Building on the work from Module Two, I identified several research tools that I believed would be of use to me throughout the inquiry
I knew I was going to be gathering qualitative rather than quantitative data, and decided that conducting interviews with selected participants would yield the most relevant information. Initially I had also planned to conduct surveys or create questionnaires, as I had originally planned to interview audience members after specific productions. However, as the inquiry progressed, my focus altered slightly and I found no longer needed to gather this data. This was also because of ethical concerns, including data protection and anonymity, and the lack of a suitable place in which to conduct these questionnaires.
I had decided to interview playwrights and directors who are involved in producing New Theatre. I selected my participants based on the productions taking place at the Finborough Theatre during the time allocated for the research portion of my inquiry. I was fortunate in that during this time period many of the productions were appropriate given the parameters of the inquiry. I had decided, during the planning, that I would need at least six respondents in order to gain a good range of opinion and information, and fortunately I was able to identify more than I initially needed due to the particular productions being staged during this time.
This was also fortunate as many of the potential participants were unavailable for interview, due to time constraints and other commitments. I was able to make contact with several of them through social media and using email and Skype, and conducted interviews in this manner, however a couple of those identified were not available at any point during my research.
The ethical concerns of using audio-visual material (video camera) for the interviews were mitigated in this manner, as respondents were able to answer in their own time and were not filmed. For these participants I explained in the introductory email that their responses would be used for the purposes of research and that their names would be kept anonymous throughout. I allocated each participant with a pseudonym, and the cross-reference was kept in electronic format in a secure location.
I found that the planning I had done in Module Two meant that my time was used wisely, and for the most part I was able to conduct the interviews within the time frame I had set out for myself. One of the interviews had to take place much later due to the participant being on holiday during the time period, however this did not affect the gathering of information from either participants or literature sources too much.
Using interviews was effective and yielded interesting qualitative results. Due to the nature of my inquiry questions I was expecting a range of personal responses and an open interview pattern was able to procure this outcome. Due to the challenges imposed by demands on the participants’ time I was forced to be creative and made use of social media and video conferencing in order to conduct interviews at times most suitable for those involved. This enabled me to expand my skills in these techniques which will be useful in future for networking and professional practice.
If I were to conduct these interviews again, I would identify and contact intended participants well ahead of time in order to arrange interview times that were mutually convenient. The season was not announced until after I had submitted the work for Module Two which did not leave me much time for identifying and contacting those involved in the productions that were suitable for my research.
I identified many literature sources that were helpful to my inquiry, including books, newspaper articles, journals and online sources. Many of these were recommended to me through my SIG and professional network, such as ‘Rewriting The Nation’ by Aleks Sierz, which I found extremely helpful in discussing the nature of New Theatre and New Writing over the last ten years during the informal interviews.
The literature sources I found have been an invaluable source of information regarding current thinking on theatre theory and have enabled me to form coherent and relevant arguments, which I used during the interview process with practitioners in the field. In this respect I believe I planned as well as I could have done, as the informal style of the interviews, using open and leading questions led to interesting, qualitative results that would not have been possible without an already in depth knowledge of current thinking on the state of theatre in Britain today.