History and Drama have long been regarded as complementary disciplines but few studies have focussed on the value of interdisciplinary approaches in schools themselves. Verrier and Fines’ The Drama of History, which attempted to integrate the drama and history in such an environment, was published in 1974. Subsequent research has been preoccupied with site-specific, community projects where performance is considered as a medium to transfer intangible cultural inheritance to communities.
Drama and the past interact at historical institutions; for example, performances take place at heritage sites and educational theatre companies have toured British schools, delivering plays and workshops to young people for decades. My research will explore how a fully-integrated cross-disciplinary programme, tailored to set curriculum, can affect learning from within the school environment. As ethnographer, I will observe how students respond to history when invited to participate dramatically, constructing, and embodying their own interpretations of the past. I will explore how cross-disciplinary approaches can affect the way students conceptualise history and if drama techniques can help to build the historians’ skillset, expected of students at Key Stages 3 and 4. Before students choose their GCSEs, they are expected to understand the complexity of the past, its relevance for themselves, and the present-day.
The study hopes to determine the value of the approach as a catalyst in drawing out these intangible, yet integrated components of the history curriculum. The proposed will also explore the use of drama in delivering ‘contested’ histories, developing recommendations of the HA (Historical Association), which can encourage students’ to appreciate the many challenging and conflicting interpretations of the past. The research will produce a body of practical evidence gathered during the field study, and a theoretical and analytical commentary, exploring the relationship between dramatic practices, history and learning, taking the form of practice-based research project.