Text by Lisa De Roeck
In November 2023, Eva Wolf (Tilburg University), Barbara Koole (Tilburg University) & Lisa De Roeck (University of Antwerp) from the CONTRA project met in Delft and The Hague (NL) with other researchers from all over Europe, for a Joint Midterm and Kick-off meeting, organized by JPI Urban Europe.
Having already executed three Drama Labs (in Norway, Poland and the Netherlands) and with one more Drama Lab coming up (in Belgium), this meeting served as an excellent opportunity to share our first insights and lessons with other JPI Urban Europe projects. It also turned out to be a great chance to reflect further on our approach and get insightful feedback from other researchers.
The first day in Delft centered around dialogue and making connections between the various JPI Urban Europe projects. Accompanied by a poster, Eva held a pitch on the CONTRA project, which got other attendees excited about researching conflicts in urban transformations and the use of performative arts within Urban Living Labs.
The second day in The Hague (the Agora meeting) focused on arts and design in urban transformations. Researchers from the CONTRA project were asked to elaborate on our Drama Labs approach, which we gladly did.
As we believe in experience-centered learning, we opted to execute a small part of the Tilburg Drama Lab during this moment. Through performative methods, which were also used in Tilburg, participants experienced and reflected upon what it means to have decision-making power without always having to bear the consequences of these decisions and what sort of tensions this might enable. This involved a tree chunk, hammer and nails – as well as an unborn child of the future appearing in the room.
In this way, our approach became much more tangible for the other participants and opened the floor for further discussions on what art and theatre methods can do within sustainable urban transitions. We are looking forward to our last Drama Lab in Belgium to explore this even more.