Cap-a-Pie and Newcastle University.

Town Meeting - Performing Research Network

Performing Research, a collaboration between theatre company Cap-a-Pie and Newcastle University, brings together researchers at Newcastle University, artists and communities to explore the latest research ideas through theatre.

The backbone of the project is a series of workshops held at Newcastle University where researchers join artists and members of the public to create new pieces of theatre. These new pieces are then performed, by the group, at Northern Stage. The project promotes public engagement and collaboration as well as being a training programme for academics interested in exploring creative methodologies.

Building on this core programme Cap-a-Pie work with individual academics to co-create theatre, community arts projects and academic research. All aim to be innovative in their approach and methodology, promote learning and thinking for all involved and create opportunities for people to access and contribute to the creation of art and knowledge.

Projects include work linking children in care with English literature students, the creation of a new piece of children’s theatre exploring the world of insects with praying mantis expert Dr Vivek Nityananda, and a new piece of theatre which enables communities to engage in how planning decisions are made.

The Town Meeting

In 2015 Cap-a-Pie worked with Dr Paul Cowie, a research associate at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University to create a new professional piece of theatre – The Town Meeting. The show is an immersive and interactive show for one actor and a playing audience of 25 who take on the role of a community with a big decision to make.

The Town Meeting is both a piece of theatre and an opportunity for Dr Cowie to engage with communities and enable them to feed into and set the focus of his research. Audiences not only co-created the show but were also co-researchers. Our tour in Spring 2015 was at the beginning of a new piece of research for Paul. He had identified there was a need to explore how communities plan for their future, especially within the new context of the changes that the coalition government brought in around localism and neighbourhood planning. The audiences that attended The Town Meeting not only informed Paul’s research but also changed the focus. This was very exciting as it shows the positive impact that open, two-way engagement can have at all stages of a research project.

Click here for a podcast about the Town Meeting.

Click here for a blog by Dr Paul Cowie.

A Reason to Read

A Reason to Read is an ongoing project between Cap-a-Pie, English Literature students at Newcastle University and Looked after Children from Gateshead, supported and hosted at Northern Stage. The project brings together young people from diverse backgrounds to explore canonical texts and build relationships and understandings. So far we have explored Beowulf and The Odyssey and in spring 2016 will be looking at Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

The project has been very successful at bringing together university students and young people in care to work and create together. It has provided an opportunity for the students, many of whom are considering a career working with young people, to learn about creativity and the role of the theatre in education, in addition to giving them practical experience of working with children in care. It has been a new experience for both the students and young people in care, and which many have found to be a positive one.

One of the young people who took part in the project commented: “The project has helped me meet new people. I used to be shy but this has made me feel confident.”

Kathryn Norton, who is in the third year of her degree in Classical Studies and English, explained: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of this project and feel I have learnt some really valuable skills. The project has opened my eyes to a new avenue of theatre work which I had not considered before, and as I start to think about my plans following university I will now be looking to work with projects that have a similar educational ethos and approach to learning.”

Click here for more information on A Reason to Read project

The Insect Show

Over summer 2015 Cap-a-Pie worked with children and families and Dr Vivek Nityananda at an urban farm to begin work on a new play ‘The Insect Show’. We worked with over 230 participants to begin creating characters, devising scenes, composing music and drawing set and costume designs. The show will tour in 2017 and aims to give children a unique insight into the world of insects.

Performing Research Network

Cap-a-Pie are keen to share our learning from our work with academics and want to provide a space for others to do the same. This is an online space to support, collaborate and share results of partnership working between theatre makers and researchers. Visit for more information.

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