ArtsPraxis, Volume 5 Issue 2

The cover image for Arts Praxis Volume 5 Issue 2, 2019, is from a keynote presentation in which the words "all theatre is political" were crossed out - in an attempt to provoke conversation, which is the shared aim of this issue.

ArtsPraxis Volume 5 Issue 2 has been published.

Last April, at the 15th annual Forum: Performance as Activism, I was heartened to meet practitioners, artists, educators and scholars from around the globe who were enthusiastically engaged in using the art form of theatre to address pressing social and cultural issues. This edition of ArtsPraxis includes fourteen inspiring and pertinent articles that report on activist theories and practices that have been initiated, explored and successfully implemented in communities and classrooms.

At the Forum, we asked, “How is activism defined or redefined in 2018?” Through panel discussions, workshops, performances and paper presentations we explored how activism can disrupt, subvert and transform dominant social and political narratives. More than sixty presenters from twelve different countries relayed inspirational and revelatory methods towards the goal of promoting enduring social change through aesthetic expression. In this global space of open dialogue and exchange, we, as activists learned about organizational methods, pedagogical tools, aesthetic devices that, in responding to the complexities of our time, push past boundaries and binaries to redefine cultural innovation.

I hope that you will be inspired by the following theories and practices offered in this volume, ranging from the metamodern to dialogical activism to personal resilience, and surrounded by artistic innovation.

This issue of ArtsPraxis is available for download.



Nancy Smithner


NYU Keynote



Deaf Talent: Richness within Our Stories by James W. Guido


Art, in all its many forms, has always given people the opportunity to express their inner thoughts and feelings. Art adapts to the person, and different people exploring the same material will lead to different artistic expressions of that material. As a person changes over time, art can change with them, allowing them to discover new ideas by letting their imagination run free. Theatre arts have always been a breeding ground for presenting new perspectives, since there are no set rules and anyone can present a story onstage. New ideas for presenting information are being discovered all the time, leading to a never-ending wellspring of ways to pass along knowledge. This paper advocates for providing artistic theatre opportunities for Deaf students and emerging theatre artists in order to increase access and representation, as well as promote mutual communication.


Ximonïk: The Unbound Performances of Maya Women’s Group Ajchowen



This article describes Ximonïk, an original play by the all-female Maya troupe Ajchowen which premiered in the U.S. at the 2018 NYU Educational Theatre Forum: Performance as Activism. This editorial traces the author’s relationship to Ajchowen, which led to their involvement in the Forum. Further, it contextualizes Ajchowen’s unique approach to performance as activism in Guatemala, examining the history of their company and their experiences as Maya actresses.


Hope with Dirty Hands: Community Theatre Participation as Activism in Everything is Possible



How might the forces at work upon artistic production, its contexts, and the circumstances of its making, exert dynamic influences on artistic processes and on participants engaged in them? Might they inspire participants to view themselves as activists? 

Everything is Possible, performed by 200 community actors, told the story of the suffragettes of York (UK). Created in 2017 in the aftermath of US and UK elections, it addressed issues of female enfranchisement, democratic engagement and violent protest, the concerns of 1913 resonating with and framed by the contemporary landscape. This paper considers the extent to which the making of theatre can foster a debate that is both internal as well as external; where the intended effect on an anticipated audience results also in unintended consequences in terms of participants, artists, makers and institutions. 

This paper considers the relationship between individual, community and institutional approaches to activism in pursuit of social change, examining the processes of practice by discussing the commissioning, development and writing of the play from the perspective of the playwright. Finally, it considers whether participation may became a form of activism in itself.


Energize, Resist, Re-Purpose: An American Theatre Responds



Curious Theatre Company, based in Denver, Colorado, is currently celebrating their 20th anniversary. As stated on their website “The mission of Curious Theatre Company is to engage the community in important contemporary issues through provocative modern theatre.” Chip Walton, founder and artistic director, stated in a recent interview that their mission, in light of the current political situation in the U.S., remains unchanged but has been turned on its head; instead of aspiring to be a professional theatre company that produces socially aware plays, they now identify as a social justice organization that uses theatre as a platform.

Several organizational changes have occurred as a result of this spin on their mission including a restructuring of talk backs after performances, a re-evaluation of the process of both season selection and the commissioning of plays, to seeking ways to be flexible producers able to respond quickly to the rapidly changing political landscape.

In this article I will unpack the impact of the election of 2016 and the politics of the current administration on the ways in which Curious Theatre Company is defining itself, engaging audiences, choosing programming, and changing production practices.


From the School to the Educating Community: Practices of Social Theatre in Italy as a New Form of Activism



Interactions between political activism and performative practices are historically numerous in Italy but, recently, they appear somehow institutionalised. In this scenario, some social theatre initiatives, combining arts with care, education and social development, might constitute a new outlet for activism. After a brief introduction on social theatre, this paper seeks to establish the quality of its civic and political meaning through the analysis of two recent cases: the Franco Agostino Teatro Festival in Crema (Milan) and the Montevelino “school without boundaries” in Milan, different instances of performative practices promoting forms of active involvement of the local community in changes of curriculum, education system and community identity.

Children, parents, teachers, staff, common citizens, social workers and local cultural activists participate as actors, authors and audience to theatrical and performative events and workshops, producing new socio-cultural resources to be employed in local issues.

A new “educating community” might be emerging, able to reflect upon itself, devise new scenarios, build new relationships and transform people’s behaviours, starting within the school walls but spilling out into the community.

Even if this might not yet be indubitably identified as activism, here theatrical and performative experiences are becoming direct social action and a spur for local educational policies.


Leaping into the Disassociated Space: Unknowing Activism, Agency and Youth Identity in “Notes From Nowhere”




As young people’s identities continue to be formed by social media, popular culture, and peer approval, mirrored representations of unquestioned ideals have taken center stage. Through an investigative inquiry into this practice, Weltsek and Hammoor emerge with a new possibility for understanding activism and self-formation in the drama classroom—dissociation. Using academic scaffolding and a playful graphic novel, the authors invite teachers, researchers, practitioners and learners to think into a theoretical moment of disconnect. It’s the moment young people talk about when they “let go” and are “consumed” by dramatic activities. The authors argue that moments of disconnect hold hope for the development of individual agency, social justice and equity both for individuals on paths of self-discovery/creation, collective actions for communities that arise within the drama classroom, and for how we think about and share our scholarship. The graphic novel central to Weltsek and Hammoor’s discussion offers a way of thinking into multimodality in scholarship and pedagogy.


Students as Arts Activists: Insights and Analysis from a Politically Engaged Assessment



Throughout the second year of their BA programme at York St John University (UK), drama and dance students engage with a compulsory module titled “politically engaged practice.” As part of this they are given a deliberately provocative assessment brief that requires them to “plan, design and implement a small-scale politically engaged piece of acts activism.”

This paper explores the experience of asking students to become, if only temporary, political activists. It does so by first setting out how arts activism is framed and defined for the module as an intersection between effect and affect. Under the headings “dialogical activism,” “culture jamming” and “quiet activism,” it then provides a typology of the kinds of arts activist projects undertaken by students. Suggesting that the assessment offers an opportunity for “authentic learning” the paper describes how students articulate the impact of the module on their sense of social consciousness and relationship to political issues.

Finally, the paper reflects on the role of activism within the academy, particularly in a context where universities are frequently accused of operating under a liberal bias that imposes particular political perspectives on students.


Inciting Solidarity through Plural Performativity and Pedagogical Aesthetics in Ethnodrama with Marginalized Youth in Toronto



In the Youth Artists for Justice program, 12 socio-economically under-resourced, racialized youth conducted research and created an original play that invited others in the community and within the field of education into the imaginative sphere of critical and dialogic re-envisioning of the world. The study indicates youth ethnodrama performance as a potential site for a public relational pedagogy of resistance. This collaborative action research project aims to identify how this group of youth conceptualize their current and future roles within contemporary social movements and strives to garner within them a sense of hope and capacity to conceptualize and enact their political agency. Collectively, the youth cultivated a sense of solidarity, social responsibility, and political agency as they came to identify as an artistic ensemble analyzing critical issues and using theatre to depict forms of resistance. Following Judith Butler’s (2013) definition of plural performativity, the youth could use the theatrical space to perform and engender political participation. The pedagogical aesthetic of their original performance, Reflections of Tomorrow, illustrated realistic depictions of their own experiences and revealed the power and the passion with which they strive to make progress, inviting others to respect and enact their courageous resistance.


Beyond the Wall: Borderland Identity through Puppets



On November 2017, in the city of Nogales, Arizona/Sonora, binational festival Beyond the Wall / Más Allá del Muro took place, bringing 15-foot tall puppets to the US/Mexico border. This essay is a first attempt to bring an academic gaze to Jess Kaufman’s and my activist pursuit, reflecting on how puppetry allowed us to deepen our conversation with community members and discover the true purpose of our artistic action. This paper will trace our journey from the conception of the performance as an attempt to reframe the politically-charged border wall, through the expansion of the festival via the inclusion of community leaders, to the actual event and performance with puppets built and operated by volunteers from various segments of the community. Exploring community-based theatre where puppets function as amplifiers of the stories and identities of community members, and suggesting the opalescent identity of the puppet as parallel to the identity of the borderlands, this essay uncovers and establishes new research questions, to be explored through praxis as they shape the future of the project with the aim of investigating how to create activism with a lasting impact focused on our common ground by rooting it on voices from the community.


The Aesthetics of Activism in Korea: The Utopian Performative and Communitas



This article explores how the aesthetics of activism can function as a driving force of a social movement by empowering the individuals and creating a “utopian vision” among them. Two recent major movements in Korea are introduced as examples; the Ewha Womans University protest and the Candlelight Protest, both of which indicate new possibilities of aesthetic activism. There was a big protest occurred at Ewha Womans University in 2016 summer, which was one of the crucial events that elicited the nation-wide Candlelight Protest. It was a site-specific theatre located at the main building of the school, which students occupied for 86 days until their demands were met. The students enacted a range of theatrical performances, such as holding public meetings with their masquerade-like masks on, making music videos, publishing comics on SNS, writing parodic novels, and parading with flashlights at night. Then in the winter of 2016, Korea witnessed a great wave of candlelight in the central square of Seoul, leading to the impeachment of the incumbent president. During months of Candlelight Protest, diverse groups of society—including families, teenagers, disabled people, queers, and various non-political clubs—gathered together with candles on the street every weekend.

In both Ewha Protest and Candlelight Protest, the performative and aesthetic power of the protest naturally altered the modalities of the community, transpiring a sense of communitas that emerged from the “feelings and sensibilities of utopia” which J. Dolan referred to as the “utopian performative.” Individuals were not amalgamated into a distinct community, but rather rediscovered themselves as individual beings, transformed through their solidarity, empowering themselves to transform reality. These protests show new possibilities of aesthetic activism.


A Silent Shout: Metamodern Forms of Activism in Contemporary Performance by Tom Drayton



There has been a recent and notable trend within contemporary performance spheres for artists to respond to various sociological, economic and political crises by creating participatory, community engaged performances. This article addresses how specific contemporary performance as activism projects have now evolved to respond to, and have been affected by, the emerging concept of the metamodern. By focusing on two 2017 productions, Mem Morrison’s Silencer and LaBeouf, Rönnkö & Turner’s #HEWILLNOTDIVIDEUS, this article argues that the metamodern oscillation between sincerity and irony, as laid down by Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker, has become an integral component in these artists’ performance-based activism. This article examines these performances in context with other politically engaged, participatory performance trends as well as the emerging concept of the metamodern in political and cultural spheres. The study offers a new insight into current practice formed upon the interstice of the metamodern and youth politics, and how performance as activism can be (re)defined within the current political landscape.


“It Did Get Rid of the ‘These People Are Old People’ Thing in My Brain”: Challenging the Otherness of Old Age through One-to-One Performance



This paper concerns the one-to-one performance work of Passages—a group of performers aged between 60 and 90—founded to support Bridie Moore’s PhD research into the performance of age and ageing. It analyzes how these performances challenge perceptions of the old person as “other,” and uses audience feedback, together with performance and social theory to explore how the work achieves this. The group uses mask work, proximity and intimate performance as a form of quiet activism, to challenge structures of thinking in subtle and penetrating ways. The analysis refers to the performance The Mirror Stage, given at the University of Sheffield (UK) in September 2015, and the paper discusses the one-to-one performance form and the eight one-to-one performances that were presented in the show. It engages with de Beauvoir’s (1953/1972) and Phelan’s (1993) notions of the “other” in order to explore the way the perception of otherness plays out and is disrupted by the presence of the old person in one-to-one performance. The paper introduces the possibility that the contact facilitated by one-to-one could, as Allport (1954) argued, reduce prejudice concerning individuals who are members of outgroups such as the “old” and, by extension, to other marginalized individuals and groups.


Inday Dolls: Body Monologues and Lullabies for Freedom in Prison; Scripting Possible Futures in Justice Art in Iloilo’s Correctional System



The prison is not a dead end. Freedom is born in prison. Women in prison bounce back, resurrecting through their stories, reclaiming their bodies. This research investigates the politics of freedom, space, and body in prison. Women exercise their own sense of freedom navigating in a tight small crowded place through stories of objects, body lullabies, and archetypal ethnodrama. Women recreated new selves with new colors to light up their life in the darkest times.

Storytelling as a powerful tool for political and cultural assertion is essential in this research as a healing art process. The creative personal geography work makes women tell stories as a means of gathering parts of themselves back to one piece. Our work in freedom art we resonate to the words of Estés, “Stories are medicine… They have such power…we need only to listen… Stories are embedded with instructions which guide us about the complexities of life” (Estés p 15-16). This performance research presents the body monologues of women in a space (read: prison) where time restricts liberty and memories of freedom collapse with dreams of emancipation. Through a series of creative and performative exercises this prison became a performance space animated with the living narratives of human stories of objects and as a site of compassion where an overflowing bodies intersected and shared the politics of tolerance, compassion and love.


Media Practice and Theatre in Conversation: Co-Creating Narratives for Positive Social Change



In Papua New Guinea, a country in the South Pacific, performance and ritual are part of day-to-day life through which social and cultural relationships are mediated. Understanding the way in which performances are woven into day-to-day experiences and political spaces lets us explore communal and indigenous processes around social change. Yet to date, there has been a very limited understanding of the value of performance for social change among development practitioners and those seeking to work with communities to impact on positive social change around certain issues.

Based on over a decade of engagement in arts-based research and development practice in the Pacific, we explore the way in which indigenous knowledge systems and performances can be harnessed to co-create narratives and performances for community audiences. Among others, we explore the model of Theatre in Conversation (TiC) (Kauli 2015), an arts-based approach developed as research and a theatre for development model, to overcome some of the complexities linked to achieving social change. TiC is used in Papua New Guinea to assist community organisations and individual facilitators develop narratives of strength and resilience that highlight the challenges, create the conversations, and deepen understanding around sensitive issues. These narratives are further captured through other media such as photography or film. Workshops are designed to improve artist-facilitators’ community engagement skills and artistry harnessing indigenous ways of learning and engagement in social change. In this paper, we highlight projects on gender-based violence and sorcery accusation related violence, as examples to explore the key aspects of this approach.


Announcing ArtsPraxis Volume 4 Issue 1

Logo for Arts Praxis, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2017

ArtsPraxis Volume 4 Issue  1 has been published.

I am proud to present this new issue of ArtsPraxis, featuring articles in response to the guiding questions and themes established for the NYU Forum on Educational Theatre in April 2016, which included applied theatre, drama in education, and theatre for young audiences. As a number of authors submitted articles under the heading of youth theatre, I curated a stand-alone section for this topic as well as I felt it wise to highlight the breadth of research in this area at this time.

A great asset of the 2016 Forum on Educational Theatre was the degree to which the NYU Program in Educational Theatre was able to reconnect with our global community. In large part, this was due to the efforts of Philip Taylor following his experience at the International Drama in Education Research Institute in Singapore in 2015. Under the direction of Prue Wales, it became evident at that event that even in this time of inescapable electronic connections, there is nothing that can take the place of face-to-face fellowship. Just this week, we are coming off of our latest international conference, the NYU Forum on Ethnodrama, looking at the intersection between theatre art and arts-based research paradigms. After many months of political duress, we communed. We shared art, research, and activism.

In the spirit of maintaining our international dialogue in these troubled times, this issue of ArtsPraxis continues the conversation. Our contributors present scholarship from Africa, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. I hope that you find this work as inspirational as I have and that you consider joining us next spring at the 2018 NYU Forum on Performance as Activism.

Volume 3, Issue 1 of ArtsPraxis is available for download here.

ArtsPraxis Volume 4, Issue 1

ISSN: 1552-5236




Responsivity in Applied Theatre Practitioner Expertise: Introducing Identifying Patterns and Names



This article outlines a research project investigating the expertise of applied theatre practitioners. Summarising some of the research approaches and findings, a conceptualization of ‘responsivity’ is proposed to encapsulate the blended expertise of those artists that work in community, participatory and applied settings. The ‘practice responsive’ research methodology utilizing ‘reflective dialogues’ with practitioners is explained and the resulting artists’ commentaries are embedded throughout. I outline how reflection and response thread through a conceptualization of applied theatre in literatures, and discuss how these themes informed both the method and the findings of my research. Whilst offering namings for patterns found common to practitioners operating across diverse contexts, the article also acknowledges how naming can close down understanding of the complex operations and qualities of the practitioner. I suggest a theoretical proposition of ‘__’ (underscore) to open up understanding of the workers and the work of applied theatre, in order to allow further insight to their expertise. The proposal concludes by arguing how the practitioners’ developmental response to the work enhances applied theatre’s beneficial objectives for participants.


Making Theatre in Communities: A Search for Identify, Coherence, and Cohesion



Traditionally, theatre was created and performed in communities to celebrate religious and other significant aspects of shared community life. Many such customs possessed a quasi-religious identity in which theatre depictions were thought to appease those spiritual forces which controlled the lives and fortunes of mere humans. In the UK and the Western world more generally, the cohesiveness of community life has lessened as families become more self-sufficient. Until relatively recently, rural communities in South West England were dominated by the farming industry. The land of many farms has been merged and the farmhouses sold to relatively well-off incomers. They often operate a self-sufficient life, sending their children to private schools outside the community and engaging in leisure pursuits which take them out of the community in which they live. Thus, community cohesion is weakened and the opportunities for cooperative and communal action lessened. Theatre has the potential to bring disparate members of a community together in common purpose, providing a forum in which new and lasting relationships can be formed. If the dramatised stories have their roots in the identity and history of the community in which they are made, long-term residents have ways of sharing their knowledge with the ‘newcomers’.


The Long Game: Progressing the Work from Thesis to Practice



This paper discusses the evolution of significant findings made within the context of a doctoral research project and the structures that developed to share these findings through workshops for students and teachers. As the research concerned an 1838 Australian Aboriginal massacre and the construction of a memorial to commemorate this event one hundred and sixty-two years later, the aim of the project was to locate a reconciliation narrative. The project failed to do so, because ultimately in the words of the participants the memorial was seen as a beginning and not an ending.

Nevertheless this understanding did deliver powerful insights into the complex nature of reconciliation within a dominant settler culture. And it was felt that sharing these insights was worth pursuing. 

Central to the doctoral research was the creation of a verbatim theatre play, therefore the workshops relied on drama techniques to establish through affect new ways of knowing shared history. However the execution of the content proved challenging. Because of the way settler history continues to be understood, engagement with the intellect via political correctness as opposed to the imagination was problematic. The necessity of prioritizing the imagination became as much of a learning curve for workshop facilitators as workshop participants.


Discovering a Planet of Inclusion: Drama for Life-Skills in Nigeria



This paper explores the on-going development of a Drama for Life-Skills project in Lagos, Nigeria, which embraces aspects of applied & educational theatre practices. Using neurodevelopmental disability assessments and standards, the project creates a simultaneous balance of teaching and learning life skills in the disability community. It focuses on work currently being done with students of the Children’s Development Centre Lagos, incorporating theatre practices into the daily living activities of adolescents with disabilities with the goal of gaining increased life skills. In developing their most recent production, Discovering a Planet of Inclusion, members of the Centre team up with teaching artists, therapists and community members to teach, learn, practice and incorporate life skills with theatrical performances designed for schools and community centers throughout Nigeria.  Company members with disabilities (including autism, cerebral palsy, and various genetic disorders) perform with the hope of showcasing their abilities, ending stigma, and inspiring opportunities for the disability community throughout the nation. The paper will include anecdotes and analyzation from the performance praxis, development of advocacy and vocationally-based theatre performances, and ways to incorporate disability therapies (occupational, physical, multisensory, communication) into theatrical performances. The paper also discusses the importance of inclusion in destigmatizing disability and the cognitive benefits of applied theatre within communities.


The Evolution of Monologue as an Education



Performance is social theory, or it can become so, when we use it as a means to understand social phenomena rather than merely viewing it as a spectacle or for entertainment (Brook, 1972). Theatre that explores domestic violence (Welsh, 2014), homelessness (Welsh, 2014) or the plight of refugees (Robinson, 2015) are all examples of dramatic processes  becoming social theory. There are many more examples such as the work of Lloyd Jones or Pina Bausch, both of whom use experimental theatre as a means of educating, understanding and criticising society (Marshall, 2002; Pendergast, 2001). This article explores the relationship between theatre and education in three somewhat diverse contexts. Firstly, the autobiographical monologue, The Outcaste Weakly Poet Stage Show, describes experience in a conversational style. Experience and conversation are inevitably educational, that is, being is learning and listening is learning. Secondly, I explore the practice of monologue writing with a sample group of Australian school students on the subject of social labelling, reinforcing the idea that theatre practice is education by applying it to a classroom setting. Finally, I examine a monologue writing workshop conducted with a group of teachers-in-training, revealing the potential of monologues to foster empathy among teachers and their most difficult students. Theatre then becomes a source of learning and philosophical reflection for audiences, a way of practising social learning in a school setting and increasing emotional intelligence, empathy and communication between teachers in training and their students.


Noise as Queer Dramaturgy: Towards a Reflexive Dramaturgy-as-Research Praxis in Devised Theatre for Young Audiences



Dramaturgy is often considered the work of the ‘neutral outside eye’, but in devised theatre, the dramaturg is embedded within. This requires creative solutions for how a devising dramaturg might navigate engagement with the totality of their work—the piece, the devising process, and the context—from their own position within all three. In this article, I will recount and re-examine my work as dramaturg-researcher devising Martha and the Event Horizon. The research inquiry suggests a praxis of dramaturgy-as-research inspired by Home-Cook’s model of noise as a function of attention and Sullivan’s (2003) poststructuralist analysis of queerness as both being and doing, wherein the devising dramaturg embodies the queer doing to take an external perspective on their work via the critical context. Examinations of the devisor’s relationship to spectators by practitioner-researchers Goode (2011) and Reason (2010) respond to the research question and suggest a non-linear model within which the audience experiences meaning through Boenisch’s (2010) reflexive parallax. Placing these research outcomes within Bryon’s (2014) ‘active aesthetic’ and Nelson’s (2013) practice as research model, I propose the dramaturgy-as-research praxis as the key to a rigorous, flexible framework for constructing diverse avenues for meaning-making in devised theatre, particularly applicable to audience-driven work.


Children’s Theatre: A Brief Pedagogical Approach



There are several theories as to what constitutes children’s theatre. This diversity exists because the term is used as a literal description of theatre that involves children in one way or the other – theatre for children, theatre with children, and theatre by children. This complexity means there is a need to specify the sense in which the term is being used. There is no universal agreement within academic discourse on the parameters in which the term should be defined. While some scholars suggest age as a defining factor, others think it should be decided by the performers who design a piece of theatre based on their knowledge of the children audience. What is children’s theatre? What should be the level of involvement for children? This paper is not a systematic review of the discipline and it is not an attempt to re/define children’s theatre. Rather, it is about a pedagogical approach to creating a piece of theatre for children between the age of 4 and 10 that can enable them to learn and be morally developed while being entertained at the same time. In this paper children’s theatre is the term that will be used throughout.


Feeling Blue: An Investigative Apparatus



This auto-ethnographic inquiry explores found and constructed apparatuses in the production of a devised clown show with 3rd-6th grade children at Blue School in New York City. Through a playful negotiation between artifacts, theory, and memory, this essay works to untangle the production of meaning and the possibilities of children’s theatre. Drawing from Agamben’s theorizations of apparatus, Hammoor writes into knowing and understanding the frameworks he built and discovered in directing a sad clown show with children.


Participatory Aesthetics: Youth Performance as Encounter



In this paper the notion of a participatory aesthetic is developed by exploring how a collaborative and creative process provides opportunities for young people to engage in an act of becoming in relation to one another, building powerful and affective art work that is not bound by the conventions of traditional forms of theatre and art making. The paper begins with a discussion on the role of affect and participation in applied theatre, offering a theoretical framework that is used to analyze two case studies. The first is a project in Accra, Ghana that resulted in a youth-led documentary film about HIV/AIDS and gender relationships. The second is a YouTube based applied theatre project with LGBTQ youth in Toronto, Canada. In both case studies the paper demonstrates the power of dialogue in building a participant driven aesthetic rendering of theatre for social change. The paper concludes stating that a participatory aesthetic is a deeply visceral and vulnerable encounter that builds important pedagogy through affective artistic engagement.


From Les Mis to Annie, Jr.: A Discussion of Dramaturgical Adaptation for Musical Theatre in Education and Accessibility of Musical Theatre to Youth



As an arts educator, it is inspiring to have access to the spoils of the art of musical theatre to engage and captivate young minds and artistic hearts. In providing an artistic output, one affords both the satisfaction of involvement in a collaborative art coupled with the lasting gift of community and artistic inspiration. Regrettably, the endeavour towards providing an accessible dramatic medium can prove challenging for the best of theatre & music pedagogues and artists alike. Musical theatre becomes increasingly more difficult as both musical and dramatic requirements needed for its execution modify.

With these constraints, youth face obstacles in exploring many works of the genre they love faithfully. As educators, the responsibility in maintaining accessibility is tremendous. Improper attention to the usage of the vocal instrument without regard of these developments can cause irreparable damage. Limited access to works for youth and negligible adaptation risk staleness and disinterest.

How might the educating artist continually provide an accessible medium of musical theatre to the young performer? From a dramatic & musical lens, this paper discusses the responsibility of the educator in identifying and addressing the unique challenges confronting young performers via the art of musical theatre.


ArtsPraxis Volume 4, Issue 1 looks to engage members of the global Educational Theatre community in the ongoing dialogue about where we have been and where we are going. This call for papers was released concurrently with ArtsPraxis Volume 3 and the submission deadline for Volume 4, Issue 1 was February 1, 2017.

Dr. Jonathan Jones, New York University

Editorial Board:

Amy Cordileone, New York University, USA
Norifumi Hida, Toho Gakuen College of Drama and Music, Japan
Byoung-joo Kim, Seoul National University of Education, South Korea
Ross Prior, University of Wolverhampton, UK
Nisha Sajnani, New York University, USA
Daphnie Sicre, Borough of Manhattan Community College, USA
Prudence Wales, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong
James Webb, Bronx Community College, USA

Regina Ress Honored for Outstanding Contributions by The National Storytelling Network

Regina Ress

JONESBOROUGH, TN July 23, 2015 – The National Storytelling Network (NSN) awarded Regina Ress the NSN ORACLE Mid-Atlantic Regional Excellence Award. This award recognizes the creativity, professional integrity, and artistic contributions of tellers who have greatly enriched the storytelling culture of their region.

Regina Ress, storyteller, actor, author, and educator, has told stories across the US and abroad in English and Spanish, in schools and international festivals, in prisons and parks, homeless shelters and the White House. One of her many programs, Compassion, Generosity, and Grace, was created after she witnessed the 9/11 attack in NYC and participated in the response that day and thereafter.

She teaches storytelling for NYU’s Program in Educational Theatre as well as the Multilingual/Multicultural Studies Program and she produces a long-running storytelling series for NYU at the historic Provincetown Playhouse.

Her CD “New York and Me” won a 2014 Storytelling World Honor. She previously received the NSN ORACLE for Service and Leadership – Mid Atlantic Region in 2003.

Ress received her Oracle award at the National Storytelling Awards Ceremony on Saturday, August 1, 2015 at the National Storytelling Conference in Kansas City.  For more information, visit Regina Ress’ website.

Honorary Professorship for Dr. Taylor

Certificate coverPhilip Taylor, director of doctoral studies in the Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions was recently made an honorary professor at Nanjing Normal University. Dr Taylor’s award was made after his keynote and masterclass presentations at the “Drama, Dream and Children” conference at NNU. This impressive honor builds on the program’s numerous other global links. “Take advantage of Ed Theatre’s international outreach and consider study abroad,” said Taylor, “it is life changing and career building.”



Towards the Fear: The Creation of an Interview Theatre Piece

By Arielle Sosland

Towards the Fear, directed and created by Professor Joe Salvatore is an interview theatre piece that focuses on topics of bullying, social combat and aggression.

The company consists of eight actors/researchers, four Drama Therapy students and four Educational Theatre students.

The Cast in Rehearsal

The Cast in Rehearsal

As a student studying Educational Theatre, working with the Drama Therapy students has allowed me to consider theatre through a therapeutic lens. Although not trained in Drama Therapy practices, through working with these four actors/researchers, I am engaging in discussions on how this work may emotionally affect our audiences.

Before rehearsals began, we were required to complete the UCAIHS (University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects) Certification Exam that allows us to conduct research involving human subjects.  In our initial rehearsals, Joe trained us in the proper interview protocol and informed us of the six open-ended prompts and questions that we used with each of our interview participants.

As the interviews were happening outside of rehearsal, in rehearsal we were devising movement pieces based off of source material and conversations surrounding the topics of bullying, social combat, and aggression. We worked to create three movement pieces to be showcased at the beginning, middle and end of the performance and essentially break up the interviews. Our initial movement piece was created based on the research of Robert Faris and Diane Felmlee on Social Networks and Aggression at the Wheatley School.  Both of these sociologists make appearances in the interview sections as well.

Once we finished the interviews, each actor/researcher transcribed up to three of the most compelling 2-3 minute sections of each interview. We then took three or four rehearsals to assemble the script.  First, we narrowed our participants down to twenty “characters” for the performance, and then a second pass reduced that number to sixteen.  Then we grouped the interview sections into categories to determine which sections worked nicely with others.

Eventually, we had about 70 pages laid out on the floor of the Drama Therapy Room in the Pless Annex and with great excitement we were able to say, “we have our script!”

To be part of physically fitting the pieces of the script together allowed all the actors to feel a great sense of accomplishment when we were able to step back and look at the transcriptions laid out in order on the ground.

Through this project we hope to motivate audience members to reflect on their own experiences of bullying, social combat, and aggression, and act on ways to change these environments. Towards the Fear, the title of our production reminds audience members the challenge of changing aggressive environments and yet the adults we interviewed all stand as examples that we are able to persevere and to empower others. I look forward to seeing and hearing audience reactions about the piece and stirring up critical conversations about this important topic.

For the full research article by Faris and Felmlee is available at


Towards the Fear: An exploration of bullying, social combat, and aggression
Created and Directed by Joe Salvatore and members of the company
Program in Drama Therapy

LOCATION: Provincetown Playhouse
ADMISSION: $15 General, $5 Students & Seniors
For tickets, contact NYU Ticket Central
ONLINE: NYU Ticket Central
BY PHONE: 212 352 3101
IN PERSON: 566 LaGuardia Place
(at Washington Square South)

Thursday, April 10 at 8pm
Friday, April 11 at 8pm
Saturday, April 12 at 8pm
Sunday, April 13 at 3pm

Towards the Fear postcard

Tongues by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin, to be performed Fall 2013

The Program in Educational Theatre has been taking part in a unique collaboration with the Department of Music and Performing Arts’ Program in Percussion Studies, on a new production of Sam Shepard’s play, Tongues. Written in 1978 by Shepard and Joseph Chaikin, Tongues is a series of monologues set to percussion, and was first performed at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. Chaikin and Shepard explored a dramatic form stripped of plot elements and reduced to essentials of sound and utterance. Shepard writes: “Tongues is a play about voices. Voices traveling. Voices becoming other voices. Voices from the dead and living. Hypnotized voices. Sober voices. Working voices. Voices in anguish.” In this lyrical and poignant theatre piece, the inherent philosophical themes are hunger, work, family, death, and the poetic sense of human possibility.

Dr. Nan Smithner is directing the piece, in collaboration with Jonathan Haas, Director of Percussion Studies, who oversees the percussion ensemble.  The actors from our program are Andrew Anzel, Heleya de Barros, Ashley Hamilton, and Clare Hamoor. They have contributed greatly to the realization of the piece with inventive aesthetic suggestions. The percussionists, Abigail Fisher, Robert Guilford, Brandon Nestor and Sean Perham, have worked creatively with the actors to bring the text to life using a variety of unusual and inspired percussive instruments. Through movement, words and sound, the percussionists interact spatially, musically and emotionally with the actors, creating a dynamic and visual soundscape.

This NYU collaborative production is going to culminate in a presentation at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, on November 13, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The piece will also be performed at NYU on Monday, November 25th at 7:30pm in the Loewe Theatre, 35 West 4th St.