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Playbuilding as Qualitative Research
A Participatory Arts-Based Approach
Joe Norris
272 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / Jan, 2010
Paperback (978-1-59874-477-4)
Hardback (978-1-59874-476-7)
eBook (978-1-61132-579-9)
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  - Developing Qualitative Inquiry

Related Interest
  - Cultural Studies & the Arts
  - Qualitative Research & Methods

American Educational Research Association Qualitative Research SIG Outstanding Book Award, 2011

Click here to view video performances of the plays that are included in the book.

This book is for both art-based
" A key contribution of the book is Norris’s invitation to consider theatre as a form of research that extends discussions instead of only presenting particular findings. More specifically, the theatrical presentation becomes part of the ongoing research itself as he invites his audience to engage with the given topic post-performance...I recommend Playbuilding as qualitative research for all arts-based researchers, and in particular those interested theatre/drama educational research. Readers will find a balance of theory, methodology, practice, and history in Norris’ book, and as significant, they will witness nearly 30 years of creative, research work by a passionate, thoughtful, internationally-known theatre education practitioner-scholar. "

- George Belliveau, International Journal of Education and the Arts

"Just when I was all comfortable thinking I knew just what qualitative research is, how to conduct it, how to present the results, and especially how to judge the quality of it all, here comes your book with all of its genre-bending, category-blurring, deconstructing, reconstructing, unconstructing rhetoric. I read the plays, go back to the sections on how to create these productions, then back to plays again, and I can see how the productions can be seen as renderings of the data produced by the collective process. I can even see how you have a discussion section after your plays when you can discuss the implications and limitations of the work. It’s just that I really hadn’t thought about how similar research and art can be and what can happen when we push past the metaphor and take seriously what research can be when we embrace its artistry. "

- Ronald J. Chenail, The Qualitative Report

"This is a timely book both as a handbook for researchers and as a supporting text for those engaged in this work who need to argue for the inclusion of such a methodology in the academic canon. "

- Tony Cotton, Qualitative Research

"In Playbuilding as Qualitative Research Joe Norris has created a book that demonstrates the educator’s passion while generously sharing practical knowledge in collective playbuilding as qualitative research. A distinctive feature of this book are Norris’s detailed descriptions and process based examples..invaluable for educator, student or practitioner. Drawing on playbuilding and participatory experience as Co-founder and Artistic Director of Mirror Theatre, active and group based illustrations link theory to method effectively showing how collective creation and playbuilding are applied for social change with examples such as ‘Understanding Prejudice Through Mime’ and script examples from the project ‘Respecting Diversity and Preventing Prejudice’, commissioned by The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities, Alberta. This is a topical book for challenging times, a hands on research resource that inspires action. As the creative arts gain momentum as a transitional force for participative change Joe Norris offers in this AERA award winning book the best of his methods to be put to work by researcher or practitioner in arts based qualitative research for social justice and the betterment of communities at home and abroad."

For this and other reviews, visit IJCAIP's website."

- C.L. McLean, Executive Editor, International Journal of The Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice

" This book not only met all the criteria for the [AERA Outstanding Book Award], it exceeded every criteria. Norris bridges arts-based research, qualitative research, and playbuilding grounded in rich theories and create dialogue for various social justice issues. The committee members exclaimed not only about the accessibility, utility of this book, but the ways in which this book challenged our thinking, made us imagine how the audience participation might look like at the end of the scenes and the fertile ground for much needed dialoguing.... Congratulations Joe Norris. "

- American Educational Research Association

"Joe Norris' book Playbuilding as Qualitative Research is an outstanding resource for students and researchers interested in dramatic approaches to social research as well as arts-based inquiry more generally. It is extremely well-researched, accessibly written, and overflowing with robust examples that draw readers in. A gem!"

- Patricia Leavy, Stonehill College

"There have long been gaps and questions in the story of how group constructed performance pieces and playbuilding actually become part of an accessible route towards valid qualitative research in theater. Joe Norris reclaims the voice of the theater practitioner in this latest addition to the Developing Qualitative Inquiry series. In Playbuilding as Qualitative Research he expertly guides the reader through the theory, techniques and experience of this participatory research approach in a way which will open the genre to the many, many theatre and arts practitioners who will be able to better join the dots between their own teaching and practice and its potential contribution as research."

- Jim Mienczakowski, Abu Dhabi Education Council

"Devising and performing theatrical work are sometimes perceived by non-practitioners as mysterious and elusive processes. But Joe Norris\'s Playbuilding as Qualitative Research accessibly documents the empirically-grounded and socially-conscious productions of Canada\'s renowned Mirror Theatre for a broad readership in the communities of education, sociology, social work, human communication, film and media production, and the arts. Norris persuasively makes the case for playbuilding as a genre of qualitative research that adheres to the principle tenets of inquiry in which art-based research and research-informed art are collaborative, emergent, data-driven, relevant, and ethical acts for audiences\' social concerns and needs. Joe Norris\'s rigorous scholarship and sensitivity to lived experience weave together to present an engaging narrative of how qualitative researchers--not just theatre artists--can elegantly dramatize the salient issues of our lives for community reflection and action. "

- Johnny Saldaña, Arizona State University

researchers and research-informed artists, exploring the theatrical genre known as Collective Creation, or Playbuilding. Performers generate data around chosen topics— from addiction and sexuality to qualitative research—by compiling scenes from their disparate voices. Audience members become involved in the investigation, and the performed scenes do not end the conversation but challenge and extend it. Through discussion and audience participation, the process examines how knowledge is defined and how data is mediated.

Learn more about the book directly from author Joe Norris here.

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