Nicola Pauling: When Distance Lives next door; using applied theatre to strengthen complex social (public) housing communities

Applied theatre is being used to build strong, inclusive, sustainable communities where tenants are able to articulate aspirations for their own neighbourhoods.

Wellington City’s 5000 social housing tenants live in medium and high-density housing communities. Cultural diversity amongst this population is high, including significant numbers of migrants and former refugees, while English as a first language, education levels and incomes are low. It is an environment ripe for the growth of isolation, prejudice and intolerance. Applied theatre is being used to build strong, inclusive, sustainable communities where tenants are able to articulate aspirations for their own neighbourhoods. Voice Arts has been working with Wellington City Council for a decade creating projects for and with this tenant community, including the formation of a tenant led devised theatre group. Voice Arts Director Nicola Pauling created the vision for these projects, leading their implementation and evaluation. She presents research on the challenges faced by Voice Arts practitioners, the experiences of the participants and the outcomes her projects have achieved.

Nicola Pauling:
A group facilitator who uses play and performance as tools for community and personal development. She is the Artistic Director of Voice Arts where she has led the development and delivery of many unique creative engagement projects that support people to tell their own stories in their own voice; projects that support social justice, active citizenship and wellbeing. Voice Arts works across diverse communities: youth, prisoners, the elderly, refugee and migrants, social (public) housing tenants as well as supporting the professional development of community workers. Each project is unique and tailored to meet the needs of the participants. Groups can choose theatre, film or audio/radio as their performance platform. Nicola has worked internationally with communities in Cook Islands, Ethiopia, Uganda, and New York. She is a recent graduate of New York based East Side Institute’s International Programme.

Tegan Arazny (Facilitator & Documenter)
Tegan is a strong advocate for the development of Theatre and the Arts in community settings and has been involved with numerous Applied Theatre programmes throughout her professional training and experience. Tegan graduated with a Master of Arts with Distinction in Applied Theatre from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She has professional experience in Community Performance that promotes Young People’s expression and engagement through Puppetry and Theatre practices. As well as collaborating and performing with ERTH Visual & Physical Inc and Welsh theatre company PuppetSoup, she has co-directed and worked alongside Shop Front Arts Co-Op Junior Ensemble of 8-14-year old’s to create the original devised production, The Unknown. Tegan is currently working as Teaching Artist for Sydney Theatre Company’s ‘School Drama’. This is a Teachers Professional Development Program designed to improve teaching and learning by modelling the use of drama-based strategies with quality children's literature.