'I feel like a giant, like a star, a proper actor' : reflections on a service user-led evaluation of a drama project using participatory visual research methods

Helen Charnley, Se Kwang Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article describes the processes of supporting ‘Full Circle from ARC, Stockton’, a group of nine men and women with learning disabilities, to develop skills in using visual research methods to evaluate their own drama project that grew from their ambition to escape the boundaries of conventional day care services and have a go at being ‘real actors’. With the help of support workers, members of Full Circle worked with a drama practitioner to script, design, direct, produce and perform Is Toto Dead? their alternative version of The Wizard of Oz. Invited to evaluate the project, the first two authors acted as research supporters and discussed different approaches and methods of evaluation with members of Full Circle who embraced the opportunity to extend their repertoire of skills to undertake their own evaluation using visual research methods. Here we offer a reflective account of the process that attempts to remain as close as possible to the experiences of members of Full Circle. Following an introduction that locates the work of Full Circle in a contemporary policy context, we provide brief overviews of the literature on the involvement of people with learning disabilities in the performing arts, and in participatory research. We then focus on the achievements as well as the methodological and ethical challenges in using participatory visual research methods. We end by reflecting on the potential of these methods, as well as the potential of performing arts, for promoting the development of self esteem, confidence and competence in adults with learning disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-158
JournalMental Health and Learning Disabilities Research and Practice
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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