Play is a universal human experience. Often regarded as the unique purview of children, an emerging body of research points to the importance of playfulness in adulthood. This article reports on the research and observations of two teaching artists working in Connected, a Sydney Theatre Company adult-literacy-through-drama programme. This article conceptualises the drama room as a liminal space. Through improvisational responses participants engage in a learning style that promotes playfulness, which subsequently generates a sense of pleasure and joy and, in doing so, has an intrinsic value beyond the specific language learning outcomes. In this article we build on Guitard et al.’s (2005) components of playfulness in adults: creativity, curiosity, pleasure, sense of humour and spontaneity, in order to posit our own ideas about the conditions necessary for encouraging the freedom to play in adult language learning contexts.
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