New Canons: authentic arts education in theatre lessons

Researchers: Emiel Heijnen and Nadieh Graumans-Tighelaar, with the cooperation of Melissa Bremmer
In collaboration met DOX, Kunstloc Brabant and the Academy of Theatre of Fontys University of the Arts.

Which theatrical forms do we find outside the established theatre institutes and how could they inspire our theatre education? This question forms the starting point of New Canons, a research project that is designed as a professionalisation process for theatre teachers, Over the course of six months, a mixed group of approximately 16 theatre teachers will collaborate. During meetings, they will become acquainted with the basic principles of Authentic arts education and Teacher as conceptual artist, with which they will experiment during theatrical exercises and when creating innovative lesson designs. The self-developed lessons will be continually tested in one’s own personal practice, documented and evaluated. The professionalisation process will be concluded with a joint artistic presentation for an audience. This presentation will serve as a lively sampling of the most appealing theatrical experiments that those participants have developed during the process. The research will map out the (learning) experiences of the participants: What are their experiences with authentic arts education and to what extent do the concepts Authentic arts education and Teacher as conceptual artist provide theatre teachers with guidelines for innovating their teaching practice, and integrating their artistic practice and work as teachers?

Sharing the aesthetic experience: discussing afterwards with children

Following on from her Master’s research, Nadieh Graumans-Tigchelaar has been designing and researching a new discussion technique with which she wants to discuss the aesthetic experience of primary school children following a musical theatre performance. The research conducted has revealed that an aesthetic experience is built up of different elements: imagination, connection, emotion and world view. On the basis of various discussion techniques from philosophy and visual arts, these elements were discussed with children. However, it turned out that there wasn’t one technique, as a result of which children were challenged to talk about the entire experience. The discussion primarily focused on imagination and world view; emotion and connection lagged behind.

In this follow-up research, Nadieh is designing a new discussion method that will be composed of the most powerful elements from the Barrett Model and Socratic Dialogue. During this design research, there will be an empirical investigation of whether the new technique is suitable for talking in groups with children about imagination, connection, emotion and world view in response to a performance. The aim of the research is to develop a powerful, accessible discussion method that group teachers can easily use themselves in order to challenge pupils to talk about their experience on a more personal level following the visit to receptive arts.

Nadieh uses the results of the research a lot in her current work. For example, the discussion method developed are used in lessons in which Acting students from the Podiumacademie of the ROC van Twente (Regional Training Centre of Twente) learn to discuss theatre afterwards and become acquainted with developing education material.


- Graumans-Tigchelaar, N. (2022). Film kijken met kleuters. Kunstzone, 22(2), 14-15.
- Graumans-Tigchelaar, N. (2021). Podcast Theater nabespreken met kinderen. Amsterdam. NL: Lectoraat Kunsteducatie
- Graumans-Tigchelaar, N. (2021). Er liepen mieren in mijn buik. Kunstzone, 20(2), 55-57.
- Graumans-Tigchelaar, N. (2020). Er liepen mieren in mijn buik. Amsterdam. NL: Lectoraat Kunsteducatie, Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten.



Nadieh Graumans-Tigchelaar graduated as a Theater Teacher from ArtEZ Academy for Theater in 2012 and pursued her education with a Master's in Art Education at the Amsterdam University of the Arts, where she graduated in 2017. Since 2013, she has been employed full-time as an educational employee and combination functionary at the music theater company Theater Sonnevanck. Through her company Nadieh: Singing, Theater & Directing, she works as a maker/teacher at Theatermakerij Enschede, as a singer at Skinny Boy & Curly Sue, and writes tailor-made theatrical projects. Within the field, Nadieh is always interested in the aesthetic experience and the intersection between art and entertainment.