Exploring the Landscape of Research-based theatre:

Playwright, Researcher, Educator


  • Richard Sallis


research-based theatre, drama/theatre, education, theatre, performance, ethnodrama, research, drama, performance-based theatre


Like some other contemporary proponents in the field of research-based theatre (Belliveau and Lea, 2016) I tend to use the following terms interchangeably whilst acknowledging that they have their own particular meanings and nuances: performed research (Sajnani, Sallis and Salvatore, 2018, in- press), ethnodrama (Saldaña, 2005) and ethnographic performance (Wellin, 1996). A common thread which links all of these terms is that they refer to a process whereby research data and research report findings are transformed into a dramatic text and presented as performance. With its postmodern performance aesthetic research-based theatre can require audiences to both interpret and interact with the work; the performance is a dialogic event, that is the audience becomes a part of the performance, in one way or another. In a Boalian (1979) sense, audience members can be invited to not merely observe a performance but critique it as well and may even be drawn into the action of stage. With experience as a drama educator, ethnographer and as a theatre industry creative, I am keen to explore the potential of performed research as a form with which to share my qualitative/ethnographic research findings. To date most of my research-based performance pieces have featured teachers (pre-service and in-service) and students as research participants and subsequently they have become the characters in my plays and the primary or initial audience for the subsequent performance.