3.2. Teacher-researcher-playwright: Navigating practice as research

A Venn diagram highlighting the three versions of self: teacher, researcher, playwright and how these three areas interact and overlap, with the T-R-P position in the centre. Seminar on the 17 November 2023

Teacher-researcher-playwright: Navigating practice as research

In this seminar, Dr Beth Curtis discusses the use of playwriting as a form of inquiry within qualitative research, and explains how the interweaving of her teacher-researcher-playwright identity informed her practice.


Beth’s doctoral research positions drama at its onto-epistemological centre. In a study within which drama is both the subject of exploration and the means through which it is interpreted and understood, playwriting is used as a purposeful form of inquiry to critically and creatively analyse and (re)present the data stories. The creative methodology which frames Beth’s research practice is the nexus between three versions of self: the teacher, the researcher, and the playwright. In her position as ‘Teacher-Researcher-Playwright’ (T-R-P), she is inextricably woven into the fabric of words and images presented in and through the pages of the play as her creative practice responds to what Koro-Ljungberg (2016) describes as ‘data-wants and data entanglements’.

This seminar will discuss the development of a four-stage approach to the T-R-P’s process and considers how playwriting can be used as a robust and reflexive research practice which understands meaning-making as embodied, co-constructed, and perpetually in-motion. The tacit and embodied nature of drama education is explored through an a/r/togrpahic lens which resists formulaic systems and methods and instead embraces ‘the simultaneity, multiplicity and complexity’ (Belliveau, 2015:7) of the ‘lived experiences and evolving identities’ (ibid.) of the T-R-P and the research participants. In doing so, the practicalities and messiness of practice-as-research are considered not as obstacles but as opportunities for diffraction, through which the T-R-P is invited to learn, unlearn and (re)learn what has been illuminated of the data as it is (re)presented in dramatic form.

Download Dr Curtis’s presentation slides.
Access Dr Curtis’s thesis, which includes the play in appendix E.

Beth Curtis has recently completed her doctorate in education with the University of Sunderland, beginning her journey to PhD through a bespoke practitioner research programme designed for teachers in Further Education. Originally trained as a primary school teacher, Beth has worked in Further Education since 2008, teaching across level 3 vocational and A Level drama and performing arts courses. Situated in a large FE college in the SouthWest of England, Beth now works within Teacher Education, tutoring and teaching on the PGCE and Award programmes. Beth holds a first class degree in drama from the University of Exeter and is interested in applied uses of drama and theatre within social, community and education contexts. In her thesis, Beth used playwriting as a creative method of data analysis and (re)presentation to illuminate the stories of A Level Drama students and teachers, with a specific focus on experiences of assessment.


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