Policy proposals about social change and well-being shape the implementation of applied theatre projects through technologies such as evaluation practices and funding applications. Representations of projects can, in turn, effect public discourse about who participants are and why they are or are not ‘being well’. Like public policy, applied theatre for social change has to establish a problem that needs to be solved. Drawing on debates about change in applied theatre literature, we consider how funders, governments, and communities call on applied theatre practitioners to frame particular issues and/or people as problematic. We then examine discourses of well-being in Australia and New Zealand, drawing on policy documents and funding schemes to discuss the politics of change in applied theatre in each country. We consider how the field might navigate policies, technologies and public understandings of well-being, change and social good to produce work with and for participants in neoliberalised contexts.
Mullen, Molly, Freebody, Kelly, Walls, Amber, and O'Connor, Peter. 2019. Who is Responsible? Neoliberal Discourses of Well-Being in Australia and New Zealand. NJ Drama Australia Journal. doi:10.1080/14452294.2019.1572432