I am an interdisciplinary researcher who specialises in art and theatre for the young,
alongside theoretical approaches to cultural representation and participation, children’s
rights and education. I have a BA in English Literature and an MA in performance studies,
which was a jointly run programme between King's College London and RADA. I completed
my PhD at the University of Westminster with a thesis titled: ‘Children’s Theatre in the UK:
Representing Cultural Diversity on Stage Through the Practices of Interculturalism,
Multiculturalism and Internationalism.’ This interdisciplinary research focused upon the
extent to which policies on cultural diversity, theories of race and racism, as well as
multicultural and intercultural education are present in theatre for the child and influence
cultural participation in young lives. Since completing my PhD I have taught on an MA
programme titled 'Theatre for Young Audiences' at Bath Spa University and worked on a
collaborative research project that focused on humour and laughter in children with
profound and multiple learning disabilities. In addition to my academic research I have
gathered extensive experience of working with children and young people with learning
disabilities in a variety of educational settings and as play inclusion worker.
Research and scholarship
My current Leverhulme funded research aims to explore how children with learning disabilities can be offered opportunities to share their stories and experiences through creative research. Drawing on physical comedy, dance, music and the visual arts, the project aims to priorities non-verbal communication to enable and amplify those young voices that are not always heard.
As collaborative and practical research it invites children but also their parents, teaching staff and the wider school community to work together with artists and academics. Ultimately, the aim is to lay the foundations of a wider network that supports and connects academics with artists, policy makers and the wider community to create inclusive opportunities for all children. The practical aspects of the research span two overlapping stages:
The first stage explores how comedy can enable unheard voices by prioritising non-verbal communication. Participants are encouraged to consider comedy performance as a serious research method and to respond to the question “what is funny?” A series of performative workshops directly based on the children's interests and abilities invites young participants, teaching staff and parents to experiment with comedy and physical humour. By prioritising laughter as a means of expression over verbal communication, the aim is to explore spaces for knowledge co-creation in which adult and child engage with learning outside of their respective hierarchical positions.
The second stage uses creative storytelling to unearth stories of ‘childhoodness’ from a range of different perspectives (with emphasis also placed upon local/global perspectives and interactions). Children and teaching staff will take part in a series of workshops, which will encourage the children to share their diverse experiences through stories, puppetry, music and stop-motion animation. The theme of this research stage is inspiration and children are asked what they like so much that it makes them want to participate in the arts. Young participants will help to develop a film representing the work created by the whole school. Finally, the film will be shared with parents and other stakeholders who are then asked to respond to the work that has been created. During both stages children will be asked to share their experiences of taking part and a series of interviews will invite the adult participants to reflect on creative research and developing accessible art for all children.
To read more about the project and see the artwork created by the young researchers, please visit the ART! website: www.artresearchtogether.uk
I teach on the 'Playing Parts' module
Edited Book -
Maguire, T. Schuitema, K. 2012. Theatre for Young Audiences: A Critical Handbook. London: Institute of Education Press
Journal Articles -
Brigg, J. Schuitema, K. Vorhaus, J. 2016. Children with profound and multiple learning difficulties: laughter, capability and relating to others. Disability and Society, 31(9): 1175 – 1189.
Schuitema, K. 2015. A provocation: Researching the diverse child audience in the UK. Participations: Journal of Audience and Receptions Studies, 12(1): 175 – 190.
Book Chapters -
Schuitema, K. 2012. Intercultural Performances for Young Audiences in the UK: Engaging with the Child in a Globalised Society. In, Maguire, T. Schuitema, K. (eds). Theatre for Young Audiences: A Critical Handbook. London: Institute of Education Press
Schuitema, K. 2011. Staging and Performing His Dark Materials: From the National Theatre Productions to Subsequent Productions. In, Barfield, S. Cox, K. (eds). Critical Perspectives on Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials: Essays on the Novels, the Film and the Stage Productions. North Carolina: McFarland
Schuitema, K. 2010. The Possibility of an Intercultural Children’s Theatre in Britain. In, Plastow, J. Hillel, M. (eds). Sands of Time, Children’s Literature: Culture Politics Identity. Hertfordshire: University of Hertfordshire Press.
Schuitema, K. 2008. (Book Review Essay) Review Of: Owners of the Means of Instruction? Children’s Literature, some Marxist perspectives and The Story and the Self. Children’s Literature: Some Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Critical Engagements: A Journal of Criticism and Theory, 1(2): 211 – 216.