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Performance ‘Training’ in the Dirt: facilitating belonging in a regional community musical theatre event
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-09-28, DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2021.1943508
David Burton, Janet McDonald

Community-engaged theatre projects are host to a complex dynamic set of tensions, particularly when volunteers from a specific community are partnered with visiting professional/industry artists or ‘systems convenors’. These tensions are given nuance in regional Australia, where community-engaged projects frequently utilise metropolitan-based artists to facilitate creation with local partipants, implicitly indicating that ‘regional’ may be conflated with ‘amateur’. The authors seek to interrogate the tensions at the heart of creating genuine rapport through the ‘training’ of un-trained participants in community-engaged projects. This paper focuses on one such project by the Queensland Music Festival, The Power Within (2017), built in collaboration with the Isaac Shire Council in central Queensland. In particular, the paper draws on the experience of one adolescent in the process: Sam, who credits The Power Within as beneficial in establishing his emerging personal identity. In this, the authors draw upon the work of Orr and Shreeve (2018 Orr, S., and A. Shreeve. 2018. “Art and design pedagogy in higher education: knowledge values and ambiguity in the creative curriculum.” Higher Education 78: 183–184.[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]) to demonstrate the relationship between personal and community identity. Further elucidation is gained through the work of Margaret Archer and Pierre Bourdieu to explore the deeply reflexive nature of face-to-face training in the unique environment of remote Central Queensland. This reveals the nuances at the crucible of atypical, informal and imposed training that can operate within community-engaged theatre projects in regional Queensland. Ultimately, for Sam, the key learnings from the project assisted in the establishment of himself as a professional make-up artist, an outcome entirely unpredicted by the creative leadership team tasked with collaborating with him. The authors posit it is this unpredictability that renders the training within community-engaged arts projects unique and bespoke.