In keeping with our conference theme - Future Generations: Projecting Playful Possibilities - each of our distinctive keynote speakers embody the imaginative spirit and ingenuity vital to shaping work for/with young people. They will challenge your thinking, widen your perspectives, and leave you inspired.

Ms. Purni Morell (UK)

Ms. Purni Morell (UK)

Artistic Director, Unicorn Theatre

Who's Kidding Who?

It's human nature to think of our children as the future, but in this keynote address, Purni will be exploring how we all benefit much more when we treat them as fully-rounded beings living in the present. She will be discussing how and why art is necessary for all of us, and why theatre for children should be treated exactly the same as theatre for adults.

Purni Morell is the Artistic Director of the Unicorn, the UK’s leading theatre for young audiences. She also works as a freelance director and translator, with work to date produced at the Finborough Theatre, by Speeltheater Holland, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Muziektheater Transparant, ‘t Arsenaal and Vlaamse Opera, Gent. Purni began her career in stage management, working for Stephen Daldry and Annie Castledine, among others, before going to read History at the University of Glasgow. She was Head of Studio at the National Theatre, London, from 2007-2011. Her productions for the Unicorn include A Winter’s Tale, Dora, The Velveteen Rabbit, Baddies: the Musical; My Father, Odysseus and The Hunting Lodge. Outside the Unicorn, her production of Alpha Beta at the Finborough Theatre was nominated in the Off West End Awards for Best Director, Best Actor and Best Design. Her next project will be a staging of An Enemy of the People in Flint, Michigan, this June.

 
Mr. Chong Tze Chien (Singapore)

Mr. Chong Tze Chien (Singapore)

Company Director, The Finger Players

The Perils of Mentorship

How does one 'teach' creativity? More than ever, arts mentors and educators are imparting their skills to the future generation in both formal and informal settings; yet, there's a danger in reducing pedagogy to tasks to fulfil and bucket lists to tick off as though there's a formula in making good art and practitioners of the craft. Playwright/Director Chong Tze Chien shares his observations as a playwright/director mentor and sheds light on the perils of mentoring and coaching, illuminating the challenges facing educators as well as new generations of arts-makers and audiences.

An award-winning playwright/director, Chong Tze Chien is currently Company Director of The Finger Players. He has published two collections, which contain his critically acclaimed plays such as Charged and PIE. Other notable plays he has directed and written include Turn By Turn We Turn, Poop!, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, The Book of Living and Dying and Rant & Rave. He won the National Arts Council's Young Artist Award in 2006.

 
Dr. Julie Dunn (Australia)

Dr. Julie Dunn (Australia)

Associate Professor in Drama Education & Applied Theatre, Griffith University

Where play meets drama: Exploring the possibilities when dramatic artistry is applied in support of play

Contemporary research indicates that children’s dramatic play is in decline, with a combination of factors relating to 21st Century life combining to limit play opportunities. The result is that children miss out on developing critical play and drama skills, with ongoing implications for their imagination, creativity, language development and narrative skills. This keynote will address this concerning situation by outlining the rich possibilities that can be generated when playful adults combine dramatic artistry with sensitive scaffolding to support children before, during and after play. In particular, it will outline the key dramatic vocabularies and skills needed to operate effectively at the nexus between play and drama.

Dr Julie Dunn is an Associate Professor at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. Her research work focuses on play, playfulness and drama education. She has published widely in these areas, with a specific interest being their points of intersection. With research projects involving participants as varied as young children, adult drama learners and people living with dementia, the contexts for Julie’s research work are highly diverse. Julie is keenly interested in the role of creativity and artistry in education and has devoted most of her professional life to expanding the role these play in education.