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Gavin Bolton’s Contextual Drama

The Road Less Travelled

Gavin Bolton’s Contextual Drama is the result of more than two decades of study of Bolton’s theory and practice. For teachers and those in the caring professions, it will clarify the power of contextual drama as a beneficial learning medium for children and adults, both within and beyond the classroom. The core of the book is a detailed analysis of nine examples of the contextual drama mode; the first five demonstrate and analyze Bolton’s practice with children and young people and the final four describe his teaching with adults. Each chapter is framed by an introduction that contextualizes Bolton, from his initial beginnings working with visually and aurally-challenged children to his position as reader in drama at Durham University. The final two chapters offer reflection on the nature of this work and, in particular, the significance of Bolton’s contributions to education.

350 pages | 7 x 9

Theatre in Education

Education: Education--General Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: Dramatic Works

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Table of Contents



      By Dr. John O’Toole


Introduction – Gavin Bolton’s “Improvised Drama in Schools: A History of Confusion”

Chapter 1: What Exactly is Contextual Drama?

Chapter 2: Why Should I Use Contextual Drama?

Chapter 3: How to Use Contextual Drama: The Ins & Outs

Chapter 4: Case Studies

      Part I: Bolton in the 1980s

      Case Study 1:  Theresa

      Case Study 2: Violence

      Case Study 3: “The Haunted House” – “The Gatekeeper and The Key”

      Case Study 4: “Drunken Robbers” – “Orpheus”

      Case Study 5: The Crucible

      Part II: Bolton in the 1990s

      Case Study 6: The Sleeping Beauty

      Case Study 7: “The Green-Poolers” – “Victimization”

      Case Study 8: “The Sacred Mountain”

      Case Study 9: “Maria: A Drama of Oppression”

Chapter 5: The Importance of Reflection & Assessment

Chapter 6: Try, Try and Try Again: Stepping Out with “Annie”

Appendix A: Gavin Bolton’s Writings

Appendix B: Gavin Bolton’s Travels & Awards


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