Monash University
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Becoming wild place: a theatre of connection

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posted on 2017-01-13, 01:59 authored by Pitman, Kym Heather
In this thesis I use post-modern emergent arts-based methodology (Somerville, 2005) to explore how young people come to know themselves through wild places. I respond to the need identified by educational theorists, for frameworks in education which, while attempting to address current social and ecological crisis, foster deeply connective experiences in natural landscapes and the relearning and enlivening of perceptual acuity. Along side my own observations and reflections, I explore multiple creative representations of embodied experience, including journalling, poetry, song, sculpture, dance and theatre, to understand a process of becoming in relation to the phenomena of wild places. I focus firstly on two treks with young people, one through the Northern Flinders Ranges and one through the Guy Fawkes River Gorge. Utilising and building on these experiences, the research then moves into a wilderness theatre project involving a third trek and a three phase process of data collection and analysis. Correspondingly, the reader journeys through a wild place, a series of theatre workshops and a dramatic performance with a group of young people as they embody, articulate and represent their experience. The drama process serves as an innovative method of analysis both stimulating re-embodiment of participant experience and as an in-between space of creative production through which to assemble data into a collective representation. As the research unfolds, critical pedagogy of place (Gruenwald, 2003c), traditional rites of passage (Turner, 1982) and wilderness theatre (Pitman, 2003) become integrated through a post structural understanding of the self as process. From this emerges a lens through which young people’s experience in wild places can be understood as embodying a sense of belonging to the earth in new storylines of connection.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Margaret Somerville

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Education