Graduate Theses & Dissertations

From Toronto to Africville
How can educators use drama to nurture an ability in their students to identify and challenge the discourses and practices that have historically perpetuated oppression and inequality within Canada — without miring them in those narratives of oppression? This dissertation discusses the work of De-Railed, a theatre group that worked with youth in Hamilton Rapids, a Toronto neighbourhood where a high percentage of residents experience racial discrimination and poverty, to create a play about the destruction of Africville, a historically Black community in Halifax, NS. Drawing from the methodologies of critical, performance, and imaginative ethnography; critical multiculturalism; theatre of the oppressed; and feminist critical pedagogy, this dissertation argues that while participants used the fictional and intersubjective nature of drama to express embodied and affective resistance to class- and race-based oppressions in Canada’s past and present, the play-building process also reproduced certain unequal disciplinary structures that De-Railed was attempting to challenge. Emphasizing the importance of creating space for young people’s expressions of negative affect and emotion, this dissertation considers both the potentialities and limitations of De-Railed’s application of theatre of the oppressed methods in enabling participants to engage in affective expressions of resistance that may not have been permissible or available in other areas of their lives. Author Keywords: Africville, feminist critical pedagogy, forum theatre, multiculturalism, performance ethnography, theatre of the oppressed

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