroad. In particular, the Young Vic has begun to be recognised as the major theatre in the UK in which young directors can develop their art.

Head 4 Heights Theatre Company

Head 4 Heights is a theatre company that explores and produces work by significant playwrights, mainly from Latin America, whose work arises from diverse theatrical traditions, and to which UK audiences have had little exposure. The company's focus is on discovering and developing the work of writers who examine the increasing number of peoples and communities worldwide whose lives are lived on the margains: economically, socially, and in terms of access to power and influence.

‘Working Methodology for Translating on the Margin. ‘Spider Girls’ Workshop with Young Vic and Head 4 Heights’ is a collaboration between the Department of Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies at King's, the Young Vic and Head 4 Heights theatre company. It was supported by the university's Culture team.

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