Sarah Ashford Hart Sarah Ashford Hart - socially-engaged theatre artist/facilitator

I am a socially-engaged theatre artist coming to Devon from New York via Moscow, Nova Scotia and Caracas; having lived, studied and worked across many kinds of borders, I approach theatre as an international language, a pathway for coming into contact with different cultures and ways of seeing the world. I have worked with a number of experimental theatre companies, designed and performed puppets and masks, and facilitated educational and community theatre programmes in diverse contexts. My devised theatre practice explores participatory techniques for exchanging real stories, to generate social dialogue across barriers of difference.

After completing my BA in Theatre at Columbia University in 2006, I went on to work with the City University of New York's educational theatre company, Creative Arts Team, as an actor/teacher in inner-city schools, facilitating interactive drama workshops around crucial issues and receiving professional training in their revolutionary TIE pedagogy. I also trained and worked extensively with mentors from the renowned Bread and Puppet theatre company, creating political pageants in the streets with community participation. I later founded La Boca Theatre Company to devise performances of people’s real stories between Venezuela and New York.

Since coming to Devon in 2008 for the Master of Arts in Devised Theatre at Dartington College of Arts, I have been working as a freelance practitioner throughout the South West, facilitating participatory theatre programmes in a variety of communities, from deprived urban areas to rural villages. From 2009 to 2010, I led the Voices for Change programme at the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth, an integrated group of young people, community workers and performers form diverse backgrounds who wanted to use theatre to make a positive impact on Plymouth’s multicultural future. My role was to facilitate a collaborative dialogue between participants around issues of prejudice and develop an artistic approach to voicing the group’s message of accepting difference. We devised and delivered 'From One Extreme to the Other', a participatory performance intervention for secondary schools, encouraging peer-led dialogue around questions of ‘local’ and ‘foreign’ identity and belonging in Plymouth.

At the Theatre Royal in Plymouth, I have facilitated theatre workshops for young people and assisted their community projects for Asylum Seekers and homeless people. As part of their Creative Learning programme, I worked with a refugee women’s group called Dove Tales to transcribe their conversations and compile a book of their stories. In Exeter, I have worked with service users at St. Petrock’s and Shilhay homeless centres, facilitating creative sessions around participants’ unique perspectives on the city. Currently, I am working for Play It Again Theatre, based in Cornwall, as a performer and workshop facilitator. We tour schools across the South West with our original educational plays, followed by participatory workshops that engage young people in relevant social themes.

My methodology is based on dialogue with others who share a desire to (ex)change perspectives on issues of interest to the community, creating ways to listen and respond to each other through performance. I am particularly interested in generating performance from people’s words, exploring different perspectives by encouraging people to try out one another’s, thus initiating a dialogical relationship between the ‘story’ and the ‘performer’. With my work, I seek to promote social equality by actively listening to and amplifying voices not usually heard in society. I believe in the power of innovative participatory performance to encourage freedom of expression and build community.

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Where Are You From, Totnes? / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2011-09-08T00:00:00Z">Thu 08</span> to <span  itemprop="endDate" content="2011-09-10T00:00:00Z">Sat 10 Sep 2011</span> <span>(3 days)</span>Where Are You From, Totnes? / Thu 08 to Sat 10 Sep 2011 (3 days)

Come see Where Are You From, Totnes? in the Totnes Festival! After three inspiring weeks of creative sessions in Globe Garden, we are presenting the collected stories, hopes and concerns of our community in a perfor...

My Opportunities

Internship Aug-Sept / Fri 19 Aug 2011

I am a freelance artist looking for a young person to intern for the participatory arts project, Where Are You From, Totnes? This is a Transition Town Arts project engaging the community of Totnes in creative dialogues a...