Webpage Supplement to
Chapter 10: Theatre in Education
Contributions from Allison Downey, Adam Blatner, and Others
Re-Posted September 17, 2006
Theatre-in-Education (TIE) was conceived in Coventry, England in1965
through a partnership between The Belgrade Theatre and the Local
Education Authorities (or LEA). Alternative theatre movements were
created in response to the political climate of the 1960’s and the
development of Young People’s Theatre and Theatre in Education was no
Cockpit Theatre created Marches – from Jarrow to Cable Street focusing on incidents of racism in England in the 1930’s. Belgrade Coventry TIE company toured Ifan’s Valley, which brought students out of their classrooms to a sheep farm, a valley on the Avon located at the National Agricultural Center. Greenwich Young Peoples Theatre toured The School on the Green, with the overt objective of preparing students to be active agents of social change.
Another important pioneer of TIE in the United States has been Chris Vine, who founded the Creative Arts Team (CAT) in New York City. (First at New York University, it has shifted over now to being part of the City University of New York–CUNY.) We studied their work and organizational structure and relied enormously on the generous support and invaluable advice of Chris Vine, Artistic and Education Director, and other members of the team, including Larry Carr, Karina Naumer, Linda Carole Pierce and Christopher Lybolt. These practitioners of TIE demonstrated the spirit of its origins in encouraging the spread of TIE in a grassroots manner, sprouting from passionate individuals within the community served. The size and scope of the company and the abilities of the team members will often influence the organizational structure of the company.
Note: The Creative Arts Team in New York uses a variety of program structures and approaches including (Process) Drama in Education (as described in Chapter 9), Theatre in Education, Artist Residencies, and Young People’s Theatre. It also trains teachers and theatre artists in their approaches. Website: www.cuny.edu/creativeartsteam Or
In 1997, the author (Allison Downey), along with Lynn Hoare and Avis Strong, secured a grant from the Counseling and Education Services Crime Victim’s Fund, and with that funding, Theatre Action Project, Austin’s only Theatre in Education Program was formed. Theatre Action Project continues to serve Austin’s juvenile detention center, its public school district, as well as a variety of social, community and educational organizations.
Aimee Zivin, current Managing Director of Theatre Action Project AP, started with the company as an actor/teacher with great abilities, and greater potential. While Aimee earned a BFA in acting, toured as a professional actor, and is a natural facilitator, she joined our TAP team with no formalized training in TIE. She exhibited such passion for the work, though, that she sought opportunities to volunteer and learn more. She eventually began co-devising programs, and today is the managing director of the company. Her “study” of Theatre in Education came through practicing the work.
Another Theatre Action Project program, “Courage to Stand,” was structured in a way that offered a greater chance to motivate behavioral change. This program was delivered in four successive one-hour units geared for 4th and 5th graders, and addressed the role of the bystander in bullying situations. Following her having been in one of these classes as audience-participant, one little girl responded to her friend’s having been verbally harassed by three slightly older boys by bringing her friend into the counselor’s office. (Here the bystander responded more assertively in service of the target.) Then, following the session with the counselor the target’s friend, our bystander, gathered a group of girls together to walk the little girl home for the next few days until the problem stopped. The bystander directly applied the story of the program to her own life, took responsibility for a conflict in her community, and implemented one of the solutions suggested during a processing activity. The longer residencies are more expensive, but potentially more effective at motivating behavioral change.
Other Companies Doing Similar Work
The Creative Arts Team (CAT) (mentioned above), in New York City
challenges young people to confront topics including: violence among
peers, prejudice and racism, child abuse, gang-related issues,
independent living, youth unemployment, sexually transmitted diseases,
substance abuse, teen sexuality and many more. In addition to
working with youth, the Creative Arts Team also has a Special Projects
-- International Projects, including recent work in the Middle East and South Africa and the current Youth Theatre trip to London.
-- Corporate Special Projects, including work at Liz Claiborne, the National Basketball Association, Nickelodeon and many others
-- Collaborative Partnerships , including work with the New York City Housing Authority and the Partnership for After School Education www.cuny.edu/creativeartsteam
Creative Learning Ideas for Mind and Body (CLIMB) is an Educational Touring Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota that produces original plays and classes for K-12th grade on topics such as bullying, acceptance of differences, substance abuse prevention, respect, the environment, and violence prevention. Contact Information: http://www.climb.org/
Theatre Action Project
(TAP) in Austin, Texas, creates and promotes socially relevant,
interactive theatre and educational programming that ignites community
dialogue, self-discovery and social change. They offer a variety of
programs for schools, the community, and professionals and often
work with groups to develop programming to meet a specific need.
Possible topics include: Bullying, Peer pressure, Violence
awareness and prevention, Self-identity, Societal expectations and
prejudices, Roots of racism, Life skills, Professional development and
job-preparedness, Communication, Anger management, Healthy
relationships, Conflict resolution, Identity construction.
Open Door Theatre — Dedicated to freeing children from violence and abuse by teaching safety skills through dramatic live performances. www.opendoortheatre.org
Imagination Theater — Educational theater company that performs for groups of children, adults, seniors, and persons with disabilities. www.imaginationtheater.org
Climb Theatre — Educational theatre company performing in schools for K-12th grade. www.climb.org
ENACT — Educational Network of Artists in Creative Theatre Using interactive drama and conflict resolution techniques to facilitate personal growth, effective communication and behavioral and attitudinal change. www.users.rcn.com/enact/
Mixed Company Theatre — Mixed Company began as a Toronto-based artist-run collective in the early 1980’s, and in 1991 started focusing on integrating arts into the community through the use of Forum Theatre or Boal's techniques of Theatre of the Oppressed. www.mixedcompanytheatre.com
Actionwork — Actionwork runs a variety of multimedia arts programs, courses and activities throughout the UK and abroad. www.actionwork.com
Class Act Theatre — Western Australia's largest unfunded Theatre in Education company, provides an exciting way of teaching syllabus subjects at schools. Class Act members have years of experience in this field, and by 2003 the company had produced over thirty original plays (3,200 performances) to over 400 000 children. It has been an invaluable aid to many teachers. The company performs in available spaces at schools, bringing theatre to children who might otherwise never be exposed to it. www.classact.com.au
CTC Theatre — Cleveland Theatre Company was set up in 1987 to provide a professional drama resource for the former county of Cleveland in the UK. Creates theatre experiences for children and young people, which aim to contribute to their emotional, spiritual and social development. Tours professional theatre productions to schools and venues within Tees Valley, the North East and nationally in the UK. www.ctctheatre.org.uk
Books: In addition to those in Appendix A & B:
Grady, Sharon. (2000) Drama and Diversity: A Pluralistic Perspective for Educational Drama. Portsmouth: Heinemann Drama.
Jackson, Tony (1993). Introduction. In T. Jackson (Ed.), Learning through theatre: new perspectives on theatre in education. London: Routledge.
This book is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in this work. The field has expanded quite a bit since the book was written, but this still serves as a solid introduction to Theatre in Education. Within this book, notable chapters include:
Mirrione, Jim (1993).
"Playwriting for TIE," Pp. 71-90.
Pammenter, David (1993). "Devising for TIE," , Pp. 53-70.
Williams, Cora. “The Theatre in Education Actor,” Pp.91-107.
American Alliance for Theatre & Education. TIE network. www.aate.com
IDEA, International Drama/Theatre and Education Association: www.educ.queens.ca/~ida/
Center for Applied Theatre: www.centerforappliedtheatre.org
Applied and Interactive Theatre Guide: www.tonisant.com/aitg
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InterAction Theatre, Inc. This troupe travels among many venues in the
Indiana area. Diane Kondrat, (firstname.lastname@example.org) the Artistic
Director, notes that: ÒThis was us, and still is, though I
altered my contact info. Our biggest current job is using this same
technique to do diversity and anti-sexual assault orientation programs
at Indiana University for all incoming freshmen. It's been an
award-winning program for the school. Actors with InterAction Theater,
Inc. in Indiana drive a lot. Company members meet up at highway
intersections, warm-up in the car and let loose with emotional power at
prisons and schools around the state. The scenes for What If...
programs are outlined in advance by artistic director Diane Kondrat. A
one-page story line is supplied, with some character back story, as
well as the time and place for the scene. Improvisation takes place
while playing the scenes and especially in the after scene processing
that happens with audiences. A moderator and three actors is our usual
job contingent. After the three to five minute scene erupts, the
moderator facilitates verbal interaction between the audience and the
actors. Actors stay in character and must respond truthfully and stay
emotionally active during the fifteen minutes of processing,
approximately, that occurs per scene.
A standard hour-long show incorporates three scenes. Two chairs and some rare props are used. The work we do is predominantly paid for by our clients, though we have had some luck with grant money. Major clients currently are Indiana UniversityΕs freshman orientation program, Bloomington Hospital Community Outreach and the Indiana Department of Correction. All participants are paid with a check in hand the day of performance. Our administrative costs are very low, our office is only a place for a computer and a mail box. We workshop scenes in peopleΕs houses, in coffee shops and are occasional squatters in university or church buildings. Actors are chosen from among professional actors in Indianapolis and high school and university theatre students. We use scenes to explore issues such as HIV/AIDS, diversity and sexual assault. Because the core adult members of the company are trained in the Sanford Meisner technique, that is the basis for our acting approach. We also sometimes suggest reading Moreno’s work and Boal’s. We began our work in 1992 and have operated continuously since then. We incorporated and became a federally designated not-for-profit in 1998.
A favorite What If... story comes from our days performing HIV/AIDS education for males in their cell blocks. A small figured man was sitting in his cell doorway, watching the show, interacting energetically and empathetically with the actors. His posture was exceptional in that his body created an obvious "U" as he propped himself between the door jams, highlighted by the light from the barred window behind him. As we left the jail, the cast yammered about the show, expressing delight with that inmate and his comments. Our escort was also impressed and said, "Thing is, we thought that guy was deaf and dumb. He hasnΕt said a single word to anyone since he came in here three months ago." We were surprised and one of us said, "Yeah, I noticed him right away because of the crazy way he was sitting in his doorway." The escort continued, revealing information that was certainly confidential, "Oh, sure, well, his parents kept him locked in a closet for years when he was a kid. ThatΕs why he sits that way." That single situation made clear to me a belief that fourteen years of traveling and doing this work has only strengthened: that this form of theatre gives a human touch, a theatrical magic that both entertains and includes. People want to believe, they want to play. They want the gift of give-and-take that improvisational theatre bestows. Contact Information: InterAction Theater, Inc. c/o Executive Director Bill Simmons7251 Dean Rd.,Indianapolis, IN 46240 Ph: 317-767-7683
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Laura Manning Turner <TurnerL@cofc.edu> Associate Professor Dept. of Theatre College of Charleston Charleston, SC 29424 (September, 2004): TIE was used as part of a workshop for the SC State Attorney General's office to educate police, prosecutors and judges about domestic abuse. Based on real scenarios, the director (i.e., Turner) had actors create a lightly scripted, mainly improv scenario for the entire audience of police, prosecutors and judges while two different teams of police and prosecutors were taken out of the room. This meant that the audience got to see a situation played out; those officers who were out of the room when the scenario played out had to walk in to the scene after the main events and conduct their investigation. Then a second team was sent in to investigate. Of course for the audience members who got to see the whole thing , it was interesting to them how the police officers missed telltale signs and many times arrested the wrong person.
We were dealing with trying to discern defense marks versus offensive marks which we carefully recreated with experts' help on our actors. After the officers would leave, the actors were allowed to play out what happens after the police have gone when there is no arrest made. The prosecutors also had their time the same as the police with the actors. After all investigations and interviews were conducted, the officers had to share their take on what had happened and then at last we replayed the scene for them to finally see what really happened. It won rave reviews from all who participated in it and this led to funding for a professional video using the same actors and myself as co-director along with the attorney in charge of domestic abuse education. Separate from that I had a group of my college students who created and performed social oriented scenes for high scholars and community functions.
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Joe Norris (Ph. D.) Department of Education, Washington State University, Vancouver Vancouver, WA 98686-9600. Nov 2003
Mirror Theatre, a Canadian based touring company has done considerable work in safe and caring schools. prejudice, human sexuality, substance abuse, politics of student teaching, and equality and respect in the work place, to name a few. I am sure that we could come up with something. Also another AATE network is TIE Theatre in Education. Would you like me to post your request there? Joe
Diane Kondrat (email@example.com) directs ÒTheatre for HealthÓ in Indiana:
A descriptive short narrative ( 1 page ) is provided to the actors. When there are new scenes to be developed, we rehearse a little. The actors improvise, using the narrative as a base. Usually the narrative needs a rewrite following a development session with the actors. Improvement through improv always happens. When the narratives are known to the actors, we only warm up when we go to a job. During the enactment-performances, the actors improvise their words and actions, though occasionally using a pre-ordained cue line. The skits are constructed in a way that allows them to come to a quick, truthful peak if they are played fully and improvisationally. After that short scene is finished, the audience talks to the actors as they remain in character, and these interactions between the actors and the audience is of course fully improvised. This post-skit interaction goes on for around 15 minutes. The moderator serves as both a clarifier when needed (questions too quiet to be understood, for example) and as an additional "omnipotent angel" sort of character for actors to work off of. Usual size of the performance troupe is three actors and a moderator.
A standard hour-long show may consist of three skit-enactments and follow-up interactive ÒprocessingÓ periods.
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From: <ItHappensAimee@aol.com>Subject: Re: imagination theater
Date: Friday, July 02, 2004 Ok - here's a blurb about Imagination Theater... Feel free to edit as you see fit. Thanks so much for your patience!
Founded in 1966, Imagination Theater, Chicago's premiere educational theater company, is a touring, social issues theatre troupe that travels to schools, community centers, senior homes, and social agencies throughout the United States. Using highly engaging, interactive, improvisational-based creative dramatic techniques to empower participants of all ages affect change, Imagination Theater currently presents 600 presentations/workshops to 100,000 participants annually.
In addition to IT's "scripted" presentations on such topics as: teasing/bullying, conflict resolution, respect and tolerance, substance abuse prevention, sexual abuse prevention, and healthy communication, Imagination Theater's signature style of performance allows enough flexibility for clients to request that specific scenes or issues be addressed, as they apply to their unique environments. Recent customized presentation topics in schools include: gang
violence, honesty, adjusting to college life, and academic achievement.
In each of these presentations, IT combines the use of several creative dramatic techniques to empower audience members to explore sometimes difficult issues. These include:
* scripted scene work with discussion - actors present a scene and a moderator challenges the audience with questions and comments
* scripted scene work with playback - actors present a scene culminating in a conflict and a moderator challenges the audience with defining alternative responses to the conflict. Audience members then come on stage and practice new strategies with IT's professional actors.
* improvisational scenes - audience members suggest true-to-life scenarios - actors portray these situations as honestly as possible and a moderator either guides audience in discussion or playback
* statue work - audience members are given a chance to visualize an issue by creating frozen statue positions of an issue (domestic violence, ineffective communication, etc.) Audience volunteers work to change statues into their opposites. Discussion of how to make these changes a reality ensue.
* theater games - IT uses various theater games to help audiences grasp an issue. One of the most popular games seems to be "Become A..." where volunteers work to create an object based on audience suggestion. All members of the object must be involved in some way - the object must move and make a sound.
An example: IT facilitated a workshop at a junior high that recently experienced a gang-related gun shooting. Students were afraid to talk about the incident in fear of retaliation of rival gang groups. As a result, they were suppressing anger, fear, and despair. Several students were asked to "become a... gun." The students, laughing, quickly moved into position. Two students, in
particular, seemed to have a breakthrough in this exercise. One student chose to play "the trigger." When asked about his choice he commented that, "I feel so helpless. At least if I was the trigger I would be in more control." Another student stepped away from the gun and turned her back on it. Her comment: "I'm so angry at all of this shooting stuff. I don't want to be a part
of it. I am turning my back." Both comments led to a much-needed audience discussion.
While the majority of IT's work reaches out to school-aged children (mostly K-2, 3-5, and 6-8), IT also performs a great deal for high school students, teachers, parents, social service professionals, and senior citizens (95 shows a year to non-ambulatory senior homes in Chicago!).
Other adult training includes IT's Staff Development Series where IT shares its expertise in creatively dealing with both children and adults on the key issues of today. Using creative drama technique, staff members participate in hands-on workshops designed to keep them motivated throughout the year. Staff Development Workshops currently offered include addressing the following themes: Team Practice; Cooling Down the Kids; Sticky Staff Situations; and Relax, Reenergize, and Reconnect. In addition, Imagination Theater is able to design a training specifically geared toward a client's needs. Recent customized topics include: Talking to
Children About Iraq, Accepting Change in the Work Place, Sexual Harrassment, Camp Counselor Training, Suicide Prevention for Chicago Police Officers, and How to Interview Candidates for a Job.
Imagination Thetaer has been recognized as a statewide and national leader in the exploration of social issues, and regularly appears as a keynote speaker and presenter at seminars and conferences, most recently: A-HOY (Arts Healing Our Youth) in Mississippi, the American Medical Alliance Conference, Illinois Department of Human Services' Safety, Sobriety, and Justice Conference; National Pledge Against Handgun Violence, and the National Runaway Switchboard's Runaway Prevention Conference.
Significant Moments - IT consistently witnesses first-hand the significant impact that the use of creative dramatics has on the audiences it serves. Some poignant moments include:
1. at a conflict resolution presentation at a junior high in Indiana - the students were engaged in a discussion about bringing a gun to school. Disturbingly, most students revealed that they would never report this to an adult, as it was something that could be handled on their own. The moderator challenged these thoughts... 2 weeks later a student brought a hit list to school.
Several students immediately reported the incident to their school principal, stating that Imagination Theater helped them realize when it's appropriate to seek adult intervention. The school principal wrote a letter to Imagination Theater thanking the staff for their contributions to the previous month's assembly giving the presentation direct credit for helping to keep the school safe.
2. IT's sexual abuse prevention program allows students to watch actors portray examples of healthy and unhealthy types of touch. Following the presentation, students visit IT's actors and ask questions. Some students visit a "Safe Room," which is manned by IT staff and the school social worker. Since its inception, the sexual abuse prevention program has resulted in over 260 first time disclosures of child sexual abuse. Had it not been for IT's program, many children would have kept their "secrets" hidden.
3. At a recent program for senior citizens, a patient with Alzheimer's was sitting in the audience. Prior to the show, a doctor had just finished examining him, stating that the gentleman was completely despondent. Halfway into the show the man began singing with the actors and "came to life." He was smiling, talking, and interacting. The nursing staff was in awe stating "we haven't seen him that responsive -- ever!"
The Staff - IT's staff is currently comprised of: Executive Director - Aimee-Lynn Newlan
Director of Finance & Marketing - Don Schroeder
Artistic Director - Steve Leaver
Administrative Director - Mike Stutzman
The Ensemble -
a social issues ensemble (12 professional actors)
a senior spotlight ensemble (8 professional actor singers)
specialty ensembles (numbers vary - most recent ensemble included a deaf and hard-of-hearing ensemble).
Theatre Outreach and Education Program
In part discussed by John Sullivan, who writes about social action for the protection of the environment using Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed (in Chapter 21 of the book), this TOE program is an innovative consciousness-raising program supported by the Sealy Center for Environmental Health and Medicine, which in turn is part of the Institute for the Medical Humanities, housed at the University of Texas (Medical Branch) in Galveston, Texas.
The Theatre Outreach and Education (TOE) program has a peforming company made up of teaching artists and college students and serves the K-12, university and outlying community. Much of TOE’s works are based upon commissions, and collaborations such as: Ozone Theatre commissioned by the Mothers for Clean Air, or the effects of Cold War Radiology experiments on indigenous peoples in South American in collaboration with an Institute of Medical Humanities visiting scholar. Cheryl Kaplan’s TOE’s Director describes their various projects and theatrical approaches.
The Theatre Troupe serves services the Galeveston/Houston are by developing and touring original productions focusing on environmental health science issues for Grades k-12. The touring package includes teaching artists who implement interactive theatrical exercises to prep and debrief students within the classroom setting once prior and following each production. The play productions are participatory but on a smaller scale, allowing for audience feedback following the actual production. Audience sizes range from 25-300.
The Unspeakables Series: Out Loud.. Kaplan cites that this is a collage performance project about the unspeakable illnesses which affect our lives. This production incorporates the visual and musical arts, dance, poetry and theatre. Productions provide facts as well as thoughts and perceptions of such illnesses as experienced by those who live the. Unique is that each production focuses on a specific ‘unspeakable’ subject. For example, Ò Unparalleled’ focuses on Breast cancer, Ò A Woman’s Heart’ in collaboration with the American Heart Association examines the health of a women’s heart. These productions are free and open to the public and cater to audiences of all ages.
Finally, TOE provides some smaller site-specific projects, commissioned by health and wellness-related organizations and/or the University community. Productions in this arena have included appear to have a more interact and drama approach with less emphasis on a theatrical productions. Ozone Theatre was a classroom activity explaining pollution, the ozone and the affects on one’s health targeted grades K-5. Positive Drama in the Classroom, is a workshop which uses drama/theatre in the classroom as a supplement to an environmental health science curricular and is designed for the non-theatre teacher. Secretary? firstname.lastname@example.org.
This group operates under the umbrella of the City University of New York (CUNY) central Central Office of Academic Affairs.