The dramaturgy of the real: Experiential learning with Sheffield culture lab | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1757-1936
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1944



This article focuses on an educational theatre project, ‘Me and You and Us and Them’, carried out with University of Sheffield English and Theatre students in partnership with Museums Sheffield. Working with children from local inner-city schools, the brief was to create a performative response to Tate Britain’s touring exhibition ‘Picture of Us’ and to present this at the city’s Graves Arts Gallery as part of the exhibition’s closing event. The account of the project provides the basis for a critical/theoretical reflection on the nature and challenges of experiential learning, drawing in particular on the writings of John Heron and Michael Luntley. The article’s thesis is that the latter’s differentiation between ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ conceptions of practice and Heron’s stress on ‘live encounter’ can enrich our understanding of experiential learning, of how we can help our students move from ‘knowing that’ to ‘knowing how’, from the simulation of the world in the workshop to immersion in what Foucault has called ‘the dramaturgy of the real’. The article is in three sections. Section 1 sets out the context for the project. Section 2 offers an impressionistic account of the process. Section 3 offers a summative analysis.


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