Tuesday June 12th we launched The Drama Lab Toolbox at the Literature House in Oslo. In the spirit of the project, the launch included performative and interactive elements from the Drama Lab itself, alongside presentations from the Drama Labs in Poland, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands. The highlight of the event was ‘the Toolbox ritual’. Here, the CONTRA researchers carried the Toolbox onto stage in a solemn procession, followed by a humoristic ‘toolbox sermon’. The sermon, brilliantly performed by drama partner Sara Vertongen, warned against treating the Toolbox as a ‘one-size-fit all’ solution to urban challenges, urging the audience instead to see it as an open-ended mindset that could offer inspiration to thinking differently about how urban challenges can be addressed.

The Toolbox is a compilation of learnings and advice stemming from the four national toolboxes [CSO1] we have developed throughout the CONTRA project. It targets municipalities and other urban governance actors that are interested in experimenting with new participatory tools that draw on theatre-based methods for engaging with conflicts and tensions in urban development. It can be used in both formal and informal processes when different stakeholders need to be consulted or involved. As mentioned, it does not provide ‘one right way’ of doing things but offers a ‘mindset’ – different inspirations and ways of thinking – that gives a fresh take on the possibilities and challenges at hand. 

To clarify the potential uses of the Toolbox, we included a list of do’s and don’ts:

Do 

→ Do use this toolbox to better accommodate and negotiate conflict of interests, values and perspectives among stakeholders in urban development processes. 

→ Do use this toolbox to enable stakeholders to experiment with new perspectives through theatre-based methods.

→ Do use this toolbox to better understand what kinds of tensions or conflicts may result in resistance or inspire change. 

→ Do use this toolbox to enrich decision making processes with new voices and perspectives. 

Don’t

→ Don’t see this toolbox as a solution to conflicts in urban development.

→ Don’t use this toolbox as a one-size-fits-all solution to urban challenges. 

→ Don’t use this toolbox as a ready-made set of expertise, using these tools effectively requires practice and reflexive engagement.

→ Don’t expect that using this toolbox requires all participants to have theatre or acting talents or experiences.

We hope the Toolbox will be widely read and used across Europe and beyond!


 [CSO1]Link to the page in which these can be downloaded

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