Speech! Speech! Objectives

The overarching objective of the project is to contribute to enhancing public political engagement and improving the quality of democratic political culture by promoting the theory and practice of 'rhetorical citizenship'. This concept names a distinct way of thinking about people's democratic rights to hear, evaluate and take part in political argument. 

In particular the project aims to reach potentially politically engaged but disenfranchised people. We will help them to develop skills of political speech and argument by bringing them together with professional speechwriters and stage performers, thus enhancing both public and professional understanding of rhetoric and citizenship. Across the project we will encourage and enable discussion and debate about political speech with wider communities and, through a key partnership with a theatre company, develop an enduring body of creative work and experience which will contribute to the growth of rhetorical citizenship, beyond the life of the project.

To achieve these aims the project will:

  1. work with local arts, community and political organisations to provide training and creative experiences that enhance individuals' capacity to deliver political speech, argument and rhetoric;
  2. in partnership with speechwriters and advocates for the arts of public speech, organise a 'festival' at which publics and practitioners can share knowledge and experiences, supporting and improving professionals' understanding of the importance of 'rhetorical citizenship' and helping them to adapt their practice accordingly;
  3. through a major collaboration between academic researchers and theatre professionals, develop innovative ways of sharing research findings with public and professional stakeholders, explore how drama can help people develop public speaking skills and contribute to the development of future theatrical productions.

In order to achieve these overarching objectives the project also sets for itself the following particular objectives:

  1. To hold a series of workshops, in different English cities and, working in collaboration with local voluntary, advocacy and arts groups, to train people in the writing and delivery of a powerful political speech.
  2. To develop, test and subsequently disseminate 'best practice' for training people in speechwriting and delivery that can be used after the end of the project.
  3. To stage a day-long 'Festival of Political Speech' consisting of a blend of panel talks, forum theatre, conversations, workshops and performances, attended by members of the public and by journalists, educators, politicians and national advocates of the arts of oracy.
  4. To use the regional workshops and the performances they give rise to as a means of promoting (through the live encounter and through local media) discussion, critical reflection and public understanding of the arts of political speech and rhetoric.
  5. To further promote and facilitate enhanced understanding (on the part of the public and of practitioners) on the role of rhetoric, good and bad, in our political culture today, through the documentation and public dissemination of all of the project activities, and especially through a short podcast series about individuals' experience of learning to create a powerful political speech.
  6. To cement and implement a partnership between the project team, Dash Arts, and the European Speechwriters Network, that will last beyond the life of the project leading to further work supporting the improvement of our common capacity for rhetorical citizenship.
  7. To enhance the Investigators' and the partners' capacity for translating research into forms that successfully communicate with stakeholders and communities, and to increase their ability to pursue further work promoting the arts of oracy to a range of communities.