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Role conventions – in colour

This is still one of the most useful resources anyone ever gave me! It’s from Allana Taylor’s workshop at the 2009 Weaving our Stories Conference, and it’s a version of Heathcote’s 33 role conventions. Heathcote’s list is well known. Simply put, it helps teachers see some of the many different ways we can put ourselves and our participants into role during a classroom drama experience (the list is not exhaustive – for example it doesn’t include digital possibilities for evoking roles – but it’s an amazing start)

What’s special about this handout is that Allana has colour coded the conventions in line with Jerome Bruner’s theory that learning occurs through ICONIC, SYMBOLIC & ENACTIVE / EXPRESSIVE forms of representation. The colour coding puts the different roles into these three categories. The green ones are ENACTIVE (physical representations made through the body). The red ones are where the role is ICONIC (evoked through artefacts, symbols, images or drawings). The blue ones are SYMBOLIC (where writing or other forms of language are used). Bearing these different categories in mind can really help the teacher choose what kind of learning experience to offer – and how to move between all three during different episodes.

When planning to teach in role, or put participants in role, it’s well worth having an explore through this list to see which role convention feels right for your purpose. As a rule of thumb, the more abstract the convention, the more distance it provides. So, if we are wanting to engage with something important, such as an atua, or a real figure from history, we are more likely to choose an abstract role convention (red or blue) for this.

Thanks Allana, for a wonderful tool that has stood the test of time

Heathcote’s role conventions – in colour.
Allana Taylor, Weaving our Stories conference, 2009
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