More and more households are struggling to pay their energy bills. Existing studies have shown which regions, homes and households are vulnerable to energy poverty. However, knowledge about the meaning of living with energy poverty is still limited. Sander van Lanen, researcher at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences of the University of Groningen, is going to make a theater play to find possible solutions to energy poverty. He will receive a grant of 50,000 euros from NWO to make this happen.
With the StEP project (Staging Energy Poverty – exploring lived experiences of energy poverty through theater methods), Van Lanen will conduct research into energy poverty with the help of forum theatre. The project aims to gain insight into the experiences of households dealing with energy poverty and to find possible solutions. Through participatory theatre, StEP wants to focus on these experiences and discuss them with participants, policy makers and social workers.
The experiences of households living with energy poverty are collected, and turned into a short theater production. Subsequently, this play will be performed for relevant professionals and other people affected by energy poverty. There is room for interventions from the audience. The play consists of three rounds. In the first round, visitors are purely spectators. In the second round, they are encouraged to share their experiences, after which the actors improvise. In the third round, spectators can come on stage themselves to participate in the play. The aim is to take non-experience experts into the living and experiencing world of energy poverty. The theatre show is followed by a group discussion. The input of the audience during the theater rounds and the group discussion is used as research data.
The aim of this project is to gain a better insight into the living and experiencing world of energy poverty and to find innovative strategies to deal with this. It also examines how participatory theater can contribute to finding solutions and interventions. With this research, StEP hopes to contribute to appropriate policy solutions and improvement strategies for households experiencing energy poverty.
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