Applied Theatre with Youth: Education, Engagement, Activism 9780367483340, 9780367483326, 9781003039419

Applied Theatre with Youth is a collection of essays that highlight the value and efficacy of applied theatre with young

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Applied Theatre with Youth: Education, Engagement, Activism
 9780367483340, 9780367483326, 9781003039419

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Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
List of figures
List of contributors
Editors’ introduction
Part 1 Engaging community: Professional theatres and youth ensembles
Initiating essay
Chapter 1 Goodman Theatre: Civic practice in service of community
Response essays
Chapter 2 Playmaking through polycultural partnerships
Chapter 3 Unleashing the untold story: The Carpetbag Theatre Inc. and the legacy of the T.R.Y. Ensemble
Roundtable discussion with Amikogaabawiikwe (Adrienne Benjamin), Chris Ceraso, Claro de los Reyes, Marion Lopez, Willa J. Taylor, and Joe Tolbert Jr.
Part 2 Bridging divides: Artistic residencies in schools
Initiating essay
Chapter 4 Seeing plays and writing plays: Pathways to understanding
Response essays
Chapter 5 “Telling our own story”: Using digital storytelling to re-design education with Texas and Alaska youth
Chapter 6 A translanguaging stance on theatre education
Roundtable discussion with Sindy Isabel Castro,Chris Ceraso, Kathryn (Katie) Dawson, and David Shookhoff
Part 3 Reframing narratives: Strategies for re-envisioning education
Initiating essay
Chapter 7 Neighborhood bridges: Rehearsing transformations in the classroom and beyond
Response essays
Chapter 8 Room to play: An exploration of resources and youth agency
Chapter 9 A tale of telling some truths to power
Roundtable discussion with Jessica “Decky” Alexander, Maria Asp, Lisa S. Brenner, Liz Foster-Shaner, Sonja Kuftinec, and Jack Zipes
Part 4 Fostering agency: Social justice programs in urban and rural settings
Initiating essay
Chapter 10 From vision to implementation: Re-examining essential practices for applied theatre with youth
Chapter 11 A process-oriented approach in applied theatre programming with youth
Response essays
Chapter 12 Listen to us!: Teenage girls creating theatre for social change
Roundtable discussion with Kuenique Allicock, Evelyn Diaz Cruz, Rachel DeSoto-Jackson, Leonor (Leo) Duran, Dana Edell, Nicole Olusanya,and Joshua Rashon Streeter
Part 5 Celebrating identities: Spaces to express gender and sexuality
Initiating essay
Chapter 13 Queering applied theatre: Working with LGBTQ youth to dismantle systems of oppression
Response essays
Chapter 14 Rehearsing for life: HOPE IS VITAL, FYI, sexuality education for youth
Chapter 15 Staging generations of queer history
Roundtable discussion with Lisa S. Brenner, Megan Carney, Michael Rohd, Alexander (Alex) Santiago-Jirau,and Nik Zaleski
Part 6 Embodying heritage: Residencies with Indigenous and immigrant youth
Initiating essay
Chapter 16 Laughter, healing, and belonging: Cada quien tiene su lugar
Response essays
Chapter 17 Ax X’oos Shaxwatíx: My feet are firmly planted
Chapter 18 Tricksterism in translation
Roundtable discussion with Macedonio Arteaga Jr., Alicia Chavez-Arteaga, Evelyn Diaz Cruz, Vera Starbard, and Andrés Munar
Part 7 Promoting equity: Practices for working with youth and disabilities
Initiating essay
Chapter 19 Our story: How Nicu’s Spoon fosters representation, access, and inclusion for youth with disabilities
Response essays
Chapter 20 Inclusive theatre as drama therapy
Chapter 21 Where we do the things they think we can’t: The Pegasus Ensemble
Roundtable discussion with Sally Bailey, Stephanie Barton-Farcas,Evelyn Diaz Cruz, and Scott S. Turner
Part 8 Amplifying voices: Process and production with justice-involved youth
Initiating essay
Chapter 22 Stargate: A theatre company of imagination, hope, life skills, and quality art for justice-involved young men
Response essays
Chapter 23 The value of process: Creating theatre with incarcerated youth
Chapter 24 Voices beyond bars: Art as a means of self-expression for incarcerated youth
Roundtable discussion with Chris Ceraso, Erin R. Kaplan, Joanne Seelig Lamparter, and Judy K. Tate
Part 9 Igniting activism: Performance and protest with youth
Initiating essay
Chapter 25 Young Women’s Voices for Climate
Response essays
Chapter 26 The voters are coming: Moment Work and the national #HereToo Project
Chapter 27 Speak About It: Social scripts for consent and healthy relationships
Roundtable discussion with Lisa S. Brenner, Sarah Fahmy, Olivia Harris, Chelsea Hackett, Beth Osnes, and Barbara (Barb) Pitts McAdams

Citation preview

Applied Theatre with Youth

Applied Theatre with Youth is a collection of essays that highlight the value and efficacy of applied theatre with young people in a broad range of settings, addressing challenges and offering concrete solutions. This book tackles the vital issues of our time—including, among others, racism, climate crisis, gun violence, immigration, and gender—fostering dialogue, promoting education, and inciting social change. The book is divided into thematic sections, each opening with an essay addressing a range of questions about the benefits, challenges, and learning opportunities of a particular type of applied theatre. These are followed by response essays from theatre practitioners, discussing how their own approach aligns with and/or diverges from that of the initial essay. Each section then ends with a moderated roundtable discussion between the essays’ authors, further exploring the themes, issues, and ideas that they have introduced. With its accessible format and clear language, Applied Theatre with Youth is a valuable resource for theatre practitioners and the growing number of theatre companies with education and community engagement programs. Additionally, it provides essential reading for teachers and students in a myriad of fields: education, theatre, civic engagement, criminal justice, sociology, women and gender studies, environmental studies, disability studies, ethnicity and race studies. Lisa S. Brenner is a professor of theatre at Drew University, where she teaches dramaturgy, theatre history, and applied theatre. Her theatre experience includes dramaturgy, devising, directing, and playwriting. Chris Ceraso is a professor of theatre at Drew University, where he teaches acting, devising, and applied theatre. His theatre experience includes acting and playwriting, as well as writing for television and film. Evelyn Diaz Cruz is a professor of theatre at the University of San Diego, where she teaches playwriting, acting, theatre of diversity, and theatre and community. Her theatre experience includes playwriting, directing, and acting.

Applied Theatre in Context

Routledge’s Applied Theatre in Context series documents the potency of the performing arts to provoke and disrupt the status quo, and ignite social change. The array of essays and conversations engages critically with a range of theories and current practices. Each book is divided into thematic sections that open with an essay addressing a range of questions about the benefits, challenges, and learning opportunities of a particular type of applied performance. These are followed by response essays from practitioners, discussing how their own approach aligns with and/or diverges from that of the initial essay. Each section then ends with a moderated roundtable discussion between the essays’ authors, further exploring the themes, issues, and ideas that they have introduced. This series will be a valuable resource for practitioners and the growing number of theatre and dance companies with education and community engagement programs. In addition, the collection demonstrates how the performing arts can innovate one’s pedagogy and enliven the practice of multiple disciplines. Applied Theatre with Youth Education, Engagement, Activism Lisa S. Brenner, Chris Ceraso, and Evelyn Diaz Cruz


Applied Theatre with Youth Education, Engagement, Activism

Edited by Lisa S. Brenner, Chris Ceraso, and Evelyn Diaz Cruz

First published 2022 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2022 selection and editorial matter, Lisa S. Brenner, Chris Ceraso, and Evelyn Diaz Cruz; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Lisa S. Brenner, Chris Ceraso, and Evelyn Diaz Cruz to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-0-367-48334-0 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-48332-6 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-03941-9 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Deanta Global Publishing Services, Chennai, India Access the Support Material: www​.routledge​.com​/9780367483326


List of figures List of contributors Acknowledgements Editors’ introduction

xi xiii xxv 1


Engaging community: Professional theatres and youth ensembles 11 Initiating essay 1 Goodman Theatre: Civic practice in service of community



Response essays 2 Playmaking through polycultural partnerships



3 Unleashing the untold story: The Carpetbag Theatre Inc. and the legacy of the T.R.Y. Ensemble



Roundtable Roundtable discussion with Amikogaabawiikwe (Adrienne Benjamin), Chris Ceraso, Claro de los Reyes, Marion Lopez, Willa J. Taylor, and Joe Tolbert Jr.


vi Contents PART 2

Bridging divides: Artistic residencies in schools


Initiating essay 4 Seeing plays and writing plays: Pathways to understanding



Response essays 5 “Telling our own story”: Using digital storytelling to re-design education with Texas and Alaska youth



6 A translanguaging stance on theatre education



Roundtable Roundtable discussion with Sindy Isabel Castro, Chris Ceraso, Kathryn (Katie) Dawson, and David Shookhoff



Reframing narratives: Strategies for re-envisioning education 63 Initiating essay 7 Neighborhood bridges: Rehearsing transformations in the classroom and beyond



Response essays 8 Room to play: An exploration of resources and youth agency



9 A tale of telling some truths to power JESSICA “DECKY” ALEXANDER



Contents  vii

Roundtable discussion with Jessica “Decky” Alexander, Maria Asp, Lisa S. Brenner, Liz Foster-Shaner, Sonja Kuftinec, and Jack Zipes



Fostering agency: Social justice programs in urban and rural settings


Initiating essay 10 From vision to implementation: Re-examining essential practices for applied theatre with youth



11 A process-oriented approach in applied theatre programming with youth



Response essays 12 Listen to us! Teenage girls creating theatre for social change



Roundtable Roundtable discussion with Kuenique Allicock, Evelyn Diaz Cruz, Rachel DeSoto-Jackson, Leonor (Leo) Duran, Dana Edell, Nicole Olusanya, and Joshua Rashon Streeter



Celebrating identities: Spaces to express gender and sexuality 117 Initiating essay 13 Queering applied theatre: Working with LGBTQ youth to dismantle systems of oppression ALEXANDER SANTIAGO-JIRAU


viii Contents

Response essays 14 Rehearsing for life: HOPE IS VITAL, FYI, sexuality education for youth



15 Staging generations of queer history



Roundtable Roundtable discussion with Lisa S. Brenner, Megan Carney, Michael Rohd, Alexander (Alex) Santiago-Jirau, and Nik Zaleski



Embodying heritage: Residencies with Indigenous and immigrant youth


Initiating essay 16 Laughter, healing, and belonging: Cada quien tiene su lugar



Response essays 17 Ax X’oos Shaxwatíx: My feet are firmly planted



18 Tricksterism in translation



Roundtable Roundtable discussion with Macedonio Arteaga Jr., Alicia Chavez-Arteaga, Evelyn Diaz Cruz, Vera Starbard, and Andrés Munar


Contents  ix PART 7

Promoting equity: Practices for working with youth and disabilities 169 Initiating essay 19 Our story: How Nicu’s Spoon fosters representation, access, and inclusion for youth with disabilities



Response essays 20 Inclusive theatre as drama therapy



21 Where we do the things they think we can’t: The Pegasus Ensemble 185 SCOTT S. TURNER

Roundtable Roundtable discussion with Sally Bailey, Stephanie Barton-Farcas, Evelyn Diaz Cruz, and Scott S. Turner



Amplifying voices: Process and production with justice-involved youth


Initiating essay 22 Stargate: A theatre company of imagination, hope, life skills, and quality art for justice-involved young men



Response essays 23 The value of process: Creating theatre with incarcerated youth ERIN R. KAPLAN


x Contents

24 Voices beyond bars: Art as a means of self-expression for incarcerated youth



Roundtable Roundtable discussion with Chris Ceraso, Erin R. Kaplan, Joanne Seelig Lamparter, and Judy K. Tate



Igniting activism: Performance and protest with youth


Initiating essay 25 Young Women’s Voices for Climate



Response essays 26 The voters are coming: Moment Work and the national #HereToo Project



27 Speak About It: Social scripts for consent and healthy relationships



Roundtable Roundtable discussion with Lisa S. Brenner, Sarah Fahmy, Olivia Harris, Chelsea Hackett, Beth Osnes, and Barbara (Barb) Pitts McAdams


Index 249



0.2 9.1






Alberto Noel Caceres as Jazz in Stare and Compare, by Evelyn Diaz Cruz. Produced by AdvantageArts at Drew University. July 2019. Sara Delgado-Padilla, a University of San Diego student, facilitating a workshop with girls in Jamaica, West Indies. 2014. (from left to right) Ariel Pompey, Dakotah Myers (on ground), Karen Bagoumian, Gabrielle Morris, and Sina Webster in Anatomy of an Expulsion Hearing: A Slip of Paper, written/conceptualized by Dakotah Myers with Lance Ruggerio, Taylor Johnson, and Erica Coleman. Produced for the Student Advocacy Center’s Telling Tales Out of School. 2017. About Face Youth Theatre ensemble members (left to right facing the camera) Nina Cajuste, Dara Prentiss, and Natalie O’Hea in the production of 20/20. Co-Directed by Donny Acosta and Megan Carney. Company Members of Teatro Izcalli. (From top left) Veronica Burgess, Alicia Chavez-Arteaga, Claudia Cuevas, Macedonio Arteaga Jr. (From bottom left) Hector Villegas, Michael Slomanson, Jose Alvarez, Iyari Arteaga. 2015. (from left to right) Elizabeth Jones as Captain and Abigail Gehres as Boatswain in O Wonder: A Tempest Tale by James Lex. Produced by Imagination Stage. 2019. (clockwise) Charlie Santiago, Khari Scarborough, Solomon De’Haarte, and Keybo Carrillo in a screenshot from the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Stargate Theatre’s Zoom presentation of The Divide. Directed by Judy K. Tate. September 10, 2020. Kendra Tamär Budd sharing the experience of Texas activist Selina organizing the vigil after the Santa Fe, Texas, shooting in 2018. #HereToo-WWU. November 2019.

4 4







xii Figures

26.2 Brian Bond and Junhong Fei re-work “Moments” in rehearsal for #HereToo-Penn State. November 2019. 27.1 (from left to right) Sampson Spadafore, Megan MacKenzie, and Karen Bombaro rehearse the “Active Bystander” scene of Speak About It’s flagship show at Maine College of Art. Summer 2018. Cover image: (from left to right) Uli Miller, Lerato Osnes, Finella Guy, and Ting Lester. Young Women’s Voices for Climate celebrating at the Youth Climate Strike at the University of Colorado in Boulder. September 2019.




Editors Lisa S. Brenner is a professor of theatre at Drew University, where she received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Faculty Civic Engagement Leadership Award. Together with Chris Ceraso, she codirects the Applied Performance minor and is a co-leader of AdvantageArts, a theatre and college-readiness program for youth, which they developed with the late Rodney M. Gilbert. She holds a PhD in theatre from Columbia University and has studied with seminal theatre artists Augusto Boal, Anne Bogart, Moisés Kaufman, and Holly Hughes. She is a past editor of Theatre Topics, an official journal of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Additionally, she is the co-editor of Represent! New Plays for Multicultural Youth (Methuen Drama), and of Katrina on Stage: Five Plays (Northwestern UP). A playwright and dramaturg, her documentary-based play Katrina: The K Word (co-written with Suzanne Trauth) has been presented on campuses in fourteen states. Brenner has published articles and reviews in Theatre Topics, Transformations, Praxis, Theatre Survey, and Theatre Annual. Chris Ceraso is a writer, actor, and educator. He has written for stage, film, television, and radio. His plays have been performed at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Chester Theatre, Lexington Conservatory Theatre, and the New York Theatre Workshop New Directors Festival, among others. Publishers include Samuel French, Plays for Living, Dramatists Play Service and Methuen Drama. His award-winning documentary, Passing Over, cowritten and produced with Michael Ceraso, has been seen on many PBS stations, and he was a staff writer for NBC’s Another World. As the “Teen Dean” of New York’s 52nd Street Project, he adapted eight Shakespeare plays for performance by the Teen Acting Ensemble and co-authored a book on the subject. He is also the co-editor of Represent! New Plays for Multicultural Youth (Methuen Drama). He is a long-time teaching artist in New York City, and a professor at Drew University, where, in addition to teaching acting, he co-directs AdvantageArts.

xiv Contributors

Evelyn Diaz Cruz is a professor of theatre at the University of San Diego with experience in playwriting, directing, and acting. She earned her MFA in Playwriting from the University of California at Los Angeles and her BA in Theatre (with Distinction) from San Diego State University. As a professor she has been recognized for her high-impact innovative teaching and community engagement practices, which garnered her the highest honor bestowed upon a faculty, with a University Professorship in 2019–’20. Past honors have included: The Moxie Theatre Award for Women, a KPBS Local Heroes Award in The Arts for Hispanic Heritage Month, a USD Innovations in Experiential Education, and being featured in her university’s magazine as one of “The Best and Brightest Professors.” Professor Cruz teaches courses on playwriting, acting, theatre of diversity, and a theatre and community course that partners with local community organizations towards a final theatrical performance. She has also taken her innovative theatre practice internationally with study abroad trips to Jamaica, West Indies and continues to collaborate with Drew University’s AdvantageArts Program as a playwright. Originally from the Bronx, New York, her vision as a playwright is Latinacentric. Her work has been produced in San Diego, New Jersey, and New York City. She has recently published two of her short plays in the anthology, Represent! New Plays for Multicultural Youth (Methuen Drama).

Contributors Jessica “Decky” Alexander is a professor of applied drama/theatre and the Director of Engage@EMU, an office whose mission is to cultivate community and university collaboration. Through Engage@EMU, Decky oversees the Family Empowerment Program, a supportive services program in affordable housing, and the Prevention Theatre Collective, a high school theatre program, which uses theatre as a preventive tool in areas of substance use and abuse. Recent and current projects include: Vital: A Fugue on Aging, an ethnographic performance, and In the Neighborhood, an art creation and community conversation in collaboration with the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. Recent publications include: “Disrupting a Disruption or Live Everything,” in Community Engagement 2.0? Dialogues on the Future of the Civic in the Disrupted University (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). Kuenique Allicock identifies as a Black sixteen-year-old. Although she was born in Georgetown, Guyana, she grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where she was introduced to viBe Theater due to a partnership between the organization and her school. For two years, she has performed on stage in multiple conferences representing viBe, and even at the United Nations headquarters. viBe’s empowering programs have inspired her to become not just an actress, but someone who hopes to lead her generation to speak up against injustice and discrimination. Amikogaabawiikwe indizhinikaaz. Awaazisii indoodem. Misizaaga’iganing indoonjibaa.Chiminising indaa. Niizh nindaanisag indayaawag, Bagwajikwe naa



Zhaawanigiizhigookwe. Adrienne M. Benjamin is an Anishinaabe multifaceted artist practicing in multiple disciplines; including but not limited to, textile arts, writing, design, acrylic, woodworking, watercolor, and poetry. Her main focus is creating current, socially relevant, and culturally significant artistry that intersects with Anishinaabe values, history, and lifeways. Adrienne is passionate about and vibrantly advocates for social justice and equity initiatives in the arts and education systems. Adrienne is an accomplished arts administrator, having created successful arts-based youth initiatives within her tribe; the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Adrienne is also an avid art collector, supporting Indigenous and other artists of color in the United States and beyond. See more of her work at http://yoadrienneb​.net. Macedonio Arteaga Jr. is an alumnus of the University of California San Diego, with a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies. Macedonio is a cofounder and the executive director of Izcalli, a nonprofit organization that has worked with youth in the community for the past twenty-five years. In 1995, Macedonio became the co-creator and artistic director of Teatro Izcalli, a component of Izcalli. The theatre group has performed for thousands of people throughout the country who normally do not have access to theatre. Macedonio was also instrumental in creating Circulo de Hombres, a cultural-arts mentoring program for adolescent and adult males. Additionally, every year he organizes the Annual Izcalli Men’s Gathering that brings together over one hundred men of all ages to dialogue. He works full-time with the San Diego City Unified School District as a pupil advocate, running restorative practice circles. He is a published poet, playwright, actor, motivational speaker, and restorative practice trainer. Maria Asp is an actor, teaching artist, and member of the Speaking Out Collective. She has been with the Neighborhood Bridges program since its beginning and served as the program director. Since 2003, she has cotaught storytelling, critical literacy, and creative drama at the University of Minnesota. In addition to acting and directing, Maria is a singer and musician and has been a guest musician with Sod House Theater and has been part of several local bands. As a writer/performer she has been part of the Mother Project and the Walker’s Shut Up and Listen. She was part of the Arts Organizing Institute with Pangea World Theater and a lead organizer with the Million Artist Movement and part of the administrative team working and organizing with TALC (Theater Artist Leader Coalition). Sally Bailey, MFA, MSW, RDT/BCT is professor of theatre and director of the MA in drama therapy program at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS. She directs the Barrier-Free Theatre for teens and adults with and without disabilities for the Manhattan Parks and Recreation Department. Her book Barrier-Free Theatre: Including Everyone in the Arts in Schools, Recreation, and Arts Programs Regardless of (Dis)Ability is the recipient of AATE’s 2011 Distinguished Book Award. She is an advocate for the right of everyone to participate in the arts. A past president of the North American Drama

xvi Contributors

Therapy Association, she is a recipient of their Gertrud Schattner Award for distinguished contribution to the field of drama therapy in, education, publication, practice, and service and the 2018 Teaching Excellence Award. Stephanie Barton-Farcas is the founder and artistic director of the awardwinning Nicu’s Spoon Theater Company, including WNYC’s Salute the Arts (STAR) initiative, an OOBR award, multiple New York Innovative Theater awards, the Thom Fluellen Award for service to New York City, and the Snapple/NYC Mayor’s Office Best People to Work For. The company has been spotlighted in Playbill, the New York Times, American Theatre and is the subject of the documentary Two and Twenty Troubles. Stephanie is the author of Disability & Theatre: A Practical Manual for Inclusion in the Arts (Routledge, 2017) and Acting & Auditioning in the 21st Century: Tips, Trends and Techniques for Film, Stage, Digital and New Media, which includes a dedicated section for artists with disabilities. She is the co-founder of the Disability in Cinema Coalition. Megan Carney is the artistic director of About Face Theatre (AFT) and currently serves as the director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also co-created Women at War, a multi-year performance and civic dialogue project about women in the military. Carney has served on the LBTQ Giving Council of the Chicago Foundation for Women and with the Chicago Restroom Access Project of Pride Action Tank. Her work has been recognized with multiple After Dark Awards, the GLSEN Pathfinder Award, an APA Presidential Citation, induction in Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, a Rockefeller Foundation MAP Grant, and a GLAAD Media Award nomination. She has a MFA in Theatre Arts from Virginia Tech and a BA from Kalamazoo College. Sindy Isabel Castro is an actress, educator, and theatre artist. She is cofounder of Jugando N Play, a multilingual theatre for young audiences. She holds her MA in applied theatre from CUNY. She is currently a teaching artist with People's Theatre Project, NYC Children's Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, and Arts Connection, where she strives to create multilingual and multicultural spaces that empower students to embrace their home languages and cultures. Before moving to NYC, Sindy was a teaching artist/education administrator in Chicago, working with Steppenwolf Theatre, Writers Theatre, and Northlight Theatre, among others. She was a US representative at Young IDEA at the IDEA Congress in Paris in 2013, and a US delegate at the International Teaching Artist Conference in 2018. www​.sindyicastro​.com, www​.JugandoNPlay​.com Alicia Chavez-Arteaga holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in women’s studies from San Diego State University. She is a co-founder and the director of operations of Izcalli, a cultural arts community-based organization that bridges the arts, education, and community



involvement. Alicia has over twenty years’ experience in the administration of programs as an arts administrator, educator, and social worker. Alicia is also a founding member, writer, performer with Teatro Izcalli, a Chicanx comedy troupe whose original work centers the traditions, challenges, and opportunities related to the Chicanx/Latinx community. Through her work Alicia has witnessed the powerful impact that the arts have as a conduit for healing, empowerment, and community engagement. She also integrates this approach in her work with the National Compadres Network, which hosts annual healing retreats for women that embrace ancestral healing practices. Kathryn Dawson is a teaching artist who uses the arts to increase equity and access in education for all learners. She is an associate professor at The University of Texas in Austin, where she heads the MFA in Drama/Theatre for Youth and Communities and the Drama for Schools program. Katie has won multiple teaching and research awards; she has published two books and numerous articles. Her current research includes arts-in-education partnership projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Poland, Taiwan, and Australia. Previously, Katie worked as an actor, classroom teacher, and director of interactive theatre programs at the California Science Center. Claro de los Reyes is NYC-based playwright, actor, educator, and a social practice theatre artist. His theatre works aim to raise questions about transnational histories and their intimate influence on the present. As an actor he has performed with NY theatre companies that include NAATCO, Pan Asian Rep, Leviathan Lab, and International WOW. As a theatre maker he has had the honor of co-creating theatre alongside community members in NYC, Minnesota, the Philippines, and Rwanda. Recent accomplishments include: The Laundromat Project Create Change artist commission; National Artists Strategies Creative Community Fellow; Downtown Art Artist-in-Residence; Epic Theatre Ensemble’s Spotlight Playwriting Commission. Claro is the founder and director of Atlantic Pacific Theatre, a theatre company committed to exploring cross cultural exchange and pluralism. www​.atl​anti​cpac​ific​theatre​.org. Rachel DeSoto-Jackson is Associate Professor of Applied Theatre and Director of the Simulation Performance/Applied Theatre Ensemble at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, she serves as the codirector for the Center for Teaching Excellence and Women’s and Gender Studies affiliated faculty. She holds an MFA in performance pedagogy, MA in theatre and performance studies, and an MA certificate in film studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Rachel focuses on approaches to social justice performance and applications of empathetic communication in nontraditional settings and through simulation. She currently serves as the copresident of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. (and on their journal’s editorial board); as a steering committee member for the National

xviii Contributors

Latinx Theatre Commons; and on the national board of the Smithsonian Latino Center for the Molina Family Gallery. Leonor Duran initially shortened her name to Leo to make space for people who couldn’t say it properly because of its Spanish pronunciation. Despite removing the “nor,” she is still the same sixteen-year-old Hispanic who grew up in Brooklyn. However, Leo is a name she took pride in due to viBe Theater, where she grew to see the power in herself, her diversity, and her youth. viBe welcomed her with a sisterhood, a judgmental-free space, and a pen and paper, where she could share her voice at numerous shows with a group of girls and women by her side. viBe provided the materials and platform to help her realize that whether called Leo, Leanor, or Leonor, the name represents a young woman ready to take charge and make change in the world. Dana Edell is an activist-scholar-artist-educator and co-director of SPARK Movement, an intergenerational, anti-racist, arts-driven girls’ activist organization where she trains and supports girls to take action in their communities and consults with organizations throughout the US and abroad about gender justice, youth engagement, feminist Jewish education, and arts education. She has produced and directed seventy-plus original plays and seven albums of music written and performed by teenage girls addressing social justice issues. She was co-founder/executive director of viBe Theater Experience from 2002–2012 and currently works as co-director of viBe Leadership Institute. Dana was co-chair of the Girls’ Participation Task Force at the United Nations and currently teaches Theatre & Activism at New York University and in CUNY’s graduate program in applied theatre. She has a BA in classics/ancient Greek from Brown, an MFA in theatre directing from Columbia, and a PhD in educational theatre from NYU. Sarah Fahmy is a scholar-artist pursuing a PhD in theatre and performance Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. She researches postcolonial psychoanalysis and identity formation of Egyptian women, focusing on cognitive, speech and language processing impacting vocal efficacy. She recently presented at the Egyptian Ministry of Expatriate Affairs’ “Egypt Can” conference and is exploring performance-based civic action initiatives nationwide. Sarah is one of the founding members of the Middle Eastern Theatre Focus Group at ATHE. In Boulder, she co-facilitates SPEAK, is a performer in CU Playback Ensemble, and applied theatre groups: Performers Without Borders, and CU EnActs. Liz Foster-Shaner holds a PhD in theatre research at UW Madison. She discovered Theatre of the Oppressed at UC Berkeley where she doublemajored in theatre and political science, which provided a much-needed paradigm shift, blending her majors into an artistic and political practice while breaking her out of the rigid institutions of mainstream theatre and politics. In partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and other organizations,



Liz is developing TO projects that reimagine our roles and opportunities as active citizens of our local communities and the larger society. She served on the board of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. in 2017–2019 and coordinates TO Pittsburgh, an informal collective of folks who practice TO and facilitate workshops around the city of Pittsburgh. Chelsea Hackett is a facilitator, researcher, and creative consultant. She is the co-founder of the international vocal empowerment training program SPEAK and recently completed her doctorate in educational theatre at NYU focusing on a partnership between a Guatemalan theatre company and an all-girls school. In addition, she is a performer, writer, and director, working around the world, using the power of creative play to build collective meaning and engage in critical conversations. Olivia Harris is an applied theatre artist, educator, and feminist who has been using interactive theatrical tools to create conversations about consent, boundaries, and healthy relationships for almost a decade. She has worked as a theatre educator across the globe with Bond Street Theatre, Arts for All, Harlem Children's Zone, Voices UnBroken, Aarohan International Theatre, Drew University, and Philadelphia Theatre Company. While at Drew, Olivia co-designed curriculum that trained students to use applied theatre techniques to combat sexual violence on their campus. Likewise, students under her mentorship at the Philadelphia Theatre Company led healthy-relationship workshops throughout the city. Olivia holds a BA from Drew University and a MA in applied theatre from CUNY. Erin R. Kaplan is a feminist and queer studies theatre scholar and practitioner interested in the intersection between theatre, performance, and social justice. She has worked in schools, colleges, universities, juvenile detention centers, and prisons. She holds an MA from New York University’s Steinhardt School in Educational Theatre in Colleges and Communities, and a PhD in theatre and performance Studies with a graduate certificate in women and gender studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. Her publications include Theatre Topics, Theatre Annual, Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, The Journal of American Drama and Theatre, and she serves as an associate editor for PARtake: The Journal of Performance as Research. She is currently a lecturer at University of Colorado Boulder and an adjunct professor at the Community College of Aurora. Sonja Kuftinec holds a Ph.D. in theatre from Stanford University and teaches at the University of Minnesota. Her research includes community-based theatre, conflict transformation, arts-based pedagogy, and the work of story to counter individual and historical amnesia. She has published widely in these areas including her award-winning Staging America: Cornerstone and Community-Based Theater (SIU Press, 2003) and Theatre, Facilitation and Nation Formation in the Balkans and Middle East (Palgrave, 2009). Current research focuses on infused pedagogy at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and

xx Contributors

Children’s Theatre Company’s Neighborhood Bridges program, exploring how creative drama and storytelling promotes critical literacy with K-12 students and intervenes in standardized models of education. She has also initiated work on storytelling with elders on the dementia spectrum. Joanne Seelig Lamparter is the Director of Education and Theatre for Change at Imagination Stage. She has administered programs for Berkeley Rep, Smithsonian, and Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. Joanne was a research assistant on the Cultures of Thinking project at Harvard’s Project Zero and has been a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, the US Department of Education, Theatre Communications Group, and the Maryland State Arts Council. She has taught in a variety of educational settings including museums, theatres, public schools, and juvenile detention centers. Joanne currently serves as a theatre education advisor for the WGBH series, Pinkalicious, and was proud to advise on the PBS KIDS Arts Learning Framework. She has an MA in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Marion Lopez is a native New York theatre educator, performer, and director. She was nominated for Best Actress in a feature film at the LIIFE film expo and has performed at a variety of notable theatres and festivals such as La MaMa ETC and the International Hispanic Theater Festival of Miami, respectively. She is a founding member of Sinteatro-Intimus, focused on creating original theatrical work inspired by the socio-political landscape of various Latin communities. As a teaching artist, she has worked with the Creative Arts Team, Opening Act, People’s Theatre Project, and the New York City Children’s Theatre. She holds an MA in applied theatre from the CUNY School of Professional Studies. Barbara Pitts McAdams is co-author of Moment Work: Tectonic Theater Project’s Process of Devising Theater. An actor/dramaturg in Tectonic’s The Laramie Project, she also appears in the HBO film and shares an Emmy Nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Barb devises plays with high school students across the US Barb is co-creator of #HereToo: Stories of Gun Violence, Stories of Youth Activism. #HereToo-WWU received the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s 2020 Citizens Award and Barb received the Best Director/Lead Devisers Award (with Rich Brown). Other college teaching/guest artist work includes Drew University, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Wake Forest University, CUNY’s School of Professional Studies-Applied Theatre MA program and innumerable high school Laramie-related workshops. www​.heretooproject​.com. Andrés Munar is an actor/writer/teacher born in Colombia and raised in Miami. He is a recipient of a TCG/Fox Foundation Fellowship at Cornerstone Theater Company and a Bowden Award from New Dramatists for his contributions to new plays developed by Sung Rno, Michael John Garcés, Chiori Miyagawa and many others. At the Lark Play Development



Center, he worked on plays by Rajiv Joseph, Lynn Nottage, and Kristoffer Diaz. His filmwork has been seen at the Tribeca Film Festival and Cannes. On TV he has been a guest star in various episodics, including the forthcoming season of Fear the Walking Dead. Andrés holds an MFA in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College. He has taught at Fordham University, Elon University, Kingsborough Community College, as well as several NYC high schools. Lianna Nixon is a graduate student in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is a wildlife conservationist who uses photography, education, and social media to create powerful visual stories. Her work has taken her to seven countries in pursuit of powerful photography narratives, capturing the beauty and plight of our planet. She has worked with numerous non-project organizations to help amplify their voice and promote change. Nicole Olusanya holds an MEd from Lesley University. She is the manager of School Programs at Company One Theatre (C1) in Boston, Massachusetts. Passionate about equity and social justice, Nicole’s work focuses on supporting arts educators and uplifting emerging theatre artists. She specializes in community engagement, partnership development, and activating new initiatives. As Special Initiatives Manager at ArtsEmerson, Nicole reactivated I Dream: Boston, while managing several community engagement programs, including Community Curators and Citizen Read. She was an arts administrator in Boston Public Schools for seven years at Dorchester Academy, BPS Visual and Performing Arts Department, and Boston Arts Academy. Nicole is an actor, a co-founder of TC Squared Theatre Company, and a member of the MassCreative Leadership Council. She is a proud alum of Boston Arts Academy’s first graduating class. Beth Osnes holds a PhD from the University of Colorado where she is an associate professor of theatre and environmental studies. She is co-director of Inside the Greenhouse (www​.insidethegreenhouse​.net) and SPEAK (http://speak​.world). Her books include Theatre for Women’s Participation in Sustainable Development and Performance for Resilience: Engaging Youth on Energy and Climate through Music, Movement, and Theatre. She is featured in the award-winning documentary Mother: Caring for 7 Billion (www​.motherthefilm​.com). Michael Rohd is founding artistic director of Sojourn Theatre. In 2015, he received an Otto Rene Castillo award for Political Theater and The Robert Gard Foundation Award for Excellence. He is an Institute Professor at Arizona State University and is author of the widely translated book Theatre for Community, Conflict, and Dialogue. He is Lead Artist for Civic Imagination at the Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP), which he co-founded in 2012. Recent/current projects with CPCP and Sojourn include collaborations with ArtPlace America, Goodman Theater,

xxii Contributors

LISC, Kansas City Mayor’s Office, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Cleveland Public Theater, Americans for the Arts, Nashville’s MetroArts, City of Santa Monica, CA, United Way, Flint Youth Theater, Catholic Charities USA, Cook Inlet Housing Authority Alaska, Jackson Medical Mall Foundation Mississippi, and Steppenwolf Theatre. Alexander Santiago-Jirau is Director of Education at New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) where he oversees all of NYTW’s education initiatives, including the Mind the Gap: Intergenerational Theatre Workshop, the Youth Artistic Instigators program, student matinees, in-school teaching artist residencies, masterclasses, administrative fellowships, and public and community engagement programs. A Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner who studied and worked with Augusto Boal, Alex has facilitated many applied theatre projects throughout his career, particularly with youth, educators, and diverse immigrant communities. He is also on the faculty for the Program in Educational Theatre at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Alex holds a BS in urban and regional Studies from Cornell University and an MA in educational theatre from New York University. David Shookhoff has served as Education Director of Manhattan Theatre Club since 1988, where he has designed and implemented a multi-faceted program that annually serves 3,000 teenagers and adults. A leader in the field of arts education and a teaching artist for nearly fifty years, Shookhoff was the founding chair of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Arts Education, has chaired the Arts-in-Education Panel of the New York State Council on the Arts, and has been a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. He has directed numerous theatre and opera productions in New York City and around the country. He holds a BA from Stanford University and an MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama. Vera Starbard (Tlingit/Dena’ina), T’set Kwei, is a Tlingit and Dena’ina writer and editor. She is Playwright-in-Residence at Perseverance Theatre through the Andrew W. Mellon National Playwright Residency Program and editor of First Alaskans Magazine. Vera is also a writer for the PBS Kids children’s program Molly of Denali, which won a Peabody Award in 2020. She has won numerous local, statewide, and national individual writing and editing awards, including the Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award and Alaska Literary Award. Vera currently serves on the HowlRound Advisory Council, the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference Board, and as a founding member of Alaska Native playwright group Dark Winter Productions. Her full-length play Our Voices Will Be Heard premiered at Perseverance Theatre in 2016. It was then published in the anthology Contemporary Plays by Women of Color in 2017 and turned into a one-hour radio adaptation that aired nationwide in 2018. Vera lives with



her husband Joe Bedard (Inupiaq/Yup’ik/Cree) on Dena'ina land—now called Anchorage, Alaska. Joshua Rashon Streeter holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. He is an assistant professor of theatre education at James Madison University, where he heads the theatre education licensure program and the teaching artist concentration. Joshua’s work centers around drama pedagogy, critical pedagogy, and embodied learning. As a practice-based researcher, Joshua analyzes the pedagogies used in rehearsals and classrooms, and explores the relationship between process and product in a creative learning experience. He continues to work as a theatre practitioner, specifically focusing on theatre for young audiences, youth theatre, and musical theatre. Joshua was named the 2015 Winifred Ward Scholar by the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) and served on the twelve-person committee to write the 2014 National Theatre Standards. Judy K. Tate is the Founding Artistic Director of the Stargate Theatre Company, a work readiness project for justice-involved young men, sponsored by Sharon Sullivan through the Manhattan Theatre Club Education Department. She is co-founder and artistic director of The American Slavery Project, a theatrical response to revisionism in our nation’s discourse around enslavement and its aftermath. She is a four-time Emmy Award winning writer and WGAe award recipient. Her plays have been presented in theatres throughout the United States. As a teaching artist she’s led hundreds of activity-based workshops and is co-author of the playwriting manual used in schools for the Theatre Development Fund. She’s an alumna of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts conservatory and was an honors graduate receiving the Founder's Day, Seidman, and Beinecke Awards. www​.asylum​-productions​.org or www​.JudyTate​.com Willa J. Taylor is the Walter Director of Education and Engagement at Goodman Theatre where she creates and manages school-based programs and trains teachers to rethink their classrooms and build engaging curriculum that is arts-based and social-justice-focused. She collaborates with community organizations to develop artist-led civic dialogues to address challenges in social exclusion. Taylor is on faculty at The Theatre School at DePaul University, and has guest lectured on theatre and social change at Yale, Columbia College, NYU, Arizona State, and Northern Illinois University. She holds an MEd in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University. Her writings have been published in Amazon allstars: 13 lesbian plays, published by Applause Books, and Arts Integration in Education: Teachers and Teaching Artists as Agents of Change. Theory, impact, practice, from Intellect Books. Scott S. Turner currently serves as the Access and Inclusion Coordinator of Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland. He holds a bachelor's degree in theatrical performance from Frostburg State University. A teaching

xxiv Contributors

artist focusing on inclusive theatre, he has worked with several organizations including The Dance Place, Washington Performing Arts, and The Kennedy Center. A teaching artist of over ten years, he fuses his performing background in movement theatre to empower the voices of students with disabilities. He recently served as an editor in accessibility for the Maryland State Arts Council working to improve access to events and grants for patrons and artists with disabilities in the state of Maryland. Joe Tolbert Jr. is a minister, scholar, writer, and cultural organizer who works at the intersections of art, cultural, spirituality, and social justice. He received his B.S. in communications from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and completed his M.Div. with a concentration in social ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. His work has been supported by fellowships from National Art Strategies Creative Communities Fellowship and the Intercultural Leadership Institute. As a cultural organizer and consultant, Joe helps communities harness the power of art and culture through the building, implementation, and evaluation of cultural strategies. As a writer, he has contributed articles to Alternate Roots, Arts.Black, Quiet Lunch, among others. He is the Director of Community Engagement and Partnerships for The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc. Nik Zaleski holds a BS in gender studies and performance Studies from Northwestern University as well as an MA in interdisciplinary studies from DePaul University, where she combined public health and theatre. She has worked as the Education and Arts Justice Director for the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH) and as the Director of Sisters Empowering Sisters. Nik was the Founding Artistic Director for For Youth Inquiry, a Founding Curator of Swarm Artist Residency, and a creator of Ag47 (an artist mentorship collective that serves girls in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago). She is an ensemble member of Sojourn Theatre and a company member of Erasing the Distance. She currently consults on organizational development, arts-based organizing, and storytelling through her cultural strategy company, Murmur. Jack Zipes is Professor Emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota. In addition to his scholarly work, he is an active storyteller in public schools and has worked with children’s theatres in Europe and the United States. Among his many awards are a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the International Brothers Grimm Award. Some of his important publications include: Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children (2004) and The Irresistible Fairy Tale (2012). Most recently he has published The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Anthology of Magical Tales (2017).


The list of people we wish to thank is as long and varied as this book. In that spirit, we wish to acknowledge all of our families who have contributed to our sense of purpose. They would have to include foremost our immediate families, but also extended and chosen families: ancestors, children, colleagues, mentors, applied-theatre families, and the families yet to come. Special thanks: The Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), Daniel Banks, Augusto Boal, Julian Boal, ChangeMaker Hub at University of San Diego (USD), Alcides Costa, Paris Crayton III, Peter Cirino, College of Arts and Letters at USD, Jessica Cortez, Ethnic Studies at USD, Kimani Fowlin, Kevin Guerreri, The 52nd Street Project, Rodney M. Gilbert, Kelly Howe, Impact Linda Vista Initiative at USD, Mia Katigbak, Colleen Kelly, Amy Koritz, Abigail Leeder, Lincoln Center Education (formerly Lincoln Center Institute), John Loggins, Kate Menken, A. Rafik Mohamed, the Manhattan Theatre Club Education Department, Marissa Metelica, Courtney Mohler, Michele Morgan, Chris Nayve, Gail Perez, Randy Rheinholtz, Scott Ripley, Soroya Rowley, Study Abroad Jamaica Program at USD, Helio Andres Sepulveda-Zornosa, the Theatre Department at USD, the Theatre & Dance Department at Drew University, Tobias Truvillion, Stephanie Weymouth, and Alicia Whavers. We also offer gratitude to Daniel Banks and Claire Syler, whose book, Casting a Movement: The Welcome Table Initiative (2019), served as an inspiration for a dialogic format. Additional thanks to the teaching artists, staff, interns, volunteers, and administrative supporters of AdvantageArts, and to our funders: Bringing Theory to Practice, the Casement Fund, Dr. Paul Drucker and The Arts of Respect, the Neuberger-Berman Foundation, and the Victoria Foundation. The editors would also like to thank Zoe Forbes and Ben Piggott who helped shepherd this book from an idea to publication. Most significantly, this book would not be possible without the many open-hearted, creative student participants and community members in our programs.

Editors’ introduction

This collection of essays seeks to highlight the value and efficacy of applied theatre with youth while also addressing its challenges, deliberating the ethical dilemmas, and offering workable solutions. The discussions that emerged between our authors demonstrate an understanding that this work occurs as a constant reinvention of itself, without fixed rules or a set script. True to the ephemeral theatrical form, the work happens in the moment. These collected essays and roundtable discussions are an attempt to bear witness to such moments in a field where there is often little formal opportunity to do so, to share them, and to provide a window into how and why they were fostered. In curating this anthology, we offer our deep appreciation for the accomplishments, expertise, and passion of the practitioners.

Our pathways to applied theatre Lisa S. Brenner

When I was a junior in college, my professor assigned a book that altered my career trajectory, setting me on the path of applied theatre: Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. The idea that theatre could be used to effect social change ignited a fire in me, and studying at a women’s college, my first instinct was to apply Boal’s methods towards a feminist theatre. I went on to form a women’s theatre company as my senior thesis project; then again, a year later in the professional world, where my work became more expansive and intersectional, exploring topics such as race, class, gender, sexuality, and religion. When I was in graduate school, I had the privilege of studying with Boal himself. His theory and methodology further guided me when I became a professor at Drew University, where I collaborated with students to devise plays and interactive workshops. Two new avenues to develop theatre for social change followed suit. The first was an invitation by my colleagues, the late Professor Rodney M. Gilbert and co-editor Chris Ceraso, to join them in designing and teaching a course, “Theatre in the Community.” The vision for this program was a three-part blend of each of our lifelong practices: engaging young people

2 Introduction

through theatre, working in theatre in education, and utilizing theatre towards social justice efforts. Drew students would work with Newark community partners—Professor Gilbert’s own Newark-based Yendor Productions and the Newark Public Schools—to create theatre that would amplify the voices of the Newark teenagers while giving the Drew students an experiential practice in mentoring and facilitation. The second opportunity occurred when the university asked me to envision a course using theatre to educate on and advocate for sexual consent. Since 2010, these programs have provided a springboard for Drew students to pursue work as artistic directors, teaching artists, educators, and administrators at non-profit organizations (we now offer a minor in applied performance). This trajectory has connected me with artists, educators, and activists around the world, including Augusto Boal’s son, Julian Boal. These experiences and the generosity of these colleagues in sharing resources and effective practices have enhanced my pedagogy and sense of community, identity, and integrity; which in turn inspired me to approach my co-editors about collaborating on an anthology to document applied theatre practitioners’ critical work with young people. Chris Ceraso

I came to this work by way of an artistic community in the early 1980s, with an organization developed on 52nd Street in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, aptly named the 52nd Street Project. In the vision of its founder, Willie Reale, the “Project” was meant to provide an artistic mentoring platform to bring together neighborhood kids in a vibrant community with spirited adult artistvolunteers and skeleton staff, who themselves formed a loose-knit theatre family. The primary effort was to create original theatre with these young people, throughout their entire pre-teen and teen years, that would be artful, playful, and personally impactful. Forty years later, more than a decade of them spent as the Project’s “Teen Dean,” I continue to marvel at the enlivening effects of this work on both the youth it engages and on the professional artists/mentors who practice it. The Project remains a valued neighborhood organization, tied to education and literacy but unaffiliated with the New York Public schools and self-defined as community-based theatre. Later, as a teaching artist in the public schools, pre-K12, for the Lincoln Center Institute (now Lincoln Center Education), and then for the Manhattan Theatre Club Education Department working in traditional high schools and at Rikers Island Academy, I came to appreciate how wide and varied the educational community can be. When I began teaching at Drew University, it was a natural progression to bring these experiences and observations to our theatre students. Through the AdvantageArts program described above, we met professor and playwright, Evelyn Diaz Cruz, and discovered that our work’s intentionality at Drew and hers at the University of San Diego mirrored each other’s in many ways.

Introduction  3 Evelyn Diaz Cruz

My artistic passion for applied theatre was born and nurtured by the good times I had growing up in the Puerto Rican and Black neighborhoods of the Bronx during the 1970s. The spirited and at times turbulent seventies of my youth was also a period of intense creative expression through graffiti, hip-hop, and salsa. It was all around us, and, more often than not, was speaking truth to power, and it was theatre! And it was every day! When the warm weather hit, the sacred congas and maracas came out onto the sidewalks, and an instant party popped up with dancing in the street to live percussion music or boomboxes and speakers. These gatherings brought the community together and connected us with a higher power. Embracing this rousing energy, I also witnessed my family’s creative response to blatant racism, as we at times had to navigate sending the “lighter-skinned” family members to represent and at other times, even chose to downplay the Puerto Ricans who could not pass. As the primary “lighterskinned,” person in the family, these guideposts grounded me in race-consciousness, and in art as a counter statement that powerfully transcends barriers. At twenty-one years old and a single mother of two children, I found myself living in California where I met the agit-prop troupe Teatro Raices, a Chicana revolutionary group that performed hard-hitting street theatre. This mature allwomen’s theatre was unapologetically didactic and therefore required weekly study groups to be informed on the issues raised in the plays we performed. All the plays were written and directed as a collective. We were proud to be called “Material Feminists,” and we were called a lot of other not-so-great names too (but that’s another story). As an adjunct professor of theatre, I met a generous colleague, my mentor Peter Cirino who introduced me to theatre and community as a pedagogy. His model offered me the vision to create my own class, “Theatre and Community,” at the University of San Diego where it is now the capstone course for theatre majors. When I met Lisa S. Brenner and Chris Ceraso at an Association for Theatre in Higher Education conference, it was an instant meeting of minds, spirits, and educational agendas. As I tell my students, to be an artist, you must also pursue education on the issues and methods to be impactful; otherwise, it is not art, it is just a rendered opinion.

About this book Through the years, we three have pursued a bi-coastal partnership that inspired us to create this book with the intention of fostering a conversation among practitioners and scholars in the field of applied theatre. In collaborating on this project, we were able to extend our conversations and shared resources on a national scale. Applied Theatre with Youth follows an interactive format intended to generate discourse. The book is divided into nine thematic sections. Each section begins with an essay initiating a conversation on that theme, with two

4 Introduction

Figure 0.1 Alberto Noel Caceres as Jazz in Stare and Compare, by Evelyn Diaz Cruz. Produced by AdvantageArts at Drew University. July 2019. Photo by Lynne Delade.

Figure 0.2 Sara Delgado-Padilla, a University of San Diego student, facilitating a workshop with girls in Jamaica, West Indies. 2014. Photo by Evelyn Diaz Cruz.

rejoinder essays. The section culminates with a roundtable discussion with the contributors. We were deliberate in selecting a diverse representation of practitioners’ backgrounds, styles, and geographic locations. This collection features the work of veteran and emerging figures in the field, as well as leaders of renowned institutions and grass-roots organizations.

Introduction  5

At the same time, we recognize the limitations of categorization: Several essays fit into multiple categories, and many practitioners approach their work intersectionally. Moreover, while these groupings attempt to recognize key constituents (e.g., youth with disabilities); locales (e.g., prisons); or common methodologies (e.g., Theatre of the Oppressed), this framing risks reductiveness and segregation—as if to say, for example, sexual consent can only be discussed in a section dedicated to gender and sexuality. We therefore purposefully defied our own structure throughout. For instance, Part 2 includes Sindy Castro’s discussion of the importance of incorporating immigrant students’ home languages as part of education writ large, rather than designating this essay to Part 6 (which focuses on residencies with Indigenous and immigrant youth). Instead of rigid classifications, we invite you to envision these sections as dialogue groups whose informed practice serve as a starting point for further exploration. Additionally, as Beth Osnes points out in Roundtable 9, in Pleasure Activism, adrienne maree brown acknowledges, Language changes so quickly these days. The right way to speak about people, about identities and about gender, about geography—everything is in motion on a regular basis. I know that in writing this book I am creating something instantly dated … If this is being read in a future in which this language has evolved, then please know I would be evolving right along with you. (2019, pp. 16, 18) Like Osnes, we ask the reader for the same dispensation, but further add that even the correct usage of current language is debatable—particularly in terms of identity, whether referring to gender (“folx” vs. folks, or “Latinx” vs. “Latino/ a/x”), race (the term BIPOC, the capitalization of “Black” vs. “white”), and ability (“people with disabilities” vs. “disabled people”). In recognition of these debates, we have allowed for inconsistencies in spelling, capitalization, and phrasing to reflect the conscious choice of the individual authors. The editors have further debated the label “applied theatre” to delineate the work this book covers. Tim Prentki and Sheila Preston define applied theatre as: [Taking] participants and audiences beyond the scope of conventional, mainstream theatre ... The work often, but not always, happens in informal settings, in non-theatre venues in a variety of geographical and social settings ... that might be specific or relevant to the interests of a community. Applied theatre usually works in contexts where the work created and performed has a specific resonance with its participants and its audiences and often, to different degrees, involves them in it. (2009, p. 9) This distinction offers a serviceable way to acknowledge theatre as a means towards a larger communal, pedagogic, or political goal rather than an end in

6 Introduction

and of itself—as Willa J. Taylor explains, “[W]hat we are trying to do with young people is give them tools and skills that make thoughtful, activist human beings who may or may not decide to do theatre” (p. 34). Still, we recognize an inherent tension in this framing. In the roundtable discussion in Part 5, Michael Rohd asks why such emphasis relegates this work to the margins, convincingly arguing that it be seen as part and parcel of theatre itself: “We have to think about theatre not as a tool, but as an art … [which makes] meaningful contributions in all kinds of civic and public contexts” (p. 140). Nonetheless, the term provides a useful lens to spotlight an intentionality behind theatre that we locate in the intersection of three realms: education, engagement, and activism. It may stretch narrower definitions to claim arts-in-education as an “application” of theatre with a singularly defined social or community-oriented goal. In the philosophy of the education departments of some of the institutions represented here, art needs no excuse to be taught, practiced, and appreciated other than for its own sake. Author David Shookhoff explains: “For MTC Education, it is axiomatic that seeing, writing, and creating plays are intrinsically beneficial activities” (p. 44). Yet, as he and others here attest, to the extent that theatre fundamentally promotes empathy, self-expression, and self-efficacy, its use in educational settings can impact personal and communal growth, as well as consequential action that produces change. Several of our authors moreover ascribe to a liberatory pedagogy promoted by Paulo Freire (2005) and a transgressive pedagogy inspired by bell hooks (1994). Asp, Kuftinec, and Zipes, for instance, express a vision of education that treats “children as producers rather than consumers, and as problem-solvers rather than problems to be solved” (p. 65). Others further challenge the monolingual, Eurocentric education emphasized in most US schools. As Vera Starbard, Tlingit and Dena’ina writer, relays, [The] western way of learning and thinking that was foisted upon us was not the supreme standard that I had been taught it was. In fact, there were ways of learning honed by my own culture for millennia that were not only more effective at teaching rote material but trained your mind in a way to search for education in more places than a classroom. (p. 155) Education is perhaps the first step towards engagement, which might be viewed as building and redefining community; embracing ownership of one’s own identity or story; and reclaiming the representation of a culture. Engagement often encourages an interrogation of narrative, questioning the perspective of the narration and investigating the possibilities of reframing it. As Joe Tolbert, Jr. explains, such reframing doesn’t necessarily “change what has happened; rather it helps individuals and communities make new meaning by changing how we think about our story in the larger context of our culture, specifically the underlying systems of power” (p. 29). Engagement through

Introduction  7

theatre can help youth view themselves as not alone but rather as informed and proactive members of a community who conduct themselves with purpose and direction. Many authors take this notion a step further, seeing their praxis, as Alexander Santiago-Jirau states, “Following Augusto Boal’s understanding that ‘theater is not revolutionary in itself, it is surely a rehearsal for the revolution,’” and proposing that engagement with youth “must go beyond representation or contemplation in order to foster political activation in both youth participants and their audiences” (p. 119). As Leo, a teenage participant in the viBe Theater Experience, attests, such rehearsals can give young people “the confidence to take direct action when …[seeing] injustices in my life and community” (p. 110). Bolstered by education, engagement, and activism, this field (to borrow Nicolson’s wording) manifests as a “a durational process of becoming rather than being, about traveling into another world, often fictional, which offers both new ways of seeing and different ways of looking at the familiar” (2014, p. 15). When young practitioners take authorial control to imagine their own future, they also seize the present moment with hope and promise; whether on a stage, in a classroom, or at the center of a communal gathering, they can make their voices heard and effect change in themselves and in their world. Before we conclude, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the conditions under which this book was created. In the late winter of 2020, as many of our authors were beginning to submit their first drafts, a pandemic outbreak of the COVID-19 virus forced all of us—editors, writers, publishers, and participants—into quarantine. All of the programs represented in this anthology were suspended or forced to convert their programming to digital platforms. Without the human connection and community-building of live, in-person theatre, artists and educators were compelled to think, teach, and create in innovative ways. While such a challenge may have offered the gifts of inventiveness, discovery, and reimagination, it came at a high cost for many practitioners, organizations, and participants. As we approach the publication of this book, we recognize that the “coronavirus has laid bare long-standing inequities and vulnerabilities in the institutions and systems that shape our lives ... It has reminded us of what is essential, and it has called on us to reflect on our interconnectedness” (Imagining America 2020). This period simultaneously has marked an international uprising against police brutality and racism in the aftermath of the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade, among others. In this light, we affirm that applied theatre practices, especially with young people looking toward a promising future, can be of great use and inspiration. In the words of Willa J. Taylor, in the roundtable discussion in Part 1: I think coming out of this pandemic, coming out of the devastation of this [Trump] administration, communities are going to have to be rebuilt and helped to heal. Theatre artists, because of how we think, how we make

8 Introduction

our habits of mind, and the way that we can parse difficult conversations, can facilitate those skills that are going to be the most needed to help communities redefine themselves and realize their true potential. (p. 36) We are profoundly grateful to the various authors who diligently labored to bring these pages to fruition, especially under these conditions. This book would also not be possible without the open-hearted, creative student participants in our programs. We thank them all for their fierce work, both on this book and in life.

References and further reading Appiah, K.A. (2020) “The Case for Capitalizing the B in Black,” The Atlantic, 8 June​. Theatlantic​.c​om. Accessed 16 Sept. 2020. https://www​.theatlantic​.com​/ideas​/archive​ /2020​/06​/time​-to​-capitalize​-blackand​-white​/613159/. Baquet, D. and Corbett, P. (2020) “Uppercasing ‘Black.’” The New York Times. 30 June. nytimes​.com​. Accessed 16 Sept. 2020. https://www​.nytco​.com​/press​/uppercasing​ -black/. Bauder, D. (2020) “AP says it will capitalize Black but not white.” AP News. 20 July Accessed 16 Sept. 2020. https://apnews​.com​/7e3​6c00​c5af​0436​abc0​9e05​1261fff1f. Bramer, J.P. (2019) “Digging into the Messy History of ‘Latinx’ Helped Me Embrace My Complex Identity.” Mother Jones. May/June. Accessed 18 Oct. 2020. https://www​ .motherjones​.com​/media​/2019​/06​/digging​-into​-the​-messy​-history​-of​-latinx-​%20​%20​ %20helped​-me​-embrace​-my​-complex​-identity/. brown, a.m. (2019) Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good. Chico, CA: AK Press. Coleman, N. (2020) “Why We’re Capitalizing Black.” The New York Times. 5 July. nytimes​.com​. Accessed 16 Sept. 2020. https://www​.nytimes​.com​/2020​/07​/05​/insider​/ capitalized​-black​.html. Ewing, E.L. (2020) “I’m a Black Scholar Who Studies Race. Here’s Why I Capitalize ‘White.’” 2 July. Accessed 21 Sept. 2020. https://zora​.medium​.com​/im​-a​-black​-scholar​ -who​-studies​-race​-here​-s​-why​-i​-capitalize​-white​-f94883aa2dd3. Freire, P. (2005) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 30th Anniversary Edition. New York and London: Continuum. Garcia, S. (2020) “Where Did BIPOC Come From?” The New York Times. 17 June. nytimes​.com​. Accessed 16 Sept. 2020. https://www​.nytimes​.com​/article​/what​-is​-bipoc​ .html​?smid​=fb​%20nytimes​&smtyp​=cur​&fbclid​=IwA​R2r8​MAAq​VLUE​0pNg​HAtr​ bjK0​gteS​XHxV​gOas​MjbC​HOEA​KlcO​KF0Z​pduTxQ. hooks, b. (1994) Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge. Imagining America (2020) “Call for Participation.” Imaginingamerica​.or​g. Davis, CA. Accessed 18 Sept. 2020. https://imaginingamerica​.org​/what​-we​-do​/imagining​-america​ -national​-gathering​-2​/2020​-collective​-creative​-engagement/. Kaur, H. (2020) “Why People Are Split on Using ‘Latinx.’” CNN. 12 August. Accessed 18 Oct. 2020. https://www​.cnn​.com​/2020​/08​/12​/us​/latinx​-term​-usage​-hispanicstrnd/index​.htm​l. MacDonald-Dennis, A.P. and C. (2021) “BIPOC isn’t doing what you think it’s doing.” Opinion. Newsweek. 9 April. Accessed 19 April 2021.

Introduction  9 bipoc-isnt-doing-what-you-think-its-doing-opinion-1582494? fbclid=lwAR0Maaaszh mrc6HwdfiXhagkgc7TXhargit1lUSHAnFfXQBhjhyw_btFlY8. National Association of Black Journalists (2020) “NABJ Statement on Capitalizing Black and Other Racial Identifiers.” June. Nabj​.or​g. Accessed 16 Sept. 2020. https://www​ .nabj​.org​/page​/styleguide. Nicholson, H. (2014) Applied Drama: The Gift of Theatre, 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Noe-Bustamante, L., et al. (2020) “About One-in-Four U.S. Hispanics Have Heard of Latinx, but Just 3% Use It.” Pew Research. 11 August. Accessed 18 Oct. 2020. https:// www​.pewresearch​.org​/hispanic​/2020​/08​/11​/about​-one​-in​-four​-u​-s​-hispanics​-have​ -heard​-of​-latinx​-but​-just​-3​-use​-it/. Painter, N.I. (2020) “Why ‘White’ Should be Capitalized Too,” The Washington Post. 22 July. Washingtonpost​.co​m. Accessed 16 Sept. 2020. https://www​.washingtonpost​ .com​/opinions​/2020​/07​/22​/why​-white​-should​-be​-capitalized/. Prentki, T. and Preston, S. (eds) (2009) The Applied Theatre Reader. New York: Routledge.

Part 1

Engaging community Professional theatres and youth ensembles


Goodman Theatre Civic practice in service of community Willa J. Taylor

Introduction Recipient of the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, Chicago’s Goodman Theatre is internationally recognized for its artists, productions, and education and engagement programs. Goodman annually produces a nineshow season of classics, contemporary, and new works for the stage that give voice to a wide range of artistic visions. As the Walter Director of Education and Engagement at the Goodman, I create and oversee a portfolio of programs for diverse communities and constituencies. In addition to traditional audience engagement programs found at most theatres (pre- and post-show discussions, artist talks, play readings), we offer arts education programs for youth and arts in education programs for educators. There are also programs intended not for “audience” development but to reach communities who might never set foot in the Goodman (or any theatre) lobby. The breadth of Goodman’s engagement is as varied and far-reaching as the works on stage, and many of them complement or amplify the themes of the productions. What sets the programming apart from most theatres? While Goodman's mission is dedicated to the guiding principles of “quality, diversity and community” (Goodman, 2020), embodying these principles across all our programs has been an intense focus of my work for the past twelve years. My energy has been dedicated to creating programs that challenge the conventional notions of what arts education can be, expanding theatre beyond the boundaries of our stages, and developing community programming that re-defines “engagement” as civic practice. These are tenets of applied theatre, and while my initial introduction to professional theatre came as an actor at age sixteen, my praxis and philosophy of applied theatre were forged by my time at the Living Stage, part of Washington DC’s Arena Stage. Lucky enough to have started my career at Arena under the tutelage of its inimitable founder and artistic director Zelda Fichandler, I was fortunate to work with an organization that helped distinguish applied theatre practices in the US – The Living Stage. Founded by Robert Alexander as an outreach of Arena, the Living Stage Theatre Company began in 1966, dedicating itself to

14  Willa J.Taylor

programming with an emphasis on social change. Its performance style incorporated street and guerilla theatre techniques and was influenced heavily by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed (see Boal, 1993). The small multiracial company came from diverse artistic backgrounds, weaving dance, music, and spoken word into engaging improvisational performances for communities with little-to-no access to the arts. Each play, which was created specifically for its particular audience, dealt with controversial issues of race and inequity, America’s colonialist foreign policies, violence, and freedom. And while the company offered free performances and workshops at their community space in an under-resourced, violence-plagued neighborhood, most of the ensemble’s work took place at sites that included detention centers, senior centers, preschools, and facilities for people with disabilities. Audience participation was essential – as it is in Boal’s Forum Theatre; the ensemble improvised scenes based on issues and concerns from the audience, who were then invited to make decisions or act out possible solutions to the characters’ dilemmas (see Boal, 1992 and 1993). Working with members of the company, I received a different kind of graduate education than the traditional theatre I had grown to love: this was visceral, gut-punch work that challenged and provoked participants to think deeper and differently; rehearsed alternative solutions to problems they faced; and provided space not just for the performance but for understanding how performance techniques could be used to enhance conversations and explore solutions. Living Stage’s work pushed me to expand my ideas of what and who theatre was for and challenged me to redefine how I thought about my discipline: how I could use theatre to facilitate community dialogue, build social inclusions and cohesion, and explore how to create a more just and equitable society. Orrin Sandal, Jennifer Nelson, Rebeca Rice, Ezra Knight, and Robert Alexander taught me that theatre could be about process and not product, that it could influence how people see themselves, and that it could foment change. They insisted that it was more than a set of skills and techniques for the stage, but also praxis that could empower all people to be engaged citizens and use their voices to make a difference. They helped me learn how to listen to communities that are often unheard; they taught me how to facilitate processes for exploring complex issues; they insisted that the tools used to rehearse and prepare for a performance are the same ones I could use to engage youth in exploring their identities. I have never forgotten those lessons. Their practice of what would come to be called “applied theatre” has become the undergirding principle for every program I have developed. Living Stage’s ethos lives in all the work I have done since leaving Arena Stage: in the inaugural education programs created for Lincoln Center Theatre and the New Victory Theatre, for projects on- and off-Broadway, and now at Goodman Theatre. Like Living Stage, the Goodman believes the arts must be a catalyst for positive social change. Due to the primacy of our work as storytellers, we know that stories are how we learn who we are, where we have been, and allow us

Civic practice in service of community  15

to imagine the world we want to live in. In a similar vein, we see stories as another tool in our applied theatre arsenal, a way to explore our similarities and differences so we can begin to work together to build equity and demand justice. Goodman’s thirteen education and engagement programs run the gamut from teacher training to pre-professional development for young musical theatre artists. Goodman programs seek to make a positive change in the communities we serve: From a collaboration with Disney Musicals in Schools to GeNarrations, a personal narrative storytelling program for adults fifty-five and older; from our signature Stage Chemistry—a series of interactive hands-on workshops that explore a specific STEM concept that is evident in the show onstage—to the community-focused NOURISH, where Goodman staff and artists mentor community projects.

Why applied theatre with youth? The Goodman’s practice of arts-as-education (using the process of artistic creation to empower youth) reframes the place of the arts in civic discourse to center social justice and social change as the barometer by which we measure success. The arts-as-education philosophy deeply roots applied theatre practices and habits of mind alongside the more traditional models of arts education and arts in education. Arts education generally focuses on learning to make arts (taking a sculpture class, studying voice), and arts in education emphasizes the use of the arts in non-arts classrooms across the curriculum. However, we believe that the practice of, experience of, and making of the arts can be used effectively in service of social change. Theatre practices are especially good at engaging young people because of the art form’s immediacy and dialogic nature. In its performative mode, it is a conversation with the audience. Each performance is unique because the feedback from the audience (laughter, gasps, call and response, applause) is different each time. In its process, while collaborative, it is introspective and diacritical. Individual improvement in each technique and skill, such as creating a character, analyzing a text, lighting a scene, engages habits of mind essential for critical thinking. These habits of finding meaning, imagining, planning, close examination, questioning, and persevering serve participants far beyond the rehearsal room, contributing to their ability to collaborate, celebrate, and embrace ambiguity and multiple perspectives. Applied theatre coalesces these attributes and focuses them through a lens of civic practice. It insists theatre practitioners activate their talents in service of community, teaching them to apply creative solutions to community problems. As Nina Simone famously said, “An artist’s duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times” (2013). Using an applied theatre approach as the basis for all our youth programs, centers their voices as agents of change, develops their ability to transfer the tools of artmaking to change-making, challenges assumed knowledge, and continually interrogates the “why” of the world.

16  Willa J.Taylor

The programs Goodman’s programs include workshops and training done both on site at our theatre, in neighborhoods in partnership with community organizations, and in juvenile detention facilities in the Chicagoland area. During the school year, our work is primarily focused on teacher training by practicing applied theatre techniques, including Theatre of the Oppressed, that enhance educators’ capacity to transform their teaching. Two youth-centered programs, however, employ applied theatre to emphasize community involvement and leadership: the Cindy Bandle Young Critics (CBYC) program and the Goodman Youth Arts Council (GYAC), offer opportunities for youth to develop their leadership capacities and writing skills. CBYC, a writing-focused workshop for tenth and eleventh grade girls, partners young women with professional journalists as mentors, to explore the power of their voices. Participants hone their critical and analytical skills through writing assignments. Through sociometric activities and theatre games, they learn to dissect media, parse facts, build persuasive arguments, and write compelling stories. As young critics, they review every Goodman show for their school and neighborhood papers, focusing on how the issues in the production play out in real life to impact their lives. They have applied their skills to advocate for arts programs in their schools and to raise money and in-kind contributions for Streetwise, a newspaper enterprise that engages homeless people as writers, couriers, and distributors. Goodman’s Youth Arts Council is composed of youth who have previously participated in a Goodman program and are selected by their peers to serve as ambassadors for the theatre. Civic service is a large component of their leadership development, and the YACs have offered workshops for young children, volunteered at senior centers and nursing homes, organized food and clothing drives, and marched with striking public-school teachers. Having been introduced to applied theatre in other programs, they work to hone their abilities to facilitate conversations with their peers and encourage them to become more civically involved, as well as create opportunities for intergenerational political action. When school ends, our efforts pivot to summer programming that is explicitly for youth ages fourteen to twenty-four. PlayBuild is a seven-week devising workshop for youth ages fourteen to eighteen, designed to develop habits like resilience, perseverance, and ensemble-creation through theatre-making. A cohort of eighty teens from across the Chicagoland area and the suburbs spend four days a week using applied theatre methods to explore issues of identity, history, and present-day societal concerns. Each group is carefully constructed for gender parity and to be as diverse as possible geographically, ethnically, racially, and economically. Through an ensemble-style audition, students are chosen for their willingness to make creative choices, take direction, and work as a group. Because the work is physical and emphasizes integrating thoughts and actions intentionally, program participants learn to embody who they are by actively

Civic practice in service of community  17

exploring choices and responses instead of just talking about them. Sociometric activities like Spectrum, where participants place themselves along a line in response to a binary prompt (i.e., “I believe in love at first sight; I don’t believe in love at first sight”), sensitizes them to group social dynamics while making apparent factors that motivate individual choices, both others’ and their own. Drawn from psychodrama, it facilitates an understanding of the relationship between oneself and the power one has to the current social and political moment. Musical Theatre Intensive (MTI), which runs concurrently with PlayBuild each summer, is a pre-professional training program for teens interested in pursuing musical theatre as a career. Focused more on skill development, students are chosen through a more rigorous audition process where they perform a monologue and a song. Yet even within this more traditional arts education program (students study dance, voice and music, scriptwriting, and acting) applied theatre techniques inform the philosophical underpinnings of the training. These techniques help participants explore their identities and the summer’s socially relevant theme, like 2018’s I Too Sing America, which was a pointed critique of politics of exclusion, racial hatred, and transphobia. Using 1960s protest songs and original spoken word poetry, students built a final production that was exemplary of Nina Simone’s dictate. Both summer programs culminate in public performances, but PlayBuild and MTI are more about the process than the production. In final evaluations, students consistently comment that by the end of their time with us, they feel more secure in who they are (which helps them resist peer-pressure), understand how to advocate for themselves and others, and be more confident. Classroom teachers, who help promote the programs in their schools, have informally commented to staff that students return to school more focused, more secure, and more mature. Parents/guardians are especially complimentary in formal evaluations of the changes they’ve witnessed. This is our measure of the programs’ success, not the applause at the end of performances. Applied theatre techniques of questioning (i.e., “Why do I believe what I do?”), discussing issues (e.g., immigration and nationalism), role-playing, improvisation, and tableaux (still images of physical postures created by the participants based on prompts), allow teaching artists and staff to facilitate a process of discovery that is more open and in-depth than in educational settings. Each activity is followed by a participant-only debrief: how it felt; what they discovered; what is different now than they thought previously. This encourages meta-cognition, celebrates honesty, and coaches empathy. Participant input is essential to the structure of all our programs but especially for our work with young people in the summer. While it takes a few weeks for them to take ownership of the process, by week three they begin to understand the collaborative professional environment we work to establish. PlayBuild and MTI participants sign a contract that details the rules by which we work, and we emphasize that they are the same rules around absences, lateness, unwillingness to follow directions, as any performer working for the Goodman. These agreements also outline the consequences for non-compliance, which can be

18  Willa J.Taylor

dismissal from the program. As such, program staff continually set examples of professional behavior. When situations arise where staff must intervene, students are referred to their agreements and take ownership of their behaviors. In its twelve summers, fewer than seven participants have ever been dismissed from programs. Participants have a higher level of autonomy with us; they write the stories, choose the songs, devise characters and scenarios. Staff treat them as artistic peers, and they respond in kind: Youth take ownership of the program, their behavior, and comport themselves maturely. This too represents success to us. Success has been more difficult to define when we try to employ applied theatre in environments where participation, or at least attendance, is mandated. With the aforementioned programs, a critical tenet of success is autonomy. Each participant chooses to be a part of the program, and each person learns how to own their agency. When we have worked in juvenile detention facilities, we found that physical behavior, language, and comportment can be so restricted and proscribed that it is almost impossible to have genuine interaction and exploration. Moreover, discussions of systemic inequity or power dynamics are forbidden, leaving detainees unable to fully express themselves in the work. Sustained contact with detainees has proven difficult; one way supervisors control behavior is by restricting privileges, such as partaking in our workshops. Even when we have consistent attendance, detainees must conform to the rules of the facility. They have no autonomy to set behavior agreements and are unwilling to have open discussions with guards and detention facility personnel ever present. Applied theatre practices have not been effective in these constricted environments. As a result, Goodman has opted to discontinue work in detention facilities and pursue collaborations with aftercare programs that support youth returning from detention with education, offering counseling, job training, and mentoring to reduce recidivism and promote positive youth development. We have worked with youth in a Cook County Sheriff’s mentoring program to help them develop analysis of carceral systems and use role-play techniques to assist deputies in engaging with young Black males in the communities they serve. Both mentors and mentees agree to participate over the eight-week program and to hold each other accountable for attendance. Each pair is assigned readings and media about incarceration and about the US penal system to discuss in class. During workshops, participants choose a specific passage from the assignment that personally resonates with them and then work with a teaching artist to recreate their selected material through role-play. This role-play allows both mentors and mentees to understand the impact of the selected material as performance, providing emotional distance to explore the information, find commonalities, and discuss differing perspectives. Image Theatre (Boal, 1992) helps both parties examine how they are perceived, how to alter their physical presentation to change the perception, and to rehearse alternative ways of engaging with each other. Learning to code-switch, to present differently in different situations, is a tool that allows both sheriffs and youth to be in

Civic practice in service of community  19

relationship with one another without the perception of being inauthentic or losing street-cred. Our work partnering with another community organization brings to bear applied theatre processes to expand the capacities of young Black males. The Dovetail Project works with young fathers 17-24, to foster the skills and support they need to be better fathers and better men in their communities. Because participants are from communities where systemic disinvestment, poor schools, racist housing policies, and violence have had a deleterious impact, many of the young men have had some involvement with the criminal justice system. Moving through their worlds requires a hardened veneer of emotional detachment that can be difficult to lower, but neither their behavior nor their participation is as constricted as it is in detention facilities, which makes it more efficacious to examine systems of oppression and inequity. With Dovetail, Goodman teaching staff use theatre to help participants develop skills to gain employment and to conduct themselves during encounters with police. Improvisation, Forum Theatre, Playback Theatre (see Salas, 2019), and role-playing have been effective with both these objectives. A principal element of our employment training with Dovetail is facilitating each participant’s personal narrative: What information should be shared in an interview? How do you explain a deficient employment or education history? How can you convince a prospective employer that you are the right hire even though your application or resume doesn’t make the case? Because establishing trust among the group is essential, the first four-hour session is primarily about ensemble-building. Using the sociometric exercises we use in our other programs – role-play, social mapping, Four Corners, and Spectrum (see Schulten, 2015) – the young men explore their commonalities, discuss their shared experiences, and build collective agreements that introduce concepts foundational to creating a brave space in which to work. Ground rules such as “Don’t yuk my yum” [just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean I’m wrong], “one mic” [one person talking at a time], and “4B4Me” [don’t hog the conversation] become second nature as we progress. Each is a way to understand being non-judgmental, of allowing space for reticent voices, and for honoring every person’s voice. By the end of the first session, participants have developed a short story about their lives that will be used over the remaining three sessions. Session two introduces tableaux and Boal’s Rituals and Masks (see Boal, 1992). Much like commedia dell’arte, young men explore concepts like power, authority, masculinity, and vulnerability while using masks associated with a particular occupation, status, or class. Masks encourage a sense of play and fun and help decouple their own identity from the characters they are creating. Constructing images to convey meaning also allows more introverted participants a way to contribute without the pressure of language. Building flipbooks, or sequential single tableaux of a concept, helps the young men start to interrogate concepts like inequity and positional authority, or confidence

20  Willa J.Taylor

and doubt, and physicalize them to learn how to deploy them in the “performance” of interviewing. Role-playing and Forum Theatre are used in later sessions to get the Dovetail men to rehearse alternative performances of masculinity. Because the primary purpose of Dovetail is to teach young men how to be better fathers to their children, we build scenarios that require them to be vulnerable, dissect what that means for their individual identities and street cred, and explore the experience of being more emotionally available. Building on the stories they have crafted for the job interviews, they now experiment with how to tell the story for a different audience, themselves, and each other. Because writing does not come naturally to some of the young men, the staff works to capture a cohesive narrative on paper. Here, Playback Theatre is useful. The young men learn to tell/narrate their constructed story as teaching artists and fellow participants improvise a performance of it. It elucidates intent, ensures clarity of the story, and allows the young men opportunities to reclaim their often-negative narratives as stories of challenge, resilience, and perseverance. Applying these techniques and developing an awareness of themselves as “spect-actors,” both audience and actor (Boal, 1992, p. 30), in their lives, helps them articulate a different paradigm of who they are, not just for a prospective employer but for themselves. And as they learn to tell the story in multiple ways, and to multiple audiences, they begin to see how they model behaviors and attitudes for their children.

Conclusion Although the techniques, activities, and exercises are the same across PlayBuild, MTI, and Dovetail, structurally there are significant differences that demand different approaches and considerations for facilitation. In the spaces where youth choose to engage, facilitation can be more pliable and nuanced. With PlayBuild and MTI, where cohorts are carefully constructed to be diverse in age, race, gender identity, and geography, facilitation can focus on individual growth. Regarding Dovetail, an exclusive Black male cohort with little exposure to arts as a learning tool, facilitators must factor in the building of a common vocabulary before the work can start and stress the transferability of artistic practices to life skills. Youth in our summer programs attend high school and are passing, if not achieving academic success. Many of the young men from Dovetail have either dropped out, have struggled to graduate, or are working towards a GED [General Educational Development, a high school equivalency certificate]. The capacity to visualize different outcomes seems a critical component of the successful application of theatre. And while the experiences and backgrounds of these youth are disparate, individual identity is an issue all participants struggle with. Our programs provide youths positive models of success to which they can aspire. The Goodman Theatre’s extensive programs share the common goal of making heard those whose voices are often marginalized or silenced.

Civic practice in service of community  21

Participants learn the value of their stories, stories that hold history and context for our culture and society. These stories reveal truths not necessarily found – or not included – in public records or cultural venues. When they embody this knowledge, they get to see differently, understanding themselves and others in new ways. They practice ways of being that are more equitable, empathetic, and more just, thereby envisioning new ways to transform our world.

References Boal, A. (1992) Adrian Jackson trans. Games for Actors and Non-Actors. London and New York: Routledge. Boal, A. (1993) Charles A. McBride trans. Theatre of the Oppressed. New York: Theatre Communications Group. Goodman Theatre (2020) “Mission Statement.” Accessed 30 April 2020. https://www​ .goodmantheatre​.org​/about/. Salas, J. (2019) Improvising Real Life: Personal Story in Playback Theatre. New York: Tusitala. Schulten, K. (2015) “Skills and Strategies | The Four-Corners Exercise to Inspire Writing and Discussion.” The Learning Network, NY Times, 10 Dec. Accessed 18 May 2020. learning​.blogs​.nytimes​.com​/2015​/12​/10​/skills​-and​-strategies​-the​-four​-corners​-exercise​ -to​-inspire​-writing​​-and​-discussion/. Simone, N. (2013) “Nina Simone: An Artist's Duty,” YouTube. Released by the Estate of Nina Simone, 21 Feb. Accessed 3 May 2020. https://www​.youtube​.com​/watch​?v​ =99V0mMNf5fo.


Playmaking through polycultural partnerships Claro de los Reyes, Marion Lopez, and Amikogaabawiikwe (Adrienne M. Benjamin)

In 2019, the NYC-based Atlantic Pacific Theatre (APT) collaborated with Project Mezichigejig (PM), a community-arts program based in the Mille Lacs Reservation in Central Minnesota, to engage community members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to explore, celebrate, and creatively present local stories. Amikogaabawiikwe (Adrienne Benjamin) created this partnership as a response to the lack of accessibility to cultural programming for youth on the Mille Lacs Reservation. PM strives to offer youth in the Mille Lacs Reservation experiences that encourage hopeful visions of their potential to accomplish things beyond their purview. Benjamin and PM see theatre and other artistic practices as a means for the youth to express their unique perspective and analyze struggles related to a long history of collective colonization attempts and strong cultural perseverance experienced by the Anishinaabe tribes and other Indigenous tribes across the US. Benjamin’s interest in integrating theatre into PM’s program led her to reach out to APT and its founder Claro de los Reyes. They first met as cohort members of a 2016 fellowship program on social entrepreneurship and have maintained a creative relationship, conversing about the parallels between the cultural and colonial trauma that continue to affect Indigenous peoples in the United States and territories affected by the history of American Imperialism; de los Reyes was born in the Philippines and often situates his work through a critical postcolonial framework. APT is an independent theatre company established in 2018 that creates theatre, public history programming, and community-engaged art experiences for and with communities of color in NYC and beyond. In preparation for the project, the APT facilitators worked closely with Benjamin alongside Naawakwe William Howes III, a Minnesota-based Ojibwe language educator who supports PM’s goal of integrating Ojibwe culture and language instruction throughout all aspects of their programming. They and others on the PM team curated a shortlist of texts and online resources to help APT understand the community context. Throughout the partnership, PM provided APT facilitators informal guided tours and site visits to local institutions like the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, and the Nay Ah Shing School, a tribal school that provides education services in Ojibwe

Playmaking through polycultural partnerships  23

language, culture, tradition, skills, and history for reservation youth. These visits gave APT facilitators the ability to engage more deeply with the community’s local culture and to view its history in a broader context. According to Benjamin, the Mille Lacs Anishinaabeg’s strength is, and always has been, their resiliency. The Anishinaabeg are a people whose cultural identity and beliefs are deeply tied to their surroundings and the natural world, manifest in the work of community artists, where there is little, if any, disconnect between Anishinaabe artistry and existence. The communities that make up the Mille Lacs Reservation are small and near some of the most gorgeous landscapes that Minnesota has to offer. The art created here echoes the place, beliefs, and even food processes. There is a rich appreciation of this vibrant art within this community in beadwork, dance, birch bark crafting, woodworking, fiber work, looming, and leather work. However, many members become pigeon-holed or remain unappreciated in mainstream culture due to the nonacceptance and oftentimes widespread appropriation of Native/Indigenous art.

The project design The 2019 APT x PM Playmaking Project was composed of two week-long residencies. Prior to beginning sessions, collaborators in New York and Minnesota participated in a series of virtual planning meetings to align their missions and visions. The PM team also shared information around cultural context (i.e., taboos, norms, etc.) for APT to consider in their planning. For example, Benjamin cautioned the APT team to avoid using activities where participants perform death, simulate dead bodies on stage, or even portray death in a fictitious context of a drama or theatre game; doing so could violate Anishinaabe cultural beliefs. Also, Benjamin reminded the APT team that the participants were likely to have very little exposure to western style theatre traditions and practices. In July 2019, the first residency focused on a two-pronged approach: 1) daily theatre and playwriting sessions with the youth participants; and 2) evening acting workshops for adults. The first sessions were devoted to group building, assessing the community, and introducing the basics of theatre. APT’s de los Reyes actively encouraged all in the room, including PM staff, to participate; this was a strategy to both model participation for the youth and to forward the intergenerational benefits implicit in the project’s goals. Ojibwe language instructors Naawakwe (William Howes III) and Nenaaw (Charles Smith) were constantly available to support and integrate creative but simple moments of Ojibwe language in the overall facilitation. Next, youth participants were led through a series of writing exercises to generate content and script analysis to gain literacy on playwriting techniques. The week’s aim was to have each youth participant write an original tenminute play. The youth playwrights were given free range over the content of their plays with two caveats: 1) the plays should be set in the Mille Lacs or Minnesota; and 2) the playwrights should integrate at least several words or

24  de los Reyes, Lopez, and Amikogaabawiikwe

phrases of Ojibwe. In the evenings, adult community participants attended improvisation and scene study workshops designed to prepare them to serve as actors for the staged reading of the youth’s plays. The reading was held in the library of the Nay Ah Shing School, attended by family members, friends, and tribal leaders from the community. Varied in genre, tone, and plot, the plays expressed diverse perspectives and creative approaches to sharing original stories: a young man’s dream to be a celebrity rap musician; a homeless Native man from Minneapolis winning a lottery ticket after a good deed, tobacco offering, and prayer; a Native orphan boy’s reunion with his biological parents; a father and son’s struggle with practical family expectations against non-traditional college aspirations; and a Native girl’s dream to become a professional basketball player. A facilitated talkback offered the youth participants the opportunity to relay their experiences participating in the program. In late August 2019, de los Reyes returned to the Mille Lacs Reservation accompanied by Marion Lopez, an APT company member who served as cofacilitator. Designed for the youth to explore the themes of culture, memory, and multiple perceptions of their community, this session built on the skills developed in the first residency through two segments: 1) devised theatre activities; and 2) rehearsals for the youth plays developed in week one. The week’s early sessions were devoted to ensemble activities to re-engage the group and also to invite new youth members into the process. The APT facilitators curated activities under the umbrella questions: How do we define Mille Lacs, our community? How do outsiders define it? As the week progressed, the Mille Lacs Ojibwe youth creatively investigated perceptions about Mille Lacs and their thoughts about its local assets: its natural environment, its local economy (i.e., the casino, businesses, etc.), and the role of their own Ojibwe cultural history and tradition within it. Some ideas explored the misconceptions about Indigenous communities and how internalization of these concepts can lie in contradiction to the value and beauty of the rich cultural traditions of the tribe. Other ideas were celebrations of local culture, like food traditions and beadwork. These ideas would serve as the source material for the devised vignettes. Furthermore, de los Reyes and Lopez facilitated workshop sessions that exposed the youth participants to a range of performance techniques, including tableaux, object theatre, stage pictures, and scene study. Moments of Ojibwe language practice were again integrated into the workshops, but to a lesser degree, due to the limited presence of the language instructors during this phase of the project. Nonetheless, de los Reyes and Lopez integrated simple Ojibwe phrases when introducing themselves, i.e., “Claro indizhinikaaz” (“my name is Claro”). Another technique used was the simple integration of Ojibwe words into theatre activities. For instance, a rhythm game, “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,” in which participants move to different spots in the circle and take on a different name, was adapted with Ojibwe names of local animals found in the Mille Lacs area: Makwa (Bear), Animosh (Dog), Migizi (Eagle), and Zhingos (Weasel).

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The second half of each session was devoted to play rehearsals for the week’s culminating event, entitled Lakeside Stories: a presentation of original theatre and short plays by youth and community members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. The youth performed for family, friends, community members, and tribal leaders in a hotel on the reservation alongside adult community members who served as actors.

Challenges and opportunities When considering obstacles within this project, it is important to contextualize how historical oppressions continue to affect everyday life. PM’s Benjamin states that the major needs of this community are a direct result of oppressive policies and lack of adherence to treaty law by the United States. The national opioid crisis has hit especially hard here, and as is true for Native/Indigenous youth across the country, graduation rates are extremely low compared to other ethnic groups in the area. Loss of traditional language is a major factor in the disconnect from identity and cross-generational learning. All of these immense losses, internalized traumas, and educational barriers have trickled down for generations producing these on-going community outcomes. This context affected the program’s trajectory in various ways. PM supportstaff members often had to negotiate schedule conflicts that limited their time to actively support the project’s daily workshops. Participant recruitment and retention dramatically ebbed and flowed throughout the project, and inconsistent participant attendance severely limited the ability to prepare and rehearse a youth-led show. It may be easy to oversimplify these obstacles as limitations of capacity or participant apathy, but a deeper analysis is needed on how local cultural phenomena and historical disenfranchisement continues to influence the Mille Lacs Reservation, and how the community engages with projects like the 2019 APT x PM Playmaking Project. Benjamin notes that the community is in a rural location, and there’s distance between service areas within the reservation boundaries. Also, there’s a lack of exposure to a multicultural world, public school failures, and a lack of appreciation for alternative art disciplines and practices due strictly to the aforementioned lack of exposure, training, or activity. The project has therefore revealed to APT the vital need to understand the history of colonization and its continuing effects on the personal and collective psyche of the community and how this may shape the model and preparation needed to facilitate further applied theatre projects in the Mille Lacs Reservation. Understanding the context of the area requires an examination of the culture and specific histories that continue to shape not only Indigenous communities like the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe but that also shape the approach and aesthetics of the visiting educators and artists. It would be advantageous for future applied theatre projects in the area to allow for an elongated preparation time that could be used to further engage community partners, spend more

26  de los Reyes, Lopez, and Amikogaabawiikwe

time visiting the community, expand the role of the language experts, and continue the rigorous and necessary process of de-colonizing approaches in the context of Indigenous communities. The 2019 APT x PM Playmaking Project was created with the intention to create a space for this community to untangle and uphold the inherent wonders of their culture on their own terms. Consistent with the approach of the Goodman Theatre’s Department of Education and Engagement, the project placed a value on engaging youth participants who have had little-to-no experience with theatre-making and welcoming them into a process of analyzing the social context around them through theatre. A participant-centered pedagogy often requires a programmatic malleability when recognizing circumstances that prevent participants from fully participating. Throughout the residency, APT maintained a flexible and transparent partnership with PM, making necessary adjustments to implement the project’s design. Despite alterations made due to logistical hurdles, the project maintained its unwavering commitment to center its focus on creating youth-driven theatre through a local lens while integrating Ojibwe language into all aspects of the practice.


Unleashing the untold story The Carpetbag Theatre Inc. and the legacy of the T.R.Y. Ensemble Joe Tolbert Jr.

In her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, Zora Neale Hurston proclaimed, “There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you” (2017 [1942]).1 The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc. is a professional ensemble theatre company founded in 1969 in Knoxville, TN to give artistic voice to the issues and dreams of those who have been silenced by oppression. Our work is rooted in the Black Arts Movement, which envisioned the liberation of Black people. In her essay in this volume, Willa J. Taylor asserts, “Due to the primacy of our work as storytellers, we know that stories are how we learn who we are, where we have been, and allow us to imagine the world we want to live in” (pp. 14-15). Likewise, storytelling is foundational to Carpetbag. We believe that deeply listening creates space to embrace the hardest parts of our stories and discover the freedom of healing amidst the pain. For our world to be transformed, we believe young people must be central to this process; therefore, we have crafted programs to help them unleash the stories they have within. Carpetbag’s Theater Renaissance for Youth (T.R.Y.) Ensemble is one such program. T.R.Y. replaces traditional hierarchies where adults engage with young people with more equitable interactions. The youth drive the process, including themes to investigate, while the adults (called “adult allies”) help build the container in which the exploration takes place. When considering our methodology, I can’t help but think back to the summer of 2003 when I was a member of T.R.Y., and how it helped me transform personal pain into power and purpose. Our acceptance into T.R.Y. came with firm expectations associated with a paid job in the arts: to arrive on time, with assignments completed. An additional intention of the program was to equip us with life skills, like time management, public speaking, and facilitation. While prepared for this commitment, little did I know that between my application, acceptance, and beginning the program, my loved one, Sean Gillespie, would lose his life at the hands of an officer of the Knoxville Police Department. I also did not know that T.R.Y. would be the balm I needed to make sense of what was happening inside of my fifteen-year-old mind and how that experience colored my view of the world around me. One thing is true about ensemble work: everything moves at “the speed of trust.”2 Our gatherings started with a “check-in” ritual to acknowledge what

28  Joe Tolbert Jr.

we may be bringing into the space. We would gather in a circle, cell phones and other distractions put away. One person would choose to begin sharing, then select the direction in which the process continued. Once someone was finished, they would say “checked in.” I remember feeling unsettled; the act of being listened to was uncomfortable. But this ritual taught us how to use our voices to express what was on our minds and to listen deeply to others—two critical aspects to developing an ensemble. Once our day’s work was finished, we did this same process to check out. The first week focused on solidifying the group. Various icebreakers helped us get to know each other and teach performance skills such as projecting our voices, following stage directions, and improvising—for example, “Shabooya Roll Call,” featured in the film Get on the Bus (1996). “Step into the circle if … ,” which shows commonalities and differences between ensemble members, taught us how we can be authentic to ourselves while also allowing others the space to do so. Once the group began to cohere, we moved to storytelling. We discussed what a story is and the importance of telling our stories—how stories shape our world and how we see ourselves in it. We learned that stories are not politically neutral, and that artistic practice is an activist practice. I could not help thinking about my loved one and the media portrayals of not only him, but of all the Black men and women in this country and how these narratives shape the way we are seen by others. We then engaged in our first rounds of story circles. Learned from John O’Neal of Free Southern Theater and Junebug Productions, this activity allows communities to share stories and to note the systems that animate them. We started with prompts that were light and celebratory, such as, “Tell me a story about a time when you did something you didn’t think you could do?” We picked a timekeeper; someone self-selected to begin sharing. Afterward, we discussed the commonalities between our stories, which led to the theme that the ensemble would explore. Since my cohort were all born and raised in Knoxville, we decided to explore what home meant to us. That summer’s focus was multimedia performance. The story circle process became the first step in the creation of a short personal narrative combining moving and still images, a voiceover, and a soundtrack. The next round of story circles addressed our theme with the prompt, “Tell me a story about what Knoxville means to you.” I thought about what happened to my loved one. As the stories went around the circle, I felt the knots in my stomach. I had to unleash this story from inside me. It was now my turn. There was a pause. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. There were affirmations from the group reassuring me that I could do this. I took a deep breath: Shared how my mom woke me up with the refrain, “Sean is dead. Sean is dead.” How I rushed to put on clothes. How we drove past the gas station. Yellow police tape boxing in his car in the parking space where the fatal event occurred. How the cops pulled their guns on him. How he reached for his cell phone. How I thought this only happened in the more urban centers of this country. How my Knoxville will forever be one of hurt and pain. Exhale.

Unleashing the untold story  29

Through the facilitation of the adult allies, we reframed the stories by engaging in dialogue. Reframing doesn’t change what has happened; rather it helps individuals and communities make new meanings by changing how we think about our story in the larger context of our culture,3 specifically the underlying systems of power. Up until that point, I had taken the position of the victim. Everything was enacted upon me and my loved ones. I felt powerlessness, but reframing this story helped me to find my agency in the tragedy. It showed me that I have a choice: accept things as they were, or work towards change and use my story to inspire others to action. We next wrote our stories down for the voiceover recording. Creative writing classes addressed ways to achieve the desired outcome from the listener. For my story, I wanted those who had experienced this first-hand to know that they were not alone, and for those who had not, to perceive beyond the way Black men are framed as thugs and criminals, to see that Sean was a husband and father who lived and loved. Then came several rounds of feedback that the storyteller could choose to integrate as we learned to convey emotion for dramatic effect. The creative device I used for my story was repetition to add emphasis. After recording, we chose images, which provided a moment of teaching media literacy: thinking critically about the media we consume and how it colors our worldview. I thought of how negative images of Black men live in the social imagination of this country, how what is believed to be true based on those images could have been a factor in why the officer didn’t wait to see that it was a cell phone, and how that cell phone became a gun in the hands of a criminal. Our digital process ended by selecting the soundtrack to hold it all together and provide the mood. We learned the basics of video editing and, as a closing moment of celebration, we screened our digital stories for each other. We finally turned to the art of performing. Assessing the artistic interests and talents of the group, we had dancers, singers, poets, and rappers, whose abilities became the building blocks of a multimedia performance. In addition to learning the core aesthetic practices of the Carpetbag Theatre, which includes storytelling, soundscaping, and music, we studied creative writing, movement, and voice to develop our overall script. The final product was a multimedia performance built upon our digital stories. Each of our contributions was rooted in our strengths, while stretching us to grow beyond our comfort limits. Getting our stories on their feet was a difficult process for me. I began to wonder if this was the wrong story to tell. But each act of telling became easier, because I knew I had the encouragement of the adult allies, and most importantly, my fellow ensemble members. We created a tapestry of spoken word, poetry, songs, and chants that supported the messages that were in our digital stories and showed the many complications and joys that represented our view of our Knoxville home. The program culminated in a Youth Theatre Festival with groups from across the city. The performances began, and with each one I became more nervous. How would people respond to my part? What if I get up there and

30  Joe Tolbert Jr.

become so overwhelmed, I just stand there and cry? Now it was our turn. I recalled the support of the adult allies and my ensemble members who believed in me. In learning about the artist’s practice as activist practice, I saw that telling my story put me in line with a long history of Black artistic resistance. I did it. We bowed to the audience’s cheers. I felt the power that comes with exercising my agency and voice. Many of us hold our painful stories inside, because we fear that the systems we combat will dismiss them or because we would rather not face the pain that comes with declaring our truth. Facing my pain and unleashing the untold story within me allowed me to find pathways to healing. It let those in my community who resonated with this story know that they were not alone. In addition to performing, we facilitated the process that we had experienced over the summer for the participants of the festival, demonstrating how Carpetbag’s method imparts life skills. We learned what it means to be a facilitator, to speak publicly to an audience, and to guide them. Later, as opportunities presented themselves, we would share this workshop with other community youth organizations. Staying true to our Black Arts Movement roots and a belief in artistic practice as activist practice, our adult allies introduced us to organizations that showed us that young people have a place in community organizing. We were taken on civil rights trips to Atlanta, The Highlander Research and Education Centers’ Seeds of Fire camp, and the US Social Forum, to name a few. This helped us to develop leadership and engagement in the community as participants, not passive observers. Retrospectively considering the success of this work, I am confronted with the questions: “How do you measure healing? How do you measure personal and communal transformation?” I was able to confront my difficult story and to reclaim it. To reclaim something is to repossess something that was taken. Dominant stereotypes of Black men robbed Sean of the ability to show that he was none of the dangerous things that led the officer to pull the trigger. Sharing my story gave Sean and other Black people the dignity they are often denied. I developed as a leader who was able to understand the power of my voice to inspire the community members who would hear it. Now that I am leading young people through this process as an adult ally, it is amazing to see the transformation that occurs in our youth and our communities when the stories that have held them hostage are given back to them through performance. Success is seeing them find freedom in setting their story free.

Notes 1 This quote was later made famous by Maya Angelou. 2 According to adrienne maree brown, this phrase is Mervyn Marcano’s remix of Stephen Covey’s concept (see brown, 2017, p. 42). 3 For more on reframing, see Carson (2006).

Unleashing the untold story  31

References brown, a.m. (2017) Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. Chico, CA: Oakland Press. Carson, J. (2006) Spider Speculations: A Physics and Biophysics of Storytelling. New York: Theatre Communications Group. Hurston, Z.N. (2017 [1942]) XI. “Books and Things.” Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston, from Project Gutenberg Canada. 22 Dec. Accessed 12 Nov. 2020. https:// gutenberg​.ca​/ebooks​/hurstonzn​-dusttracksonaroad​/hurstonzn​-dusttracksonaroad​-00​-h​ .html. O’Neal, J. (n.d.) “Story Circle Discussion Paper,” Junebug Productions. Accessed 3 August 2020. https://www​.junebugproductions​.org​/story​-circle.

Roundtable discussion with Amikogaabawiikwe (Adrienne Benjamin), Chris Ceraso, Claro de los Reyes, Marion Lopez, Willa J. Taylor, and Joe Tolbert Jr. Chris: How do professional theatres identify community partners with whom they can be effective? Claro: We would have never gone to the Mille Lacs community if Adrienne hadn’t invited us. It didn’t come from our saying, “Oh, we want to work with this community in need, and we’re going to create a proposal.” Marion: That’s a core part of APT’S mission. We don’t select partners on our own. With that comes the inherent assumption that we are adding something to a community that we know nothing about. What was beautiful about this partnership is that Adrienne and Project Mezichigejig were looking to fulfill a mission, and they thought that we might be a great fit. Joe: For Carpetbag it’s all about values. Some of the things we’ve presented and are planning to present aren’t the status quo that gets supported. We have to be clear on the front end about our guiding principles. Partnerships also mean survival. The organizations in our communities are oftentimes just as underfunded as we are. Once we are aligned, we figure out points of mutual benefit, and then move forward with artistic and creative endeavors. For example, a lot of the entertainment that we get in Knoxville doesn’t consider local artists, and so we partnered with local community organizations and did a roaming salon series so that people could know the assets in their community. Chris: Willa, Goodman is a very large organization with many different programs. Willa: Just to be clear with “very large:” we’re very old and we’re very white. And in Chicago. With over 250 theatres, funders will give money to Goodman before they give money to any culturally specific organization. I try to think about what organizations could use the light of the Goodman to shine on them. How can we introduce them to funders or to some of our board members? Chris: You speak in your essay of the fact that you have chosen not to work inside incarceration facilities— Willa: I believe we do some things very well and others, we don’t. And one of the things we don’t do well, because we’re a large old institution, is move rapidly and change quickly. To get people to understand how very

Part 1 roundtable discussion  33

differently we need to work in an incarcerated environment became a lift. The workaround for me was to work with people who were formerly incarcerated. It was a huge struggle to get the institutional funders, who were used to just funding plays and bringing in busloads of cute little Black and brown children for photo ops, to understand that’s the least of the work you ought to be doing for the money if you are going to pride yourself on being a good corporate citizen. Chris: How do you both follow and guide youth? Joe: I think of it as building a container. They have knowledge. We need to be willing to say, “There are things that I don’t know about the current cultural context that we’re in, the things that young people are experiencing.” And there are things that we know that we are going to take them through. For instance, we know that we’re going to teach digital storytelling or we’re going to have some kind of writing component. These things help form that container, but the content of that is left with the youth. There are a lot of deliberations about the theme. That struggling and that finding of commonality amongst young people is also a form of teaching. Willa: I love that framing, Joe. We often talk about giving agency, but that’s not really something you can do. What we can do is make a space that is safe and brave enough for people to practice their agency and activate their agency in a way. “Giving agency” was something we really had to get people to stop saying; the phrase “under-resourced community” was something else that we really had to get people to stop saying. There was this coded language of philanthropy that described community and proscribed what should happen in community. Claro: We as facilitators can come in with a lot of humility. Even if we are technically experts in something, we can come in prepared to learn from the youth and from our partners. In our case, even as a baby program with just one year of operation before starting this partnership, we were cognizant of the challenge of us big city folks going into the Midwest, North Central Minnesota, and onto the reservation. There’s also the age thing with the youth, and a practice of dominant culture in education which we feel is related to the colonial past of the United States: cleansing every other nuance of culture into one dominant culture, one way of learning, one type of intelligence. Adrienne had us plan alongside cultural experts in the community who helped us design the curriculum. We found ways to integrate the values that Adrienne was trying to uphold while also being transparent: “We’re not from the community, we’re foreigners, but we might be able to draw some parallels.” Adrienne: One of the greatest things that came of our collaboration was having our youth see Marion and Claro stumbling through Ojibwe language. It meant a lot that they were both from a city like New York, both having different backgrounds, both being people of color that thought these kids were special enough to be seen and who gave their time and effort to

34  Part 1: Engaging community

listen to their stories. Mezichigejig youth on the reservations don’t have a whole lot of opportunities to even see anyone outside of the community, except maybe on TV. For them to actually get to experience people of other cultures was a part of why it was important to bring this theatre company to the reservation. Chris: How do you make decisions about product and process? Marion: The first question that comes to mind is “What standards are we trying to meet and why?” What standards am I carrying over from previous projects that I am trying to impose that don't belong here? I think we need to be asking ourselves if the community feels represented. Do they feel committed to the work that they’re partaking in? More importantly, are we building off of the skills that already exist here instead of approaching the work with some idea of theatre that doesn’t belong in this space? Lastly, are we creating an experience for our youth that is challenging yet achievable, an experience that feels like it’s theirs? Willa: “Process versus product” is a conversation that we need to have a lot, unfortunately. There are some programs that are just about product. My love is the process. I am less interested in trying to make a mini version of a Goodman show than in making a show that is authentic in the voice of the people who made it. I want to give them tools that they can call on for anything they need to do. Process is also about code switching and understanding how to give young people a roadmap for how to work in multiple languages with multiple audiences so when they leave that space, they understand that those skills are transferable. The funders, of course, want shiny product. It took a lot of education to get them to understand the difference between performance and applied theatre: that what we are trying to do with young people is give them tools and skills that make thoughtful, activist human beings who may or may not decide to do theatre. Our role is—we don’t tell the funders this—to make people who understand how they can use whatever skills and tools they have to change the world and dismantle the master’s house. Joe: If we’re giving the agency to youth, on some level we also have to let them consider the aesthetics of their performance. Young people want to do something that is great. They also know in their bones when things aren’t stage-ready. The essential trust between the adults and the kids is that what is created will be ready and will be of quality, and that everyone involved can agree is worthy of being seen. That’s also how we keep them engaged in the creation of the product. We use their interest to guide and build this thing of quality together. Chris: How do each of you know when you’ve succeeded? Adrienne: The youth’s joy. Watching them light up knowing that they achieved something they probably didn’t see themselves doing. Especially where I’m from, those moments are rare and few and far between. I think our kids were just shocked at what they created. I don’t think they thought that anyone would want to see it, or even be interested in it. To

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have parents show up and other community members and listen to what they did was the success for us. Joe:  It’s the evidence of personal transformation, something I’ve seen over and over again. We see young people who may just have had some interest in our program transform into these powerhouses who don’t mind telling you what they think. That may seem minute or unimportant to funders in reports, but it’s everything to us because of what our community is dealing with. To see that reclamation of voice, of believing in themselves and their creativity, all of that is paramount to us. That is really success: the personal transformation that we then hope leads to the transformation of the community. Claro: I look to the amount of critical thinking you’re able to induce through the experience. If the work opens up pathways for analyzing the world in a different way, whether it’s about your culture or how your culture is read in the wider world, or the amount of power you have to say something to make change, that is success. This can be seen in different ways: in what they devise, an exit interview, or a letter a young person writes you three months later. Marion: When I end a successful residency, I often see the spark of some call to action in our young people; it can be overtly political, or it can be personal. It’s like a light that’s been turned on: “I know things can be different.” Or it might just be, “I want to take another theatre class. This is a whole new world for me.” Willa: When someone asks me for an activity or an exercise for something that we have done that they want to now use with somebody else, that’s the highest compliment. When they see the efficacy of the process and know that they have the power to give that and make a space for somebody else to do it, that’s the ultimate for me. Chris: What conversations do applied theatre practitioners need to be having? Claro: The decolonizing of aesthetics. I recently had to talk to some college students about the history of theatre. Where do you begin? What are the implications if you start with the Greeks or Shakespeare? Am I just regurgitating colonial concepts of what theatre is? Colonized thinking can even appear in how exercises are framed, or what good theatre looks like. What are the pathways to decolonizing? Is it working with language experts all the time? Is it finding out different ways to centralize the unlearning while simultaneously learning? I'd love to think applied theatre is an exciting way to effect those changes. Joe: My answer involves programmatic design conversations. How do we keep community at the center of our process? I would love to see more conversations around malleable community-centered design processes, less rigid than the power that we can assume as practitioners and that can also be dumped on us from the community. Adrienne: I'm realizing the impact of arts as a vehicle that can drive narrative forward. I think society’s sense of what theatre is, is just this playful thing

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where people get to tell a story in a certain way. But every story that I’ve ever heard told has something deeper behind it. It can elevate voices. The greater, deeper effect of theatre is that it can carry the narrative shift that needs to happen. I don't think that people realize how much it can raise people up and the damage done by the whitewashing we currently see everywhere. Willa: I would like more conversation about the “applied” than the “theatre.” I think coming out of this pandemic, coming out of the devastation of this [Trump] administration, communities are going to have to be rebuilt and helped to heal. Theatre artists, because of how we think, how we make our habits of mind, and the way that we can parse difficult conversations, can facilitate those skills that are going to be the most needed to help communities redefine themselves and realize their true potential.

Part 2

Bridging divides Artistic residencies in schools


Seeing plays and writing plays Pathways to understanding David Shookhoff

Snapshots ONE: At a matinee of Richard Greenberg’s drama, The American Plan, a full house of teenagers from all over the New York area—rural, suburban, urban—sit spellbound as a young white male character describes to his gay lover the story of his father’s downfall. TWO: At the final moment of August Wilson’s Jitney, a similarly diverse young audience cheers as one when the hero, Booster, answers the phone with his simple life- and legacy-affirming curtain line, “Car service.” THREE: In preparation for a performance of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People, a young man at a school in a high-poverty area—who had previously been utterly disaffected, uncommunicative, and classified as functionally illiterate—beams with pride as a visiting professional actor performs his heartfelt monologue. Astonished, the school reclassifies him.

Background As a young director in New York in the early 1970s in need of a survival job, I began working for the education program at Lincoln Center as a teaching artist—though that term had not yet been invented. I soon found myself centrally involved in developing an intellectual and pedagogical framework for what was then a loose program of vaguely designed and amorphously intended in-school artist residencies. I became part of a small “think tank” consisting of some very smart and gifted artists, Lincoln Center education staff, and Professor Maxine Greene of Columbia Teachers College, whose expertise lay in arts and education. This ad hoc group gradually developed a theory and a practice for what came to be called “aesthetic education.” Our ideas shaped the pedagogy and structure of the nascent Lincoln Center Institute (now Lincoln Center Education). Aesthetic perception was for us a transferable skill, gained through progressing from the particular to the general. We posited that through a series of informed encounters with exemplary works of art, students would learn to perceive and connect with other works in the discipline independently, no longer needing guidance and mediation (see Greene, 2001).

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We then sought to turn the theory into practice. Informed by our predispositions as working artists toward hands-on processes, as well as the tenets of progressive education as formulated by thinkers like John Dewey, we created an experiential approach that generated exciting, personal, and authentic interactions between students of all ages and backgrounds and even the most seemingly inaccessible artworks (see Archambault, 1964; Dewey, 1997). One of my most vivid memories from those early years at the Lincoln Center Institute is of a group of second-graders from Manhattan’s Lower East Side sitting enthralled through an hour-long adaptation of Jean Anouilh’s Antigone and afterwards being able to discuss not just the play’s plot and theme, but also the key offstage events. I describe the approach we developed in more detail below. Suffice it to say that over the ensuing decades, working with scores of brilliant teaching artists, teachers, and other practitioners, I further developed and refined the Lincoln Center ideas and practices and brought them with me to New York’s Manhattan Theatre Club when, in the late 1980s, the theatre’s leadership asked me to create an education program.

Why theatre? Theatre is life made urgent. Uniquely of all the art forms, plays are futurefacing, confronting spectators directly with consequential action, embodied on stage with vivid immediacy, compelling our attention without apparent authorial mediation. Plays are animated by passionate, willful fictional beings—characters—existing before us in a state of emergency of their own making; their burning needs and desires impel them to choices that in turn generate actions and conflicts, leading ultimately to profound, irrevocable outcomes. In satisfying plays, what happens next is determined by who the characters are and what they choose to do. Drama presents an image of human agency (Langer, 1953). Seeing and making theatre thus affords us a unique way of understanding that we are actors in the world; it insistently reminds us that what we do matters; we have the power to cause great joy or grievous harm, we can grow or shrink, we can corrupt or we can empower. Our choices entail consequences. We become invested in the characters’ actions, their stories, and finally their humanity. And because theatre is by definition public, we can sense palpably how the representations of agency on the stage are resonating with our fellow audience members. We feel their connection with the characters even as we experience it ourselves. For at least a few moments, we become acutely aware of our shared humanity; an aggregation of disparate individuals transforms into a harmonious community.

Aesthetic education: my approach unpacked A central tenet of the Lincoln Center “think tank” was that complex works of art reward attention; they do not disclose themselves fully without effort. We

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must work to apprehend them. Plays benefit from mediation, but what form should that mediation take? What approaches in the classroom will facilitate and deepen students’ experience of the work when they encounter it live? How can we best ensure that the students will find the performance viscerally engaging and personally meaningful? The mediation process starts with the teaching artist’s study of the text. I read and reread the script openly and uncritically, noting the moments or passages when I am moved to laughter or tears or some other strong emotion. If possible, I see the play on its feet. Then I consider questions: What are the overall patterns? How do those moving moments connect to all the other elements? What phrases recur and why? What might the title signify? How are the characters differentiated? Where do the main characters start emotionally and psychologically and where do they end? What is the play’s basic dramatic question? The questions are endless, and they keep multiplying. I next consider how to introduce to students the insights I have gained from this process of surrender and reflection (Dewey, 1980, p.144ff). My effort will be to open the play up for imaginative inquiry, to inspire learners to engage with it as a vitally relevant, personally meaningful artwork. We come then to the heart of the matter. Essentially, the process we developed at LCI, which I have refined and reformulated over the ensuing decades, consists of recasting my insights into a play as artistic problems for learners to solve. I ask students to grapple with and respond in dramatic form—improvisations, theatre games, informal performances of excerpts from the script, or, most commonly, dramatic writing—to essential questions the play raises. Through this process, the students gain “points of entry” into the work; they in effect create for themselves passageways, reciprocal channels through which their lived experience and the images, ideas, and representations of the play can interact and resonate. The result of this process is an “awakened” audience. The students enter the playhouse with an anticipatory investment in what is about to unfold. They are alert and attentive, ready to respond fully and personally to the play’s characters, actions, themes, and ideas. They are primed to become active participants in the performance, in profound and palpable ways.

Case studies From the annals of MTC Education’s Core Program.1 In preparing students to see Bernard Pomerance’s Elephant Man, my teaching artist faculty and I identified the idea of “colliding worlds” as an entryway for students. We articulated the play’s foundational dramatic question as, “What happens when two individuals from radically disparate social strata find themselves intimately and inextricably bound together?” Guided by this question, we asked students to invent a character they considered a total outsider, someone living on the extreme margins of society, drawn from their personal experiences and observations. They came up with a diverse array: the old lady whose apartment was overrun with cats,

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the homeless person on the corner, the geeky loner at school whom everyone bullied. Then we asked them to create a profile for their “outsiders”—to give their characters a name, an age, a family history, and occupation. We had them imagine what their outsiders feared, what they wanted, what their life motto might be. Increasingly, the weird outcast became a fully realized human being, in whom the young writers became increasingly invested. Next, we invited them to imagine an establishment figure, someone with status in the relevant community, whom the outsider might encounter. Responses included the superintendent of the cat lady’s apartment complex, the cop on the beat where the homeless person pitched camp, the captain of the football team at the geeky loner’s high school. The students created profiles for these characters as well. Finally, we asked them to imagine an encounter between the two characters: What might bring the two together? What conflicts might arise? What might they need from one another? Almost magically, rich human drama began to emerge. The super/cat lady scene begins as a hostile confrontation—neighbors have been complaining about noises and smells—but from threats of eviction and retaliation, the scene evolves into a touching mutual accommodation. It turns out the super is a struggling single parent with several children, one of whom is chronically ill and loves cats. The two adversaries become allies. The conflict between the two characters results in consequential action and transformation, the essence of drama. We brought professional actors into the classroom to read the students’ scenes. Then they read one of the early scenes between Merrick and Treves from The Elephant Man (1977). The light dawned. The students grasped that they would see a play about someone from the establishment encountering an extreme outsider. They began to compare and contrast their scenes with Pomerance’s. They noted, for example, Treves’s complicated attitude toward his disfigured charge—equally condescending and compassionate. They were beginning to “own” The Elephant Man. The writing prompt and the actors’ performances had opened up Pomerance’s elliptical, stylistically formidable representation of a strange, fraught relationship in Victorian London. The juxtaposition of their own dramatizations of analogous encounters with that in the professional play enabled them to “take it personally.” They moved psychologically into the play organically and of their own accord. More recently, in preparing students for Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy (2017), we focused on the recurring phrase “That’s what you get”—alluding to the pain of homophobia and the consolation of friendship that Pharus, the adolescent central character, experiences as he grows toward manhood. We activated the phrase through two classroom activities: “The Name That Hurts” and “The Act That Heals.” First, we prompted students to write or improvise short scenes in which a heated confrontation between two rivals devolves into shouting a name that hurts, a slur or epithet intended to inflict pain. Then we asked them to write a scene between two friends, one—like Pharus in the play—in despair over being severely and unjustly punished for breaking a rule. We asked them to conclude the scene with some kind of comforting physical

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contact between the two—an act that heals. Again, we brought actors into the classroom to read the students’ scenes and then parallel excerpts from the play. Once more, the students began to understand the play’s issues and dynamics through the lens of their own writing. When our students saw MTC’s Broadway production of Choir Boy, the episode in which Pharus’s rival Bobby denigrates him with a homophobic slur and the scene in which Pharus’s friend AJ consoles him emerged with vivid clarity. The moments became almost luminous—more visible, more present than they would otherwise have been. How do we know that? First because of the students’ reactions to those moments during the performance, their vocal registration of familiarity. More objectively, in their post-show written reflections (about which more later) the students tended to focus on those scenes, sometimes actually using the phrases “name that hurts” and “act that heals” without additional prompting. The in-class preparatory work clearly enriches and enhances students’ connection to the play and the performance, as evidenced in the deeply felt student appraisals. For example: “Choir Boy was one of the most impactful, relevant, amazing, thrilling plays I have seen, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it a hundred times more. The preparation made me realize that I’m not alone in what I deal with.”

Fostering playwriting: the Write on the Edge model MTC Education’s Write on the Edge (WrOTE) playwriting residency program is an extension of the Core program. Both begin with the same preparation described above, but whereas Core concludes with a follow-up session after the performance, WrOTE expands into a play-development process. During at least seven additional classroom sessions spread over several weeks, the teaching artist, two actors, and the classroom teacher guide the students in developing their previous embryonic writing into a fully realized short play. WrOTE “flips” the relationship of the MTC production to the student writing process—the play that students had studied and attended becomes the springboard for their extended original work. Thus, Bernard Pomerance or Tarell Alvin McCraney or Bernard Shaw becomes an implicit mentor to the novice writers. The teaching team might reference the professional production to exemplify basic playwriting concepts like characterization, conflict, setting, dramatic stakes, and so on. But because the initial writing prompts also invite students to draw on their lived experience and concerns, the playwriting never devolves into an academic exercise. On the contrary, the students’ efforts to render personal material by adapting and adopting the form and content of the production often liberates them to invent and imagine. For example, one of our young playwrights enlisted the nonlinear, “cubistic” dramaturgy of Florian Zeller’s Height of the Storm to dramatize a young couple’s troubled relationship; in each of her play’s short scenes, the given circumstances and underlying dynamic of the interaction subtly shifted as did crucial facts. But each version ended with

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the couple separating. Another student literalized Zeller’s dreamlike structure to explore a fraught relationship between two sisters, one of whom repeatedly awoke from “concentric” dreams in which her sibling abused her. In WrOTE residencies based on Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, students often wrote about a young female “change agent” fighting injustice alongside an adult ally. The results included a tragic drama about a high school student enlisting a local businessman in an anti-bullying campaign (in an ironic stroke, the businessman’s son is convicted of bullying the heroine’s sister into suicide) and a searing play about a Lebanese teenager and a male truck driver attempting to rescue victims of sex trafficking. In each of these examples, novice writers not only demonstrated mastery of playwriting fundamentals, but they also engaged in formal experimentation while creating clearly individuated, richly imagined characters whose burning needs propelled them into vivid dramatic action.

Primary benefits and outcomes For MTC Education, it is axiomatic that seeing, writing, and creating plays are intrinsically beneficial activities. As discussed earlier, theatre constitutes a unique way of knowing and understanding oneself and the world. With appropriate, effective mediation, young learners can access the knowledge and understanding that inheres in a given theatrical work; they can also develop the capacity to give dramatic form to what they themselves think and feel, and even discover and express personal truths of which they had not previously been fully aware. We use various tools and methods to determine whether we’ve achieved these goals. On the written questionnaires we distribute after every program, students overwhelmingly (90+%) report that the classroom work enhanced their understanding of the play they saw, that the play was personally meaningful, that their interest in attending live theatre increased, and that (in our WrOTE program) their skills and abilities as playwrights improved. We also ask students to identify and describe a significant moment from the production they’ve attended and discuss its relationship to the play as a whole. Herewith an example about the production of The Height of the Storm (edited for brevity): [While] André and his wife were sitting at the table … talking about their past … the lights [changed] so you couldn’t see his wife anymore. The scene represented how a loved one’s … death can impact reality. It showed how powerful love is … and how our loved ones live on inside our hearts. While it’s hard to “score” such responses, and of course all but impossible to know how our mediation affects what students write, reflections like this suggest our instruction does increase perception and comprehension, especially with an obtuse play like Zeller’s. For WrOTE, the students’ successive drafts

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constitute a rich process portfolio through which we can see how the young writers sharpened characterization, clarified relationships, heightened conflicts, or eliminated unnecessary characters, scenes, or incidents in an effort to fully realize their plays. The collaborating teachers, who also complete evaluative questionnaires, are if anything even more emphatic and enthusiastic about the effectiveness of our work. For example: My students were so lucky to be part of this program. … Going into the play they had already had meaningful conversation about the play’s themes, so they were able to engage deeply with it. They also stretched their writing muscles … with the great prompts Elia [the teaching artist] gave them. They were enthralled by the actors performing their work. It means so much to them to have their work honored like that.

Ancillary and instrumental benefits Our assessment instruments and procedures make us confident that we achieve the outcomes and benefits we seek. We believe our work creates additional, powerful results, but for those we must rely on anecdotes and informal observation. Student empowerment: engaging disaffected students

Professional actors performing students’ work is probably our most powerful tool. Accomplished actors have an almost magical ability to bring the words of even novice writers to life. Even when working with incomplete efforts, they can galvanize listeners’ attention, moving audiences to laughter or even tears, and thereby powerfully exemplifying the relationship of text to performance. They flesh out and differentiate characters, clarify subtext, heighten stakes. The actor’s contribution to the realization—even amplification—of an author’s intentions completes the work and often enhances it. Their performance of student work is particularly empowering. Time and again, we observe the most apathetic, disaffected adolescents slump in their chairs or bury their heads on their desks when it’s announced that their work is to be read. Then gradually but unmistakably a physical transformation occurs: The slumping student looks up, starts to sit erect, and almost perceptibly expands in the space. By the end of the reading or performance, the young person is beaming, basking in the applause and approbation of peers. In the panoply of human experience, there’s nothing quite so satisfying, indeed exhilarating, as the feeling of “I made that. And it was good!” Frequently at the end of a school residency, teachers tell us, “I never knew my students were capable of that kind of work.” Each student has been validated— an all-too-rare occurrence in traditional education. We provide support and a platform for them to give voice to what’s on their minds and in their hearts;

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their dramatic expressions are seen and heard. Their work matters enough to warrant professional treatment. It is being taken seriously. Surfacing untapped capacities

Playwriting is seldom taught in public schools; almost none of the students we work with have written plays before. But in more than a few cases, at a residency’s end, students indicate that they have “fallen in love” with playwriting and intend to continue in college and beyond. Several have become professional writers with promising careers. In a few cases we know of, dramatic writing was directly impactful, academically and/or personally, as in the third bulleted anecdote that opens this essay. In another case, a young man who worked with us while incarcerated and is now a successful youth counselor credits the play he wrote—about the violent death of the protagonist’s friend—with changing his life path. In a further instance, a high school senior, failing everything and in danger of dropping out, was accepted to a college creative writing program solely because of the play he submitted. Fostering self-awareness

We posit that attending and writing plays develops understanding of oneself in the world. For evidence, we can cite students’ written reflections, including the ones above. Herewith a few others: [On the central clandestine love affair in Choir Boy]: People in today’s society cannot be themselves. They must show “outside people” what they want to see. [On the Pharus/AJ relationship in Choir Boy]: Society holds young men to a certain standard of masculinity [instead of allowing you] to choose what you want for yourself. [On ironing the snooker table in Richard Bean’s The Nap]: … you may think [everything] is super easy; but you have difficult roads; it may get messy and you [still] have to move forward. The play was a life lesson. [Two on the father/daughter relationship in Jaclyn Backhaus’s India Pale Ale]: [The play] made me reflect on my relationship with my parents and the mistakes I have made.

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[The daughter summoned] her inner strength … for her family at a time of need. … That’s what I needed to hear at this point in my life. Forging community

The rapt attention students give to the productions they attend, their vocal reactions at peak moments, and the joyous, raucous cheers at the curtain call testify to theatre’s power to create a palpable, if evanescent, experience of shared humanity. A group of strangers from disparate backgrounds respond as one to the vivid fictions they see enacted. That potent feeling may dissipate, but perhaps its memory lingers. But it’s in the schools where we provide our WrOTE playwriting residencies that we get tantalizing glimpses of theatre’s capacity to engender, affirm, even sustain community. The student-written plays are often deeply personal in nature; they typically dramatize situations and reflect attitudes, beliefs, and concerns that the writers share with the audience of peers who attend the culminating performances. The plays may allude to actual personal relationships of which the attendees are aware; they often deal with intergenerational conflicts, which almost every young person experiences; they may dramatize encounters with authority, betrayals by intimates or associates, or urgent social issues like hate crimes or racist attacks. As a result, the enthusiastic, approving applause that greets the plays seems informed by the connection of the audience to the subject matter and attitudes their classmates have dramatized. The school community continues to discuss the plays long after they are over. This deep and ongoing connection between plays and audience is particularly striking in those atypical situations where diversity—ethnic, social, perhaps even political—obtains. In those cases, the plays may transcend demographic categories, with, for example, both white writers and writers of color dramatizing interracial relationships and tensions, the potency of which is reinforced by the purposeful diversity of our professional actors. Even more courageously, the young playwrights may reveal their vulnerabilities by writing about their experiences of oppression and victimization, usually evincing a determination to fight or come to terms with injustice. And universally, in my experience, student audiences receive such plays with especially deep, sustained affirmation. Given the small sample size, we cannot responsibly extrapolate generalizations from the episodes described above. They are nonetheless provocative and exciting, and worthy of further, fuller investigation. For now, they will take their place alongside the innumerable other vivid and gratifying moments—in theatres and classrooms—that I have experienced over five decades as a theatre educator, when dozens, sometimes hundreds, of young people respond in united rapture to a performance of a professional or student-written play, testifying with their hands and voices to the enduring power of theatre to foster empathy, instill joy, forge community, and deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world.

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Author’s acknowledgements I am deeply grateful to Manhattan Theatre Club for its unfailing support of the work I write about; profound thanks as well to the myriad teaching artists who have provided me with inspiration, insight, and ideas over so many years.

Note 1 Since this writing, the Core Program has been renamed “Lights Up!”

References Archambault, R.D., ed. (1964) John Dewey on Education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Dewey, J. (1980) Art as Experience. New York: G.P Putnam’s Sons. Dewey, J. (1997) Experience and Education. New York: Simon and Schuster, Touchstone Edition. Greene, M. (2001) Variations on a Blue Guitar, The Lincoln Center Institute Lectures on Aesthetic Education. New York and London: College Press. Langer, S.K. (1953) Feeling and Form. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.


“Telling our own story” Using digital storytelling to re-design education with Texas and Alaska youth Kathryn Dawson

The study of Indigenous people by non-Indigenous young people in elementary education in the United States is often problematic, characterized by the objectifying of Indigenous peoples as a homogenous, Native American “other.” Indigenous scholar Tuhiwai Smith suggests that when Indigenous people move from the researched to the researchers, questions, priorities, and problems are defined and ranked differently by all participants (1999, p. 193). This essay explores a digital storytelling exchange project between elementary schools in Alaska and Texas. This project offered a creative process for the youth participants to interrogate, create, and reflect on their own story based on questions and learning about others from others. Drama-based pedagogy uses theatre techniques to interweave academic, social-emotional, and aesthetic learning into instructional methods across all areas of the curriculum (Dawson and Lee, 2018). DBP aligns with the essential work of professional theatre organizations, such as the Manhattan Theatre Club, whose artist-in-residency programs provide “appropriate, effective mediation” of professional productions as a means for young people to access “the knowledge and understanding that inheres in a given theatrical work” and “the capacity to give dramatic form to what they think and feel” through opportunities for them to “discover and express personal truths of which they had not previously been fully aware” (Shookhoff, p. 44). While MTC’s approach begins, as David Shookhoff describes, with “recasting my insights into a play as artistic problems for learners to solve” (p. 44), DBP focuses on students’ imagination, experience, and bodies as the key source of knowledge production and understanding (see Vygotsky, 1978; Gonzalez and Moll, 2002; Yosso, 2005). By starting with the insights and expertise of young people, DBP enables each young person to solve problems that are unique and relevant to themselves.

Our partners In 2014, faculty and graduate student teaching artists from Drama for Schools at The University of Texas at Austin, conducted two DBP residencies: with a constructivist elementary school in Texas and a Koyukuk Athabascan elementary school in Alaska. Teachers from both sites needed a culturally responsive

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way to revise an upcoming unit in their curriculum. Our Alaskan partners wanted to bring their students’ Alaskan Native identities into a writing unit for first/second and fourth grade classrooms1 while our second/third grade Texan partners wanted to intervene and expand upon a required social studies Native American unit that only discussed Native Americans from a narrow historical perspective. We made educator introductions across school locations and thus, the digital storytelling exchange project was born. In Galena, we have the Yukon River. It is really cold all the time. The ice is 3–4 feet, on the other side is a wild area where you can trap. A trap is something that snaps when an animal steps in it. People know where traps are because of a flag. We use animals for fur and meat. (Alaska 1st/2nd and 4th Grade Digital Postcard, 2014)

Austin is a place where many cultures come together, but most of us like to play outside. In Austin, we speak English, Spanish and other languages. In Austin we use cars, motorcycles, planes, buses, and boats. We travel in Austin using all these different forms of transportation. My favorite is the bus. (Texas 2nd/3rd Grade Digital Postcard, 2014)

The project Completed over a five-day residency in each site, the project began with the classroom teacher and teaching artists in each location introducing reciprocity as the “big idea” driving our shared investigation and artistic process. Students worked with the adult facilitators to co-construct a definition of reciprocity that they expressed through physical, visual, verbal, and textual means. The session ended with an introduction to the partner community’s context (Alaska’s northern interior and the Koyukon Athabascans; the people and places of central Texas) through images and facts. Students responded with questions about their partners that were documented, including: “Do Alaska kids live in igloos?” and “Do Texas kids ride a horse to school?” Each of these opening activities were designed: 1) to engage participants in dialogic meaning-making about the essential purpose of the experience (defining reciprocity, learning about a different community); 2) to co-create criteria for quality theatrical expression (body, voice, imagination) that could be used throughout the process to assess our individual and shared achievement; and 3) to make visible students’ prior knowledge and assumptions regarding the partnering community. The second day of the residency students categorized their generated questions about their partner community into titled groups through a visual mapping activity. Common social studies themes emerged across students’ maps, including: “places to live,” “transportation,” “clothing,” and “food.” Students next considered the kinds of information they had generated. A definition of stereotypes was introduced, and students noted which of their questions might be based on an oversimplified or inaccurate depiction of their partner group

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as seen in cartoons, media, or stories. The group began to parse out the difference between learning about someone from someone else’s viewpoint versus learning about someone from the individual’s viewpoint. Finally, students were asked to return to the residency goal of sharing between schools. Since the goal of the teachers was to avoid stereotypes and ensure that information is current and true, the teaching artists asked, “What if we use our questions to reflect on ourselves and tell our own story to share with each other?” The students thus reflected on their own community and experiences through embodied, verbal, and textual meaning-making. After students reviewed their work, each individual student chose a theme group (e.g., “places to live”) to focus on for the rest of the residency. Days Three and Four focused on nurturing students’ artistic perspective to build skills in creating artwork, to develop personal artistry, and to cultivate aesthetic perception (Dawson and Kelin, 2014) through the introduction of a drama-based form of digital storytelling, which uses frozen body images or tableaux and recorded voiceover. In DBP, students often demonstrate their viewpoints through embodied practice, a production of cultural experiences and social interactions that are placed and enacted in and by the body (Nicholson, 2005). Then, they wrote brief pieces of text in relationship to their selected theme, starting from facts they had gathered in the prior session’s brainstorm. For example, a student in the Alaska “housing” group shared this story in response to “we have log cabin homes with pointy roofs”: Galena is a place where we have slanted roofs. If we had flat roofs it would probably cave in because of all the snow. One time I was sleeping, and I heard Boom, Boom, Boom … I looked up the window and I said, “Where’s the 4-wheeler?” It was under snow! (Alaska 1st/2nd and 4th Grade Digital Postcard, 2014) Students also learned to negotiate creative decisions as they explored the relationship between their written text and its visual representation. For example, after members of the “transportation” group in the Texas classroom felt uncomfortable being photographed working in their bodies, they revised their text to describe more forms of transportation so all group members could aesthetically represent ideas in their preferred visual form: tableaux, photographs, or drawings. The third session ended with a pairing of each group with another for feedback and refinement of their text and staging choices. The fourth session involved the performance and assemblage of the creative work. Students, with adult support, recorded their material as voice recordings and made final revisions to their images. Then, student and adult editors assembled the pieces into a digital story by pairing the recorded words with the still images using a simple video editing program. The final session occurred after postcards were fully completed.2 Both videos were shared with each community, with students encouraged to compare

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similarities and differences across the digital performances. My field notes documented that students noted that the food being consumed in each community was shaped by location: “I saw Tex-Mex was eaten in Texas because it was near Mexico!” and “They ate meat and fish in Alaska that they catch.” The Texas students commented that “People lived in the same houses in Texas and Alaska.” “No igloos!” and “Alaska kids sometimes helped build their own houses. Cool!” An Alaskan student noted that “There were no horses, but I did see a cowboy hat!” Both groups enthusiastically recorded that kids in Texas and Alaska “like tank tops” and “hate mosquitos.” Day Five concluded with a return to a drama-based reflection on the theme of reciprocity. Each student worked with a partner to write a phrase and share a gesture about where they engaged in reciprocity throughout their creative process. My field notes describe that students in both communities saw reciprocity “in their sharing with people from another culture,” and “in their listening and staging their writing with their classmates for feedback.” Near the end of my Texas student notes, I have underlined one of the final comments from the session. A thirdgrade Texas student stated: “Native American people are alive! Why don’t we always learn about people from the actual people? It’s way better than learning from this textbook.” Underneath, I wrote a brief note to myself: “Change begins when we start to question.”

Reflection-on-action Applied theatre scholar Helen Nicholson advises teaching artists to consider the politics of relationships in our attempts to qualify the impact of our practice. She provokes, “is [your work] something that is done to the participants, with them, or by them” (2005, p.15; author’s emphasis). As I reflect on our project, I note that the main outcome was a drama-based process that was brought to each classroom. The final product was made with young people and whose content was created and performed by young people as experts in their own lives and contexts. The residency met required educational standards in English/Language Arts, Social Studies, and Theatre in both schools. I would further argue that 7–10-year-old students experienced rigorous aesthetic education through an exploration of ensemble, imagination, embodiment, and narrative which are central to DBP’s approach to learning (see Dawson and Lee, 2018). Also, the students’ ability to engage in praxis—a cycle of reflection on action—is an early move towards critical consciousness. I don’t know whether the experience improved literacy or social studies outcomes on standardized tests. This applied theatre project was designed to support teachers and students to intervene on problem curriculum; not to change testing outcomes. I do believe students started to understand that history is shaped by the teller, who is telling what story matters when looking at research sources. I’m not aware of whether the digital storytelling process was repeated by the classroom teachers and students in subsequent years. A lack of longitudinal evidence of impact is

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a significant gap in applied drama/theatre research. Nevertheless, I believe our project encouraged students and teachers in Texas and Alaska to think critically about how and from whom they want to learn about others. In Emergent Strategy, author adrienne marie brown quotes activist Grace Lee Boggs stating that you need to “transform yourself to transform the world” (2017, p. 53). Creating a drama-based digital storytelling exchange project enabled teachers to use drama/theatre to transform their instructional practice so that students could transform their learning. Together they researched, created, and shared their cultural wealth and began to construct a more nuanced and less stereotypical understanding of the “other.”

Notes 1 In the local village school in Alaska, grade groupings were based on enrollment; there were no third-grade students in the school at the time of the project. 2 The Texas residency was led through Day Four and the completion of the Texas digital postcard. Then the teaching artist team went to Alaska and led the five-day residency week. On Day Five, Alaska students viewed their just completed Alaska video and the Texas video together. Day Five for the Texas residency occurred after the team returned from Alaska with both videos completed.

References brown, a.m. (2017) Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. Chico, CA: AK Press. Dawson, K. and Kelin, D., eds. (2014) The Reflexive Teaching Artist: Collected Wisdom from the Drama/Theatre Field. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Dawson, K. and Lee, B.K. (2018) Drama-based Pedagogy: Activating Learning Across the Curriculum. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Gonzalez, N. and Moll, L.C. (2002) “Cruzando el Puente: Building Bridges to Funds of Knowledge.” Educational Policy, 16(4), pp. 623–641. Nicholson, H. (2005) Applied Drama: The Gift of Theatre. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Snyder, Spring and Dawson, K. (Producers), (2014) Alaska 1st/2nd and 4th Grade Digital Postcard, informally published digital video developed in a classroom project, Galena, Alaska. Snyder, Spring and Dawson, K. (Producers), (2014) Texas 2nd and 3rd Grade Digital Postcard, informally published digital video developed in a classroom project, Galena, Alaska. Tuhiwai Smith, L. (1999) Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978) Mind in Society: Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Yosso, T.J. (2005) “Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth, Race Ethnicity and Education,” 8(1), 69–91, DOI: 10.1080/1361332052000341006.


A translanguaging stance on theatre education Sindy Isabel Castro

I am an immigrant from Nicaragua, raised in the United States starting when I was one year old. In Hialeah, Florida, I grew up surrounded by Cuban culture where you were an outsider if you didn’t speak Spanish. I never thought about my identity as a Latina or as an immigrant, because weren’t most of us? But then something shifted. When I went to a majority white university for my undergraduate education, I began to dissociate with the Spanish language. Like Sonia Nieto wrote in her article “Language, Literacy, and Culture,” I “learned that English was the language of value and culture … although Spanish was the language of family and love and nurturing, it was also a language of low status” (11). I became frustrated when people would initially speak to me in Spanish because I was not sure what that meant about how they saw me. Did they see my Spanish speaking as a disadvantage to me getting ahead in my career? Did they assume I did not speak or understand English? And what did that mean to them? It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago post-college that I realized being a Spanish-speaking Latina was an asset. The organizations I worked with placed value on my language skills, which I had taken for granted. Students would see me and ask, “Ms. Sindy, do you speak Spanish?” There were moments of connection. Although most of my students were Mexican or Puerto Rican, we shared a language and a familiar culture. I began to see how my identity was informing my relationship with my students and how my multilingual approach in the classroom was creating avenues for artistic expression. After seven years in Chicago and three in New York City, my theatre teaching artist career has taken me from school to school, borough to borough, to work with students in grades K-12. Theatre education has provided me with the opportunity to engage with a diverse group of young people who are balancing their home lives, school lives, and their identities as immigrants living in the US. I’ve found that since my applied theatre work focuses on devising theatre based on students’ own stories, I need to create a space where students can express themselves fully.

“We only speak English here” I have heard this phrase in a variety of settings. I am sometimes told by teachers or administrators not to speak to my students in Spanish; however, the US

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is a country filled with people from all over the world who speak multiple languages. Although there continues to be a push for speaking English, the United States does not have an official language. In “Mosaic: re-imagining the monolingual classroom through theatre-in-education,” D. Pakkar-Hull writes how this English-only sentiment impacts schools: Drawing schools back into the frame, there begins to emerge a different picture: one where it is the exclusive use of English that is responsible for causing division and detriment, adversely affecting the social, cultural and academic wellbeing of students whose home languages are denied visibility, status and a role in the classroom. (2014, p. 244) When students are denied the right to speak their home languages in school, they close off a part of their identity, reinforcing the notion that their cultures are not valued. How can students share stories and embrace identity through theatre if we deny them this right?

A translanguaging stance As a teaching artist serving multilingual communities, I have come to embrace “translanguaging.” This term originated from Welsh scholar Cen Williams in 1994 and has been expanded by Ofelia García and others “to describe the flexible linguistic repertoire of bilingual/multilingual individuals” (Menken and Sánchez, 2019, p. 743). Translanguaging views students’ home languages as assets for learning, acknowledging that students already come into the classroom with expertise: “Educators with this stance believe that the classroom space must promote collaboration across language practices, content understandings, peoples, home, and school” (Ofelia and Kleifgen 2018, p. 82). Most recently, at an elementary school in the Bronx, second graders began and ended classes with a Hello song and a Goodbye song in both Spanish and English. Most of our students were Spanish speakers, but there were also some Arabic speakers in our classes. In one of our sessions, a student excitedly shared how to say goodbye in Arabic. The next class, he confidently led the whole Goodbye song in Arabic. The classroom teachers expressed how much the students were enjoying sharing their home languages. This carried over to songwriting sessions where the lyrics were then written in various languages. The students were eager to share their knowledge as experts of their home languages and to learn from others. People’s Theatre Project (PTP) partners with a middle school in Upper Manhattan that serves Spanish-speaking immigrant youth. In the fall of 2019, my co-teacher and I led a conversation with our students on identity, asking the group about the role of parents in their lives. This led to a debate on whether mothers or fathers were more influential in the life of a young person. Students took turns arguing for their point of view based on their own lived experiences; some had been raised more by their fathers and vice-versa.

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Students asked questions to understand more about the lives of their peers. Although my co-teacher and I were guiding the discussion in English, the students spoke entirely in Spanish. What would have happened if we had denied them the ability to use their home languages or if we, as teaching artists, had hidden our bilingual identities from our students? Creating spaces for students to share their ideas in their home languages also fosters creativity in the classroom. In the winter of 2019, a different group of students wrote a chant to use as transitions for their devised play: Somos Latinos y tenemos el poder. Hacemos las cosas que no pueden hacer. Hacemos el mangú y las pupusas también. Somos Latinos, yeah, ¿y qué?1 The students wanted to write about their pride in being a part of the Latino/a/x community, but they also wanted to include something about the various countries represented in the group. They added the food mangú (mashed plantains) to represent the Dominican students; and pupusas (a thick corn tortilla with a savory filling) to represent the students from El Salvador and Honduras. The students searched for a backing track on their cell phones; they practiced the chant, which eventually turned into a rap that stayed with us through the end of the school year. We also created scenes about their dreams for their future or fighting back against the negative narrative of immigrants, both in English and Spanish. In May of 2019, the group was invited to perform at a larger district event in Washington Heights. The rap closed our group’s performance. In a theatre that houses over three thousand people, these young people performed about pride in their heritage for their immigrant family, friends, teachers, and community members. Having worked at this school over two years, I have had the luxury of engaging with these young artists at different points in their English language education. Some students used to speak to me only in Spanish, and now they speak to me interchangeably in English and Spanish, knowing that they will be understood either way. That is something I can provide as a multilingual teaching artist, a space where there’s no pressure to limit expression to one language. In a city as diverse as New York, however, knowing how to speak and understand all the languages present in all classrooms is unrealistic. That is where having a translanguaging stance becomes even more important. Not speaking the same languages as my students is not a deficit, but an opportunity for me to learn from and about the students in the theatre-making process. In a recent high school residency, half of the students in one of my classes spoke Mandarin. This was a pre- and post-show experience for students going to see a play, which took place during the civil rights movement. In our first preshow session students moved around the classroom, discussing issues based on posters on the wall representing social justice issues of the time. The classroom

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teacher helped to translate some of the posters and strategically placed students in groups where they could help each other succeed in that day’s lesson. During the second pre-show session, the students were challenged with aligning key events from the civil rights movement on a timeline and reading scenes from the play out loud in pairs. This lesson required a lot of reading and speaking in English, in a short time frame, to scaffold an understanding of the text. With a pre-set curriculum, none of the materials were translated, which left me feeling I had not set my class up for success. For our upcoming post-show sessions, given the short amount of time, what could I do as the teaching artist to create a multilingual space? Our first session after seeing the play used the words of Lynda Blackmon Lowery, who participated in the march on Selma when she was fifteen years old, as inspiration for theatre-making. With the help of a colleague, I translated the speech from English to Mandarin. If we were going to analyze a speech and embody it through theatre, I needed to lean into the students’ language expertise for meaning-making. Each student was given the speech in both languages. We read the speech out loud as a class. The speech was then split into three parts with small groups working on different parts. Each group selected a word/phrase they thought was the most powerful. Using that word/phrase as inspiration, each group rehearsed and composed a frozen image with their bodies. The class then performed together, each group saying their word/phrase from the speech in English and freezing into their image inspired by the words of Lynda Blackmon Lowery. It takes time to prepare the materials, and it’s not always possible to meet every language need in the classroom, but these are the things that we as teaching artists can do to encourage translanguaging and provide support for young artists so that they can focus on being creative and telling their stories. Even in short residencies, it’s important to normalize the use of multiple languages in the classroom.

Theatre and language David Shookhoff writes in his essay “Seeing plays and writing plays: pathways to understanding” that “theatre constitutes a unique way of knowing and understanding oneself and the world” (p. x) and that through theatre, students can “give dramatic form to what they themselves think and feel and even discover and express personal truths of which they had not previously been fully aware” (p. 44). Language makes meaning of the world; the language learning comes as it becomes relevant to the student. Theatre is a tool to expand on meaning-making for multilingual learners. Tatyana Kleyn and Ofelia García write that “Language refers to the human capacity to make meaning that human beings desire in order to broaden their meaning-making, social fields, and worlds of ideas” (2019, p. 9). Making theatre provides opportunity to question the world, to share what we believe and who we are, and to learn about ourselves and others.

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The image of the United States as a melting pot is supposed to create a feeling of unity, but to come together as a country, who must assimilate to create that melting pot? Whose languages and cultures are not present in mainstream theatre and educational institutions, national educational theatre conferences, or trainings? Instead, we can use theatre education to celebrate our immigrant identities by allowing for the holistic expression of both students and teaching artists.

Note 1 Translation: We are Latinos, and we have the power. We do what you cannot do. We make the mangú and the pupusas too.We are Latinos yeah, and what?

References CUNY (2020) “What Is Translanguaging?” Accessed 10 May 2020. www​.cuny​-nysieb​.org​ /translanguaging​-resources/. Kleyn, T., and García, O. (2019) “Translanguaging as an Act of Transformation.” The Handbook of TESOL in K-12, pp. 69–82. Doi:10.1002/9781119421702.ch6. Menken, K., and Sánchez, M.T. (Maite) (2019) “Translanguaging in English-Only Schools: From Pedagogy to Stance in the Disruption of Monolingual Policies and Practices.” TESOL Quarterly, 53(3), pp. 741–767. Doi:10.1002/tesq.513. Ofelia, G. and Kleifgen, J. (2018) Educating Emergent Bilinguals: Policies, Programs, and Practices for English Learners. Kindle ed. Teachers College Press. Nieto, S. (2013) “Language, Literacy, and Culture: Aha! Moments in Personal and Sociopolitical Understanding.” Journal of Language and Literacy Education [Online], 9(1), pp. 8–20. Accessed 20 Sept. 2018. http://jolle​.coe​.uga​.edu​/wp​-content​/uploads​ /2013​/05​/Language​-Literacy​-Culture​.pdf. Pakkar-Hull, D. (2014) “Mosaic: Re-Imagining the Monolingual Classroom through Theatre-in- Education.” Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance 19(3), pp. 243–254. Doi:10.1080/13569783.2014.9280.

Roundtable discussion with Sindy Isabel Castro, Chris Ceraso, Kathryn (Katie) Dawson, and David Shookhoff

Chris: What is the place of theatre in general education? David: I was reflecting on how the three papers we wrote intersected. We all have lots of different hats pedagogically, intellectually, philosophically. But the commonality seems to be about bridging divides, transcending barriers, and making connections. Sindy’s essay is about bridging language differences and the cultural aspects of language. And Katie, the project you describe is explicitly about bridging two cultures. And, for me, that idea of bridging has more to do with bridging the divide between an individual young person and a challenging work of art, and also building a bridge between two disparate individuals in a peer group who learn about each other by seeing plays that each one has written. All three of us refrain from making vast unsupportable claims—but I think we can say that we’re all about this sense of bridging divides. Katie: Yes! In all three pieces there were opportunities for young people to show what they knew: rich lived experiences that might not necessarily have been the thing that was being lifted up at that moment by their classroom curriculum. Or maybe it was outside of that classroom curriculum because the curriculum tends to be written for a certain group of young people. This work creates opportunities to both see and hear those stories … creating a kind of dialogic space to have complex discussions: Where does inequity come from, or justice … or difference? Chris: What do each of you prioritize, and how do you know when you’ve succeeded? Sindy: For me, what’s most important is creating something in the classroom that the young people are confident or excited about presenting to their peers.That may shift in form; some people might choose to write a script instead of performing, and we read those plays out loud on the last day. And that’s okay because the theatre is a big umbrella as an art form. In terms of success—it’s hard to put it into words, because I'm not on the administrative side and so I'm not like, “We changed their test scores, and their reading levels went up.” I can never just claim, “ABC, and that’s why the program works.” It’s a confidence that is hard to put down on paper, of someone that might not have wanted to speak earlier in the semester

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even being willing to share an idea or an opinion in class. But also, it’s that peer acknowledgement of “I get it, I support it. I'm so proud of you,” when classmates who might not take theatre come see their peers perform and say, “Wow, I didn’t know you could do that.”You might not ever get a conversation about what that moment was. David: I work with adolescents, and adolescence is supposedly about identity and mastery and that sense of, “That was mine. I wrote a play and people liked it. They laughed. They cried ... They applauded at the end.” We're feeding into that kind of personhood. In terms of that word “assessment,” yeah, the most powerful form of assessment is when the kids start cheering and applauding either at the end of the work written by their peers, or at the end of a play that they’ve come to see on our Broadway stage. But out of the need to do something that’s a little less subjective, we do try to enable young people to articulate, through written feedback, what they accomplished as a writer or what they saw as an audience member and why that was significant. Katie: My work looks at equity and justice in education and learning: systemschange work. I build deep multi-year partnerships with schools, communities, cities, and countries—goodness, that sounds so bold to say. I try to build networks where I can support local teachers and teaching artists to translate the language of drama and theatre to their education spaces. I’m deeply invested in assessment. I try to support teachers and teaching artists and young people to reflect on their theatre practice to capture the ephemerality of theatre and give quantifiable words to their experience. Artists often feel frustrated at not being included at the table of educational design and change, because we know we can make a difference but sometimes we lack the language to explain our impact. Chris: Do we need a different language in our relationship to educational systems? Katie: I think we have an opportunity to share and co-construct aesthetic language every time we walk into the room with young people. All the opening activities we do together at the beginning of a session are about establishing a language of artistic perspective and quality, but in a way that everyone in the room can co-own what “quality” means. Consider the kinds of discoveries which occur when an ensemble is in the rehearsal room figuring out the story of a play together. We’re rigorously trying to name what we’re doing and why it matters to us and to our audiences. That’s the starting place—developing a language to describe the process of meaning-making that is unique to drama/theatre in general education. Ideally when we do drama/theatre work in general education we develop a reflective language with our students about “what we do,” “why we do it,” and “how does this work relate to our lives?” That same intentionality can then be brought to our training work with classroom teachers and the principal, or when we’re bringing together stakeholders in a big collective impact model to improve education through the arts.

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Sindy: Being a teaching artist, I have the luxury of having space to shift the classroom for a little while. Sometimes it’s a six-session residency. What can I do during this time? We’re already shifting the space to do theatre, to explore story, so I can add something new into the mix. In one of my projects a classroom teacher noticed that, because we were also speaking in Spanish, some young people felt like they could answer what we were asking them. They could fully participate in the lesson in Spanish. That teacher then recommended one of those students for the dual language program because they realized that young person benefitted from learning in both languages. I don't know if that opportunity would have come up without that experience. Chris: What kind of relationships do you need to forge with institutional structures? Sindy: We’re sometimes stuck in this in-between place of the relationship between the theatre or the organization, and the school. I’ve worked in a school where the administrator does not want me to speak in Spanish. English is my dominant language and I’m bilingual, but how do I think through that and not let my upset or anger get in the way? Well, what are the ultimate goals of that? How can I try to meet those two in the middle? In creating theatre it’s about the students’ stories and who they are. So, however I need to communicate, I will. If it means that you really want me to just speak in English, okay … but I am not going to monitor socialization time between the young people and monitor what languages they’re speaking. I have heard teachers do that, and I don't feel comfortable. Even though the classroom teacher and I might be on the same page, I also need to balance my relationship with the young people, my relationship with the teacher, my relationship with the school, and the relationship that they have with the organization. David: The relationship with the schools that I, as an administrator, enjoy are basically with places that are taking a leap of faith along with me, where when all is said and done, the principals of the schools kind of say, “Yeah, I think this is a good thing.” There are very few, if any, that are saying, “Prove to me in some quantitative way that what you’ve done has made them better.” I would say that the schools I work in sort of bless the work we do and say, “We believe in it and go forth and do it.” And similarly, the institution for which I work just wants kids to be excited and empowered the same way I do. It’s with the funding community that maybe this issue emerges more formally than anywhere else in my universe. Some of the philanthropists who support us do want some kind of specific accountability, but even there, if we give them something that seems plausible, they will accept it, or they won’t. Going back to something I’ve already said, we are I think appropriately modest about making extravagant claims for what we do. We just find people who are true believers to engage with and support us in a common cause, and we probably do more good than harm in the long run.

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Chris: What do we need to do to make this work flourish even more? It’s been around for a long time; it seems to be working. What now? David: Having demurred from this whole idea of demonstrating measurable outcomes, I do feel that where the arts education field has fallen short is in making a powerful case for itself. I don't think we have fully found ways of explaining ourselves to those who are not similarly predisposed. As I said, I’ve partnered with coalitions-of-the-willing and we go on our merry way. But to make the arts a far more extensive and intensive aspect of learning in general, I think we need to find ways of persuading the unpersuaded, and that’s a tall order, especially given current times—this anti-cultural bias of the workplace and the country in which we live that is in many ways skeptical of the value of what we practice and what we do. Sindy: I want to push for diversifying the teaching artists relative to representation of the young people. In New York City, there’s a lot of untapped possibility of cultural programs to embrace the different school communities. I recognize that I graduated with my master’s—a certification or stamp of approval for working with certain institutions or working with certain organizations—but I think finding ways to embrace the local community artists and educators is important. I want to see more artists getting to work with schools that are literally a fifteen to twenty minute walk from their apartments, getting to work super-locally with public schools in the community and running into young people at a store or something like that, tapping into the communities where we work. Katie: I appreciate your suggestion that we build upon local knowledge and expertise; it’s at the foreground of where I’d like to see the field go. For example, I’ve spent two years working with the US Embassy in Sarajevo to bring together folks across a lot of different ethnic groups, from the arts and education sectors, to explore how drama can improve creative and critical thinking in English teaching in the country. After two years of building skills together, our project has evolved into a series of trainings and resources for local teachers and teaching artists to run projects on their own, to build and change the curriculum from the inside. In Australia and the US, I work with teaching artists and administrators to facilitate professional learning models with young people and teachers together. In the Student/Teacher Learning Community project, eightto eleven-year-old students actually lead drama lessons in other classrooms and train teachers at faculty meetings, with teacher support. Are the students perfect teachers? They are not. But by taking on the role of teacher, students begin to think critically and creatively about what education can and should be. With support from teaching artists, the arts can be a method for teachers and students to become co-conspirators in making the educational change and improvement they need. The reason we will get through our current, necessary social justice reckoning is because young people understand what change requires; we just need to listen and support their effort to make it happen.

Part 3

Reframing narratives Strategies for re-envisioning education


Neighborhood bridges Rehearsing transformations in the classroom and beyond Maria Asp, Sonja Kuftinec, and Jack Zipes

Founded by Jack Zipes and Peter Brosius in 1998, the storytelling and performance program Neighborhood Bridges works to shift expertise from adult authorities to children and empower students to be narrators of their own lives. Using creativity to foster critical literacy animates children as producers rather than consumers, and as problem-solvers rather than problems to be solved. By transforming and performing stories, children can imaginatively transform themselves and the systems in which they exist. Below co-authors Maria Asp, Sonja Kuftinec, and Jack Zipes offer a history of the program, an overview of its methodology, and an assessment of its efficacy. In the summer of 1973, Jack Zipes traveled to Berlin to write about radical theatre groups for Theater magazine. While there, he came across the children’s theatre Grips and was inspired by their emancipatory politics and aesthetics; he was so startled by two anti-authoritarian plays that he asked director, Volker Ludwig, whether he could translate them. Zipes returned to storytelling in the Milwaukee public schools, using methods learned from Grips and ideas from theatre artists Bertolt Brecht and Georg Tabori. The program he crafted combined storytelling and acting to inspire clear-headed, imaginative thinking on the part of children. While respecting their autonomy, Zipes hoped to learn how they addressed problems confronted at home and in the public sphere. By the time Zipes moved to Minneapolis in 1990 to teach at the University of Minnesota, he had a long history of working with children and theatres in Germany, the UK, Ireland, and the United States. Zipes had also studied Italian and discovered Gianni Rodari’s The Grammar of Fantasy (1996), which provides creative ideas for encouraging children to speak out against the conditions in which they were born and educated. Once settled in Minneapolis, Zipes began a storytelling program at various urban schools to enable children to become storytellers of their own lives. Serendipitously, an old friend, Herb Kohl—one of the leading progressive educators at that time—visited the Twin Cities in 1994. Kohl served on the board of George Soros’s Open Foundation which funded progressive cultural projects. Zipes and Kohl discussed the possibility of the Foundation

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offering $100,000 if an appropriate theatre could house the storytelling program. Thus, Zipes joined forces with the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis (CTC). Working with artistic director Peter Brosius, Zipes cofounded Neighborhood Bridges. The initial purpose of Bridges was to set up a year-round program with resident teaching artists in two Minneapolis elementary schools, Whittier and Lucy Laney. After exploring genres of storytelling, writing, drawing, and improvisation, each class would craft an original play and share it with their school and parents. They would then travel to the partner school and finally join together at the Children’s Theatre—creating bridges within the school, community, and theatre with students, teachers, actors, relatives, and parents. In the spring of 1998, Zipes trained eight actors in his methodology, followed by a summer seminar uniting teachers and teaching artists—including Maria Asp. She recalls that her job interview consisted of discussing “Hansel and Gretel” for two hours. She then began training with Zipes: We would sit in the back of the room and watch Jack teach; it seemed chaotic, but now I recognize it as complete engagement of all the kids. They felt empowered to bring themselves into the stories. They could change the story to express themselves with their bodies, with their voices. There were no controls on them; they were given full artistic freedom. Until this moment, Asp had been exposed to teaching theatre in a more traditional style. Finally, she mustered the courage to confront Zipes: “How can you let it be so loud with kids running all over the place? How can you let those rehearsals be so crazy?” He responded, “How do we set up situations so that students do not become dependent on authority figures for their learning? How do we create space for the students to learn to organize themselves?” After putting this approach into practice and witnessing students’ flourishing, Asp understood its wisdom. The program’s success in developing the talents and skills of over one hundred students during the first two years in Whittier and Lucy Laney enabled Bridges to obtain more support from other foundations and to expand the program. By the fall of 2003, Neighborhood Bridges had programs in eight elementary schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. More teaching artists were then recruited and trained in summer seminars at the University of Minnesota— which Zipes, Maria Asp, and Sonja Kuftinec have since been co-teaching for close to twenty years. Now in its twenty-second year, Neighborhood Bridges involves 18-20 classes with over seven hundred students participating in weekly two-hour classes over the school year. As a celebration for their work during the year, the children perform their own plays on the CTC main stage in school festivals every May, attended by friends, parents, relatives, and the general public.

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Guiding principles and practices Transformation

The program fosters individual and collective transformation through two primary means: changing the classroom environment and playing with what Russian Structuralist Vladimir Propp called the “functional elements” of story (1968). Bridges thereby uses structured improvisation to illuminate and transform the “rules” of school, of storytelling, and of power relations within narratives. A typical Bridges session has four phases: improvised storytelling with student writing and sharing; interactive oral storytelling; questioning and discussion of stories through the lens of critical literacy; and scenes that invite transformation of stories based on critical questioning. Theatre games, such as variations on Simon Says (Zeus Says) or character embodiments, are interspersed throughout the lessons to energize and focus the students and enhance collaboration. One of the first storytelling games introduced is the “fantastic binominal,” drawn from the work of Gianni Rodari (1996). The teaching artist selects two different noun categories, usually related to the stories selected for the day’s lesson. So, if an artist were preparing to tell “Puss in Boots,” she might introduce categories of “things that go on your feet” and “pets.” Prepositions then link the nouns, prompting an often-surprising title that also invites a problem to be solved by the storyteller: how do these two items relate? The students collectively brainstorm lists of nouns and prepositions, then vote on their favorite noun or preposition in each category and which direction the title goes: “Socks in Snakes” or “Snakes in Socks?” Based on the elected title, the teaching artist then improvises a story with student input. Because the story unfolds for everyone at the same time, the energy in the room feels electric and playful. The source of creative energy then shifts: Having experienced an improvised story model, all the students now return to the list of nouns and prepositions to create new titles and simultaneously write their own stories. A few students then volunteer to share their writing aloud. Afterwards, the teaching artist invites the volunteers to play with additional story elements. For example, if the classroom teacher wants students to focus on character and dialogue, the teaching artist might invite the student volunteers to improvisatorially add these elements to their story, using the collective creativity of the classroom to assist them. The teacher and teaching artist might instead choose to focus on point of view. So, after a student shares their written story of, say, “Socks through Puppies,” the teaching artist would invite the student to spontaneously retell the story from the point of view of the socks: “I was lying scattered on the bedroom floor like always, when suddenly …” This practice encourages students to fluently navigate between oral and written storytelling and to play with story elements, while also seeding forthcoming explorations of power and perspective. The classroom then spatially transforms into an open arena for storytelling and inquiry. The students sit in a circle on the same level as the teaching artist who

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orally shares a canonical story, often “priming” the story with a question: “Have you ever done something even though you knew it was against the rules?” The teaching artist then “leans into” questionable elements of the tale in their telling. For example, the program often begins with “Little Red Riding Hood,” a folktale that has stayed with us because it addresses the problem of sexual violation (see Zipes, 1993). A teaching artist might emphasize the innocence of Little Red or the fragility of the Grandmother. Following the storytelling, a debate often explodes with the students arguing that Little Red should have never given the Wolf directions or that if Little Red were a boy, he would have escaped. Likewise, discussion might highlight ethical perspectives. When Maria Asp asked Lucy Laney students, “Who benefits from a story like this?” they replied, “No one.” Alternately, conversation can illuminate the students’ social conditions. A student noted, “This is the way the world is. My grandmother lives four blocks away and my parents drive me over to her house. There are wolves everywhere.” Bridges also sustains critical questioning through relaying and contrasting a second story. Following the Grimm Brothers’ version of “Little Red,” a teaching artist might share an adaptation such as Catherine Storr’s “Little Polly and the Stupid Wolf” (1955). This counter-tale offers another example of how functional elements can be altered; in Storr’s version, Polly lives in the city and defeats the wolf through a savvier understanding of literary tropes and how they might be subverted. After investigating and comparing the tales, the teaching artist invites students to animate and transform the original story based on their questions. For example, one class expressed dissatisfaction that the Grandma seemed weak. They therefore changed the story so that the Grandma announced, “Oh no, you aren’t going to hurt me or anyone in my family.” Grandma then grabbed a bat and locked the wolf into the closet and returned to cooking. Creative and critical literacy

While Bridges focuses on individual, collective, and spatial transformations within classrooms through critical inquiry, the program also offers an explicit critique of functional literacy. This critique aligns with what Paulo Freire refers to as the “banking model” of rote education, which treats students as empty vessels to be filled (2000). Notably, until the end of the nineteenth century, most people did not know how to read and write yet were able to solve problems and demonstrate their intelligence and originality in their work and inventions. The oral form of transmitting and sharing knowledge has sufficed to spark imagination and inspire people to think critically about their circumstances. On the other hand, reading and writing have become more important skills in our advanced technological society. Therefore, the Bridges program does not simply talk about learning how to read and write so that a child can “function” better within society, but rather so that they can better grasp who they are, why they are in a particular situation, and how they can discover their talents to develop and assume different roles in life.

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Thus, in addition to inviting students to question power relations in stories (“Who makes the rules?” “Who has power?”) and perspectives (“Who don’t we hear from?”), Bridges also encourages students to contemplate positionality through perspective-taking exercises. While telling “Robin Hood and the Potter,” for example, students might be assigned to listen to the tale from distinct perspectives: Robin Hood, Little John and the other outlaws, the Sheriff and the other rich royal people, the poor people. Students consider how the story positions their character group, listening for what they say and do and for what is said about them. Afterwards, students dialogue within their groups: How were they represented in the story? Did they make rules? Was anything missing? Did they have a voice? One student in the “poor people” group shared, “I will tell you what was missing, like everything about us! We don’t have names, and we are just an excuse for Robin Hood and the Merry Men to steal. Where in the scene do we actually get anything? How does he know what we need? When does he actually talk to us?” After a lively discussion, students added missing scenes and changed the story to make it their own. Another perspective-taking class focused on the myth of “Polyphemus and the Cyclops.” One of the groups listened from the standpoint of the sheep. They were outraged at how human-centric everyone was. When they presented their play, they decided to share Greek and Roman history from the sheep’s perspective, detailing the various ways that humans have been taking advantage of them over time: “They cut our hair and use it to make wool—how do the sheep benefit? In fact, now we are cold!” They discussed being killed for food: After helping the Greek “warriors” to escape—what thanks did they get? “Being thrown onto their ship to be eaten! Ungrateful Humans, it’s always all about them!” Students as producers and problem-solvers

The program thrives on creative problem-solving. For example, each year, Bridges’ fifth graders gather for a Crossing Bridges festival at CTC to watch each other perform original story adaptations. One class had chosen to adapt and perform “The Frog and His Two Wives,” changing the name to “Drama with Daddy.” In their version, this lazy cheating Frog daddy had not two but four wives. Before the performance, teaching artist Maria Asp had asked who wanted to play one of the Frog Wives. One of the quietest students had raised her hand. The student had loved portraying the wife in rehearsal, because once she realized that the Frog had been cheating on her and had several other families, telling the Frog what she thought about him and kicking him out of her home was really fun to act out. Then, just as Asp shared, “looks like we have our four wives,” one outspoken boy decided he would in fact like to play a wife too. Asp emphasized that the casting was complete, which caused a class mutiny. She recalls: I suddenly had thirty students all yelling at me that I had no right to control their play. I told them that I was open to their critique, but I couldn’t hear

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what they were saying when they were all screaming at me at once. One by one the students stood up and told me how Bridges is one of the only times that they actually get to make any real decisions. I had been telling them all year to change the story and make it their own, and now I was imposing casting: “You said actors can be anything, and now you are saying only girls can play wives?!” This went on for a while; they appeared to have endless critiques of my casting announcement. Finally, one student suggested that the Frog could have five wives: problem solved by the students. In addition to fostering student problem-solving, Bridges tries to counter-act larger systemic obstacles: the testing mania of federal and state governments, lobby groups seeking to privatize and commercialize public education, the bad press directed towards teachers, principals, and administrators. Given the daily conflicts and battles over children’s education in the United States, Bridges views its work as part of a movement of progressive educators. The importance of that movement is particularly crucial in Twin Cities schools impacted by historically racist housing policies, such as redlining and racial covenants. As sociologist Barbara Reskin points out in “The Race Discrimination System,” these policies are part of feedback loops that sustain wealth and opportunity disparities (2012). At the same time, these communities have great resilience and strength (see Love Them First 2019). Working in alliance with students, teachers, administrators, and parents, the Bridges program at Lucy Laney highlights how students can see and imaginatively transform oppressive systems. Maria Asp’s recollection of one such classroom’s performance of “The Giant Suit of Armor” demonstrates this practice: I wasn’t convinced that they knew what was happening in that story. In fact, I think that they picked the story as their play because the hunchback dwarves shot arrows and beat up the giant, and they thought that was going to be fun to act out. But when we got to the end, one student looked at me and gasped, “Wait a second. You mean, the Giant never uses his suit of armor, and he stays a slave?” The kids hated this ending: “We don't like this story. We don’t want to do this. We are Black people—we aren’t going to stay slaves!” I responded, “Okay, what should we do?” We had a dynamic discussion. Then two little girls started marching around the room, linking their arms saying, “Free Black people! Free Black people!” I asked what they meant. They replied, “Well, we’re gonna learn from this. We’re going to learn that the giant never did anything. And we’re never gonna let Black people be enslaved again.” The class cheered; we had our ending. They took their critique of the play and made an incredibly powerful piece of theatre. Adaptations

Given its focus on transformations, Bridges must itself respond to changing conditions and needs. Two recent initiatives—with a Native American school

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and the crafting of a curriculum to counter Islamophobia—illuminate the challenges and opportunities of program adaptations. Native American students in the public-school system offer a particular challenge to Bridges, as students grapple with the historical trauma imposed by colonial practices and education systems. Teaching artist Maria Asp notes, “I had to completely rethink my methods, storytelling, the curriculum that I was selecting to be the teacher that those kids needed, and I did a whole lot of failing.” One little boy burst into tears before class had started. He stood outside the door trembling, because the fear of not knowing what was going to happen terrified him. Asp quickly figured out that following Bridges usual approach wasn’t going to work. Instead, she started going to the Ojibwe Language Table held Monday evenings at the school and consulting with the building Elder. Together they initiated “found object” puppet-making with the students. The classroom teacher noted that this process invited more collaboration than he had ever witnessed. As suggested by the Elder, Asp also started telling Native Iktome tales. Then this fourth-grade girl looked at her and said, “You know, we don't live in wigwams and teepees. Get us a story about us now.” While honoring their culture, they needed to see themselves, today, as the protagonists. Asp began working with another teaching artist seeking out community interviews, and together they created stories that centered Native American tales in the Cities. She relays, We told the story of ‘Governor Mark Dayton and the Water Summit’ and had 100% participation and no behavior problems. It was a great reminder that we know that kids need to see themselves reflected in the stories that they’re hearing. I will never forget how that class just pulled together, because the stories focused on their community resilience. Similarly, an opportunity to collaborate with CAIR MN (Committee on American Islamic Relations) led to more intentional curricular adaptations designed to counter Islamophobia. The Twin Cities hosts a significant refugee community of East African immigrants resettled after a variety of violent upheavals in their home countries. With the rise of the Islamic State, that community faced discrimination and phobia within the United States. The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art offered a three-year grant to develop “countering Islamophobia” curriculum. The Foundation also supported two Somali apprentices to work in classrooms with significant American Muslim community members. Working with the apprentices and CAIR MN, Bridges collected contemporary oral histories relevant to their culture. The teaching artists learned of new tale types such as “The Time I Accidentally Ate Pork.” They heard painful airport travel tales. Through the curriculum, Bridges illuminated how change may be linked to empathy. As evidenced by both anecdotal experience and scholarly studies, the stories worked.1 In one fourth grade class at Lucy Laney, students grew incensed after hearing the story “The Paper Bag,” in which an older Somali sister and younger

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brother navigate a fellow passenger’s fear while boarding a plane to spend the weekend with their mother. The passenger seated next to the kids frantically calls for service to remove the kids from the plane because she had witnessed their Arabic-speaking father giving the brother a paper bag of candy for the trip. After hearing the story, students erupted with questions: “Was that lady white? How could she do that? That lady—she is the terrorist! Those are just kids? Why didn’t anyone do anything? They are going to make those kids feel bad about their religion—and that is something you are supposed to be proud of!” Even though the class had no Somali students, the story upset them so much they decided that they needed to make it into a play but crafted a completely different ending. In their version, every single person on the plane stood up to support the Somali children and shared statements about how important it is to be curious about each other and not to hate. They wanted to live in a world where it is safe for children to travel and that the community would look after them and ensure that they reached their mother free of harassment. We have found that our students know what unfair feels like, and they are ready to stand up for someone who is experiencing discrimination. Through theatre, they rehearse what it might mean to live in a more democratic society where bystanders speak up and listen to others.

Conclusions Young people tend to be positioned as passive, as problems, as vessels to be disciplined into citizens (Young-Bruehl, 2012). Yet, when children discover ways to work together—to attend to different positions and resolve differences creatively—they come to understand themselves as agents and authors of shifting narratives. They practice what it means to illuminate, question, and transform the status quo. The heart of Neighborhood Bridges centers on such transformations of the self and community through storytelling and performance. The program’s stated purpose of enabling children to become storytellers of their own lives is based on the realization that all our selves—our identities—are contingent on narrative. Some narratives might be externally imposed. Yet, when individuals rehearse their capacity for self-narration, they can rewrite such “social scripts.” From an existentialist point of view, the human being is a work of art in continuous formation. Through storytelling with children, Bridges animates how stories can assist each one of us to become autonomous individuals, working with others, to resist externally imposed narratives to voice our needs and desires for a better world.

Note 1 A study prepared by Romina Madrid and Debra Ingram at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) found that 100% of classroom teachers agreed that they “gained a deeper understanding of Muslim

Rehearsing transformations in classroom  73 American experiences in the United States” and that 86% of classroom teachers agreed that “students who identify as Muslims were able to take a leadership role in discussion about the new curriculum.”

References Freire, P. (2000) Pedagogy of the oppressed. 30th anniversary ed. Trans. Myra Bergman-Ramos. New York: Continuum. Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney (2019). Directed by Lindsey Seavert [Film]. St. Paul, MN: Kare 11 Originals. Madrid, R. and Ingram, D. (2019) “Neighborhood Bridges 2017–2019 Evaluation Findings.” Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, University of Minnesota. Propp, V. (1968) Morphology of the folktale. 2nd ed. Austin: University of Texas Press. Reskin, B. (2012) “The Race Discrimination System,” Annual Review of Sociology, 38(1), pp. 17–35. Rodari, G. (1996) The Grammar of Fantasy: An Introduction to the Art of Inventing Stories, 2nd ed. Trans. Jack Zipes. New York: Teachers and Writers Collaborative. Storr, Catherine (1955) “Little Polly and the Stupid Wolf,” in Zipes, J. (2004) Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children. Rev. ed. New York: Routledge, pp. 122–126. Young-Bruehl, E. (2012) Childism: Confronting Prejudice against Children. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Zipes, J. (1993) The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood. Rev. ed. New York: Routledge. Zipes, J. (1995) Creative Storytelling: Building Community/Changing Lives. New York: Routledge. Zipes, J. (2004) Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children. New York: Routledge.


Room to play An exploration of resources and youth agency Liz Foster-Shaner

In 2018, I began collaborating with educators and education activists Gretchen Givens Generett, Michelle King, and Beth Sondel to develop and facilitate Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) workshops that analyze and disrupt systems of oppression in K-12 education (and beyond). These workshops are primarily directed towards pre- and in-service educators and focus on consciousnessraising and social change, while providing participants with tools that they can bring into their classrooms (see Foster-Shaner, et al, 2019). Around the same time, as a teaching artist with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, I also began designing and facilitating TO residencies for elementary and middle school students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools with the goal of engaging students in critical explorations of themes around power, oppression, and social change in their schools and other institutions. These residencies typically last around two months, with students in grades 4–8. While these workshops demonstrated to me TO’s potential to critique how systems of oppression operate in our schools, as Asp, Kuftinec, Zipes describe, turning participants into “producers rather than consumers” (p. 65), they also provided a useful comparison of the resources needed to fully achieve this outcome. The Pittsburgh Public School (PPS) district faces a myriad of challenges that can hinder educators and administrators in meeting their vision of what education can and should be. According to PPS, 63.75% of enrolled students in 2019 were from economically disadvantaged backgrounds1 with many reliant on school breakfasts and lunches as a primary source of food (Enrollment Data 2020). Schools themselves struggle to meet conditions optimal for learning; for example, a heat wave in 2018 led to two days of school closures as only eleven of fifty-four school buildings have air conditioning (Wadas, 2018). The demographics of students and teachers in PPS are in line with national trends; the Pennsylvania Department of Education released data from 2016–17 showing that PPS students are majority Black (53%), but teachers are majority White (85%). Representation matters in education. According to research compiled in a report of the teacher and student demographic data, teachers of color can have a huge positive impact on student achievement and school climate, leading to “higher expectations for students of color” and mitigating implicit bias in all students, among other outcomes (Stohr, Fontana, and Lapp, 2018, p. 2),

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which is especially important given the high achievement gap between White students and Students of Color in PPS across subjects and grades (Niederberger, 2018). PPS is also embroiled in the debate over police officers and school security in school buildings, with alarming data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education citing five Pittsburgh schools among the top twenty-five in the state for arrests and citations (Simonton, 2019). Police appeared in schools over fifteen years ago as part of the state’s zero-tolerance policies, leading to high suspension rates, especially for Black students. Although PPS is incorporating restorative practices and positive behavior interventions as alternatives to suspensions and expulsions, Black students are still four times more likely to be suspended than their White peers (15.4% to 3.8%) (Discover PPS, 2020). Anecdotally, every PPS building I entered had a metal detector that all visitors must walk through, and every classroom that I taught in had at least one Black student (usually male) whom the classroom teacher identified to me as “challenging.” The educators with whom we worked in the TO workshops were eager for change and hungry for the opportunity to grapple with their roles within the education system. Likewise, the students in the residencies were excited by the opportunity to play games, and many shared their experiences with the education system. For example, in the TO exercise Columbian Hypnosis participants take turns as hypnotizers and hypnotized to explore issues around both individual and systemic power (see Boal, 1992, pp. 63–64). The exercise begins in pairs and then expands to include a larger group in a chain of hypnotizers and hypnotized, with those in the middle taking on both roles. When asked to view this physical image as symbolic of the educational system, most students saw themselves at the end of this hierarchical chain. One fifth grader further made an astute connection: She observed that when someone from the district visited the class that morning, her teacher seemed less focused than usual. Perhaps the student sensed what several educators had previously articulated about the struggle to meet their students’ needs while also appeasing policy guidelines that emphasize testing and academic performance over intellectual exploration and relationships. While these examples demonstrate the power of TO exercises to spark critical analysis of power dynamics in the education system, I cannot claim with certainty that I was effective in transforming and disrupting the classroom environment to the extent necessary to empower those students to become active agents of change outside of the residency experience. To examine these results, we must consider the substantial impact of resources in achieving this goal. In our workshops with adults, we were usually backed by powerful institutions (i.e., the University of Pittsburgh), and we had considerable control in setting the parameters of our workshops in terms of time, space, and representation. We could be thoughtful about how much time we needed and when to schedule breaks. We could be generous in the food that we offered and reasonable about allowing participants to partake of it as desired—as opposed to in conventional school settings where food is prohibited outside of specific times and locations. As a team of two Black

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and two White women, we more closely represented the students enrolled in PPS schools. We also identified spaces for our workshop where educators from diverse backgrounds might feel comfortable participating, such as the Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Urban Education. In contrast, residencies in Pittsburgh public schools with students proved more challenging. First, the very placement of programs within conventional school settings can be one of the largest hurdles to enacting transformational change. In TO workshops, participants must be able to question authority, disrupt social norms, and practice radical social interventions in order to “rehearse the revolution” (Boal, 1992, p. 141). In my experience, even when partnering with supportive classroom teachers, the focus on behavior (due to large class sizes, lack of support for teachers, jam-packed curriculum, etc.) is a serious hindrance to fostering the environment needed for TO. Play and exploration is central to the process of breaking norms, and fostering creativity is chaotic and messy. On many occasions, especially early in a residency, classroom teachers interrupted the chaos with discipline, shutting down the activity and making students feel like what they were doing was wrong. Communication with the teacher can help clarify expectations for student behavior; however, we usually first have to build a relationship of trust before they feel comfortable enough to relax the classroom environment. In one of my early partnerships, I was given eight, forty-five minute sessions with three classes of students, which made it difficult to ensure students had agency in choosing their own experiences to develop Forum Theatre (scenes in which “the participant has to intervene decisively in the dramatic action and change it” (Boal, 1992, p. 139)). Because of the lack of time, I opted to begin the Forum workshops with my own examples and a somewhat rigid narrative structure. I was also working in spaces clearly not designed for movement, in classes crammed full of desks, chairs, and instructional materials. As a teaching artist, I’m used to reconfiguring spaces, but even still the rooms felt claustrophobic with over twenty students moving around. In Columbian Hypnosis, partners were challenged to find a space to move without distractions from their peers. Moreover, instead of multi-racial facilitation teams, here, the funding supported one (and in my case White) teaching artist. In response to these experiences, Michelle King and I have been developing a TO for youth program independent from conventional educational institutions, giving us more flexibility in how we engage with youth. Supported by local grants from Remake Learning and the Three Rivers Community Foundation, Let’s Act: Rehearsing the Revolution centers youth voices through an after-school program. Students are learning and practicing TO techniques while sharing and analyzing the ways in which oppression operates in our education system, culminating in a public presentation. In this program, we have the time for students to come up with their own definitions of oppression and then use examples from their personal experiences to analyze how it shows up in their schools.

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Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, workshops were held in the Braddock Carnegie Library, known for its radical youth and community programming (see BCL, n.d.). With the onset of the pandemic, we shifted to online programming using Zoom and other innovative platforms such as Gather and Google Jamboard to build community and be creative. The majority of the funding is going towards increasing accessibility of the program: youth are monetarily compensated for their time, creative labor, and expertise, and we are organizing regular snack deliveries. In addition to nourishing the students’ bodies, breaking bread together also helps create a sense of community.2 Michelle and I also represent a racially diverse facilitation team, as we did in the adult workshops. As our program is focused on youth agency and voice, we are following the lead of our participants, who are deciding the specifics of the project and its outcomes. As facilitators, our primary goals are to develop community, foster trust, and create an environment where the youth feel like they can take risks and be honest about their experiences in the education system. We are weaving in creative story sharing exercises and Forum development into the sessions, while providing space for youth to explore topics and questions that are relevant to them. Our time together is slow, spontaneous, and thoughtful. We acknowledge that we are asking a lot from our participants, most of whom have never performed in public before, but our aim is to provide youth with tools to enact positive change in their communities. Students are determining which stakeholders to invite to witness their stories and be held accountable for enacting change; they may even join in the Forum to contribute strategies that they can enact in their own places of practice. We are eager to continue this pilot project in the hopes of discovering the extent to which the resources provided might increase opportunities for transformation, for the youth, as well as for us as facilitators who are frustrated by the education system in Pittsburgh and the nation as a whole.

Notes 1 PPS defines Economically Disadvantaged as “The percentage of students within a school who are considered ‘Direct Certified,’ receiving services through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid or Food Assistance” (https://www​.discoverpps​ .org​/district​/enrollment). 2 In the first workshop students gave input on what kind of food they prefer.

References Boal, A. (1992) Games for Actors and Non-actors. London: Routledge. The Braddock Carnegie Library (n.d.) Programs — The Braddock Carnegie Library. Accessed 15 June 2020. http://bra​ddoc​kcar​negi​elibrary​.org​/programs. Discover PPS (2020) Dashboards / Suspension Rates. Accessed 14 June 2020. https://www​ .pghschools​.org​/Page​/5070. Enrollment Data (2020) [online] Accessed 14 June 2020. https://www​.discoverpps​.org​/ district​/enrollment.

78  Liz Foster-Shaner Foster-Shaner, L., et al (2019) “Living and Learning at the Intersections of Identity and Community: Facilitating Theatre of the Oppressed Workshops with Educators.” The Educational Forum, 83(4), pp. 351–364. Niederberger, M. (2018) “Hamlet Hopes to Shrink Racial Achievement Gap in Pittsburgh Schools. New Test Scores Show A Long Way to Go.” 24 Sept. Accessed 14 June 2020. https://www​.publicsource​.org​/hamlet​-hopes​-to​-shrink​-racial​-achievement​-gap​-in​ -pittsburgh​-schools​-new​-test​-scores​-show​-a​-long​-way​-to​-go/. Simonton, T. (2019) “5  Pittsburgh Schools Among State’s Highest in Arrests, Citations as Security Debate Continues.” TribLIVE​.com​. 27 Dec. Accessed 14 June 2020. https:// triblive​.com​/local​/pittsburgh​-allegheny​/5​-pittsburgh​-schools​-among​-the​-highest​-in​ -state- for-arrests-citations-as-debate-over-security-continues/. Stohr, A., Fontana, J., and Lapp, D. (2018) “Patching the Leaky Pipeline: Recruiting and Retaining Teachers of Color in Pennsylvania. A PACER Policy Brief.” Research for Action. April. Accessed 14 June 2020. https://8rri53pm0cs22jk3vvqna1ub- wpengine​ .netdna​-ssl​.com​/wp​-content​/uploads​/2018​/04​/Teachers​-of​-Color​-Public​​-Release​.pdf. Wadas, A. (2018) “Thousands of Students Will Be Dismissed Early Due to Heat.” 4 Sept. Accessed 14 June 2020. https://pittsburgh​.cbslocal​.com​/2018​/09​/04​/pittsburgh​ -area- schools-high- heat-early-dismissal/.


A tale of telling some truths to power Jessica “Decky” Alexander

In Washtenaw County, Michigan, on-going theatre with, for, and about youth in collaboration with the Student Advocacy Center (SAC) has been instrumental in fostering awareness of systemic inequities, scarcity of resources, and economic realities at the root of youth homelessness, truancy, and school expulsions. This essay discusses a partnership between Eastern Michigan University (EMU) and SAC to illustrate the efficacy of theatre as a tool to shift public perceptions and policies. There is a local infographic that conveys the social, health, and economic disparities in one part of the county versus another (One Community, 2018). If one exits St. Joseph of Mercy Hospital going south and turns right, towards Ann Arbor, home to University of Michigan (and zip code 48105), one enters the most educated city in America, as well as one of the greenest. However, if one turns left towards Ypsilanti, one reaches the area home to EMU (and zip codes 48197/98), as well as the majority of youth who are served by the SAC. Here, there is a nine-year difference in life expectancy; African-American babies are six times more likely to grow up in poverty, and at the time of this writing, home to the largest number of COVID-19 cases in this county (44%) (One Community, 2018; Mlive, 2020). A “school of opportunity,” EMU has produced generations of teachers, social workers, and nurses, with most of them staying in state, following graduation (EMU, 2020). EMU students are often the first in their families to go to college; 70% of them work thirty hours or more a week, and 25% are students of color primarily from Detroit and its surrounding suburbs (EMU Databook, 2019). As a faculty member at EMU, a resident of Ypsilanti for almost two decades, and most especially as an artist, I have felt both a responsibility and urgency to intentionally and collaboratively use theatre to illuminate the social and economic inequities of the community in which I live, the streets I walk, and the space I share. As such, I run an annual theatre-making project between EMU graduate and undergraduate students in applied drama/theatre, alumni of the program, and the SAC. SAC’s mission is to “assist our most vulnerable students to stay in school, realize their rights to a quality public education, and experience success” (SAC, n.d.). Their work primarily focuses on direct advocacy for students who have been expelled or suspended from school. For years, the state

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of Michigan had one of the harshest discipline laws in the country. Basically, any infraction large (e.g., bringing a knife to school) or small (e.g., throwing a water bottle and hitting someone accidently) would result in an automatic 180-day expulsion from school. In 2013, SAC launched Telling Tales Out of School, an annual storytelling and fundraising event to showcase those impacted by the inconsistency, aggressiveness, and apathy of school systems as they navigate the state’s zero-tolerance laws. As “Natasha,” mother of “Te’vion” explains, “You can’t be a kid and make kid mistakes … because they follow you. Get stamped on your record. Everyplace we go, his whole story goes. Whatever is on his record, transfers. He is his record.” By telling stories of the consequences of such practices on the students and their families, SAC targets audience members who are power brokers—policy makers, school board members, state representatives, social workers, schoolteachers and administrators—with the intent of shifting their perception and thereby revising their policies. As SAC’s director, Peri Stone Palmquist shared, “We believe that storytelling is healing, connecting and building community, as folks come together to bear witness to the pains, joys, struggles and triumphs of folks they may have never met otherwise” (Email, 2020). SAC is thus deliberate in the stories they choose to tell. They survey those who have finished school first and those who might be open to sharing their story, noting emergent themes. EMU students, alumni, and I (as a writer/ performer) interview the students, guardians, or parents recently impacted by suspensions and expulsions. We then transcribe those interviews and use them to develop personal narratives, which we perform at SAC’s event. While EMU participants are primarily conduits, since many of the students who attend EMU are from communities resembling the demographics and economics of Ypsilanti, their shared background fosters a greater sense of creative reciprocity, where youth and EMU students are more often than not co-creators in the theatre-making process.1 The stories presented have revealed everything from severe systemic injustice to arbitrary suspensions because a student was talking out in class. In one story, a middle school girl who is raped, and whose rapists are indeed sent to prison, ends up being taunted by the rapists’ older relatives as she walks her neighborhood. The girl misses her school bus and thus must take a city bus to school; afraid that one of the relatives is going to jump her, she brings a kitchen knife in her backpack for protection. At her locker, the knife drops out of her backpack, a teacher sees it, reports her, and she is suspended from school for 180 days. The law did not take into consideration the context of an action or student’s prior behaviors including academics (she was an exemplary student). Such stories challenge what has been “customarily told … [and] acted as truth, and to redress the balance by telling alternative stories or stories from different perspectives” (Nicholson, 2014, p. 63).  The SAC facilitates our introduction to the SAC clients. If the client is a youth, SAC accompanies us on the initial interview or conversation. If the client is a parent, we conduct the interview outside of the organization. We

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Figure 9.1 (from left to right) Ariel Pompey, Dakotah Myers (on ground), Karen Bagoumian, Gabrielle Morris, and Sina Webster in Anatomy of an Expulsion Hearing: A Slip of Paper, written/conceptualized by Dakotah Myers with Lance Ruggerio, Taylor Johnson, and Erica Coleman. Produced for the Student Advocacy Center’s Telling Tales Out of School. 2017. Photo by Steve Pepple.

are provided a sketch of who the individual is, why they are involved with the SAC, and often one “plot point,” such as: “was expelled for one hundred eighty days,” or “the youth has a learning disability.” We only know that they had sought out SAC’s assistance to advocate and/or navigate for them and want their story to be shared publicly (interviewees consent to having their stories performed; names are changed, and often any reference towards a specific school district or city is changed or deleted). EMU Telling Tales shows can be divided into two categories: personal narratives, which include three to five monologues; and ethnodramas, in which we integrate redacted transcripts of hearings, first-person interviews, data related to the primary issue, social media posts and commentary. In all cases, scripts are shared with interviewees, staff, youth, teachers, and parents for their feedback and/or input prior to performance. Most of those interviewed attend the performance. In the personal narrative pieces, interviews are either recorded and transcribed or captured via written notes and utilized to shape the subsequent piece. None of the pieces are performed as verbally shared. We adapt storyteller Doug Lipman’s strategy of identifying the MIT (Most Important Thing) to learn a story and shape a narrative (1999, p. 103). Is it a story about a fractured system, or an unjust school policy, or the circumstances that led up to

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the expulsion? We do not know what story needs to be told until we review the text, consider the organizational mission, and why this person/story was selected at this time. “Do No Harm'” is a guiding principle seminal to EMU’s work with the SAC, which aims to protect their clients while wanting to have their stories heard. Thus, rarely do youth present their own student discipline story: “As a result of social risk, retaliation (by the school or community), as well as the personal impact of the school discipline processes, sharing their story in such a public space could have dire consequences” (Palmquist, Dialogue, 2020). It is therefore crucial to understand the context in which the student discipline event occurred. Additionally, just capturing the event and then retelling it may be less influential in shifting attitudes and impacting policy. Once the interview has been transcribed, we must ask ourselves: “What is the story here? What needs to be heard, now?” Knowing that this story can illuminate the realities of student discipline policy, and thereby impact audience members who can do something about it, these artistic decisions become paramount. In the seven years of working with SAC, the majority of interviews have been performed face to face, and by the individual(s) performing the actual pieces. This is intentional: There is an ethical responsibility in using theatre to retell someone’s story. Ensuring the students recognize the weight of this responsibility is critical to the work being performed with integrity. Aesthetically, face to face engagement is also necessary to move the story beyond a verbatim interview. In ethnographic performance, truths may lie in the spaces between spoken words, breaths, utterances, as Anna Deavere Smith writes, “I think it’s about finding that moment when syntax changes, when grammar breaks down. Those are the moments, I should study, if I want to know who a person is” (2000, p. 53). Whereas we are performing the stories of those impacted by such policies, we are not intending to imitate or fully embodying the interviewees. Crucial to this type of theatre’s impact is a deep understanding of audience; SAC’s awareness of their audience is essential in order to shift attitudes and ignite any systemic change. Four years after the first Telling Tales launched, the state of Michigan signed a law that required Michigan schools to consider using restorative practices as an alternative to zero-tolerance policies like suspension or expulsion, and to consider factors such as age, disability, safety, and the seriousness of the offense when expelling a student (Michigan Virtual, 2018). In years preceding its passing, state, county, and city elected officials attended the Telling Tales events; the following testimonials illustrate its impact on legislation: State Representative Yousef Rabhi, 53rd House District, Michigan: For the last two terms I have worked closely with SAC to draft and introduce legislation to protect students that report being sexually assaulted. This legislation was the result of a longstanding relationship between

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myself and SAC, which blossomed thanks to Telling Tales Out of School. Storytelling helps to bring forward the daily struggle that students face in our school system and highlight their lived experiences in a way that numbers on a page could never provide. The case for these bills was made both to me and in committee through the telling of powerful student stories. State Senator, Jeff Irwin, 18th District, Michigan: For the last year, I have displayed artwork by a YCS (Ypsilanti Community School) student in my front office that depicts an “empty chair” due to a student lost to gun violence. This artwork, created through a partnership with SAC and their annual Telling Tales event, has made a powerful impression on the hundreds of policymakers and advocates that have passed this colorful reminder of our responsibilities to one another. Even as organizational messaging, needs, and wants have shifted over the years, the collaboration between SAC and EMU has remained constant. Each year SAC requests that we find a way for theatre to give a sense of immediacy and tangibility to their mission. Telling Tales continues to provide a platform to amplify the voices of individuals impacted by unfair policies prohibiting them from their inalienable right: to go to school.

Note 1 Those who perform are most often the gender, and necessarily the racial/ethnic identity, of the interviewee.

References EMU (2020) “Mission, Vision and Values,” Eastern Michigan University. Accessed 12 April 2020. https://www​.emich​.edu​/strategicplan​/mission/. EMU Databook (2019) “Eastern Michigan University. Accessed 27 January 2020. https:// irim​.emich​.edu​/data​_book​.php. Irwin, J. (2020) email with author, July 5. Lipman, D. (1999) Improving Your Storytelling: Beyond the Basics for All Who Tell Stories in Work and Play. Atlanta: August House. Michigan Virtual (2018) “What you need to know about Michigan’s new restorative justice law [with infographics],” Michiganvirtual​.or​g. 25 October. Accessed 15 April 2020. https://michiganvirtual​.org​/blog​/michigans​-new​-law​-about​-restorative​-justice/. Mlive (2020) “48% of Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients in Washtenaw County are Black, Health Department Says.” 2 April. Accessed 6 July 2020. https://www​.mlive​.com​/news​ /ann​-arbor​/2020​/04​/48​-of​-hospitalized​-covid​-19​-patients​-in​-washtenaw​-county​-are​ -black​-health​-department​-says​.html. Nicholson, H. (2014) Applied Drama: The Gift of Theatre. London: Red Globe Press.

84  Jessica “Decky” Alexander One Community (2018) “Advancing Racial Equity in Washtenaw County,” 1 June. Accessed 5 July 2020, https://www​.washtenaw​.org​/CivicAlerts​.aspx​?AID​=222​&ARC​ =425. Palmquist, P.S. (2020) Dialogue with author, 20 May. Palmquist, P.S. (2020) Email message to author, 17 April. Rahbi, Y. (2020) Email with author, 5 July. SAC (n.d.) “About Us Mission, Vision, Values and Annual Report.” Accessed 19 April 2020. http://www​.stu​dent​advo​cacy​center​.org​/about​-us​/mission​-and​-values/. Smith, A.D. (2000) Talk to Me: Listening Between the Lines. New York: Random House.

Roundtable discussion with Jessica “Decky” Alexander, Maria Asp, Lisa S. Brenner, Liz Foster-Shaner, Sonja Kuftinec, and Jack Zipes

Lisa: One major theme throughout all of your work is the idea of not just working in education but transforming the educational system, particularly through storytelling. So, what makes theatre an effective medium to attempt to transform education? Maria: I think there’s a step before even the words “education” and “theatre,” and that’s the transformation of yourself; because even though I live in the community with many of the children that I work with, I have to transform who I am in order to be the teacher that they need in that particular moment, in that particular situation. Jack: I don’t think that we should think about storytelling and theatre necessarily as transforming education; they should be part of it because both are essential parts of anyone’s education. We may want to transform education, and we’ll use theatre, storytelling, drawing, dance, music, but these things are essential qualities which at universities today are being controlled and eradicated. And so, I think that our fight is to say that every school has to have theatre, storytelling, music, and so on, not as extra classes that you take, but a major part of what education is all about. Sonja: Theatre is not something external to humans that we learn, but rather an expressive form that makes us human. That’s not to say that theatre or storytelling are somehow innately progressive, because both mediums can be used in deeply conservative ways. What I find so compelling about the Bridges programs is that the work that Jack created, and that has been developed for twenty-five years by teaching artists, recognizes that narratives already shape the lives of students—telling them who they are, every day. And you can become subjected to those narratives, especially for urban youth—especially for young Black boys in schools, just to put that out there and to name it. Bridges works to make those narrative structures visible and to create spaces to question and author new narratives; to ensure that students become authors of their own lives so that they learn that story is not complete but changeable. Liz: In many instances our education system can be incredibly dehumanizing for students. They’re dehumanized by standardized tests; by curriculum that focuses on proficiency rather than deep inquiry and curiosity and

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learning; by a lack of representation. And an emphasis on the school-toprison pipeline. And so, as a possible counterpoint, we encourage our participants to bring their stories to the table, to become the subjects of the story. As theatre engages bodies, we ask students to bring their whole selves and their embodied experience of the world and their full identities. But it takes time, intentional planning, and trust building, and Maria, your point of the pre-work that we need to do regarding ourselves. I’ve had some rude awakenings when I’ve gone into the classroom thinking I’m going to have all these liberatory practices, but my body as a White woman means something to the students; they have been harmed by bodies who look like mine. So, what kind of work do I need to do that is above and beyond what I had intended? Decky: The use of stories may not be transformative, but may create transformational moments, moments of change. Theatre as a medium recognizes what is, it owns the present, and as a result it has the ability to transform. Stories are particularly transformational because they are visceral, and thus more tangible. Lisa: What about the Bridges program? Jack: That line between audience and performer or storyteller becomes transformed to a certain extent, so that when the children start getting together and creating the play that they want to do, they are the performers, but they’re also doing it for themselves. They’re actually doing it for their friends and then eventually we have a big festival at the end of every year with about fifteen to twenty schools, depending on how many schools we serve in a year. That’s when the families come together, and these actors want to demonstrate how much they have come into themselves, what they’ve learned and so on. But you don’t want them just to be spectators. You want them to be able to be moved to do their own plays and to become performers and then back again into audiences. In other words, there’s a constant process in which you have performers and viewers exchanging roles. Sonja: Augusto Boal refers to that active audience as the “spect-actor.” Liz: I think there’s a lot of power in performing as a community, devising together, and then sharing with one another and unpacking what we’ve created. In Forum Theatre that can be powerful. I see Forum as a way of crowdsourcing the challenges that we face, even if we don’t then invite a larger audience. Our pilot program, Let’s Act is in the spirit of [Boal’s] Legislative Theatre where we invite other stakeholders to the performance and start holding adults who are in the education system accountable. I think the last thing that we want to do is to put all the responsibility and the burden of social change on the children, but rather start asking what is your role as adults who are complicit, and how can we all engage in finding the solutions? That being said, we plan to leave

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it up to the youth participants to decide who to invite to the performance so that they have agency and feel safe. Lisa: Let’s talk a little bit about what resources this work requires: financially, logistically. We talked about the preparation of self in order to do this work, but what about the preparation that needs to go into partnerships? Maria: I think that’s the invisible labor that most people don’t see. There’s so many levels: You have to set the groundwork, get the buy-in from the teachers, the principals, and the school districts. Assessment and evaluation are key components: We are always making sure that we are doing what we are saying we are doing and using assessment as a reflective tool. Decky: Theatre is the most inexpensive and the most expensive at the same time: the human cost is so significant; the time that one individual puts in, gives to the theatre experience, is impossible to quantify. Sometimes the focus is so much on resources needed for the work, and as a result, you create work based on deficits vs. assets. Deficits are easier to fund. How can we create based not on what is wrong, but instead on what are its strengths, its possibilities? Lisa: As editors, we have noticed a tension between an asset-based approach and a deficit-based approach. What kinds of ethical issues or approaches or values do you feel are needed in order to do this work? Sonja: Following several years of support and tension and given the recent institutional restructuring that eliminated the Bridges administrative positions, I see the Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) as both host and parasite. There are dangers in the kind of institutional alignment that offers support and space but is not always in ideological alignment with program ethics. To return to the question about assets, the kids are such extraordinary assets, and the teachers. There’s incredible intelligence of these kids that can so easily go to waste within the system as it’s set up. Maria: We have a curriculum with the community to counter Islamophobia. Something that’s specific to the Twin Cities is we have a very large East African population, and the Somali population is specifically targeted. And so, there is this massive distrust between historically white organizations (and actually white people) and that community. Right away, it became so clear to me that there’s nothing without trust. There were many meetings that had to happen out in the community. It was weekends and tons of work in the community, getting to know the young Muslim collective and understanding what that surveillance felt like. Before you’re going to create a curriculum or partnerships or apprentices, you have to start with trust, and you have to show up in their community first. Sometimes it’s just deep listening. If the kids invite you to their baseball or basketball game, try to go. You have to embed yourself in that community and then stay there and keep showing up.

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Jack: You also have to have trust in the institution in which you work or in which you’re associated with their donors. And then there’s trust with the families. But trust has deteriorated because of the whole mood or the whole education system. Without trust and without luck, opportunism, and persistence, you’re never going to have real programs established. Liz: I think that the biggest resource, yet the hardest to get, is time. You can put in all the pre-work to build relationships and trust, but teachers are strapped for time in their classrooms. Even if they’re excited about the program you want to bring in, they’re working with forty-five-minute chunks in many instances. And so, you ask yourself, “How long does it take to transform a classroom?” It takes more than forty-five minutes at a time. Just explaining your ideas can be a hurdle. So, I’ve done a lot of free workshops in the community, just to show people what this is. Because you can’t really describe it. But at some point, I think I have to say, truthfully, “I'm not going to be able to transform a classroom in forty-five-minute sessions.” That’s not to say that you can’t do amazing work and can’t bring an amazing experience, and that it’s not worth doing. But I think being realistic and honest is important. Decky: The relationships need to begin at a place of reciprocity. As Maria said, it’s about relationship building. And to build relationships that last, one has to see and believe the community to be an equal player, a co-pilot, a partner. Lisa: Before we run out of time, I want to pose one last question: What’s the essential conversations that we need to be having in this field right now? What are the questions that we need to be asking each other as practitioners, as artists, as citizens? Maria: What does it mean to be educated, and how do we shift kids to do more than just survive in this world? What are the tools that we can offer them and the strategies? What information or ways of being curious can we cultivate in kids, and how can we give them spaces to imagine beyond anything that they know right now? Sonja: While we may identify in complicated and different kinds of ways, there’s a reality that so much of the time it’s white people, often white women, in schools with 60 to 70% students of color. How do we reimagine the distribution of educational power? It’s systemically challenging to engage in those shifts. Liz’s article spoke to how a multi-racial team struggles to work within the containers of a grant or school scheduling restrictions. We live in and so often participate in sustaining white supremacy culture, even if we don’t want to be subscribing to this. It’s a conundrum. As a field, we need to continue to confront and creatively transform the structures of power. Jack: We have to be doing much more with one another. In other words, there is a big theatre community in Minneapolis. It’s fantastic. But I don’t think that we work together, particularly groups that work with young people. I think that we have to really join hands with like-minded artists

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who want to help educate children in a different way so that they will begin to think critically and will come into their own. Unless we protect ourselves together, then we will have disparate successes, but I think that what we want is a long term strategy. Decky: How do you find space for people who don’t have access to create this work? Theatre is part sound, and we need to find ways in which to give voice to people who don’t have it. Liz: What do I need to do to get more people into the room, who’s not in the room, and how do I invite them into the space? But also asking when is it time for me to step back and not do a project if I don’t have these things in place that I need to have to be accessible, sustainable, equitable, inclusive and anti-racist—all of the things that we say that we want to be. Lisa: Thanks, I appreciate your work and your contribution to this book.

Part 4

Fostering agency Social justice programs in urban and rural settings

10 From vision to implementation Re-examining essential practices for applied theatre with youth Joshua Rashon Streeter and Nicole Olusanya

As the lights come down on the Robert J. Orchard Stage, a cast of young people enter for their final curtain call. The students have made it through a year of intense writing, devising, and collaboration that brought them to this one-time performance. They openly share their stories of pain and their thoughts about critical social issues, including poverty, violence, body image, sexuality, drugs, and addiction. These young people deserve every moment of applause for their risk-taking, commitment, and passion. This article highlights a year-long project called I Dream: Boston: a partnership between ArtsEmerson, the presenting arm of Emerson College, and Muriel S. Snowden International High School, a Boston public high school. I Dream was created by award-winning actor, singer, writer, and community activist Daniel Beaty. The program is based on Beaty’s belief in “the power of the arts to help heal childhood trauma, transform that pain into power, and inspire a new generation of change agents to dismantle the systematic racism and oppression” (Beaty, n.d., “Personal Story”). With Beaty’s poems drawing upon his experiences as a Black man in America, serving as inspiration, I Dream uses a series of exercises for students to generate their own work. In creating I Dream in 2012, Beaty wanted young people to understand that reframing past experiences possesses the power to uplift you and impact others who hear your story. According to this model, stories of personal pain are deeply connected to larger social issues; they can raise awareness and elicit empathy, reflection, and dialogue. While a seemingly impactful experience for the high school students involved, this project reveals some of the ethical and logistical concerns of facilitating a complex applied theatre program. As the I Dream: Boston Project Manager (Olusanya) and Snowden’s collaborating classroom teacher (Streeter), we share our perspectives into this unique program and collaboration. In this article, we articulate the premise of I Dream and assess the implementation of the Boston pilot. We also highlight four aspects of our work that we believe are essential applied theatre practices: asset-based education, collaborative care, access, and artistic expression.

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Core beliefs, pillars, and curriculum I Dream was piloted in three major cities—Watts (California), Omaha (Nebraska), and Boston (Massachusetts)—with a local partner who developed a site-specific model alongside Beaty specific to the community and its needs. The partner served as a home base for the large-scale project, providing resources such as staff, space, and access to audiences. Watts focused on the initial development of the catalyst curriculum, facilitating several phases with youth at the Children’s Institute, an agency focused on “transforming the lives of children exposed to adversity and poverty in Los Angeles” (Children’s Institute, 2019). In Omaha, Beaty worked with the Rose Theatre, a regional theatre, and community members to unearth issues such as gang violence and the problematic foster care system. He wrote plays about these issues that were performed by professional actors for the public. In both Watts and Omaha, Beaty served as the artist-inresidence and lead teaching artist. Divergently, in Boston, Beaty provided the initial day-long catalyst curriculum and served as a consultant to support the design of a year-long program that could be implemented independently in other locations afterwards: “He aims to produce a framework so solid that he can export it to a number of cities — for adults as well as students — in a way that doesn’t depend on his presence” (Timberg, 2014). This pilot revealed tensions between the program’s aims and feasibility; yet it also provided opportunities for the local staff to lean into their particular skillsets. I Dream: Boston was a program managed by ArtsEmerson from 2014–2018. It went through several iterations, including an investigation phase—local civic and community leaders were interviewed by ArtsEmerson staff about the current social and political landscape of Boston, and an initial pilot phase—a portion of the curriculum was tested in various settings across the city with different groups. The pilot discussed below took place during the 2016–2017 school year. I Dream incorporates applied theatre techniques, drawing from multiple forms including poetry, storytelling, devising, and playwriting. By focusing on “local and community interests, as well as engaging individuals and groups with little to no formal training in the arts” (Alrutz, 2015, p. 6), applied theatre offers a way to acknowledge, address, and situate the experience of young people. I Dream achieves these goals by engaging in five “Core Beliefs” to position young people to “rewrite the story of race and class inequity in America and create social justice projects to make that new story reality” (Beaty, n.d., “I Dream”). The pilot was built upon three of the five Core Beliefs—Social Transformation, Arts, and Trauma Recovery. Beaty believes that individual transformation is the path to social transformation, stating, “When we transform as individuals, we create a greater possibility for long-lasting and deep social transformation” (“I Dream”). To begin Social Transformation, I Dream employs the Arts as a tool for social justice: “The creative and narrative gifts that artists bring have the possibility to advance conversations and action toward race and class equity in new, creative ways” (“I Dream”). Perhaps most distinctive is an

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emphasis on Trauma Recovery, which Beaty believes “is essential to healing the legacy of race and class inequity in America; building resilience; and creating meaningful, long-lasting change” (“I Dream”). The year-long pilot program did not practice the final two core beliefs of Community and Technology, as these programmatic phases are intended as next steps after the completion of the full-year program. The Community phase provides a platform for young people to intentionally organize with civic leaders on the social issues that they wrote about to complete community projects (“I Dream”). The Technology phase seeks to connect I Dream participants across the country for social networking to provide a pathway for social justice organizing and action (“I Dream”). The pilot included several programmatic components: an orientation session, a live performance of Mr. Joy by Daniel Beaty, a daylong “catalyst” workshop, weekly class visits throughout the school year, a rehearsal and technical process hosted at Emerson College, and a full production of original work created and performed by the students for an invited audience. Two co-teaching artists and a therapeutic professional worked in strategic collaboration with a classroom teacher and the project manager to deliver instruction to the young people involved—what Beaty refers to as the “core team.” This team participated in an intensive two-day training facilitated by Beaty, where they underwent Beaty’s “catalyst curriculum” themselves and used this experience to develop the curriculum for the year-long project. The I Dream program attempts to provide students the space to share their stories and ultimately, re-write such stories, like Beaty did. The “catalyst workshop,” the foundation of the program, lasts one full school day. Students are guided through a series of eight exercises. Each activity is based on a piece of work by Beaty. For example, the catalyst curriculum features an exercise called “Embracing the Difficulty of the Past.” This exercise uses personal experiences as an entry point to help students reframe their past into something useful and features Beaty’s poem “Knock Knock” as a model (see Beaty, 2010). It tells the story of Beaty’s relationship with his father, who was incarcerated more than sixty times, chronicling their past joys, anguish, and Beaty’s unrealized dreams for their relationship and for himself. During the I Dream workshop, students listen and analyze the poem and learn about the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Then, they reflect on a specific hurtful memory of their own to identify the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated. To conclude the exercise, students collectively reflect. At the end of the day-long catalyst workshop, including all eight exercises, each student has written a new narrative and performs it for the whole class. For the remainder of the residency, the teaching team revisits the eight exercises and encourages students to explore other stories as they move through the activities again. The repetition allows students to practice and hone the associated socio-emotional skill aligned with the activity as outlined by Beaty, such as introspection, mindfulness, personal reflection, and metacognition. Once students feel comfortable sharing personal stories, the class collaboratively

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devises around social justice issues that emerge from their stories. Throughout the year, students individually and collectively create poems, scenes, and monologues. The final performance piece is a selection of their work throughout the year, organized and curated by the students. I Dream’s goal is for young people to recognize the causes of oppression by unpacking their own stories of hardship or struggle. Students may see how institutional racism or social inequities exist as they play out in their own lives. With the help of the teaching team, the students identify the ways inequities connect to systemic oppression. Then, through personal and group reflection and dialogue, students connect their individual story to the experiences of others and work to make sense of their lived experience in relation to the effects of systemic oppression. The class considers how they, as young adults, might work to overcome these challenges and push past existing stereotypes. Students share their ideas by devising theatrical work. Thus, this program is built upon the belief that the process of rewriting is an act of self-creation. Through this act, students consider the world they want to live in and, more importantly, how they might be (re)positioned in that world, manifesting how theatre “facilitate[s] the development of a sense of power in students and a capacity to act on and change their world” (Nelson, 2011, p. 166).

The participants Snowden was one of two schools to participate in the first full-year residency of I Dream. Muriel S. Snowden High School is part of the Boston Public School (BPS) system, a large urban school district that draws a unique mix of students from across the city to each school. The theatre classes are taught in a church in an open multipurpose room with a small proscenium style stage with no fixed seating, similar to those found in elementary school gymnasiumcafeterias. The room has no technology, whiteboard, or desks in the space. Like many public schools in urban areas, large class sizes, limited resources, and lack of funding impact students’ performance and experience. In 2016– 2017, Snowden’s student population of 439 included 49.7% Hispanic or Latino, 35.3% Black, 6.6% Asian, and 5.2% White students (“BPS School Report Card,” p. 1). Of those students enrolled, 62.6% were identified as “economically disadvantaged,” 20.5% “students with disabilities,” 18.9% “English Language Learners,” and 52.6% “first language not English” (BPS, “2016–2017 Snowden International BPS School Report Card,” p. 1). For the 2016–2017 school year, 41% of all students were “chronically absent” (BPS, “Snowden International Performance Data Overview,” p. 5) and only 80% of students graduated (ibid., p. 6). Snowden was chosen for the I Dream: Boston full-year pilot because the school had participated in a previous I Dream pilot phase and expressed enthusiasm to continue the work at their school. Considering the project’s context, an urban school district within the still racially segregated city of Boston (The Boston Foundation, 2019), applied theatre seems uniquely situated to respond to social and political challenges

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that young people face. Attuned to Beaty’s goal of turning “pain into power,” the program carefully constructs opportunities for students to explore issues of social justice broadly and specifically, globally and locally, and collectively and individually. Students at Snowden decided to explore issues such as poverty, violence, body, sexuality, drugs, and addiction. The monologues, poems, and short scenes that made-up the final piece offer a window into intersectional identity markers and complex relationships between gender, race, and social class through their eyes.

Reflecting on the pilot Applied theatre provides entry points to dialogue about institutional and structural racism that can activate social action (Bell and Roberts, 2010; Prentki and Preston, 2009; Taylor, 2003). For this reason, I Dream engages with a specific demographic—youth of color. Because of their lived experiences they may have a better, or even a personal, understanding of privilege and power in America; how systems break down and race and class structures are determined, defined, and maintained. Therefore, I Dream uses theatre as a platform for young people to speak for themselves, their identities, and experiences. Applied theatre “activates personal stories of the group, as well as possibilities for building collaborative communities of practice and enacting social justice envisioned by youth participants” (Alrutz, 2015, p. 15). Though, as we reflect below, the implementation of this particular pilot raises logistical and ethical questions about applied theatre practices. I Dream “operate[s] from a central transformative principle” by raising awareness, interrogating human interactions, and changing states of oppression (Taylor, 2003, p. 1). The program is built upon interrelated goals of social justice, trauma recovery, and artmaking. I Dream’s goals of working with urban youth to share their story is commendable and possibly therapeutic; however, the focus on trauma recovery raises questions about the possible tactics and outcomes of applied theatre with youth. The curriculum acknowledges that in the act of sharing memories or creating counter-narratives, trauma and pain may emerge. Beaty’s project model anticipates the potential social and emotional needs of the participants by explicitly calling for a therapeutic professional to be in the room at all times. I Dream recognizes that most educators and teaching artists are not licensed health and wellness professionals and may lack training in this field, an often-overlooked aspect of applied theatre practice (Bailey, 2017). The inclusion of a trained and experienced therapeutic professional is extremely valuable and worthy of recognition. Even with the inclusion of this core team member, however, the exploration of trauma for artistic pursuits remains a subject of debate among scholars and practitioners of applied theatre. Amanda Stuart Fischer, for instance, contends that the survivors of trauma may feel compelled to speak, “to tell our story to ‘the rest’ to make ‘the rest’ participate in” and asks, “What are the ethical implications of being a listener and performer of testimony?” (2009, p. 109–110).

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Moreover, within this program, it is assumed that even if a young person of color has not experienced direct personal trauma, they have generational trauma. It is also assumed that young people of color have experienced racism and inequality in America, either directly or indirectly. Therefore, partnerships are cultivated with high schools that have a population of students who would benefit from “trauma recovery.” I Dream uses the word “trauma” to mean a traumatic incident or experience, which may be caused by or a result of discrimination or oppression. However, some practitioners caution that this approach doesn’t “encompass the totality of … experience as [it’s] focused only on … harm, injury and trauma” and suggest including “asset driven strategies to support young people who have been harmed” (Ginwright, 2018)—for instance, resilience, creativity, and community support. As discussed below, we found the social justice aspects of this pilot complemented the asset driven perspective.

Essential practices The pilot allowed for the core team to identify ways of working that suited their situation and context. Since, as a whole, the team had more experience as arts educators working with urban youth than in expressive therapies, we decided to lean fully into the social justice aspects of the program. While we cannot claim to have created systemic change in this pilot, we believe we employed theatre as a tool for social justice education. The focus on the collective exploration of social issues relevant to the students seemingly fostered individual growth. According to the evaluation data, the students reported an increased level of self-awareness and insight and increased level of self-empowerment (Carpineto and ArtsEmerson, 2017, p. 4). As we reflect on the year-long pilot at Snowden, we identify four practices the core team successfully facilitated, particularly in the face of programmatic challenges. We believe these practices should be considered in any applied theatre project with urban youth. Asset-based education

With the variety of students in the theatre class at Snowden, the core team focused on asset-based education, compared to a deficit-model of education (Yosso, 2005; Woodson, 2015). This type of thinking considers how young people have experiences, talents, and stories to share, rather than focusing on what they are not able to do in the devising process or onstage. While the I Dream curriculum invites students to share their stories with the class, the core team looked for the unique skills and abilities of each student. To promote student agency, the teaching artists identified students who excelled at a specific type of skill or who expressed interest in a specific role within theatre. The core team remained fluid and flexible enough to help students develop a piece that reflected their interests and proficiencies.

From vision to implementation  99 Collaborative care

The social and emotional wellbeing of the core team remained essential throughout the process. I Dream is built upon strong relationships between core team members, ideally leading to authentic and organic collaborations. It was our responsibility to care and support one another as we engaged in difficult dialogue, highlighting that the facilitators (who are all people of color) also live within the social, political, and cultural structures present within the issues being addressed and explored in the classroom. In order to serve the students, the core team spent many more hours meeting, reflecting, and planning, than physical classroom contact hours. We also made time to uplift and celebrate our successes inside and outside of the classroom—creating a strong bond among the team. Access

With substantial grant funding and in-kind donations of space, time, and service, the program was offered at no cost to Snowden by ArtsEmerson. The program manager designed a budget that put the students’ needs at the center. They were thoughtful about hiring experienced teaching artists and therefore paid them at a higher-than-average rate. Snowden received meals, materials, tee-shirts (used as a costume for the final performance and memento), and free tickets to see other related plays. The program manager strategically scheduled teaching artist classroom visits at a time that worked best for the classroom teacher and identified a final performance date and time most convenient for families to attend. Also, negotiation with internal departments at Emerson College kept costs for the initial performance of Mr. Joy and the final I Dream: Boston production low. These decisions required intentionality, negotiation, and collaboration to enable resources and ensure that student engagement would be undeterred by competing priorities. Artistic expression

We took various approaches to support the exploration of social issues with young people. The core team often encouraged students to perform their own writing to avoid embodying the experiences of another. This provided a space for more authentic work by sharing the truth of a story, rather than focusing on layering performance techniques on top of the words. Conversely, the core team sometimes asked students to utilize aesthetic distance (thinking through the lens of a fictional character) as a tool for challenging students to look at an issue or topic from a different perspective, most often through monologue writing. Allowing students to peer-edit each other’s monologues helped deepen the language, develop three-dimensional characters, and create more authentic scenarios in their work. We also focused on building a strong ensemble of student-artists. For example, the class worked together to create collective poem collages from a prompt, such as “My community is … ,” “I need

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… ,” and “I want … ” Using markers and index cards, this method of devising helped students find commonalities and differences between their individual responses and then poetically arrange their responses, making aesthetic choices for performance. The final performance included these collaborative pieces to ensure that all voices were represented onstage.

Conclusion Reflecting on the entirety of the pilot, concerns arise regarding applied theatre with youth, particularly regarding our responsibility as theatre practitioners. As applied theatre practitioners, we often choose to create art with young people to activate and amplify their stories. We ask young people to take risks and express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences while wrestling with how they fit into larger social, cultural, and political structures. Therefore, practitioners have a great responsibility to make intentional decisions to support them through this process. This project highlights the relationship between intention and achievability, pointing out how program structure directly influences the work with young people and affects collaborations between the teaching artist, classroom teacher, and the program manager. There is great potential in new theatre programs to serve young people in urban contexts. We, as applied theatre practitioners, must critically evaluate how we implement a program within a specific context to understand more fully how theatre might be used to create change.

References Alrutz, M. (2015) Digital Storytelling, Applied Theatre, & Youth: Performing possibility. New York: Routledge. Bailey, S. (2017) “The Relationship Between Theatre Education, Applied Theatre, and Drama Therapy,” in Kramer, L.A. and Fiske, J.A (eds), Creative Collaborations through Inclusive Theatre and Community-based Learning. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Beaty, D. (2010) Def Poetry: Daniel Beaty—Knock Knock, PoeticalTvLive, 10 March 2010. Accessed 10 April 2020. https://www​.youtube​.com​/watch​?v​=9eYH0AFx6yI​&feature​ =youtu​.be. Beaty, D. (n.d.) Personal Story, Dan​ielbeaty​.c​om. Accessed 12 April 2020. https://www​ .danielbeaty​.com​/about. Bell, L.A. and Roberts, R.A. (2010) “The Storytelling Project Model: A Theoretical Framework for Critical Examination of Racism Through the Arts,” Teacher College Record, 112(9), pp. 2295–2319. Boston Public Schools (BPS) Office of Data and Accountability (2017) “2016–2017 Snowden International BPS School Report Card,” Roxbury, MA: Boston Public Schools. Boston Public Schools (BPS) Office of Data and Accountability (2017) “Snowden International Performance Data Overview,” Roxbury, MA: Boston Public Schools. Carpineto, J. and ArtsEmerson (2017) “I Dream: Boston Evaluation Brief,” Boston, MA: Emerson College. Children’s Institute (2019) “2019  Annual Report,” Los Angeles, CA: Children’s Institute.

From vision to implementation  101 Fisher, A.S. (2009) “Bearing Witness: The Position of Theatre Makers in Telling of Trauma,” in Prentki, T. and Preston, S. (eds). The Applied Theatre Reader. New York: Routledge. Ginwright, S. (2018) “The Future of Healing: Shifting from Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement,” Medium. Accessed 9 April 2020. https://medium​.com/​ @ginwright​/the​-future​-of​-healing​-shifting​-from​-trauma​-informed​-care​-to​-healing​ -centered​-engagement​-634f557ce69c. I Dream Project (n.d.) Project, Accessed 6 February 2020. https://www​.theidreamproject​ .org​/program. Nelson, B. (2011) “‘I Made Myself’: Playmaking as a Pedagogy of Change with Urban Youth,” Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 16(2), pp. 157–172. Doi: 10.1080/13569783.2011.566987. Prentki, T. and Preston, S. (eds) (2009) The Applied Theatre Reader. New York: Routledge. Taylor, P. (2003) Applied Theatre: Creating Transformative Encounters in the Community. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. The Boston Foundation (2019) “Understanding Boston,” Boston, MA: The Boston Foundation. Timberg, S. (2014) “Putting Drama to Work to Soothe,” The New York Times, 14 May. Accessed 10 April 2020. https://www​.nytimes​.com​/2014​/05​/18​/theater​/daniel​-beaty​ -promotes​-both​-artistry​-and​-social​-good​.html. Woodson, S.E. (2015) Theatre for Youth Third Space: Performance, Democracy, and Community Cultural Development. Bristol, UK: Intellect. Yosso, T.J. (2005) “Whose Culture Has Capital? A Critical Race Theory Discussion of Community Cultural Wealth,” Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), pp. 69–91. Doi: 10.1080/1361332052000341006.

11 A process-oriented approach in applied theatre programming with youth Rachel DeSoto-Jackson

Footlight Players is an established summer youth theatre program hosted by Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), in a rural borough located outside of Pittsburgh. In 2016, Footlight Players began a concerted effort to expand its programmatic goals to include applied theatre pedagogy. I was hired for a new faculty position within the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance and joined Footlight Players initially as a teaching artist and subsequently became the managing/education director. This essay reflects on the development of a workshop centering on youth-led dialogue modeled on a process called New Works, originating with Saltworks Youth Theatre Company in Pittsburgh. Within this process, students initiate and orchestrate their own creative storytelling that is self-guided within small ensembles. Similar to the core tenants of the I Dream program, Footlight Players’ New Works supports “collective exploration of social issues,” “asset-based education,” and “access” as essential components in applied theatre programming (Streeter and Olusanya, pp. 98–99). The New Works model offers youth control over their theatrical work by activating autonomous self-creation and critical inquiry through personal narrative with an intentional focus on process-over-product. While “process-oriented theatre” (Schmidt, 2019) is not a new approach in theatre pedagogy, I advocate that it can be a particularly useful tool within applied theatre programming for youth. Within this practice, the development of creative work is privileged over the final product. Schmidt argues for this pedagogical shift asserting that, “a process-oriented classroom can provide opportunities for experiential learning ... In fact, such an approach may have an even greater impact on student outcomes, such as creativity and ownership over their work” (2019, p. 236). For applied theatre, this prioritization offers space for difficult dialogues that might otherwise be lost in a traditional performance model that demands significant time to build production values. By shifting the focus, youth participants engage in a depth of learning, vulnerability, and exploration focused on the topic itself rather than the performance product.

Footlight Players Footlight Players was formed in 2004 to fill a gap in arts programming for rural Indiana County youth by providing a four-week summer program exploring

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creativity through theatre. The program began with a handful of youth and has since grown to serve ninety youth participants grades 1–11 during a fullday program. The program culminates in public performances of three fully produced shows. The IUP Performing Arts Center provides a fully functioning theatre space with means necessary for mounting high-quality theatrical productions. Operating as an outreach program of the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance, a core tenant of Footlight Players is an “open door” policy, in which no young person who wishes to enroll—regardless of experience, financial ability, or background—is turned away. This policy is enabled through institutional support, state grants, and is offset by a markedly low registration fee compared to other regional programs. As argued by Streeter and Olusanya, it takes “intentionality, negotiation, and collaboration to enable resources and ensure that student engagement would be undeterred by competing priorities” (p. 99). Footlight’s policy affords an economically diverse rural youth population the opportunity to engage in high-level theatre production. Youth in the program are referred to as “Players” to embrace a collaborative co-creation process. Players are sorted into areas based on their grade: Academy (grades 6–11), Camper (grades 3–5), Jr. Camper (grades 1–2). At the end of the four-week program, the Academy produces both a musical and play, the Camper area produces either a musical or play, and the Jr. Camper area devises an original showcase. The shows are ensemble-based, and every Player is cast in a role. In addition, all Players participate in theatrical workshops led by teaching artists. The day is divided into production rehearsals and workshops, creating a day-long program that focuses on both theatre education and theatre production.

Integrating applied theatre In my first year at Footlight Players as a teaching artist, I led an applied theatre workshop on devising original stories based on social issues of importance to the Players. As Megan Alrutz in Digital Storytelling, Applied Theatre, & Youth writes, this personal narrative process focuses on “… participants’ experiences and interests as primary sources of knowledge for creating performances. In applied theatre settings, participants’ stories offer entry points for looking at individual and systemic issues of power through the already familiar lens of personal experience” (2015, pp. 58–59). The first applied theatre workshop at Footlight Players was conducted with the older Academy Players during their workshop session of the day and explored the idea of identity using exercises stemming from Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and Rainbow of Desire—techniques that explore an individual’s ability to confront oppression within so as to confront external oppressors and systemic oppression (1985; 1995). Observations from the first year revealed some Players’ reluctance to share their individual stories; therefore, in my second year, I adjusted the approach to focus on ensemble story generation rather than individual storytelling.

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Adapting Saltworks Youth Theatre Company’s New Works model, I added an applied theatre lens for focusing ensemble-led creative development exploring social issues. The first year of implementing this new approach at Footlight Players was well received and, over the past three years, the New Works applied theatre workshop has developed into a model in which Players organize and create their own short performance pieces within self-selected ensembles. By focusing the aim of the New Works workshop to a deliberate process-oriented approach, youth in the workshop have more time for discussion and development of the stories in their performance pieces rather than focusing their time on building the production values. This is further emphasized by having an intentional audience of their peers within the program for their pieces, rather than a public audience. As Schmidt notes, “Removing the burden of performance emboldens students to be more comfortable with taking risks” (2019, p. 236). The result in New Works is Players are no longer working to get to a performance that is “good enough” for a public audience. Instead, they are working within a creative process that is self-guided and controlled by the direction of their own ensemble, which can embrace the stickiness of difficult dialogues that might otherwise be forestalled in a production process. Absent is the pressure of an adult director telling them to memorize their lines or fix their blocking or explore specific character choices. Within New Works, they are free to share ideas and move at their own pace, resulting in any creative outcome they wish to share.

The New Works process New Works occurs during the workshop portion of the Footlight Players program for both Academy and Camper Players, respectively. The workshop is not a replacement for the main productions, but rather a supplement to the regular programming. By having Players participate in both the main productions and New Works, we eliminate the need for Players to choose one over the other. This may also contribute to the willingness Players have in New Works to embrace a process-oriented approach, as they are still receiving theatrical experience in more traditional theatre-making with high production values. During New Works, youth Players are given resources—props, costumes, space, and time—to create an original ensemble piece. Within each session— Camper and Academy—there are roughly forty-five Players, facilitated by me and three to five teaching artists and interns. In the first session, we begin by discussing the creative process of storytelling and how personal experiences can initiate dialogue on topics being explored within an ensemble. We then initiate the ensemble self-selection process in which Players begin talking to each other about ideas they have or topics they want to explore; facilitators listen and help connect Players to each other based on these discussions, but Players have agency in the formation of their ensembles and the topics they select. The result is roughly seven to ten small ensembles focusing on a range of topics.

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Once ensembles are formed, facilitators are largely hands-off, allowing the Players to guide the creative process. Each ensemble works to devise a short five-minute performance piece based on the topic of their choice which takes many shapes—scenes, song, dance, monologues, puppetry, movement, etc. For example, one Camper ensemble created a story based on the “Three Little Pigs” that focused on how the Big Bad Wolf was actually being bullied by the Little Pigs. In a different year, a Camper ensemble re-enacted a personal story of a time when they experienced hunger, wherein a superhero character comes to save the day, giving free food to everyone. In an Academy performance, one ensemble created a dance and music-based piece using embodied images to represent varying expressions of gender identity. Through the dance performance, the central character broke free from the structured norm, represented by other bodies in performance, that tried to engulf them. These examples stand out for their clarity in storytelling; however, not all final performance pieces are as well-formed. This is an intentional part of the New Works process that removes expectations of high-quality performances and focuses instead on ensemble development and story sharing. Throughout the process, facilitators observe the ensembles and ask guiding questions such as, “How does your character feel about this situation?” or “What can this person do to change what is happening to them?” leading to deeper dialogue within the ensembles. This process-oriented approach to critical inquiry, “foster[s] the higher-order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation,” as Tanera Marshall suggests (2009, p. 229). In the example of the “Three Little Pigs” adaptation, the Camper ensemble discussed ways the Big Bad Wolf could express their frustration rather than blow down the houses; this led to revisions in their story with the wolf confronting the pigs about bullying instead. For the Academy ensemble, the dance performance on gender identity included discussions on how discrimination is visible in society, based on their own experiences, then moved to the role individuals and the collective have in creating change. These youth-led dialogues are embedded in the creative process. While seemingly contrary, the “invisibility” of these performances to a public audience offers the Players increased visibility of their stories and personal experiences since they might otherwise not have shared their experiences outside of the safe confines of New Works. This notion aligns with Alrutz’s ideas on the creation of “spaces where visibility does not equate to youth creative products becoming ‘worthy’ of adult (specifically those in power) attention and consumption” (2015, p. 24). Without the pressure of performing for a public audience, which includes parents and others who may judge their validity, the Players appear more willing to explore. As a result, the New Works process “support[s] youth in recognizing the significance of their own and each other’s creative contributions, a visibility to and with themselves and each other” (Alrutz, 2015, p. 24). In embracing a process-oriented approach, applied theatre practitioners must nevertheless consider the possibilities and limitations of this model. In institutionally supported programs where a public performative outcome is

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often expected, how do we make the process visible to funders as an outcome? Must such programs only be supplementary to be sustainable? We might also envision how this model of youth-led process can be expanded to dialogues on social justice topics with a wider community in a way that continues to center youth voice.

References Alrutz, M. (2015) Digital Storytelling, Applied Theatre, & Youth: Performing Possibility. New York: Routledge. Boal, A. (1985) The Theatre of the Oppressed. Trans. McBride, C. and McBride, M.O.L. New York: Theatre Communications Group. Boal, A. (1995) The Rainbow of Desire: The Boal Method of Theatre and Therapy. London: Routledge. Marshall, T. (2009) “Process Over Product: An Artist’s Journey To [Re]Definitions and Inquiry-Based Teaching,” Teaching Artist Journal, 7(4), pp. 227–235. Schmidt, E. (2019) “Toward a Process Theatre,” Theatre Topics, 29(3), pp. 235–240.

12 Listen to us! Teenage girls creating theatre for social change Dana Edell, Leonor Duran, and Kuenique Allicock In describing their collaborative project, Joshua Rashon Streeter and Nicole Olusanya write, “I Dream’s goal is for young people to recognize the causes of oppression by unpacking their own stories of hardship or struggle … and then consider how they, as young adults, might work to overcome these challenges and push past existing stereotypes” (p. 96). While we engage with what might look like similar work—teenage girls sharing stories of hardship and struggle— our activist theatre challenges audiences to address the racism and discrimination that our young people face. Since 2002, viBe Theater Experience has been a safe haven for girls, gender expansive, and nonbinary youth of color in New York City to express themselves, foster sisterhood, and ignite our community to action. Black feminist scholar Ruth Nicole Brown (2009; 2013) paved the way for the field of Black girlhood studies, which acknowledges the strengths, resilience, and creativity that Black girls possess. As Leo and Kuenque express, “we don’t see ourselves in deficit-based terms like ‘marginalized’ or ‘at-risk;’ we would rather define our community as ‘underrepresented.’” More than 98% of viBe girls1 report that they attend underfunded, under-resourced public or charter high schools (Crenshaw, 2015). viBe currently produces original work about real-life issues written and performed by over five hundred New York City teenagers annually. Funded by private foundations, government agencies, public school contracts, and individual donations (viBetheater​.or​g, 2020), our productions are performed in professional theatre venues, schools, prisons, community centers and site-specific locations for diverse audiences. In line with viBe’s mission to dismantle oppression based on race, age, and gender, we are excited to write this essay as an intergenerational, interracial team. viBe Theater Experience uses performance to train the next generation of arts leaders. Kuenique, a Black teenager and Leonor (Leo), a Latinx teenager, have both been making theatre with viBe for three years. White leadership reinforces patterns of white supremacy (Emdin, 2016); Dana, as a white woman, feels passionately that white people must partner with people of color when working with youth in this community. The projects Dana has directed in the past decade all included partnerships and co-directing with women of color. This was necessary because, for example, there were times in

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the rehearsal process when the girls were talking about personal stories related to racism and asked Dana to step out of the room in order to have a deeper conversation that often isn’t possible under a white gaze. That said, Kuenique and Leo also recognize the importance of white partners who can be trusted to use their racial privilege to advocate for us in spaces where we are rarely invited. Each viBe program, with groups of 5–15 girls, ranging from six weeks to six months in length, builds trust through sharing personal stories and writing poetry, monologues, songs, and scenes. Potential participants learn about viBe through an extensive network of partners that include public school teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, and other youth service workers, as well as word of mouth from the hundreds of viBe alumnae who recruit their friends, sisters, and cousins. The consistent repetition of shared activities helps the girls bond as they learn a shared language. A “viBe culture” is created that current and past participants all recognize. On the first day of a new project, we collaboratively create an “opening ritual,” unique to that group. The ritual is a repeatable structure that includes a moment of physically connecting to each other, an expression of how each girl is feeling emotionally and what she needs that day. Through viBe’s rituals, the girls co-construct the rehearsal room into a space where, as Leo describes, “you can share your thoughts instead of having to hold them down. We get to choose what we want to say and who we want to say it to. The staff is not forcing you to ever say anything you don’t want to say.” Executive Director Toya Lillard says, “viBe is the space where you get ‘your nugget of free.’” Dana adds, rehearsals include improvisation games, scene-writing, movement, and image work as part of the playbuilding process. We use Theatre of the Oppressed (see Boal, 1993) activities to break down issues related to power and to strategize how to address injustices Black and Latinx girls face. Through inquiry-based discussions, the girls learn facilitation skills as they witness and practice how to lead difficult conversations for postperformance talkbacks and in their own lives. One distinctive feature of viBe’s process is that the girls write the entire show, uncensored. Rather than the adult directors taking the teenagers’ improvisations and writings and compiling a script that they then share with the ensemble for feedback, the girls write every word themselves (although the adults offer guidance or suggestions throughout). Kuenique explains, It’s important for us to say what we need to say 100% in our own words because sometimes there’s certain ways of saying things that society doesn’t deem “correct,” and most adults would edit. But in reality, there’s no other way for us to say it. We ask adults who work with teenagers to keep an open mind as to what the teenagers are trying to say; or else they feel as if they’re being judged, and they will immediately shut themselves down from saying anything. Once a teen just shuts down, they won’t want to be real with any other person inside that program.

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From a director or audience’s perspective, the script may lack the coherence that a more experienced playwright or dramaturg might bring; yet we have found that for girls to feel true ownership, they need to fully control the narrative they are sharing. We strive to not just transform ourselves, but to also transform our communities. In fact, many of our productions include a specific call to action. In recent viBe shows, for instance, we wanted to use our own stories to incite the audience to confront racism. The following poetic monologue was written and performed by Leo in Through A Different Lens, presented in 2019 at ART/New York’s Brooklyn performance space for a racially and generationally mixed audience. Leo addresses the issue of colorism among Black and Latinx people: I may be 6 shades lighter but that doesn’t stop the violence in my community or my country I may be 6 shades lighter but that trigger don’t see color and when it points at me it won’t consider the fact that I’m 6 shades lighter because death don’t forgive nobody. So yeah, I don’t look like you, I won’t be you. But that gun sure as hell thinks we look familiar (viBe Theater, 2019) In another example, we created a group poem based on actual questions or statements white strangers, classmates, or friends have said to us at various points in our lives. We started the show behind the audience, walking up to the stage while bouncing this barrage of questions to each other, with audience members having no choice but to listen to what we hear every day. The following is a selection from the cacophony of dozens of lines: ANIAHA: Can I touch your hair? SHANIA: Can you show me how to dance? KUENIQUE: Is your father in your life? LEO: Why are you always angry? SHANIA: You look exotic. TWILIGHT: You have good hair. ANAIS: You aren’t like other Black girls. SHANIA: Do you want to pay now? SHANIA: You don’t sound Black. TWILIGHT: I have Black friends. ALL: Why are you so loud?!!! (viBe Theater, 2019)

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We wanted this prologue to be both for the Black people in the audience who laughed in recognition and solidarity, and for the white people to hear these microaggressions and hopefully learn that these racist assumptions hurt. Instead of ending this show with a curtain call, we aimed to use the theatre space to effect change. Before the show, we had placed small sparkle-covered notebooks and pens under each seat for audience members to keep for writing their own personal reflections as we had done throughout our process. We hoped to spread what we had learned about creative expression as a healing action. More than just a “post show talkback,” we wanted to engage our audience in finding creative approaches for challenging everyday racism. We invited the audience to form small groups based on one of four core issues our show addressed. Each group was facilitated by a pair of the performers, who felt prepared to lead the audience members through an arts-based activity such as writing poetry, drawing images, or writing letters. We had practiced this facilitation by role playing as different kinds of audience members (resistant, combative, shy, etc.) for each other so that we could rehearse what to do in different challenging situations. On the evening of the performance, we were gratified (and relieved) that our groups seemed excited to create the writing or visual art projects and then to share their work with each other and discuss how as a community we could further address the issues. Each group engaged in difficult conversations across differences and even how to find local resources in the community. For example, Leo and Kuenique co-facilitated a group addressing the root causes of conflicts between parents and teenagers: “Whereas parents thought that their kids were just complaining all the time, we helped them understand their daughters better by sharing specific stresses they face in school and in their community as girls of color today.” At the end of the group session, they thanked us and expressed that they now appreciated their daughters’ perspective. Unfortunately, due to the limited resources and staffing of our organization, we could not follow up with audience members after the night of the performance. However, we can speak to the impact of viBe’s programs on viBe girls. Leo shares, Recently, we had an incident at school where a Latinx girl said hurtful things about the Black community in response to the street protests. I was able to speak directly to the harm she was causing. I credit viBe with helping me understand how to talk about racism, and it gave me the confidence to take direct action when I see injustices in my life and community. All the girls in our programs complete pre- and post-surveys to track their growth, learning, and potential change throughout the process; nearly 100% report increased confidence among other positive indicators. More than half stay connected with viBe long after they’ve graduated; in fact, we often hire alumnae as program directors or teaching artists.

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Creating programs and producing theatre with and for girls of color within a culture of misogynoir has always been our greatest hurdle. Our participants often face challenges due to racist suspensions and detention policies (Morris, 2016) and economically necessary family obligations (babysitting younger siblings, English translating for parents, etc.) that prevent them from attending enough rehearsals needed to create truly spectacular work. Despite these challenges, we celebrate the impact our work has on our girls and our community.

Note 1 We use the word “girl” throughout this essay to refer to cisgender girls, trans girls, gender expansive and gender non-conforming teenagers who have participated in viBe Theater Experience’s programs.

References Boal, A. (1993) Theatre of the Oppressed, 3rd ed. New York: Theatre Communications Group. Brown, R.N. (2009) Black Girlhood Celebration: Toward A Hip-Hop Feminist Pedagogy. New York: Peter Lang. Brown, R.N. (2013) Hear Our Truths: Performance and The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Crenshaw, K. (2015) “Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected.” New York: African American Policy Forum. Emdin, C. (2016) For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood … and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Lillard, Toya (2020) Personal Communication. 25 June. Morris, M. (2016) Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. New York: The New Press. viBe Theater (2019) “Through A Different Lens,” unpublished. Vibetheater​.o​rg (2020) viBe Theater Experience, Inc. Accessed 5 July 2020. https:// vibetheater​.org/.

Roundtable discussion with Kuenique Allicock, Evelyn Diaz Cruz, Rachel DeSoto-Jackson, Leonor (Leo) Duran, Dana Edell, Nicole Olusanya, and Joshua Rashon Streeter Evelyn: Welcome. Thank you for being here. I will start by asking you all how does your work in applied theatre with youth operate from a distinct point of view? Dana: What’s unique about viBe’s work is that we work exclusively with girl-identified folks (girls and gender nonconforming folks) in New York City. Our work is intergenerational, girls have leadership. At present it is 100% Black and brown girls that devise and write the shows uncensored. Leo: I want to capitalize on how important it is that we’re uncensored. ViBe has been very open to listening to Black and brown girls about their struggles. ViBe provides that space. Joshua: I was the classroom teacher for the I Dream: Boston project when Nicole and her team came in to engage with us in that project. I am now at James Madison University. We were in a big public school in the urban center and attendance was challenging and some maybe didn’t want to be there. That’s my big take away: How I operate as a publicschool teacher and how I operate in relation to public schools. Nicole: I’m also not at Arts Emerson anymore where we collaborated on I Dream: Boston. I now work for Company One Theatre in Boston. As a young person, I was one of the students in the room. My life was transformed by the experience. With I Dream: Boston, not only did it help young people share their stories, but it also had a therapeutic component. Rachel: I engage my applied theatre training with youth in the Footlight Players (FLP) program which is housed within Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which offers some advantages and some conceptual challenges in thinking about who our program serves in the rural county of Indiana, PA. The racial demographic is primarily white, and the economic demographic is below the poverty line. This makes for a unique population of youth to work with, particularly using applied theatre methodology in my role as a Latina facilitator. Evelyn: How do you know that you have been successful? Nicole: Well, I think one successful touch point for Josh and me is to be in this room together and connecting with people writing this article and developing relationships. Assessing where you develop relationships with

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your team and having check-ins on how things are going. What do you need? Leo: I really connect with your point when it comes to relationships as well. In our school it is mandatory that you go to a program for about a month. But I kept going back, and now it’s been three years! I also saw a change in the relationship I had with myself. I learned that there were things that I would stand up for. Recently, there was an incident in my school where a Latinx member said racist comments when it came to an event that was going on with the George Floyd incident. I was able to actually be proactive and tell her directly why what she said wasn’t a good response at all. So, to your point, that’s what I would say success is: It’s the relationships. Dana: Yes. Assessment is done on an individual basis in the girls that we work with and how they grow, build confidence, and commit to social justice work. There was a viBe show about a young woman who was not being allowed to wear her headscarf to school. She created and performed a monologue expressing how important it is to her to wear the headscarf at her school auditorium. The school changed their policy because of her performance. Joshua: There’s so much we can’t control within applied theatre contexts, but how we manage and work with the group to build notions of community is important. There’s a lot to be said for success in building community that allows other things to happen. Rachel: Community-building is such an important part of this work and often not “assessed” or valued in the same way as other metrics. Particularly when you apply for grant funding for applied theatre projects, which often have specific outcomes that must be demonstrated. With the FLP New Works workshop, we are trying to push the boundaries of this by maintaining a community space that is created by and for youth, without an expectation of public validation. Evelyn: What are some of the ethical issues that come up in your practice and how do you handle them? Dana: The ethical obligation I feel I hold as an adult is in what kinds of stories the girls are sharing and whether I feel a responsibility to make sure they’re not exploited. Especially as it regards the trauma and pain of sexual violence. We have this whole culture now that I see perpetuated by so many theatre companies around these notions of “perform your truth, perform your story, share your pain.” There is a healing aspect that I fully support in the approach to trauma, but there’s also an ethical fine line of what that means. Nicole: I want to also add that oftentimes young people are the face that theatre companies put out when they have their gala or their fundraisers. And yet, applied theatre is usually the most underfunded program at that theatre. It’s a serious exploitation! All of us as a team seriously grappled with this throughout our whole process, and it was precisely why the program was so challenging.

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More specifically, there’s two levels to it; one was to identify those stories of pain, but also to talk about working in schools which were predominantly people of color. Part of the artist’s [Daniel Beaty’s] philosophy is around the specific acknowledgement that people of color experience a generational trauma because of the history of this country; you may not have experienced that trauma or someone saying something directly to you, but you might be experiencing policies that have affected your life because of the history of institutional and systemic racism. That’s a great responsibility we’re putting on young people’s shoulders, and yet we certainly want young people to have a voice about things that impact their life. How do we take care of them? It’s such a fine line. Joshua: I’m thinking about this in the context of my own work as a brown body. I’m continuing to live in this system, and yet the few white individuals who are sometimes in the room may not be the right fit, depending on their makeup and their family. That’s really challenging sometimes when you’re dealing with different topics. This comes from the fact that we had a few white students, but not many. When you are living within that system and then asking students to open up and make visible for others the institutional and systemic racism that exists, that can also cause harm. And then consider what happens when they leave the theatre classroom and they’re back in the same systems of oppression, privilege and power. While I can’t speak for young people as a whole, I do know that for some students, while they do want to share, actually sharing and listening complicates their lives outside of the classroom because now they know. And yes, there’s power in knowing, but that can also create larger issues emotionally and mentally as they’re continuing to move through this system. Leo: I think the ethics is the fine line between making a student tell their trauma and creating a space where they can. Making your students say their trauma is where it crosses the line, and that’s the difference. You have to establish a space that’s comfortable for that group, so they can find it in themselves, because just asking for a story isn’t going to get a real answer; it’s going to get you a synthetic story or fake answer. Rachel: There is certainly a line between reliving trauma in storytelling and creating a space for understanding that trauma. One of the challenges with working with a community that is lacking in BIPOC [Black Indigenous and People of Color] youth voices is the absence of alternate lived experiences in storytelling for the youth participants of FLP. Their stories tend to orient more towards class and social identity, which is valuable but also is missing other perspectives. Kuenique: Another ethical dilemma that we face in viBe is that since it is a program for girls of color, a lot of times we share experiences about racism in our communities. And related to that are the ethics of telling one’s story about racism and bashing all white people while in that sharing. I see that it does help to tell our stories about racism but finding the balance between bashing and growing from those experiences is the

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challenge. Like with gentrification, we should be thinking about more healthy ways to integrate each other into each other’s neighborhoods. Dana: I think as white people, particularly white adults, we have an ethical responsibility, when working with young people of color, which in and of itself is already reinforcing so many layers of power within those relationships. What does it mean for a white person to really step back from leadership roles and make sure that there is Black leadership within the organization? And that young people of color see that they have mentors who are also women of color, and that it is not an organization that’s run by these white women for quote “serving girls of color,” and that the ethics of that attitude is not driven by notions of “ … but I'm good at my job, and I'm a great youth worker.” Or “I've been doing this work for a long time, and I deserve to be able to direct any show I want to.” I think it’s actually dangerous to not have a partner who is a person of color. Social justice work with young people is often around racism, and white people need to be careful about not reinforcing a lot of those patterns of white supremacy into the programs. Evelyn: How do you handle those tensions in your practices? Kuenique: I’ve never really experienced any real anti-white movement within viBe, but I guess if it did come up, like Dana said, it would be helpful if there were multiracial directors in the program to help and share their side of the story. I guess one thing that should be explained is that one person’s experience is very individual, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is what people are like in the rest of the world. Joshua: First, remind everyone that not everything has to be shared onstage just because you shared in the classroom. Then, it’s about being mindful that who ultimately makes that decision are the students themselves and not you as the “adult” in the room. Leo: There is also a difference between youth being comfortable vs being scared to say something. Once you establish which is which, you can provide help in whichever category they need. Rachel: A lot of the work in applied theatre challenges conceptions of normativity, and when working with youth, there is an opportunity to teach critical thinking. This has come up in our program when we have a student of color share their experiences that are vastly different from the majority of other students in the room. Interestingly, the response from other students has been to find commonality. Though there are also students that remain silent and don’t engage—I would like to think about how to continue to bring those participants into the space. Nicole: I believe theatre companies need to really think about why they’re doing a program and for what purpose? Are you doing it because you’ve gotten a grant? Are you doing it because it’s part of your mission? And if it is part of your mission, what does that really mean? How will we put our resources behind it and be responsible with it? Evelyn: How do you balance the tension between product versus process?

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Rachel: This question is at the heart of the work with FLP. The New Works workshop is focused entirely on process and intentionally creates a space where the outcome is an unpolished performance by youth, for youth. This removes any barriers of “perfection” or a finished “product.” However, this space is available because the larger program offers fully mounted productions that are performed for a public audience. Dana: We used to joke at viBe that the only thing we censor is bad theatre. We want the work to be strong and powerful, and we stress that if the show sucks no one’s going to listen to it. We have to make a solid commitment to ensure that the performance is tight, strong, powerful, and good theatre. The girls know if they’re involved in a show that’s bad. They won’t want to invite their friends. I actually don’t like that distinction: process vs. performance. It’s also a bit of a hierarchical classist issue in the theatre world that says “good theatre” means you must have all these resources, as if teenagers with no budget can’t create the best theatre you’ve ever seen. Joshua: I'm going to push back a little bit against that based on the context within which I’m working, which is in the public schools in rural and urban centers. In this type of setting it becomes about individual activities, monologues—the work in the classroom—and that becomes performative, leading to the product that we’re really working towards rather than necessarily the show at the end. In my work in prisons we’re not sharing anything outside. The work is about an immediate experience and you move on. There were some students who could not come to our final show, as much as Nicole and I tried to get them there. If we can’t get everyone in the room for all pieces of it, what part is important? Nicole: What’s important is if they can say they feel proud, inspired, confident, made friends and now feel a sense of community. That is something really connected to process. In Rachel’s article the performance was just for the young people, and in viBe’s article you talked about how sometimes when the girls were having their discussions, adults or white folks that are part of the group are not in the room as part of the process. That touched me, and I will take that forward. Leo: That’s a complicated question for me, because I personally don’t think we’ve put on any bad shows. (Laughter.) I understand that there is a possibility of creating a bad show even though the process was golden, but a balance needs to be established because the show itself is what must get out to other people so that it doesn’t just stay in that small space of only the students. Kuenique: I’d say the budget of a production doesn’t really matter as long as the words are powerful. After that, the rest of the performance is additional, but the performance carries itself. Evelyn: I want to thank you to all for engaging thoughtfully and sincerely today.

Part 5

Celebrating identities Spaces to express gender and sexuality

13 Queering applied theatre Working with LGBTQ youth to dismantle systems of oppression Alexander Santiago-Jirau

Playwright and activist Tony Kushner notes that “art is not merely contemplation, it is also action, and all action changes the world, at least a little” (2001, p. 62). In this vein, this chapter shows how theatre with LGBTQ1 and non-binary2 youth within community and non-traditional settings can promote change in the personal lives of the youth that participate, as well as social justice change to radically transform the institutions that shape society and affect the lives of so many queer3 young people. Following Augusto Boal’s understanding that “theater is not revolutionary in itself, it is surely a rehearsal for the revolution” (1985, p. 122), I propose that applied theatre practitioners’ engagement with queer youth must go beyond representation or contemplation in order to foster political activation in both youth participants and their audiences. As an applied theatre practitioner, my work with queer youth of different ages, races, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds centers on creating spaces where young people can find refuge and support, tell their stories, proudly celebrate their identities, and find resources to fight for collective liberation from systems of oppression. While I believe my practice has helped young people to develop their artistic skills, my work’s primary focus—as most applied theatre practice calls for—follows popular education and critical pedagogy practices, centering on participants holistically. I have thus sought to aid queer youth to transform their realities by understanding their place in the world, understanding their oppressions, and enacting artistic responses. As a queer theatre educator, my interest in working with queer youth stems from a responsibility to be in solidarity with the range of queer people’s struggles. If we are committed to queer liberation, we must support the LGBTQ community’s multigenerational struggles. Particularly, we must support the most marginalized groups, with queer and trans youth—especially BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color)—being the most vulnerable. Below, I reflect on the challenges faced by these young people and outline key practices that are central to my engagement with queer youth. I draw from projects I have facilitated at New York City LGBT community centers serving youth ages 13–21, including an intergenerational theatre devising program in partnership with SAGE-Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders and New York

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Theatre Workshop (NYTW), where I am Director of Education. I further draw from experiences working in non-affiliated projects. As this work occurs in spaces designed for youth participants but also within spaces of intergenerational interaction, this essay considers applied theatre practices that can benefit a diversity of queer youth with different interests, but which take place within varied contexts and for multigenerational audiences.

About queer youth I have worked with engaged queer youth who are talented and resilient, yet they have faced challenges that can hinder their opportunities to grow in safe environments and to achieve their full potential. Queer young people often struggle to find family acceptance and supportive home environments; many also struggle with mental health issues and a lack of school safety. Racism and race-related inequities can intensify these challenges for BIPOC queer youth. Transgender and non-binary youth also face heightened challenges, often in direct threat to bodily autonomy and physical safety.4 Schools, in particular, represent battlegrounds for queer youth; their safety and well-being are often threatened by a lack of inclusive policies, while peer-bullying and harassment often go unaddressed.5 Yet, amidst these challenges, and thanks to some of the progress achieved by LGBTQ people, queer youth are not staying silent. Many are standing up and advocating for respect, equality, and inclusion at home, in schools, and in their wider communities. These acts of resilience, empowerment, and activism are the stories theatre is best suited to tell given the possibilities for direct dialogue with audiences. Moreover, through theatre queer youth can rehearse strategies for engaging with the world, activating other youth, building intersectional coalitions, and working with allies.

Designing applied theatre spaces for queer youth Intentional design of spaces for theatre creation should be a central element of applied theatre practitioners’ work. Before entering into collaboration with queer youth or partner organizations, I turn to five guiding principles. While not a comprehensive best-practices list for engaging in applied theatre work with queer youth, I offer them as a springboard for arriving at meaningful experiences. I encourage practitioners to design their work based on substantive dialogue with the community’s stated needs and goals: Challenge normative systems

Our work with queer youth should always challenge systems of oppression, including those that uphold or perpetuate patriarchy,6 cisnormativity,7 and heteronormativity.8 We must be conscious of how systems have traditionally benefitted men at the expense of women or trans people. We must never conflate

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gender identity and gender expression with biological sex (a societal construction), and we must avoid prioritizing stories with characters whose gender identity and expression match the societal expectations for the sex they were assigned at birth. Moreover, never assume someone’s gender identity based on gender expression. For example, I never start a program without learning the participants’ gender pronouns.9 We must also never propose that heterosexual norms and values be performed, replicated, or adopted. While practitioners must highlight how these oppressions affect queer people, we must refrain from presenting them solely as victims. We should strive to present their full humanity, centering queer lived-experience as a way of decentering mainstream societal expectations for normative gender and human sexuality. My preferred method for connecting personal experiences of oppression with their systemic sources is Augusto Boal’s Forum Theatre.10 I have devised many Forum Theatre plays with youth seeking to actively improve their circumstances and challenge oppression. One play involved a gay high school theatre student who felt that his acting class’s scenes reinforced heteronormativity; his teacher seemed uncomfortable bringing scenes about LGBTQ issues or relationships into the classroom. Yet, even in heterosexual contexts, like Romeo and Juliet, the student shared that during rehearsals he would notice boys giggle or refuse to perform, calling the scenes “weak,” or “gay” with little faculty intervention. The student felt doubly-trapped; not feeling represented by the curriculum nor included by the teacher, he was also afraid of being bullied by his classmates if he spoke up. If peers reacted with such disdain towards heterosexual scenes, then “gay scenes would be worse.” What to do? The student wanted to stand up for himself, engage his teacher as a potential ally, and gauge his classmates’ support. Thus, we devised a Forum play in which an out gay theatre student asks his teacher about performing a scene from Angels in America for the end-of-thesemester showcase. The teacher is unsure the scene would be well received by the school community and tries to dissuade the suggestion. The student stands firm and the teacher finally lets him proceed, but not before stating, “good luck finding a scene partner.” As the play progresses, the student is back in class asking his classmates if anyone would be interested in being his scene partner. Some students surface as potential allies, but the class bully convinces everyone to decline, saying “the whole school will laugh at you.” Humiliated by his classmates and by the teacher’s inaction, the student agrees not to do the scene. Opening the play to audience interventions from other queer youth allowed the student in our group and the other participants to brainstorm collective actions to combat heteronormativity and homophobia at school. Some students suggested not giving up and seeking scene partners from other classrooms or even other schools. They suggested requesting help from other teachers, advocating for the creation of a Gay-Straight Alliance, protesting or boycotting the showcase, involving supportive parents, and speaking to administrators about policies that protect and celebrate queer students. As the Forum facilitator, I posed questions about what creative actions could be taken and invited

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the youth to test them out within the scenes. After each intervention, we dialogued about the strategies employed, their potential challenges and successes. Above all, the ensuing dialogue allowed the queer youth to imagine and explore actions that did not place the burden of fighting oppression solely on the oppressed and focused on ways to challenge systemic oppression. Create trauma-informed spaces

Queer youth may experience many negative stressors that can be overwhelming, particularly if they lead to threats or violence. Thus, a trauma-informed space understands this reality and seeks to provide physical and emotional safety, while aiming to build healthy relationships among participants and facilitators. It offers a culturally-competent space that respects diversity broadly, provides youth with choices, and empowers them to take control of their lives. While it is a space that recognizes theatre’s therapeutic value, it should never be a space that prioritizes theatrical production over artistic process and learning. Practitioners should refrain from jumping into devising, rehearsals, or performances without first checking in with youth about their physical and emotional well-being. I recommend that practitioners enlist co-facilitators/ teaching assistants who can help in case someone not feeling well has to step out. If the practitioner is working within an organization that provides counseling, the facilitator should know the protocols for referring youth to these services. If the project is unaffiliated, practitioners should identify a provider before working with young people. The facilitator listens, acknowledges any pain or trauma, offers resources, and follows up with youth as needed. Practitioners should also be mindful of the negative impact that telling stories of oppression can cause on youth. Trigger warnings should be used to avoid re-traumatization and to give participants the choice of how best to engage in the theatre-making process. These warnings should be employed when introducing potentially-triggering content and their use taught to participants before sharing their stories. Warnings may be employed to alert everyone about stories and performances that may evoke memories of sexual, physical, or verbal harassment and violence, race-based violence and racist or xenophobic language, domestic violence, police brutality, war, child abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide, among others. In tandem, when facilitating theatre-devising workshops that draw on youth’s personal experiences, I ask participants to consider what stories they share. I encourage youth wishing to tell stories of painful experiences to share stories that are “scars and not open wounds,” as sharing unprocessed experiences could be re-traumatizing.11 Create spaces for pride and celebration

Partly as antidote to oppressive forces, and partly to acknowledge the whole being, facilitators should work to create spaces where all facets of identity can be celebrated without fear. Facilitators should encourage activities that allow

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young people to showcase elements of queer culture that identify and sustain them. For instance, queer youth in groups I have facilitated have performed dances, songs, and poetry, performed in drag, or introduced ball culture12 elements into sessions. Leaving room during workshops for youth to share their respective cultures and artistic impulses is critical. This form of sharing—talentshow style—can reveal participants’ diverse artistic skills and interests, which in turn can influence the aesthetics of the work created and performed for the community. Simultaneously, facilitators should be careful not to reinforce stereotypes and to work with youth to create stories and characters that showcase complexity and diversity. Facilitators should encourage youth to draw on their own experiences, creating characters who may not always exhibit the same behaviors, nor always align with mainstream notions of physical appearance, and who may hold conflicting emotions. In this last area, I have worked with youth to create scenes in which a protagonist has fully accepted her sexuality; she wants to come out to her conservative family but is fearful of being kicked out of her home. This reveals the tension between wanting to live openly and fearing homelessness. The end goal is to provide queer young people with spaces to experience and celebrate their visibility with all its complexities. It is vital to celebrate the diversity of gender identities and expressions that exist beyond the binary and the cisnormativity that dominate media representation of queer lives. It is equally important to recognize that queer youth have sexual identities, lives, and desires. Our work must foster sex-positive spaces where youth feel comfortable discussing their sexual identities and romantic attractions without shame or judgment, all while respecting asexual youth. For this purpose, workshop sessions can include different readings that represent and celebrate queer love and relationships. Subsequently, the youth can engage in facilitated dialogues about these representations and may also participate in storytelling circles13 to share experiences of growing up queer. Given the lack of comprehensive sex education focused on queer youth, it is imperative that spaces provide young people adequate information regarding consent, healthy relationships, sexual health, and safer-sex practices, as well as access to resources and support. Ultimately, when queer youth experience themselves seen, represented, and celebrated, their identities are affirmed—thus boosting a positive sense of self and self-worth. This is critically important, particularly for BIPOC and trans people, who are especially marginalized. Create spaces for intergenerational exchange

If you are a practitioner working with queer youth through a community-based program or a larger institution, or even individually, you are already working intergenerationally. Queer youth can benefit from intentional exchange with multiple generations of adults that also identify as queer. These intergenerational collaborations can provide youth with community history, as well as with new allies, mentors, friends, support systems, and windows into healthy and productive queer adult lives. Multigenerational dialogue can also build

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empathy and solidarity between community members. If queer elders understand the needs and challenges of queer youth, they will be better prepared to provide support and advocate on their behalf, and if queer youth understand the ongoing issues faced by older generations, they may be more likely to support their struggles and be connected to actions that could impact their own futures. It is also worth noting that intergenerational spaces can introduce youth to queer artists who have come before them, creating opportunities for the exchange of stories, skills, and the creation of new aesthetic approaches that can potentially build on the work of queer ancestors. For example, in the queer intergenerational devising workshops that I facilitate as part of NYTW’s Mind the Gap (MTG)14 program, I incorporate a diversity of texts by multigenerational theatre artists. We read these texts aloud and participants dialogue about the similarities and differences with their lives. These texts often serve as stylistic inspirations for their own artistic creations. For intergenerational spaces to be successful, queer adult participants and facilitators must never assume that their queer identities are sufficient markers of connection with queer youth, and should strive to understand the youth on their terms and with their unique intersectional challenges. In MTG, this is accomplished by pairing queer youth with queer elders to interview each other and create joint work inspired by those interviews. Our model calls for deep listening. I ask the interviewer not to interrupt the speaker but rather to pose an interesting question and allow the interviewee to respond fully. The interviewer then follows up with further questions based on what they have connected with or are interested in learning more about. Once each partner has been interviewed, participants write monologues and short plays that pay homage to their partner. The resulting pieces that are performed collectively not only address the intergenerational divide but also tend to highlight areas of connection. Participants find empathy for each other’s struggles, often connecting on political ideology and experiences of oppression, and quickly discover that they have more in common than anticipated. The elders realize that, despite the progress made by LGBTQ people, youth today may face similar struggles with coming out and being accepted by their families and communities, as the elders might have experienced in their own youth. One new area for elders includes the challenges that queer young people experience via social media. From lack of representation, to bullying and traumatic images of violence, to unrealistic expectations of queer bodies, youth often navigate online spaces detrimental to healthy development. Yet, the internet and social media can still provide some arenas for queer youth to coalesce, find resources, and express themselves. Understanding this duality has been informative for both elders and facilitators. Create youth-led spaces

Practitioners must also design spaces that allow queer youth to have agency regarding what stories they wish to tell and how they wish to tell them. Thus,

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rehearsal sessions tend to begin with a group vote on the day’s scenes and themes, while also leaving room to discuss participants’ recent experiences. It is not uncommon for someone to enter a session and say, “I was harassed on the train because of my gender expression,” or “I came out to someone new.” The session must allow for those experiences to inform artistic creation if the youth wish to address them. This can be done by facilitating storytelling circles, adding the experiences shared to similar scenes already in development, creating new scenes, providing writing time within the session, or simply celebrating identity. It has been important to not only work with students to create and present their work but also to include opportunities for them to lead activities and facilitate dialogues with audiences during and after performances. Relying on my experience with Forum Theatre, I train participants on how to stimulate and challenge audiences. We practice frequently so that the youth learn how to engage with audience members on what these members want to change in the world through their interventions. Youth also learn to activate debate by asking effective questions rather than solely giving opinions to the audience. They validate the contributions of audiences—particularly young audiences—to the dialogue, while also encouraging them to be self-critical. While not all applied theatre programs are designed to be led by youth, all programs must be spaces for co-teaching and co-learning between participants and facilitators. As Paulo Freire suggests, pedagogical approaches must recognize the knowledge that everyone brings into educational and artistic spaces (1970, pp. 71–86). An important applied theatre practice goal is the sharing of knowledge, skills, and the means of theatrical production. Opportunities for youth leadership are essential for creating work that is most authentic to queer young people’s lived experience. Moreover, when youth voices are heard and given room to thrive, young people are more likely to participate actively and consistently in shaping and implementing the work’s goals.

Conclusion As I consider my experiences with queer youth across contexts, I continue to believe that the work’s focus should remain on creating spaces for individual growth and expression and for collective action against oppressions. This work requires that practitioners balance multiple goals: from offering artistic and leadership development opportunities, to celebrating queer identities, to being responsive to youth’s needs, to being mindful of the unique challenges and traumas queer youth face, to providing access to resources. The emphasis should be on the whole person and their community, not just on the young artist they are or aspire to be. I hope that as practitioners continue to engage with queer youth, the principles I have addressed can be guides for more intentional engagement that centers the youth’s experiences above facilitators’ goals. I hope that facilitators can see queer youth as teachers, as the experts of their own lives with opinions about what they want to see in the world and with the capacity to lead change and not just reflect on it.

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Ultimately, I hope facilitators understand that theatre has limitations and that by itself art cannot solve all oppressions. Theatre’s objective “is not to close a cycle, to generate a catharsis, or to end a development” but to “encourage autonomous activity, to set a process in motion” and inspire “real life” action (Boal, 2002, p. 275). The lessons I have received from queer youth have transformed my life, making me a better artist, educator, citizen, and human being. Young people have inspired me into more action. I am hopeful that my actions along with theirs can indeed change some hearts and minds in the world, at least a little.

Notes 1 Stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning. 2 Describes individuals who feel that their gender identity is neither exclusively male nor female, or who may be in between or beyond those genders. Non-binary individuals may identify as gender fluid, agender, third gender or opt for another identity. For more see Losty and O’Connor (2018). 3 I utilize this term to include anyone not falling within societal expectations of gender and sexuality. This includes anyone within the LGBT acronym but also reflects the fluid gender identities, expressions, and sexual orientations not captured within those labels. Queer also underscores that gender escapes the binary’s bounds and includes those not yet certain of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This group, termed as “questioning,” is common among youth still attempting to understand themselves. 4 For information on queer youth’s challenges see Human Rights Campaign (2018 and 2019); for information on queer youth mental health see The Trevor Project (2019). 5 For information about the challenges of queer youth in schools see Kosciw et al. (2018). 6 Here “patriarchy” refers to a society structured to benefit men at all levels. For more see Millett (2016); McCann and Kim (2017). 7 “Cisgender” is a label for individuals whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. “Cisnormativity” is the assumption that all, or almost all, individuals are or must be cisgender. 8 “Heteronormativity” is the belief or assumption that everyone is heterosexual, or that heterosexuality is the norm. For more see Worthen (2016). 9 Gender pronouns include she/her/hers, he/him/his, or the gender-neutral variations, like they/them/their. Individuals may choose to use multiple or even no pronouns. Asking for pronouns enables self-identification and prevents misgendering by others. 10 For more on Forum Theatre see Boal (1985: 139–142); Boal (2002, pp. 253–276). 11 For more about trauma-informed approaches and queer youth see National Center for Healthy Safe Children. 12 “Ballroom” or “ball” culture references the Black and Latinx LGBT subculture that originated in the 1980s’ New York City drag scene in which people walk/compete in different categories at events known as balls. Balls include voguing, a highly-stylized dance that grew out of the 1960s’ Harlem ballroom scene. For more see Bailey (2013) and the documentaries Paris is Burning (1990) and Kiki (2016). 13 For an example of storytelling by queer youth see #MyStoryOutLoud (https://mystoryoutloud​.org). 14 For more information about MTG see https://www​.nytw​.org​/education​/mind​-the​-gap.

References Bailey, M.M. (2013) Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

Queering applied theatre  127 Boal, A. (1985) Theatre of the Oppressed, trans. McBride, C.A. and McBride, M.O. Leal. New York: Theatre Communications Group. Boal, A. (2002) Games for Actors and Non-Actors, 2nd ed., trans. Jackson, A. London and New York: Routledge. Freire, P. (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. Human Rights Campaign (2018) 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report. Accessed 2 March 2020. https://www​.hrc​.org​/resources​/2018​-lgbtq​-youth​-report. Human Rights Campaign (2018) 2018 Gender-Expansive Youth Report. Accessed 2 March 2020. https://www​.hrc​.org​/resources​/2018​-gender​-expansive​-youth​-report. Human Rights Campaign (2019) 2019 Black and African American LGBTQ Youth Report. Accessed 2 March 2020. https://www​.hrc​.org​/resources​/black​-and​-african​-american​ -lgbtq​-youth​-report. Jordenö, S. (Director) (2016) Kiki [Film]. Sundance. Kosciw, J.G., Greytak, E.A., Zongrone, A.D., Clark, C.M., and Truong, N.L. (2018) The 2017 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN. Kushner, T. (2001) “‘In praise of contradiction and conundrum:’ How do you make social change?” Theater 31(3), pp. 61–64. Livingston, J. (Director) (1990) Paris is Burning [Film]. Off White Productions. Losty, M. and O’Connor, J. (2018) “Falling Outside of the ‘Nice Little Binary Box’: a Psychoanalytic Exploration of the Non-binary Gender Identity,” Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy 32(1), 40–60. McCann, C.R. and Kim, S.-K. (eds) (2017) Feminist Theory Reader: Local and global perspectives. London: Routledge. Millett, K. (2016) Sexual Politics. New York: Columbia University Press. National Center for Healthy Safe Children (2020) Adopting a Trauma-Informed Approach for LGBTQ Youth: A two-part resource for schools and agencies. Accessed 30 June 2020. https:// healthysafechildren​.org​/sites​/default​/files​/Trauma​_Informed​_Approach​_LGBTQ​ _Youth​_1​.pdf. The Trevor Project (2019) National Survey on LGBTQ Mental Health. New York: The Trevor Project. Worthen, M.G.F. (2016) “Hetero-cis–normativity and the gendering of transphobia,” International Journal of Transgenderism 17(1), pp. 31–57.

14 Rehearsing for life HOPE IS VITAL, FYI, sexuality education for youth Nik Zaleski and Michael Rohd

Introduction Our entrees into applied theatre reflect the generosity and ingenuity of this evolving field. Michael’s initial dive began in 1992, with an invitation from a friend who was leading workshops at a confidential clinic called Healthcare for the Homeless at the 14th street Union Mission Shelter in Washington DC. Together with a group of Black men staying at the shelter, he explored stories through improvisation and physicality. After teenagers joined, the group became intergenerational, engaging differences across race, culture, and sexual orientation. The goal was to determine how to collectively investigate personal stories. Michael next developed these workshops towards the specific purpose of examining HIV and AIDS, sexuality, and homelessness. This work (now known as applied theatre) eventually led to a program he founded, HOPE IS VITAL, and to his book Theatre for Community, Conflict and Dialogue (1998). Since then, Michael co-founded Sojourn Theatre in 1999 and the Center for Performance and Civic Practice in 2012. By the time Nik co-founded her company For Youth Inquiry (FYI) in 2008, the field had become more established. She had been working with a young women’s leadership development group, who selected sexuality education as their campaign for the year. Having received abstinence-only education during the Bush administration, Nik felt ill-equipped to support them as a sexuality educator. She did, however, due in large part to her work with Michael, have a set of applied theatre tools that she thought would support safe and accessible spaces to explore sexuality. So alongside getting certified as a health educator, she led devising workshops with these young women to examine the topics that they would eventually build into peer education workshops. These theatre sessions led to a play, Project US, which ultimately led to the founding of FYI. Now the company tours participatory performances and workshops about sexual health and sexual violence to thousands of Chicago Public School students each year as a program of a larger non-profit organization, the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health. At the onset of HOPE IS VITAL, there was an early peer education program going around the US called TAP, which stood for Teens for AIDS Prevention

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(an outgrowth of a national non-profit called Advocates for Youth). A high school or middle school student could sign up for this national program, and if they got a teacher at their school to sign up with them, the teacher received a curriculum in the mail and instructions for a workshop sequence of eight sessions. Since Michael was starting HOPE IS VITAL at the school where he was working, he agreed to be such a teacher. Most people didn’t have a lot of HIV knowledge or expertise at that point; in DC in the 90s, it was nearly impossible to find someone in public schools who was even allowed to talk about HIV. Twenty years later as Nik began her work at the intersection of health education and applied theatre, there was still inadequate sex education in most public schools. From 2004–2010, many Chicago public schools were administering abstinence-only education or limited sex education. Then in 2013, Illinois passed HB2675, one of the most progressive sex education public school mandates across the country, giving FYI an avenue to expand their work (Lang, 2013).

Philosophical underpinnings Sojourn Theatre, CPCP and For Youth Inquiry (FYI) are all based upon specific ethical values that drive the work, philosophically and pedagogically. FYI has created a framework called “the four Ps” of participatory sexuality education: pleasure, exploration of diverse perspectives, opportunities to practice for real life, and shared power. “Pleasure” is the idea that people’s experiences about sexuality education should mirror the experiences they’re hopefully having in their sexual, romantic and intimate lives; or, simply put, learning should be fun. “Perspective” refers to surfacing diverse and often unvoiced perspectives in the room. FYI accomplishes this by inviting youth to tell authentic stories about themselves, while learning from the stories and perspectives of their fellow classmates. In his essay in this volume, Alex Santiago-Jirau writes, As an applied theatre practitioner, my work with queer youth of different ages, races, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds centers on creating spaces where young people can find refuge and support, tell their stories, proudly celebrate their identities, and find resources to fight for collective liberation from systems of oppression. (p. 119, our emphasis) This “place finding,” referred to here and elsewhere in Santiago-Jirau’s writing, is at the core of FYI pedagogy. Santiago-Jirau and FYI’s work both borrow from Augusto Boal’s concept of rehearsing for the revolution (1993) by providing opportunities to “practice” for real life. Imagine two players in the center of a circle rehearsing a conversation between a parent and a young person ready to come out as gay, with players around the circle ready to tag in and continue the conversation. Students play out various perspectives from

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the parent—positive and negative—and rehearse different responses to those perspectives to prepare for multiple possibilities in real life, all while having fun. Exercises like this mine for collective strategies and insights in the room to build off a central question. Similarly, the actors in our plays look for actual advice from audience participants, which casts them as the experts in the room with real knowledge to offer. This interaction promotes the last piece of our pedagogy—shared “power” between educators and learners. FYI spaces use a popular education approach that levels the playing field between students and FYI actor/educators, relying on student voice to drive all programs.

Origins and influences While Michael’s early work with HOPE IS VITAL didn’t follow such a concrete framework as that later developed by FYI, its programming reflected clear influences. In addition to Viola Spolin, Michael drew inspiration from the Chicago tradition of long form improvisation, as well as experiences with Lynne Blom, a dance maker in Chicago; Paul Edwards; Frank Galati; and Dwight Conquergood, all of whom had prompted the question, “What’s the relationship between your purpose, the storytelling forms that you use, and the way that you’re actually working in a room with audience and participants?” These experiences along with others led to an overarching approach: First, one must build community, then make space for young people to bring aspects of themselves into a creative, expressive act. Subsequently, one can move to a period of moments where the collective can become imaginative, to problemsolve, and to think about vision. HOPE IS VITAL also stemmed from the conviction that young people are the experts of their own lives. Young people can often communicate with each other more effectively and authentically than adults can. Therefore, they need to be the leaders in spaces that are attempting to offer them aid, support, and opportunities for dialogue. This belief in giving young people authority now manifests in the work of FYI as well.

The practice The theatre can function as a rehearsal for real life, which prepares young people to have vulnerable conversations with the people who hold power in their world, be it parents, teachers, healthcare providers or others who influence their sexual decisions. In both HOPE IS VITAL and FYI, actors and players practice those conversations and model success and failure. Both companies are invested in bolstering imaginative capacity so youth can envision futures where the conversation is nuanced and different. Both companies grapple with such questions as: What’s the moment we’re in, and what’s the conversation that’s most important? What are the capacities we’re building with young people in this instance that will be useful to them in the various conversations, in the many instances, beyond this moment?

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HOPE IS VITAL and FYI also discovered that utilizing the imagination could function as a trauma response strategy in their work, and that theatre practitioners should acknowledge the presence of trauma in young people’s lives and right-size invitations to share. Santiago-Jirau notes the need for this level of responsibility in his essay as well: “I encourage youth wishing to tell stories of painful experiences to share stories that are ‘scars and not open wounds,’ as sharing unprocessed experiences could be re-traumatizing” (p. 122). Sometimes, though, the imagination paints a bleaker picture of tomorrow than what is actually likely or possible. Sometimes, amid past or ongoing trauma, it can be hard to envision future realities free from our flight, fight or freeze states. So, part of the work of applied theatre is to prepare the imagination for “the possible, rather than the insurmountable obstacles to human potential” (Dolan, 2005, p. 2). Therefore, both companies decided to rehearse positive, healthy conversations about sexual health practices, boundaries, and needs, and modeled diverse perspectives for youth to integrate into their lives. They began to create playful, prophetic spaces where the imagination could thrive and grow, building imaginative muscles to enable youth to project towards the futures they desired. Similarly, HOPE IS VITAL emphasized stories created by young people about moments of decision making or distress and allowed them to imagine other ways of handling them. An oft-repeated HOPE IS VITAL scene was one in which a young person pressured another to have sex with them using tactics such as the threat of social ostracization and isolation. Actors/facilitators encouraged the young person being pressured to think about their own power, wisdom, and the people who might support them in moments of difficult choice; they made space for them to improvise options in front of peers. One powerful intervention was when a young woman looked her scene partner in the eye and said, “The way you’re acting right now, you don’t deserve so much as a kiss, much less what you’re trying for. Step back and come at me again like you care.” The room lit up, and the sheer, courageous self-love that she demonstrated resonated with many in the room.

Embracing play and pleasure Despite the serious imperative of this work, theatre is in essence, and should remain, fun. FYI, for instance, has always been preoccupied with pleasure because the company was consistently disrupting historically non-fun spaces: sex education classrooms in the city of Chicago. In the 90s and early 2000s, and especially during Bush’s abstinence-only administration, sex education classrooms across the country used shame to attempt to scare students out of sexual activity. Medically inaccurate images of diseased genitalia were signposts of STI lessons, alongside horror stories of the psychological consequences of becoming sexually active before marriage. Some federally-funded sex education curriculum even dared to include props like chewed up gum, used tape and a cup of spit to show young people how they’d feel after having sex before

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marriage (Culp-Ressler, 2014). FYI and HOPE IS VITAL’s work intentionally disrupted these shaming patterns by affirming student curiosity and ideas. Through boundary-setting writing activities, relationship role-plays and body scanning movement exercises, FYI creates space for young people to explore their curiosities related to their bodies and their romantic attraction to each other. To conclude, HOPE IS VITAL and FYI provided the foundation for Michael and Nik to grow their belief in the power of applied theatre in vulnerable spaces. Working at the intersection of youth and sexuality, Nik and Michael developed tactics to infuse difficult conversations with healthy modeling, pleasure, and radical visions for the future. They continue to invest in building the imaginative capacities of the current publics they work in, growing the seeds they planted years ago with HOPE IS VITAL and FYI.

References Boal, A. (1993) Theatre of the Oppressed. New York: Theatre Communications Group. Culp-Ressler, T. (2014) “5 Offensive Analogies Abstinence-Only Lessons Use to Tell Teens Sex Makes Them Dirty.” Think Progress. 7 April. Accessed 17 June 2020. https://archive​.thinkprogress​.org​/5​-offensive​-analogies​-abstinence​-only​-lessons​-use​ -to- tell-teens-sex-makes-them-dirty-a3cd41cfa9e0/. Dolan, J. (2005) Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theater. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Hinkel, D. (2020) “Sparked by Death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Protests in Chicago Fueled by Decades of Police Department Problems.” The Chicago Tribune. 2 June. Accessed 8 June 2020. https://www​.chicagotribune​.com​/news​/breaking​/ct​-chicago​ -protests​-george​-floyd​-laquan​-mcdonald​-police​-deaths​-20200602​-roi​s6if​mpbh​2nm4​ wt5v​rhcvyrm​-story​.html. Lang, N. (2013) “Illinois House Approves Bill on Comprehensive Sex Education.” WBEZ Chicago Public Media. 18 April. Accessed 26 June 2020. https://www​.wbez​.org​/stories​ /illinois​-house​-approves​-bill​-on​-comprehensive​-sex​-education​/9dae8b96​-32c7​-4568​ -a91e​-d01793f78fce. Rohd, M. (1998) Theatre for Community, Conflict and Dialogue: Hope Is Vital Training Manual. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Press.

15 Staging generations of queer history Megan Carney, with contributions from Donny Acosta and Sharon Pasia

About Face Theatre (AFT) was founded in Chicago in 1995 to protest and rectify the lack of plays with LGBTQ+ protagonists produced in mainstream theatre. A few years later, in the midst of an uprising of queer and allied youth across the country, fueled in part by the murder of Matthew Shepherd and campaigns for new policies to protect queer youth, a team of artists launched About Face Youth Theatre (AFYT). I was one of the lead directors for the first eight years from 1998 to 2006. AFYT soon became a year-round program and gained national recognition. From its initial impulse, we adapted a variety of methods to devise plays focusing on personal narratives, integrating historical texts and interviews, and making theatre as a form of protest. We invited social workers, historians, faith leaders, and safe sex educators as guest presenters knowing that each of them offered a lifeline to a compassionate adult world. The AFYT model is steeped in Paulo Freire’s pedagogy that education is not neutral and can bring about freedom. AFYT’s methodology and aesthetics are strongly influenced by Bertolt Brecht and Augusto Boal, drawing on their ideas about using the theatre as a space to gather around urgent questions and rehearse new realities. Furthermore, the work builds on Brecht and Boal’s experimentation with engaging spectators’ intellects and inciting action. Also rooted in grassroots organizing, AFYT shows are crafted by, for, and with the people of the community most directly impacted by the catalyzing questions that drive each play development process. Each year the AFYT ensemble identifies themes based on issues that are meaningful and urgent to their lives and their immediate communities. As a result, the racially and economically diverse collaborative teams of adult and youth artists have brought queer parenting, chosen families, immigration, racial justice, and the AIDS crisis, among other themes, to centerstage.

Process design I returned to About Face as the artistic director in 2017 in time to prepare for the twentieth anniversary of AFYT. The artistic process for this landmark year involved a youth-led ten-month devising process in close collaboration with adults that culminated in a three-week professional production for public

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audiences at Chicago’s LGBTQ+ Center on Halsted. The remainder of this essay weaves together my reflections as a co-director with those of co-director Donny Acosta and youth ensemble member Sharon Pasia to underscore our perspectives from different generations and roles in the process. For the Twentieth Anniversary Project, the youth ensemble decided to investigate recent LGBTQ+ history to counter their frustration that it was not being taught in school and rarely discussed at home. Early on, we discussed possible structures and theatrical frameworks for the eventual play. Donny recalls, “When the ensemble brainstormed everything about queer history, ball culture was definitely the hot topic.” The origins of ball culture have been traced back to “the Queen” William Dorsey Swann in the 1880s and it has continued to flourish in Black and Latinx communities as spaces for multigenerational performance, mentorship, and liberation (Joseph, 2020). Now experiencing mainstream recognition in part due to the hit TV show, Pose, drag balls can be lavish events, rooted in chosen families and heightened competitions, where people “walk” the runway in a series of categories that mix performance, dance, lip-syncing, and modeling. The idea of using these elements as a framing device for the play resonated strongly for the ensemble—50% of whom identified as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and 41% of whom identified as trans, non-binary, or genderfluid—all within the ages of 12–24. Donny asserted, “the structure, energetic vibe, and representation of the ball really worked for us, so we jumped on the idea to use ‘categories’ to intertwine the stories we collected.” With agreement on a theme and theatrical world, we began to map out a process. We titled the play 20/20 and created the script from three sources, each of which offered a unique consideration of how history is understood and transmitted, as further discussed below: 1) Curated AFYT archives including original writings from past ensemble members; 2) Oral history interviews collected during workshops with community elders ranging in age from 40–73; and 3) Stories and reflections from the current ensemble. The youth ensemble led the process of curating and adapting the stories selected for the script while teaching artists provided guidance on editing, design, and staging. Some youth transcribed interviews, others created text collages for multiple voices, everyone submitted original writing, and one ensemble member was the choreographer. The script was managed in shared online documents that allowed multiple writers to make revisions and see the work in progress. At moments when this became unwieldy, the document was reviewed and clarified. The process involved ongoing experimentation with interpretation, adaptation, and collective dramaturgy.

Integrating multiple sources As Alexander Santiago-Jirau states in the essay “Queering applied theatre” within this book, “If we are committed to queer liberation, we must support the LGBTQ community’s multigenerational struggles” (p. 119). Some of these persistent struggles emerged during our process and were explored in multiple ways. One

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Figure 15.1 About Face Youth Theatre ensemble members (left to right facing the camera) Nina Cajuste, Dara Prentiss, and Natalie O’Hea in the production of 20/20. Co-Directed by Donny Acosta and Megan Carney. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

of the more personally interesting days involved witnessing the current ensemble respond to the writings from the program archives. A few of us combed through the files of handwritten pages and script drafts and selected materials to fill one box for the 2019 ensemble to review. Passionate and raw, the stories leapt off the pages during the workshop and whenever moved, someone would read out loud to the group. Sharon recalls, “that day is forever ingrained into my memory. [It was like] going through a library of the diaries of my loved ones, even though they were complete strangers ... I felt seen, joyful, heartbroken, infuriated, and hopeful ... But honestly? Humanity still has a long way to go.” One of the archival stories addressed a loss to suicide and reverberated so strongly that a narrated passage of it was included in the final production. One of the older ensemble members addressed the audience: “I can’t imagine the person I would be now if I had had this [program] when I was younger. I want to give that to other people, that knowledge that you are not alone, and you have a future to look forward to.” In reflecting on the process, Sharon added, “it was also great to see that some of these issues that they were talking about twenty years ago are considered obsolete now due to the advancements in medicine, technology, and politics … so we don’t have to hide as much.” The archival writings elicited important conversations about mental health and trans rights and inspired the play’s ending that became a call to action in honor of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, two founders of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

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When preparing to invite people for our interview process, I considered adults in the Chicago community who would bring different historical perspectives, and also held different personal identities, in order to reflect the racial diversity of our ensemble. Some included a comedian, a dancer, the head of a local philanthropic foundation, a historian, a health care worker, and every person I contacted accepted the invitation. I led a workshop on techniques for collecting oral histories, and we developed a set of questions that invited our guests to meander and then focus on two primary questions: “What is your relationship to the LGBTQ+ community?” and “What are your hopes for LGBTQ+ youth?” The ensemble conducted hour-long interviews over the course of several workshops. Topics ranged from growing up queer and a choir boy, Latina lesbian activism in Chicago, impacts of AIDS on a queer Black circle of friends in Indianapolis, the founding of a charm school for trans youth in Chicago, and lots of stories about first love. Each of the stories informed the development of the show, and three were fully adapted for the script with youth performers transforming into elder protagonists through simple costume changes and introductions from another cast member. Elders expressed hope through visions of freedom from fear, full selfhood and bodily autonomy, and the opportunity to thrive in any career or location. Acosta, who started out as a member of the youth ensemble and became a staff leader, reflected, “I’ve been onstage telling my stories as a queer person of color, and it’s important to me to give that space to other queer youth because it changes you. It’s important to feel okay being your true authentic self.” We learned from surveys conducted at the end of the project that through the interview process, ensemble members gained a deeper understanding of historical events and of the social contexts that LGBTQ+ elders survived. Throughout the workshop and rehearsal process, ensemble members were also journaling in response to prompts, and there was no shortage of material for the script. It was understood that nothing would be considered for the script without the writer’s consent. As workshops gave way to rehearsal and it became time to begin staging, people were continuously given the option to withdraw or revise any writing that felt too vulnerable to perform. The rehearsal process involved ongoing script revisions while the co-directors experimented with staging, setting blocking when writing was complete. The segmented structure of the script, with its different and moveable categories, supported this gradual process. Throughout the tech process there were the inevitable hard conversations about cutting material that did not coalesce. These changes were negotiated with the writers and, when necessary, the whole ensemble. We weathered these challenges because of a strong foundation built on shared goals and trust.

Building for the future Twenty years into cultivating multigenerational art making and youth-led activism, AFYT processes have helped to facilitate social justice actions while also documenting the movement. The scripts themselves, layered collages of

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personal narrative, historical research, verbatim interviews, original poems, and manifestos, provide time stamps and history lessons on ways that sites of urgent need have emerged and evolved within LGBTQ+ communities. Sharon performed a monologue in 20/20 that began with the admission that her story of coming out “is still going on. It’s kind of like an eternal revolving door, I think it’ll be going on forever.” Many of us in the LGBTQ+ community can identify with this sentiment. Arts-based capacity building programs can cultivate authentic relationships between peers and adult allies. I believe a multigenerational process can also enhance the skills of adult artists. The necessity of staying nimble and responsive while allowing for youth leadership throughout the process requires adults to release fixed thought patterns and rote approaches in exchange for more flexible processes and frequent infusions of imagination. As adrienne maree brown advises, “Our strategies must be more sophisticated and engaging than those of our opposition ... every member of the community holds pieces of the solution, even if we are all engaged in different layers of the work” (2017, pp. 62–63). The layers provided by the archives and the elders enriched 20/20 beyond measure. In addition to expanding the range of stories performed in the play, the attentive care and multigenerational listening and respect planted transformational seeds for all involved. The gifts of understanding that you are worthy, are cultivating a taste of freedom, and accepting your place in the powerful lineage of queer history continue to unfold long after the show has closed and are the seeds of a more just future.

References About Face Theatre (n.d.) Accessed 20 June 2020. https://aboutfacetheatre​.com/. Acosta, D. (2020) Email correspondence. 20 June. Boal, A. (1993) Theatre of the Oppressed. New York: Theatre Communications Group. Brecht, B. (1957) Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic. Willet, J. trans. New York: Hill & Wang. brown, a.m. (2017) Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. Chico, CA: AK Press. Freire, P. (2000 [1968]) Pedagogy of The Oppressed. New York and London: Continuum. Joseph, C.G. (2020) “The First Drag Queen Was a Former Slave.” The Nation. 31 Jan. Accessed 1 March 2021. https://www​.thenation​.com​/article​/society​/drag​-queen​-slave​ -ball/. Murphy, R. (Executive Producer) (2018–19) Pose. New York: New York. Pasia, S. (2020) Email correspondence. 21 June.

Roundtable discussion with Lisa S. Brenner, Megan Carney, Michael Rohd, Alexander (Alex) Santiago-Jirau, and Nik Zaleski

Lisa: So, I thought we would start by talking about the value of multi-generational work, which was a theme I noticed in all of your essays. What is the value of bringing different generations together on the same activist work? Nik: At FYI, young people and adults have a lot of common ground around their questions and goals in the sexuality space. But if adults are making decisions that we think are best for young people and then trying to include them for organizing purposes, it’s not actually an authentic exchange with them. That’s true for the art that we make as well. Megan: In the context of queer communities, formal education fails so consistently when it comes to passing on queer history. Intergenerational space is critical for any kind of continuity or understanding between generations. Often younger people wonder, “Where did I come from, am I the first one to experience this?” Older people have opportunities to pass on what they’ve learned and to better understand what youth are contending with today. Alex: One of the programs that we run at New York Theatre Workshop is precisely an intergenerational theatre workshop where we bring together elders and teens to interview each other, do some deep listening, and create short plays inspired by each other’s stories and experiences while developing their unique artistic voices. One of the things that has been interesting, I think, for the elders through their collaboration with the young people is that they become re-engaged politically. I think the elders come into the program wanting to be heard and to pass along stories about fighting on behalf of the queer movement, but then they learn quite a bit about the struggles young people experience now. They realize oppression hasn’t gone completely away, even with all of the advances that we’ve made. And it’s been lovely then to see the young people find solidarity as well, and celebrate the elders, because they’re also being celebrated themselves. Megan: There has been a lot of evolution in what constitutes political activism. People are finding creative ways to make change that often start online, for example, and I think there is a growing acknowledgement of

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the legitimacy of that work and an understanding that new methods are effective for social change. Michael: It’s making me think a lot about the different needs of intergenerational groups at different times. When HOPE IS VITAL started in 1991, I was working with three men (Russell, Jerry, and Tim) who were without housing. They were all HIV positive. After several months of working together, Russell said to me, “We need to get some teenagers in here now.” And that was actually where HOPE IS VITAL came from. When I talked to him about why, at first Russell framed it as wanting to teach the young people about staying safe. But Tim took me aside one day and said, “That’s not that’s not really what Russell wants out of this. He wants to be seen, you know, we’re not seen.” Russell wanted teenagers he didn’t know to recognize and validate his story and be in community with him. The relationships they built through story sharing and the intergenerational activism that they ended up doing became life changing for the young people as well as for myself, Tim, Jerry, and Russell. Alex: There are also things that even when you are far apart in age perhaps don’t need to be discussed. For example, in this last Mind the Gap session that we did in partnership with SAGE, we had trans people in the room in their seventies and young trans people in their teens and twenties. They could go further and deeper into conversations about what it means to be a human being in the world without necessarily focusing on stories about their transitions. They could just learn from each other about a diversity of topics and then create art. Lisa: Where does theatre fit into activism and the political work that you’re all dedicated to? Why theatre as a means of activism? Megan: I think in my own learning, the way that I make sense of and make meaning of my life and experiences is through stories. I don’t remember statistics, but stories are a way of processing meaning, understanding, and then there are the skills around that of interpretation, composition, framing, and collaboration. Applied theatre often refers to thinking about theatre as a set of tools. But before I even heard that term “applied theatre,” I was using theatre to do work that community organizers do: to gather people around a shared belief and see if we could make change in our community. Theatre can walk alongside political action, and it activates the imagination, it activates a sense of spirit or hope, in a way that other methods don’t always aspire to or achieve. Alex: You can’t do theatre unless you are in community. Both the queer youth and the elders are seeking a sense of belonging, and a sense that they’re not alone in the world—there are other people who have had similar experiences. In theatre, you find out that you are not alone figuratively and literally, that there is a community around you that can be in solidarity. I’m biased, of course, about this, but I believe theatre is perhaps the most immediate of the art forms in terms of allowing both the performer and the audience to have direct dialogue, especially around

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systems of oppression. It offers a process where you can activate both the performers and the audience members to mobilize towards change. For the young people whom I work with, it’s powerful that they can engage an audience in conversation, not only by telling their stories, but by taking concrete steps that can activate an imagined world. Nik: In FYI plays, we build on immediate actions. So, once audiences have fallen in love with the characters who are built on real people’s real experiences, they’re able to take actions around those narratives in the moment of the play that it is immediate. It’s not just knocking on someone’s door and saying here’s why you should sign this petition to your legislator, but it’s: let me build a whole tapestry of stories and participatory invitations for you to be fully seduced. Theatre trains us beyond just being theatre artists. Michael, you talk about this all the time in your work, but theatre trains us to think on our feet and be creative within constraints, with constrained resources. Michael: So, this gets to my bone to pick with “applied theatre” as a terminology. I recognize what it’s come out of, but I think it does a disservice to the individual practitioner, and at this moment of system disruption, I particularly think it’s dangerous to think that only folx who have “applied theatre” as an umbrella for what they do actually can apply their assets and tools to the important work of reimagining. We have to think about theatre not as a tool, but as an art. The reason I think that distinction is crucial is if applied theatre is a section of theatre, then folx who aren’t in it cannot be rhetorically understood to be making an impact and contributing outside of art spaces. We need artists feeling as if they can make meaningful contributions in all kinds of civic and public contexts. This “applied theatre” frame that has been put over a lot of work, I’m not sure how useful it is. I get it. My book is in that space (1998), and I see that people are gaining meaningful competencies, but I think right now everybody’s got to be thinking about how their assets can be applied because they’re theatre artists, not because they’re applied theatre artists. Lisa: Let’s talk about that for a bit, whether the language that we use to describe what we do is limiting. Megan: There’s been tension in the field of theatre practitioners, whether you’re situated in higher education, or in a company, or freelance, around the terms we use for what we do. For me it shows up in the search to find a satisfying job in the field: Would I be a community engagement person? Would I be in the education department? Would I be overseeing artistic programming? So, I think we’re naming something important. This is a ripe moment to invite people to break that tension and find ways to participate that might be outside of how roles were formerly defined. We need to look at the resources we actually have and consider how those can get employed in different ways. I think that education departments and community engagement departments have

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been doing the heavy lift on the inside of larger theatre companies for a long time. Inside higher education, the diversity and inclusion folks have been doing the heavy lifting. This is a real moment of redistributing the efforts and inviting more people into the conversation about how we make change from whatever role we are holding. Alex: You are speaking my language because I’m a director of education at a producing theatre company who is also partly in charge of community engagement. What I do in community engagement, in theatre education, is theatre. “Applied Theatre” has been a term that we have used in academia to explain our work to folx who think they are the ones that do real theatre. But what we do is theatre at its core. I’m also a Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner and have been so for twenty years, trained with Augusto Boal and worked with Pedagogy & Theatre of the Oppressed, the national organization continuing this work. Boal talked about being a theatre artist for the reasons it was invented, which was always political at its roots. So, yes, the terminology has been helpful. Sometimes one has to admit that it has allowed us to navigate particular circles, if you will, and gain access to some resources, but it has been limiting in many other ways. Michael: Because fields have been siloed within the discipline, the person who teaches directing or acting or Viewpoints, or whatever, has never felt like it was their responsibility to help their students understand how their assets and how their classroom teaching could be deployed outside of a rehearsal room, which means we are allowing ourselves to be put in that silo. We have basically taken on the responsibility and relieved others of the responsibility because it’s been convenient. Alex: We are in a shift. I think our theatre companies have realized that our communities are saying, no, you can no longer just put up the play that is primarily white or, primarily by established artists and think that you’re doing the work. The jig is up, you have to be engaged, and we’re going to hold you accountable as a theatre company. You will have to explain what it is that you’re doing to effect the change and live out the values that you claim that you hold. Lisa: Before we run out of time, maybe we can end by identifying the conversations, in the context of working with youth specifically, that we should be addressing right now in the field. Michael: White supremacy and anti-racism. Alex: Adding to that, the deep economic inequalities experienced by marginalized communities. Megan: I think that the first way to do that is looking at the institutions we’re in and the ways in which we’re enabling these systemic oppressions to persist. What’s the shifting that needs to happen? Nik: Whose stories are we telling, who’s telling them, who has traditionally been given the structures, the resources, the power to tell them. And

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then the economy of theatre: What is a financial structure that actually would allow artists to thrive and continue making work? Lisa: Thank you. I appreciate this dialogue, and all the work that you do.

Reference Rohd, M. (1998) Theatre for Community, Conflict & Dialogue: The Hope is Vital Training Manual. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Part 6

Embodying heritage Residencies with Indigenous and immigrant youth

16 Laughter, healing, and belonging Cada quien tiene su lugar Macedonio Arteaga Jr. and Alicia Chavez-Arteaga

Izcalli, the Nahuatl word for “house of reawakening,” is a community-based organization founded in 1993 by a group of young people who self-identify as Chicanas and Chicanos. We were activists who wanted to create a space for Chicanx students to learn about their Indigenous history, art, and culture; build their self-esteem; and encourage them to finish high school and then attend college. Izcalli’s mission is to transform the lives of the Chicanx community by promoting cultural consciousness through the arts, education, and community dialogue. Through its programming, Izcalli has reached thousands of community members throughout the United States (a large percentage being Chicanx/Latinx), encouraging creative expression, cultural awareness, and community healing by integrating an approach to restore hope and well-being. Teatro Izcalli, a component of Izcalli, is a Chicanx comedy troupe that has been performing Chicanx/Latinx stories that present the traditions, challenges, opportunities, and issues related to the Chicanx/Latinx community for almost twenty-five years. Traveling throughout the country to conferences, universities, high schools, theatre venues, and community spaces, Teatro Izcalli’s original work addresses issues such as xenophobic immigration policies and attitudes, sexism, racism, violence, homophobia, and the lack of culturally relevant education for Chicanx/Latinx youth. Teatro Izcalli’s home base is in the city of San Diego; due to the close proximity to the US/Mexico border, most of our work has been a representation of this borderlands existence that also includes outreach to young people. Over the years, we have developed contracts with local community-based organizations, the San Ysidro School District, and a long-standing partnership with the San Diego Unified School District. These contracts have resulted in funding from several organizations including the California Arts Council, the Commission for Arts and Culture, and the Chicano Federation to produce videos and educational theatre workshops with elementary school students, youth, and parents with small children. In 2009, Teatro Izcalli published Nopal Boy & Other Actos, which has been used in universities and high schools throughout the country to teach Chicanx theatre. In 2011, the book received an award by the California Association of Teachers of English for its contribution to English Language Arts in California, and in 2016, Teatro Izcalli was given a California

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State Resolution by the Honorable State Senator Ricardo Lara for our twenty years of contribution to the arts in California. It is important to note that although we are bringing Chicanx Theatre to young people, we have had students of all ethnicities participate in our programs and perform in our bilingual plays. At the same time, the students we serve are mainly from underserved communities, and as such our work provides a forum for their voices. For instance, the enrollment of minority students at San Ysidro High School is 99%, the majority of whom are Chicanx/ Latinx (Public School Review, 2020). In the San Diego Unified School District, “The student population is extremely diverse, representing more than 15 ethnic groups and more than 60 languages and dialects.” Roughly 80% of the students identify as other than white (46.5% are Chicanx/Latinx); 26.5% are English learners; and 59.4% are eligible for free or reduced meals (San Diego Unified School District, 2020). Teatro Izcalli’s focus is to validate the experiences of the Chicanx/Latinx community, to bring healing through the power of laughter, to elevate the teachings of the ancestors, and to foster social justice consciousness. Teatro Izcalli was created soon after the passage of the 1994 ballot initiative Proposition 187, also known as the “Save Our State” initiative, which aimed to deny undocumented persons state-funded services, including public education and non-emergency health care (Martin, 1995). Many of us had been involved in organizing protests against the proposition and were upset over its passing. Consequently, we channeled our disappointment into writing our first initial Actos that brought to life what we were experiencing in our communities. Luis Valdez from El Teatro Campesino defines Actos as short dramatic forms that utilize satire to elucidate social problems. Ultimately the role of an Acto is to provide a solution to bring about change (Valdez, 1994, p. 12). Our newly formed teatro group utilized Actos to uplift the community and has continued to do so since. Teatro Izcalli honors the roots of Chicanx Theatre, following in the tradition of companies such as El Teatro Campesino and Culture Clash that employ political and social satire. Chicanx Theatre was born out of the need for Chicanx to assert a cultural and political identity within the sociopolitical discourse of this country. Considered to be the “people’s theatre,” Chicanx Theatre aims to provide educational, cultural, and politically charged performances in a way that differs from what is perceived to be “proper” theatrical work (Huerta, 1982, p. 3). Furthermore, as renowned Chicanx Theatre scholar Jorge Huerta wrote in the introduction of our book Nopal Boy & Other Actos, “Chicanos like any other ethnic group, have responded to their marginalization with laughter to build community, uniting in a common cause. I believe that they have employed humor in their theater as a means of protection, as a weapon and as an educational tool” (Huerta, 2009, p.7). Comedy enables difficult and uncomfortable subjects to be represented on the stage by using exaggerated stock characters that not only satirize the opposition but also turn the colonizers’ gaze back upon their “absurdities and failings” that aim to destroy any sense

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Figure 16.1 Company Members of Teatro Izcalli. (From top left) Veronica Burgess, Alicia Chavez-Arteaga, Claudia Cuevas, Macedonio Arteaga Jr. (From bottom left) Hector Villegas, Michael Slomanson, Jose Alvarez, Iyari Arteaga. 2015. Photo by Cariely Alvarez.

of identity or agency in an oppressed people (Arteaga and Teatro Izcalli, 2009, p. 7). Through our Actos, which are in English, Spanish, and Spanglish, we offer audiences a reflection of their lives that allows them to experience healing laughter in a safe space within the community. As Chicanx/Latinx scholars Juan Bruce-Novoa and David Valentin explain, “The Acto achieves this goal by presenting readily identifiable representative types … [and] the community tends to see itself in those types, which in their simplicity of detail transcend particular differences” (1977, p. 43). In this way, humor serves as a communal form of introspection and empowerment. Since its founding, the company’s inherent humor brought us together. The ability to laugh about everything and everyone including ourselves has been medicinal. We grew up with what was referred to as caria in our homes. Caria loosely translates to giving someone a hard time with love. When our own parents made fun of us it was never hurtful; it was just the way we communicated and reflected on an obvious truth. We laughed as we began to learn this was how love was conveyed. For many of our members and many of our audiences and students, caria is the language that effectively taught us to be funny and look at the humor in everything.

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Caria humor extended to nicknames that may be seen as offensive to those outside the culture; for example, imagine being called Gordita (little fat one). How about being nicknamed Bola, which literally translates to ball, or having a nickname like La Bruja (witch), or Maletas (luggage) because you never stay still? Pinky, Sandwich, Dirtclod, Pikachon, Crackalaka, and Spellcheck are some memorable nicknames that made it from real life onto our stage, or vice versa: nicknames created on stage found themselves sliding off the stage and taking hold of someone in our circle. Our elders even name cars like La Burra (the donkey) or El Marciano (the Martian). Humor extended in our homes even with death; writing funny poems about death or having funny names about death were all part of growing up. So, if we were going to start a troupe, it would have to be a comedy troupe; for that was what we knew, what had been passed on to us. We have seen the power of humor when we work with students. At times that work involves the troupe performing in schools, while other times we are in residence, conducting workshops for students to develop their original work. In both instances, we are conscious that building a healthy equitable community with these students is crucial for them to believe in us and in themselves. To that end, the “Acto technique of presenting typical images of the community in a manner which displays the troupe’s sympathy and intimacy with the culture” reinforces the identification between the actors and the audience (Novoa and Valentin, 1977, p. 46). We hope that the Chicanx/Latinx students identify with the characters and bilingualism featured in our shows and feel that their culture is being recognized. Therefore, when we first started performing Actos with diverse students, we did not know how they were going to react. However, we were pleasantly surprised at the response, seeing that the themes were universal and equally as funny to them. By laughing at a situation, the audience acknowledges a shared recognition of what is being depicted. When we all laugh together at something that may be painful, individuals realize that they are not alone; the situation thereby becomes less personal and easier to cope with. In one of our Actos, for instance, serious tension occurs in a home when an immigrant mother learns that her husband does not want their daughter to go to college because he feels she is only going to be a chile frito (a hot chile). The moment the mom walks on stage and tells her husband “estas loco” (you’re crazy), the audience is in an uproar. A strong mother challenging her husband is a common image to which most audience members seemingly relate. Despite the stereotype of the macho man in Latinx homes, oftentimes it is the mothers who have the last word. The Acto points to other unspoken truths, however. When the father declares that the son can go to college, but the daughter cannot, the Acto reveals the sexism that exists in many homes. The over-the-top humor escalates when the family finds out the son, who is eighteen, is not even going to graduate high school. While the father and daughter are off stage, the mother has a heart-to-heart talk with the son: “Do you want to work three jobs like your dad just to survive? Look son, I need to show you something I never thought I would have to show you.” The mom walks off stage and brings a butt—yes, a butt. “Look at this, son, look at this.” She proclaims. “What is it?”

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the son asks. “This is your dad’s butt. He worked so hard; he worked his butt off. Now when I want to touch his butt, I have to go into the closet to touch it.” When the mother asks the son to look at the butt, he recoils: “Gross mom, put dad’s butt away, that is disgusting.” The humor in the Acto helps the audience deal with an issue that occurs in many immigrant homes—parents having to work several grueling yet low-paying jobs in hopes of giving their children a better life—by portraying that struggle as a communal experience. Many times, we have had audience members of different ethnicities say the depiction resembles their own family. This communal experience bonds the audience despite the bilingualism and particularity of the characters’ background; comedy is the universal equalizer. Underneath the humor of an Acto is often a revelation of the forces at play. In this case, towards the end of the Acto the father admits how it is hard for him because he is afraid that he cannot protect his daughter. We see the real issue of fear and anxiety with which the father truly struggles. “All of these issues are making my mitochondria hurt,” he says. While the audience may laugh at the father’s overly dramatic proclamation, his choice of words reveals that he feels this anxiety at his very core, on a cellular level. His children are his life energy, after all. When we teach students to create their own Actos, we encourage them to similarly use humor as a form of resiliency. One fifteen-year-old we worked with wrote a powerful Acto about his personal immigration journey, which the students performed at his school and in the community. In this Acto, there is a dialogue between a father and son who crossed into the US illegally after a long and perilous journey. The son, exhausted, asks his father, “Papa, why did we come this way? I am so tired from climbing all these hills.” The father’s response in this tense situation? “Yeah. But did you die?” Without fail, this line causes the audience to immediately burst out in laughter, acknowledging that life is hard, but “Hey, nobody died! Right?” When young people get inspired about a social issue that impacts them, they are encouraged to advocate for policies and opportunities that benefit them or others in their community. After writing this Acto, the author consequently became more educated about his DACA status and even began assisting others in filling out their DACA paperwork. Now at twenty years old, he works for a community organization that advocates for refugee immigrant youth. He has also grown in his engagement in our Círculo de Hombres, where for the past two years he has served as the “Keeper of the Fire,” at our “without borders inter-tribal ceremony,” which include Kumeyaay, Navajo, Apaches, and Mexicas, gathering on the Kumeyaay reservation on the San Diego side of the border. His role as “Keeper of the Fire,” has the notable responsibility of keeping our fire burning steadily through the night and even once a year for three days straight—an honorific role that he has performed admirably for years now. Such advocacy contributes to a sense of healing, and, as scholar and activist Shawn Ginwright argues, a “sense of purpose, power and control over life situations” (2018). For instance, many of the young people in the border region

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are constantly being attacked by racist policies and politicians. More recently, three young girls wrote a daring Acto fueled by President Trump’s portrayal of blatantly racist stereotypes and their desire to protest the building of his wall. In this Acto, Ivanka gets kidnapped by Dora the Explorer and Trump is detained by actual aliens from another planet, and it all takes place at the Great Wall of China. Creatively completing the stage picture was a Trump news briefing where an Asian reporter is thrown out every time that he asks a question. As their accountable mentors, we were admittedly nervous about presenting something so politically charged, knowing that school and district administrators would be in the audience. However, the girls performed with such hilarity and verve that the Acto was a big hit. While Teatro Izcalli asserts the restorative potential of humor in Chicanx Theatre, we also incorporate specific healing practices into our residencies. In addition to teaching the students about Actos, we also explore other modes of expression such as poetry, scriptwriting, and hip-hop, as well as acting in a full school production. We affirm creativity as a transformative act that honors the totality of who we are as people of color with diverse and complex histories: Healing centered engagement is the result of building a healthy identity, and a sense of belonging. For youth of color, these forms of healing can be rooted in culture and serve as an anchor to connect young people to a shared racial and ethnic identity that is both historically grounded and contemporarily relevant. (Ginwright, 2018) We further embrace practices that honor all parts of our being, not privileging the mind over the body or the spirit, such as talking circles, smudging, intention setting, gratitude practice, and meditation. We also integrate the use of circles and Indigenous practices that honor the value of interconnectedness. Interconnectedness is a concept that exists within many Indigenous tribes of the Americas. In Tloque Nahuaque [“Our Interconnectedness, we are all that is far and near”] in Nahuatl, Mitakuye Oyasin [“All my relations”] in Lakota or In Lak’ech [“You are my other half”] to the Maya, all make reference to honoring our interconnectedness as human beings and remind us that we are all related (Tello, 2018). Before each performance, whether with the professional troupe or with students at a school or at a community site, we always gather in círculos to set our intention for the show and to remind ourselves and students of why it’s important to tell our story: perhaps you may help one person in the audience no longer feel that they are alone; some may laugh so much they may forget about all their problems for a while and go on a journey with us. The use of círculos refers to sharing circles or the traditional Indigenous talking circle format where people gather to share and/or to engage in a dialogue. One of the fundamental elements of the use of circles is that it dissolves hierarchies. By being in a círculo, all persons are equally as important and have the opportunity to share their truths. Consequently, the círculo heals ageism and how

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western culture devalues what a child may bring to the table (Chavez-Arteaga, 2012). This is especially poignant when working with youth. Everyone in the circle has his/her/their place. Cada quien tiene su lugar, as we say in Spanish. The use of círculos has been critical when working with immigrant youth. We are conscious of the sensitive issues they may bring to the classroom. As teaching artists who also come from marginalized, immigrant, undocumented backgrounds we understand that these students come with challenges unique to the San Diego border region. For example, when a parent gets deported the impact on the family is immeasurable, which can lead to homelessness, depression, and even suicide attempts. In some cases, both parents are deported, leaving the students with family members or with friends so the student can have an American education. These students are also hearing the constant rhetoric of mainstream media talking about Mexicans being the “illegals” who are taking jobs, bringing diseases, etc. All of this has a psychological impact on students who for the first time have an opportunity to talk about it in a safe place, write about it, and bring it to life on stage. The círculo, as one student once said, becomes a collective sermon, where students begin to talk about their lives. This helps all the other students be vulnerable enough to share their stories as well. Our role is to create a space where a healing-centered approach is integrated into the work. A healing-centered perspective is holistic; it integrates culture, spirituality, civic action and collective healing (Ginwright, 2018). We therefore invite students to share their stories of triumph and resilience. We recently completed a multiple year arts integration residency at a middle school teaching theatre in history classes with a social justice focus. Students wrote poems and Actos about social issues relevant to their lives. Themes addressed included sexuality, racism, immigration, gender identity, bullying, immigration, school shootings, and sexism. As Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in Borderlands, “the story transforms the storyteller” (1999, p. 97). Many of our former students have continued using their acquired skills to branch out and now work in after school arts programs, with us in Izcalli and other established arts organizations such as Arts Amplifying Youth (a collaborative of different established arts organizations) by giving workshops on hip-hop, dance, and spoken word. One of our students created a spoken word performance that was so powerful he was invited to perform for the San Diego Opera Funders’ Dinner and received a standing ovation while he was still in the ninth grade. His words reflected upon the pain and violence he sees in his neighborhood, but towards the middle of the poem he reversed course and recited inspiring words of hope and resilience: Just remember to open your Eyes and see; that regular people like you and me; we can be the heroes, We—can Rise. (Garcia, 2019)

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For several years Teatro Izcalli has been performing at the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project, which aims to build the leadership of Chicanx/ Latinx youth in California. Every year we perform at the beginning of the camp and provide a launching pad for issues to be introduced to the participants. After our performance we engage in a dialogue with the students to further process the performance and to answer their questions. We ask the over one hundred participants how many of them have seen Chicanx teatro before? At a recent residency, one student raised her hand. A class at her high school had performed our Actos. We asked her to stand up, look around the room, and think about our question. We then asked the other students to look around the room as well and asked them what they felt. Students appeared angry that they had never seen Chicanx Theatre before. One student expressed how he felt robbed that in the year 2019, they still had not been exposed to this art form. “It’s not like we haven’t been here,” said one student. “Someone has purposely tried to silence our voice,” said another. We experience the same frustration as our students. Nevertheless, this fuels our commitment to continue to perform and teach the next generation, ensuring that our stories as Chicanx and Indigenous people will continue to flourish.

References Anzaldúa, G. (1999/1987) Borderlands: La rontera: The New Mestiza (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books. Arteaga, M. and Teatro Izcalli (2009) Teatro Izcalli Presents: Nopal Boy & Other Actos. Bonita: Aplomb Publishing. Bruce-Novoa, J. and Valentin, D. (1977) “Revolutionizing the Popular Image: Essay on Chicano Theater.” Latin American Literary Review 5 (10), pp. 42–50. Chavez-Arteaga, A. (2012) “Las Mujeres de Teatro Izcalli: Transformative Stories of Healing and Resistance.” Master’s Thesis. San Diego State University. Garcia, B. (2019) Unpublished poem. Ginwright, S. (2018) “The Future of Healing: Shifting from Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement,” Medium, 31 May. Accessed 3 March 2020. https:// medium​.com/​@ginwright​/the​-future​-of​-healing​-shifting​-from​-trauma​-informed​-care​ -to​-healing​-centered​-engagement​-634f557ce69c. Huerta, J. (1982) Chicano Theater: Themes and Forms. Tempe: Bilingual. Huerta, J. (2000) Chicano Drama: Performance, Society, and Myth, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Huerta, J. (2009) “Introduction.” Teatro Izcalli Presents: Nopal Boy & Other Actos, Arteaga, M., Jr. and Teatro Izcalli (eds). Bonita: Aplomb Publishers. Martin, P. (1995) “Proposition 187 in California.” The International Migration Review 29(1), pp. 255–63. Accessed 5 April 2020. Doi:10.2307/2547004. Public School Review (2020) “San Ysidro High School,” Public School Review, NY. Accessed 30 April 2020. https://www​.publicschoolreview​.com​/san​-ysidro​-high​-school​ -profile. San Diego Unified School District (2020) “District Fast Facts Guide,” San Diego California. Accessed 30 April 2020. https://www​.sandiegounified​.org​/about​-san​-diego​-unified.

Laughter, healing, and belonging  153 Tello, J. (2018) Recovering Your Sacredness: Ancestral Teachings for Today’s Living, Hacienda Heights: Suenos Publications. Valdez, L. (1994/1990/1971) Early Works: Actos, Bernabe, and Pensamiento Serpentino. San Juan Bautista: Arte Publico.

17 Ax X’oos Shaxwatíx My feet are firmly planted Vera Starbard (Tlingit/Dena’ina)

When I began my first Tlingit language class at a local university, two classes in, I was sure we weren’t going to learn a thing. To start with, we didn’t have textbooks. We were never assigned written homework, essays, or quizzes, and our attendance wasn’t considered. I wasn’t even sure how we would be graded. The class was taught by a Tlingit Elder from the same village as my dad and grandma. After she ascertained what Tlingit words, phrases, and songs we already knew in the first few classes, we set out for at least a month straight with us simply repeating the Tlingit alphabet back to her. There are sixty-one letters in the Tlingit alphabet and over twenty sounds that don’t appear in English. X’w! X’w! X! X! Xw! Xw! She was mostly patient but firm. She did laugh once as we struggled with especially deep-throated sounds, and our voices cracked: “It sounds like you broke something!” And then she encouraged us to dig deeper, repeat it again, and again, and again. After a month, we began to learn a song. One single song she had us sing over and over. It was a cry song—a song of mourning. It was a song about loss, and a sorrow so deep there is no English expression for it. Between our singing she would tell us about her school days, how she and her classmates were beaten for speaking “dirty” Indian language. She told us how the smartest kids, the ones who figured out how to keep from getting hit first, were the ones who stopped speaking Tlingit fastest. She told us about how our language was stolen from us, and then we would sing the cry song again. We began to understand its meaning. Set as I was in my early collegiate days, this style of teaching threw me for a loop. I expected thick and expensive textbooks, the stress of last-minute assignments, the validation or shame of continuous grading. I didn’t know what to do with this Elder who simply sat with us and had us sing to her. Two months later, when she handed us our first printed sheets of words, I began to understand why she was teaching us in this way. Although we

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stumbled as we slowly read through the text of a traditional Tlingit introduction, we all realized we could pronounce everything on that sheet. Because no letters in the Tlingit alphabet change sound, we could read anything put in front of us and pronounce it. We wouldn’t necessarily understand it and certainly weren’t fluent, but after the few short months with her we could now take any number of texts and learn on our own. Knowing her time with us was limited, she gave us the most important tools we would need for our own pursuit of the language. This was my first moment of understanding that the Western way of learning and thinking that was foisted upon us was not the supreme standard I had been taught it was. In fact, there were ways of learning honed by my own culture for millennia that were not only more effective at teaching rote material but trained your mind in a way to search for education in more places than a classroom. It made me look retrospectively about a much deeper education I had been receiving since my mother began singing to me Tlingit lullabies. Just a simple song; this realization knocked me over. Years later I entered the field of Western theatre. Besides being exceedingly white and dependent on European traditions, there were strict hierarchies and rules to which I was completely new. My educational foundation wasn’t enough at first, and I was knocked to the ground again. I had learned so many lessons from the Elders, but I had no confidence in them. Among the many things most US citizens are not taught in school is the level and depth of society and “civilization” that hundreds of Indigenous groups in America nurtured for over ten millennia. The fact that my ancestors had structured levels of education that one could pay for, a detailed protocol for clan ownership of everything from buildings to berry bushes, and a fishing technology that so exceeded what the colonizers came with that it was copied and claimed as their own. Perhaps more importantly is what was not stolen, though not from lack of trying. All this is but a teardrop in the bucket of loss on this continent. The Tlingit people practiced high forms of performing arts for centuries. We had amphitheaters and large totem platforms where storytelling could be told indoors. Master carvers created complex transformation masks that aided the staged storytelling by turning one character into another in an instant, and storytelling songs were not just rehearsed for days but for generations. The sheer production value of the stories told would rival any stage today. And then it was made illegal. After a somewhat slower push to “encourage” assimilation via forced child removal and other genocidal measures, nearly every facet of the performance art of Indigenous people of both the US and Canada was made illegal. A Native person could spend over two years in jail for singing the songs of their ancestors. The true evil of this action was not in its removal, but in how we were made to feel about our culture, and now as a US society we have swallowed that pill whole. I have sat in classes where our art was described as “rudimentary” and “primitive,” even described as evil by friends. And yet, the expectation that everything Indigenous is secondary is almost better than not being seen or

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acknowledged at all. A study entitled “Reclaiming Native Truth,” concluded that “Contemporary Native Americans are, for the most part, invisible in the United States,” and in particular, focus group participants “admit[ed] that they do not think about Native American issues … This lack of visibility and relevance in modern culture dehumanizes Native peoples and erodes support for Native issues” (2018, p. 8). Recognizing and valuing a still-vibrant Native arts field is even further out. I see my work akin to what Macedonio Arteaga Jr. and Alicia Chavez-Arteaga put forth in their piece on Izcalli and its purpose: Chicanx Theatre was born out of the need for Chicanx to assert a cultural and political identity within the sociopolitical discourse of this country … Chicanx Theatre aims to provide educational, cultural, and politically charged performances in a way that differs from what is perceived to be “proper” theatrical work. (p. 146) Their success and resultant community healing speak to the power of authentic Indigenous voices that come from the community. In my case, I was fortunate to be paired with Lakota playwright Larissa FastHorse to be my mentor in writing my first play. While the Tlingit and Lakota people have richly different traditions, our relationship and friendship over the years can be described as nothing less than my own understanding of a master artist and apprentice, just as so many generations before me in the Tlingit tradition. Navigating a profession that was not built for me would have been a very different journey, and one I’m not certain I would have stayed on, had I not had the guidance of an Indigenous mentor. Larissa traveled with me to my birthplace, a large island in Southeast Alaska, to explore the village of my ancestors, now almost completely taken back by the forest. We heard community members read the first words of the play, those who had never before acted but who knew the ancient story of its origin. In the first community reading a young boy who had never even seen a play asked to participate. Not only was he a natural actor, but as we read more of the script, his face lit up. “I know this story … ” We read of the Devilfish overtaking the hunters. “I know this story!” This tale was part of his clan, his history. He was exhilarated to have a “real” writer come to his community and validate a story so familiar to him. In another community just a few days later, a family of primarily younger girls heard about the need for a reading and volunteered their home. They fed us, read the script, and provided authentic dialogue that I then incorporated directly into my script. When we talked about its development and eventual

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production, it was always with the mindset that as many Tlingit people as possible would direct its progression to the stage, from artistic design to music to dance. Many had never participated in Western theatre before, but they were masters of Tlingit art. From every rehearsal, where deference was given to the Tlingit dance masters rather than the director, and where we taught both staff and funders alike how to dance and sing in Tlingit, to the lobby that was transformed into part Tlingit art gallery, part Native art sale booths, the answer to every question started with, “What would our ancestors have done?” On opening night, we danced in a standing-room-only crowd with a ceremony reflective of the Tlingit protocol followed when introducing a song or story for the first time. The leaders before me had us stomp our feet and connect with the land below us as we welcomed this story into existence. Then I watched as items my father carved for this story were danced out in a ceremony that had been illegal in my dad’s own lifetime. I witnessed songs of my ancestors and new Tlingit songs mix in a single dance onstage. I watched as the audience did not applaud at the end of the show but lifted up their hands in an ancient Tlingit gesture of honor and respect for the storytellers before them. And they sang. In Tlingit, there is no word for “art.” Visual design, story, dance, and all that Western spaces traditionally separate as “art,” are by contrast integral to everything Tlingits do: from the very spoons we use to eat to the clothing we wear and the houses we build. Society as we know it and want it would not be possible without art, and therefore not separate. For instance, every eighth grader in the district was bused to see my play Devilfish. During one show, a group of rowdy boys with the “popular kids’” swagger entered, seemingly not taking the event seriously. We had concerns when they took prominent front-row seats. The play teaches the audience how Tlingit people traditionally receive a gift and publicly show gratitude. This is also a Tlingit way of teaching, to show something through a story. What the audience doesn’t initially realize is that they will all be receiving gifts from the actors and must decide how to receive it. Not only had these “rowdy” boys already pleasantly surprised us by remaining respectful during the performance, but we were amazed by their reception of the gifts. These boys not only raised up their gifts in gratitude by calling out loudly for others to hear, but they actually turned around to their shyer peers and demonstrated how to do it. In our haste to judge these boys, we underestimated just how effective such teaching can be and how much our own culture encourages the respect and intelligence of everyone, regardless of age. Herein was my larger lesson, bitten off piece by piece over the years, and finally swallowed whole after that opening night: Ax x’oos shaxwatíx. My feet are firmly planted. I cannot have a shaky foundation when I have a thousand grandmothers before me holding me up. The stories that come from my people, the staged performances, the artistry, the very process that we use to educate on and produce these stories would rival the greatest civilizations of the world. But the gift of healing, of comfort, of entering into your grief and

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holding you up from an ancient place—this has no rival. In practicing those gifts of listening to our Elders and for our ancestors in the forest, or singing with a child, and then bringing those gifts out in a theatre or classroom, we usher healing into a world that so badly needs it.

Reference Reclaiming Native Truth (2018) “Research Findings: Compilation of All Research.” Firstnations​.or​g. June. Accessed 30 Sept. 2020. https://rnt​.firstnations​.org​/wp​-content​/ uploads​/2018​/06​/FullFindingsReport​-screen​.pdf.

18 Tricksterism in translation Andrés Munar

On a rainy Tuesday, I enter a Spanish-speaking classroom with a lesson plan, at exactly 1:04pm. The hubbub of ambling teenagers bounces off the hard surfaces, echoes that slightly amplify the shouts, complaints, yawns, teases, and laughter of twenty-something uniformed bodies shuffling in along with me. We will be together for a mere eleven classes of forty-two minutes each. According to the set curriculum of the organization I work for, I am supposed to prepare them to attend a Broadway show. The show will be in English, which they speak at a beginner’s level, and will take place after school (when it seems like half of them work to help their families make ends meet). Afterwards, we will debrief the play, which in turn should inspire them to write their own plays. As prescribed by their principal, these plays must be written and performed entirely in English. I will be joined by another professional actor, and together, we will perform the students’ written work. Obviously, this curriculum was designed for fluent English speakers. The play they are preparing to see concerns a middle-upper class, middle-aged Manhattanite who meets his deceased mother’s lover. The writer reflects the experiences of his largely middle-upper class Manhattan audience by way of shared cultural, historical, and philosophical references. I have no idea how I am going to teach this play to my students in a way that will speak to them, inspire them, bridge the gap between their fears of being outsiders and the inclusiveness I proclaim in my work as a bilingual teaching-artist. For the overwhelming majority of them, narrative is rooted in either the Latin-American telenovela genre or blockbuster Hollywood. To make this residency work, I will need to improvise: When the shape of culture itself becomes a trap, the spirit of the trickster will lead us into deep shape-shifting. If the old Chinese village code of appropriate silence no longer serves, then a shameless Monkey … will appear to the children of immigrants and help them articulate their new world. (Hyde, 1998, p. 280)

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Lewis Hyde, in Trickster Makes this World, describes the trickster as first a character, then a function, within mythological traditions that transgress the established codes of conduct, ultimately making a new order. The creature who is able to evade the hunting trap and eat the bait is the one who renders the trap useless. That creature, therefore, forces a new paradigm. Innovation, invention, technology, education, and art are all in the trickster canon. The first thing Hermes does, upon leaving his mother’s cave (before stealing Apollo’s cows) is to make a musical instrument, the lyre, from the turtle shell. This is a reminder that beauty and pleasure, just as much as nourishment, are trickster objectives. In fact, the appetite for both, simultaneously, is a recurrence the world over, from first peoples’ Raven and Glooskap, the Norse God Loki, Monkey in China, and Anansi in Africa (with its American Southern counterpart, Bre’r Rabbit). I did not enter this school in order to trick, but, recognizing that I am walking into administrative and bureaucratic tricks (I am billed as an additional “language arts” teacher, since funding mandates that I am labeled “legitimately” as such, and not as a mere artist), contingency demands tricks of me. Why am I here? To articulate their new world, and therefore help them discover meanings of their own. Thus, I will need to regard them as my new advanced writing students, who will bypass the rudiments of theatre training and head straight into new play development. I ask them: “Everyone we know is going to die, yes or no?” Besides causing a jolt, my question contains a hidden hook: The idea that our processes begin, transcourse, and end, just like our lives, is truer than any playwriting technique I can muster. It’s the most important artmaking lesson I can teach. This is what I must remind myself of as well: We have a finite time together and that what we do matters. The question I secretly ask myself is: “How do you teach others something they’ve never really done before?” In order to become what I say I am, a teaching artist, I must shape-shift. I realize, “You have to start with the self.” I announce: Some people confuse this next exercise with free-writing, but what we are about to do is its opposite; it’s what I call a lockdown-write. You may not cross out or delete anything. You may not look at anyone else’s paper. But you are writing whatever is a truth within your bodies, minds, and souls. You can write in Spanish. You may listen to real sound or internal sound. You may write in incomplete sentences. You may even—no, you will, misspell. You may repeat the same sentence over and over as long as you are truly stuck, and no other thought comes into your head. You may go back into memory, into your joys, fears, wishes, preoccupations. Let the connection from your brain to your hand take you somewhere unexpected, as your hand begs you to stop … Don’t stop writing for six minutes. Now go! I join them, and as I begin my own writing practice, I can’t help but think of the Eric B and Rakim lyrics:

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I start to think, and then I sink Into the paper, like I was ink When I’m writing I’m trapped in between the lines I escape, when I finish the rhyme … I got soul. You got it. I know you got soul. (1987) “Time is up! Pencils down. Don’t read it. Put it away!” Then, I distract them: “Anyone know what day of the week it is?” “Tuesday.” “Anyone know why?” “Because it’s Tuesday.” “No, I mean, why is it called Tuesday?” They speculate that the Spanish word for “Tuesday,” Martes, must come from Mars, but this connection doesn’t seem to work in English. This day, called Tuesday, escapes them, like it escapes most mono English-speakers, who are no longer taught the process of naming, only the monolithic importance of the name itself. Tīw is the Germanic God of hand-to-hand combat—a survival skill for Norse people at one time, just as important as cleaning bathrooms, cooking restaurant food, making undergarments, or canning vegetables is for our migrant parents. What would it be to pray to that? To memorialize that effort? And it occurs to me, as I am distracting them from the trick of subconscious writing with the trick of naming, that the trick of teaching and learning is remembering that we must reconstruct time and space to work for us. We must consider how we, like Ares-cum-Mars, have become adaptations. These students from Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Mexico, Colombia, and El Salvador are now Americanizing, just like I did, and living in-between two distinct worlds. We have no choice. We have to survive. Playwriting is by its very nature that state of in-betweenness, an artifact that contains the tension of opposites: oral and literate; myself and not-myself; past and future; expressing true human emotion while cloaked in theatrical conceit. Therefore, it feels like the right mode of expression for these students, but I need to make the time and space I have with them work. So, I devise more tricks: I will translate two different scenes of the professional play into Spanish, which I will perform solo for the students so that they have some inkling of what is going on. I will then fill them in on the long list of historical, social, and cultural references that they will need to begin appreciating the play. They, in turn, will memorize the characters’ names with the actors’ headshots, along with a broad diagram of the play’s plot. To boot, on the day of the play they will strategize their sitting arrangement with a higher-level English speaker so that they can whisper questions as they go along.

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With twenty-five minutes remaining on our first day, I ask them to read, to themselves, their stream-of-consciousness writing. “Were you surprised by anything?” Some are fascinated, some surprised, others indifferent, even judgmental of the way their thoughts appear to look on the page. I lead by putting myself in some discomfort: “I will share mine out loud, not to compare to yours, but just to give you an example of what someone else’s thoughts sound like, how a brain might look written down.” This is where my tricksterism becomes acute. I encourage all my students to write how they speak, or more specifically, how they hear. Because if playwriting is anything, or at least the kind of writing I am teaching, it is one of the last places where an oral tradition is still at work. No one can do that in a language they don’t speak. I guide the students with the idea that we are using the oral experience of our stories, traditions, customs, domestic voices, and just as importantly, the individual voices in our minds that coarse against convention. We will translate our work back into English in time for the showcase. “What did you think? Thoughts? Questions?” “You sounded kinda crazy.” I’m flattered. He calls me Dionysian! If I had more time with them, I would launch into a discussion of the Dionysian and Apollonian, but we only have twenty minutes. “Do you read your own and think you’re crazy?” “No, it sounds like me.” Several of them agree. We eventually see the professional play, and, despite my best efforts, due to the language barriers, most of the play’s references and themes are lost on them. I spell out its themes, asking them to think of their mothers, to reconsider their ideas about mother figures and instead see them as women with individual needs and desires; although to imagine this transformation is strange and uncomfortable, seeing mothers as more fully human with all their complexity is indispensable for a healthy society. That is what the play is trying to do. What I will learn, the trick that will be played on me, for the next four weeks of developing plays through a mix of techniques, is that I am wrong. They cannot see their mothers in this light, because at this moment their mothers are their life preservers. They are sixteen, in a new country, scared out of their minds, and not even sure if they will live in New York State the

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following month. Their plays do not reflect my themes, but theirs: the pressures of taking care of smaller siblings, the lack of a relationship with working or missing fathers, the tight tether that a mother wields that ends up backfiring. Sebastian writes about a couple of friends sitting under the only tree in their neighborhood; they question the nature of the tree, which becomes a metaphor for their being in the middle of the immigrant experience. His play is about him and his immediate society and thus offers a moment of recognition for audience members to see themselves in the art, and the artist to feel their experiences validated. As Arteaga and Chavez-Arteaga state in their essay, “... this fuels our commitment to continue to perform and teach the next generation, ensuring that our stories as Chicanx and Indigenous people will continue to flourish” (p. 152). Sebastian now has an artifact of how his human experience became a legitimate source of knowledge, a work important enough to be “translated,” a founding document of his relationship to a new language predicated on the practice of freedom of expression.

References Hyde, L. (1998) Trickster Makes this World: Mischief, Myth and Art. New Year: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. B, E. and Rakim (1987) “I Know You Got Soul.” Paid in Full. 4th & B’way Records.

Roundtable discussion with Macedonio Arteaga Jr., Alicia Chavez-Arteaga, Evelyn Diaz Cruz, Vera Starbard, and Andrés Munar

Evelyn: Thank you for being here. To begin with: What is a distinct point of view that must be considered when engaging theatre with youth? Andrés: Since playwriting situates personal experiences as the center from which knowledge springs forth, students in my class are affirmed that they know what they know, and from there new knowledge follows. Vera: For me, purposefully or not, trauma has been a theme. I have training in child abuse prevention and emergency management. I also have a set of workshops that I created. It’s been six years, and I still do that workshop multiple times a year. That’s how I worked through my trauma: I painted, I wrote poems, I wrote stories, and saw healing. And here I am still working through my childhood with these ideas. (Laughter.) Macedonio: We also do a lot of training on trauma and restorative work geared towards students as well as workshops to look inside ourselves. Teaching artists realize their biases impact the way they’re responding to the students; even if done subconsciously, they’re pushing out the young people who need this work the most. This becomes another training for our artists that’s critically important. Alicia: Cultivating self-awareness and being trauma-informed is an essential part of the training in order to come from a place of compassion for the students and for ourselves: recognizing that we are all part of the same circle with no hierarchies. Evelyn: What are some ethical questions to consider? Andrés: Confidentiality in all things and protection from the politics of their school. Plays engage ethical questions. Student writers must find ethical questions that are theirs, and not mine, so that they are engaging responsibly in the various points of view of a given dramatic/personal situation. Vera: For me, it’s child abuse prevention. We have a governor right now, who was a senator when I testified in a hearing for a child abuse prevention law. He was blocking that law! We’ve pushed back and brought it into the art world. Last fall, I did a play about a character’s journey, who had gone through horrific trauma. We had child abuse prevention counselors, mental health professionals and resources for every performance.

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I also have a lot of personal safety rules. For instance, no one can be alone with kids. I don’t care who you are or your background check. We had an incident where one of the actors, who was a friend, played a character who represented the mindset that “child abuse doesn’t even exist anymore.” Right after the play closed, that actor was arrested and convicted for child sexual abuse. That was horrific, but at least we could say that we never put any of our kids in danger because he was never alone with any of them. After that incident we amped up the rules even more. Macedonio: We train our teaching artists that there are things we have to report, because when young people start writing you don’t know what’s going to come out. We can’t dismiss it with an “ ... oh well this kid just wrote that he wanted to kill himself yesterday.” We have to know the next steps because those situations come up whenever you sit down with a group of students. Alicia: By training I’m a social worker and understand that we are all mandated reporters. If there is a disclosure, we know the protocols. We just finished a residency at a middle school where they were talking about gender identity, equality, and sexuality. It’s powerful to see them taking ownership of their own bodies through their stories about things that have been taboo for so long in our community. The ethics behind this work is to create a space where students are able to freely express themselves. Macedonio: Dealing with the adults outside of our group has been an issue. For example, they will say that the students can’t say a bad word in their piece when they present to the whole assembly. We have to affirm that they can and that I’m not going to censor them. Evelyn: And to someone who says you’re retraumatizing for exploitative purposes? Andrés: Trauma mining occurs if you force students to share stories against their will, by either assigning a letter grade or applying indirect peer pressure by affirming students who share their personal pain. If I were to see a teacher exploiting that I would call them out on it. If you dialogue with the student and listen, it is clear where they stand. Vera: I think people definitely exploit. We’ve never gotten that, and I don’t believe we’ve done that, but we also start from this place of people not wanting them to talk at all about their stories. I did communications for a Native healthcare system, and one of my projects was for a teen suicide prevention program. We had a focus group with Native urban teens, and we asked them: “How do you see yourself portrayed when you see Native people on TV; which ones do you like or not like; how do you feel about it?” All of them said they hated to see themselves on TV. When asked why, they said because “Everyone’s in regalia, drumming, and have leather on—and that’s not us. It makes us feel like we’re not Native enough.” The other common answer was: “We’re always

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portrayed with ‘don’t drink; don’t smoke; don’t commit suicide.’ We’re always paired with these negatives.” To address their concerns, we guided work that was led by the kids. Not only did the whole campaign change, but they created the commercials themselves. We had a rule that you couldn’t say “suicide” in the campaign. The whole thing became about living your best life and they came up with these beautiful ideas about who they wanted to be when they grew up, like doctors, mothers, writers, etc. It was extraordinary. Macedonio: Intention is everything. I hate to say this, but there are people who go into this field because it looks good for funders who want to see little brown and Black kids’ pain and trauma. What we have found out after so many years of doing this work is that young people will speak out. It’s a human thing in all of us. If I said right now, let’s do a workshop for an hour and a half, all of you would start telling me about your trauma. And yet, there’s beautiful things in every community. Alicia: And have them look to the Elders in the community and share some of their teachings. We’ve had students from different backgrounds and countries come to realize there’s more to their story. Our role as teaching artists is to ensure that we're not centering their trauma; rather, to see this as an opportunity to uplift the values, traditions, and resiliency that we all carry as a people. Vera: Some of the work is literally just making sure kids feel like they can tell a story—period! To know that if you’re telling a story you are doing amazing racial equity work. A Native person could be writing about baseball and that would be a racial equity play. One of the most hilarious plays, in this theatre camp I am facilitating, was written by a boy who wrote about a dinosaur. In the play, Raven is walking along the beach (that’s how many of our stories begin) when he runs into a dinosaur. He is scared, but then he remembers that dinosaurs were killed by asteroids. Therefore, theoretically, the dinosaur would be afraid of rocks (Laughs). So, he decides to face the dinosaur with this knowledge from the dinosaur’s traumatic remembrance of rocks. That’s pretty genius when you think about it; knowing that there is historical trauma present. The story was all about dinosaurs, and that’s an incredibly legit thing to be writing about. Evelyn: Could you share an incident that continues to resonate for you? Macedonio: At a predominantly white school in San Diego where there’s still a heavy amount of racism, we had a group of students perform Chicano Native theatre for the first time ever at that school. We were nervous. The kids were performing Teatro Izcalli skits, which are very political and in your face, but they’re very funny as well. A group of four white males came up to me afterwards and said, “This was really good. We don’t learn anything about, you know … Chicanos except that they’re illegal and taking our jobs. We didn’t know you guys wrote and performed stuff like this.”

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Alicia: There was this one seventh grader, a very quiet young woman, and somehow during the process of the residency, she started to slowly come out of her shell. On the day of the performance, she went on stage by herself and read her poem in front of the school. The vice-principal was shocked. He kept saying, “I just can't believe this is happening, how did you get her to do that? She never talked, so we thought she was nonverbal.” He was astonished how she completely owned the stage and spoke her truth through her poem, “I Am.” Her classmates applauded and said things to her like, “This is awesome. You did it” (takes a deep breath at the memory). That was amazing to witness. Andrés: One that comes to mind is Camilo, who was a deep-thinker. He said he had many stories in his head, but he would not write. Then, on the last day of class, he said, “Mr. Munar can you read my play?” He had written sixteen pages! And his work had defined characters, an inciting incident, development of the action, and an arc to character journey. Evelyn: In closing, what does your community need and what’s in its way? Andrés: If the students could have the chance to spend semesters or even years in the program, the writing would solidify and deepen. It often feels like the process is not really understood until it is over. Then, once they see the response, there is an impetus to keep going. Alicia: And then there’s always the issue of funding. (Laughter.) Macedonio: Yes, money is always an issue. But if I could dream, it’s about working more with the adults that work with the kids. Vera: My biggest hope for the younger generation is that they own the truth about what they’re coming in with. Whether it's through my work on TV with Molly of Denali (PBS Kids) or literature I’m working on. [I’m aware that] the Elders were literally there when our art was banned, made illegal, shamed, and actually burned, and we were forced to burn it. But now we have this first generation to kind of say, hey, F*** you! (Laughter.) Our art is beautiful and not secondary. Alicia: It comes down to decolonizing theatre to see the value in other types of knowledge, such as in traditional ways, storytelling, ceremony, and all the teachings that community scholars, Elders, youth and others can bring. Evelyn: In closing, I want to ask Vera one last question about the meaning of the word that always closes your emails, “Gunalchéesh!” Vera: That means thank you, in Tlingit. An Elder once told us, “Make sure that you’re speaking your language on your land every day. That’s how we bring it back, and that’s how it’s made.” Evelyn: I will, and I thank you all for your gifts today. Gunalchéesh y Gracias.

Part 7

Promoting equity Practices for working with youth and disabilities

19 Our story How Nicu’s Spoon fosters representation, access, and inclusion for youth with disabilities Stephanie Barton-Farcas

Founded in 2001, Nicu’s Spoon Theater Company is an all-inclusive theatre in New York City: from our play selections, programs, internships, and productions, to volunteer staffing and our audience, we are committed to supporting artists of all backgrounds—whether they be sight-impaired, hard of hearing, rainbow-hued, or differently-enabled. The company is named after an abandoned child I worked with in Romania named Nicu, a story I discuss in more detail in my book Disability and Theatre. He was five years old when I met him, a child labeled “deaf and mute and ‘retarded’ and hopeless.” When Nicu began to eat solid food, his spoon “became the symbol for us for all the impossible things that were suddenly possible. Things like walking, talking, thinking, and living” (Barton-Farcas, 2018, p. xix). The company’s twenty years of work within the disabled community has resulted in forty-five productions of published playwrights with inclusive casts and production teams. We practice what I term “cross-disability casting,” which casts artists with disabilities, but frequently not in a role with the disability they possess. In our 2015 production of Richard III, for instance, reversing notions of normativity, every performer except Richard III had a disability. We’ve also held numerous workshop productions of new plays by disabled artists and created a practical manual for inclusion in the arts with numerous checklists, preparation lists, teaching tools, and more, with the intent to dispel many myths about disability (see Barton-Farcas, 2018). Whether we work on a stage, a school, or community center, or engage with young offenders with disabilities, we strive to involve both persons with and without disabilities in order to educate the population at large about inclusion and to incorporate people with disabilities into an artform from which they have traditionally been excluded. The participants’ verbal and physical articulation fosters a sense of confidence that can often be transferred into job placement and social activism. We help grow young people with disabilities into theatre artists through training workshops in writing and directing, assist with internships and jobs, and encourage access to higher education. Several of our participants have become teachers and active company members, and some have decided to return to school afterwards. Moreover, many of our past participants are now active in disability advocacy, such as Rachel Handler

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who writes about working as a disabled artist (see Handler, 2016). Through these efforts, Nicu’s Spoon promotes a theatrical representation that reflects the off-stage reality in which nearly 20% of the population lives with a disability (Bernstein, 2012). While we are proud of these accomplishments, our goal is not merely to assimilate actors with disabilities into the mainstream, but also give them a platform to express their lived experiences. This is the domain of our applied theatre programs. Specifically, Nicu’s Spoon has worked extensively with youth with disabilities in story-creation workshops. Disabled youth generating their own narratives and embracing ownership of their representation creates empowerment, investment, and thus an impetus for societal change. Furthermore, the sharing of these stories can change attitudes and notions, both with the disabled youth and within the community at large, about the realities of having a disability. In our experience, such awareness has led to community activity and advocacy whereby members have joined with disabled participants to work for better housing for disabled or homeless youth, the reformation of foster care for disabled youth, or to lobby for even more transportation options for wheelchair users and the mobility challenged. Our success has been due in part to our dedicated efforts to develop a focused and purposeful reputation within the disabled community and to provide a framework for an ongoing commitment—both of which create buyin from the community. Our approach cautions against “one offs” (a single project or program that is done once to secure funding or for demonstrative purposes, as opposed to a program that is actively repeatable on a seasonal or yearly basis), which uses the disabled community for advancing an agenda that is not their own; rather, we serve these young people’s movement and voice in the world. We invest in the entire process, beginning with extensive recruitment (schools, community centers, online meeting places and forums, hospitals, counseling centers, etc.). Moreover, we invest in a long-term commitment to this community, including multi-year collaboration with funding entities, and we inform the community we are doing so. Being transparent about our intentions and enduring practices reinforces community endorsement of the process, goals, and results. Maintaining a well-defined plan from production (pre-planning, training, recruiting) to action (all the steps of the actual program) to assessment not only produces a solid program but impacts the sustainability of said program. We have found that families and friends of participants can be our best supporters if they see the investment in this process and in their loved ones. To achieve these outcomes, there are three philosophical values that underpin our work: inclusion, equity, and training. In terms of training, it should be noted that fully educating trainers/teachers is an essential starting point before the recruitment of our participants has even begun. This can be as simple as a week-long preparation and skill building, involving work within the disabled community (usually taught by myself and disabled co-teachers) with some reading materials (listed in resources), or even a crash course in two to three

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days (which we ensure involves disabled trainers as well). One of the ways we have trained directors, program assistants, and teachers, if we cannot do a condensed week of training, is to have them shadow or follow a workshop as a helper. This approach involves more direct participation and experiential learning. Once they have shadowed a workshop, they may be ready to take the lead in the next one. In particular, we focus on challenging many assumptions about people with disabilities, working equitably with all disabilities, and using the correct etiquette, both in terms of vocabulary and physical interactions. For example, grabbing a wheelchair to move a person without asking is considered as rude and uncalled for as grabbing a person (not in a wheelchair) by the arm and dragging them across the room. Most people would not do the latter, but many feel they have the right to do the former. Assuming the need for assistance is rude; assuming a blind person must be led somewhere is rude; and assuming one must yell at a hard of hearing person is rude. Rather, we train our teachers to treat a disabled person as they would a non-disabled one: ask before helping, address people eye to eye (sit while talking to someone in a wheelchair if the discussion is long), kneel on one knee if speaking to a little person, and do not touch someone’s body (and by extension their wheelchair, cane, blind stick, service animal, etc.) as you would not want someone touching yours. Our stance boils down to this fundamental idea: “Do not make assumptions based on your idea of the disability. When in doubt, ask” (Barton-Farcas, 2018, p. 86). Nicu’s Spoon also actively dispels myths about working with disabled people, such as how difficult it is to do physical work with the disabled youth. Even those with service animals are included in all physical work, as well as their animal. For example, in one of our community programs (which took place in a performance setting in a large community center), we had two youths with service dogs. We were working through a community-generated storytelling game, where we asked the audience for responses about how accessibility can dictate movement. We discussed how access affects how we move and asked the audience to name situations where this might occur. The ensemble then offered an improvised performance reflecting this conversation. I encouraged repetitive movement from all the teen performers, getting the language and imagery about their experience with access into their bodies. The two dogs followed and seemed to almost dance in parallel to each other while staying near their handlers. The coordinated movement of the dogs created a sense of beauty so palpable that the audience felt inspired to join the movement when invited. In subsequent discussion, the audience revealed that they not only gained a much fuller understanding of how attuned the dogs are to their “person,” but a greater respect for the dogs themselves. We also reject the idea that it’s too hard to work with multiple disabilities at once. Working with a diverse group of people with disabilities requires the same preparation and energy as one would require to interact with any diverse group (perhaps with two seventy-year-olds, four teens, two gay individuals

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and a person of color, for example). There is no “special need” working with a below the knee (BTK) amputee except understanding that they may want to sit down now and then. For someone on the autism spectrum, they may need quiet from time to time. Rather, we believe it our job to know about the individual disabilities of young people with whom we interact. If we understand what each person’s disability really is and what it means to someone who has it, then we are able to hear that person and incorporate their needs into the project as a whole (perhaps when someone with a spectrum disorder needs a quiet time, everyone in the project has a shared quiet time). Moreover, we emphasize that equity is vital, not equality. Equity is the process of being free from any bias and ensuring the same access for everyone. Equity is what’s needed to create these programs, and if we do this correctly then equality is the outcome. Equity eliminates any pity for and patronizing of disabled youths; equity specifies the same responsibilities and rights for all, the same access to space, the same level of commitment. Perhaps a harsh example of equity, but true nonetheless, was the removal of a disabled youth in a wheelchair from one of our programs. He had not participated with respect for others, nor was he behaving responsibly and instead seemed intent on creating havoc to gain attention. I removed him at a particularly disruptive point in full view of both disabled and non-disabled participants. He remarked loudly, “You need me for your program, I am disabled!” and my response was, “You are not responsible or committed as is everyone here. I won’t keep you here out of charity, you are done.” Severe perhaps, but that is equity. Notably, being removed propelled him to start a dialogue with me some months later, and subsequently to go back to school, then get his PhD, and eventually to start his own theatre company. Foremost, inclusive programs must begin with and be informed by the devising of actual stories of young people with disabilities. It does not suffice for disabled youth to merely develop, workshop, and relay non-disabled people’s experiences (often thought to be more palatable to audiences). Gaining trust from our youth participants is vital to encourage active sharing, listening, journaling, improvising, and group activities geared toward storytelling. We utilize a “safe space” concept where anything revealed stays in the workshop unless the group consciously decides to create a performance based on the content. Teens understanding that voicing their stories is more important than performing them is a large part of the trust process. We respect the youths’ individual choice whether to create a piece to be shared with a larger community. For someone who has felt as if their voice is not heard, perhaps not even recognized both on stage and off, a public sharing may feel overwhelming. Having found one’s voice is one thing and feeling secure enough to brave possible bullying, ridicule, or rejection by sharing it is another thing entirely. Still, sharing with the group may be the beginning of connecting with someone outside their own experience. Even something as simple as two young people with vastly different disabilities talking about ways that they cope with attendant muscle pain, stress, or depression opens their eyes to a

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shared reality. Articulating such experiences connects those who may never have thought they had anything in common—e.g., a Black teen and a white teacher, a young man in a wheelchair and one with autism spectrum disorder. Connection means they are not alone, and thus for us the process is as vital as the performance. Another way we provide a safe space is to create aesthetic distance from personal stories. Individual stories, for instance, may become composite pieces drawing upon shared experiences. A prime example was a composite piece that began as thoughts by five teens with widely different disabilities. Each teen wrote in a style of poetry (a rap, an older epic poem, a traditional rhyming poem, an acrostic poem, and a haiku) about their experiences with mobility, and then a larger poem was created from the initial pieces. The group ultimately decided not to perform this poem in a public setting, as the content still felt too personal. Nonetheless, the creative process (writing, improvising, discussion, etc.) and presentation with all participants within the workshop itself was impactful and bonding for the group. Recognizing communal experiences is very primal, akin to sitting around a campfire and storytelling; such expression breaks silence about taboo subject matters and promotes solidarity. Junebug Productions, for instance, has used stories for decades to impart experiences connected with racial injustice, create a historical consciousness, and build coalitions. While we don’t use their method of “Story Circles” specifically, we affirm their belief that telling stories, are among the most effective ways to identify, reflect upon and express perceptions of history and reality … [Especially for] cultures whose core experiences are excluded from the official public media … [the process can] create connections by establishing common ground, along with the chance to share experiences of love, injustice, hope, fear, and other powerful emotions and moments that all participants share. (O’Neal, et al., 2006, pp. 3–4) Similarly, when working with youth with disabilities, we incorporate several ways to relay disability experiences through guided imagery and games, which creates awareness. One effective exercise is to ask the youth themselves to create ways to share their disability experience with other participants; as when we blindfolded all participants (except the blind person leading the game) who then had to identify sounds made by the game leader (Roberts, 2019). This exercise even allows for one young person with a disability to learn about another disability which they do not themselves possess, as the notion that a disabled person understands all disabilities because they themselves possess one is a myth. Traditionally, disabled bodies have been kept hidden, away from the world, but also away from each other. Sharing experientially through theatre not only emboldens those who lead but also those who identify with that person. As Petra Kuppers explains, “Disabled performers are often aware of the

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knowledges that have been erected around them: tragic, poor, helpless, heroic, struggling, etc. In the laboratory of the performance situation, these knowledges can be re-examined, and questioned again and again” (2003, p. 3). The experience may be therapeutic, but the intent is not group therapy; those settings imply a broken quality that needs repair. Instead, teens learn they are not alone, they have a voice which is heard by others; they do not need fixing, they can impact the world. When stories are performed for an audience, these performances humanize people with disabilities, providing an opportunity to move past able-bodied people’s discomfort and assumptions. Kuppers notes that “Since the eighteenth century, disabled people’s performances have been historically confided to the sideshow, the freak display… and the medical theater” rendering people with disabilities as monstrous (2003, p. 31). Our community performances and interactive workshops become teachable moments to better understand the perspectives and lived experiences of people with disabilities. This is especially so if the audience is fully inclusive in its makeup (which requires appropriate marketing and access preparation for theatregoers with disabilities), as this encourages participant and audience bonding. Playback Theatre, for instance—a form of live, improvised storytelling that involves the audience (see Salas, 2007)—is more useful if the stories of audience members with disabilities are performed by young performers with disabilities themselves. In public presentations, we frequently use Playback Theatre because it requires the audience to be an active component in the theatrical process. We prefer to make our audiences think and work. For example, in one setting we had an audience member who was not disabled ask why a young woman could not theoretically simply remove her prosthetic leg in order to solve a situation. There was some heated discussion with disabled audience members, and before it could become a lecture or argument, I asked our performers to improvise what the emotions are behind removing a prosthetic— what that personal moment means to them and how it impacts body image. In the improvisation, it then became apparent why removing a prosthetic limb would be more than just removing a hat, that the prosthetic is a personal and intimate part of a youth with a disability, and the offhand request to remove it is akin to asking someone to stand naked. Having disabled audience members as well as performers reinforced that this was a mutual feeling, and one that the non-disabled community could directly learn from. Another example of addressing societal ignorance and discomfort was a project with a public performance component in which the chosen theme was love (and all the physical, mental, and emotional permutations thereof). In a world where people don’t know how to deal with disabled people, one of the hardest concepts is the notion of love, especially its physical expression. This performance was specifically geared to reserve all audience input until the very end. There was no option to ask anything, simply to listen and be witness to stories of love, lost virginity, yearning, and accepting or not accepting one’s body. Through two performed stories, one poem, one written scene,

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one movement piece, and a group improvisation, the audience was given a landscape of love but from a disabled body point of view. The discussion afterwards was galvanizing, as the invited audience included a group of non-disabled high schoolers. From their tittering at the beginning of the night to their full on-their-feet screaming approval at the end, the group became able to see teens, whom they might normally have ridiculed, in a new way as fellow humans. They were the same, with the same yearning and heartache. While initially the disabled youth were nervous about sharing these intimate feelings and the non-disabled youths nervous about hearing them, the outcome was two strengthened groups: one who had found the power in their voices, the other empowered because they saw the world differently now; they could see through a disabled lens. The need for inclusion, equity, and representation are not new concerns for the disabled community, yet they frustratingly persist. While we continue to work in these areas, moving forward there are other challenges that Nicu’s Spoon and similar organizations must consider. One such topic is the unspoken hierarchy within the disabled community, especially when it comes to casting considerations. The obvious physical disability, a wheelchair user for example, is easily identifiable, palatable, and understandable to the general public, so there’s a risk when it comes to casting or programmatic considerations that people with such disabilities “outrank” those with mental or neurological disabilities. For example, while Broadway has (rightly) celebrated the casting of wheelchair users Madison Ferris as Laura in The Glass Menagerie (see Genzlinger, 2017) and Ali Stoker in Spring Awakening (2015) and later in Oklahoma (2019), neurodivergent casting is less common and even ignored, frequently resulting in what Tobin Seibers calls “disability drag” (2008, p. 114). In such cases, an able-bodied performer portrays a disabled person, often to award-winning acclaim, such as Alex Sharp in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2015), who played a character on the autism spectrum when he himself is not autistic (Seibers, 2008, p. 116). A similar assertion might be said of Ben Platt in his Tony-award-winning role in Dear Evan Hansen (2016). While there has been recent progress in neurodivergent casting (see Rowe, 2017), we must recruit, audition, and work with every youth we can, even those who may have less obvious disabilities. Further in need of address is the assessment of applied theatre: There must be quantifiable measurements of progress, which is often lacking in this field. Sustainability and fundability are the two things that guarantee a committed ongoing program. The key is that most anything can be quantified: Programs can quantify workshops—noting the number of participants, exercises, and approaches used—as well as their frequency, costs, and outcomes. This is what funders, board members, and others look for and often gets lost in the process. We have found that especially for any community service grants the funders look for quantifiable items in proposals. (Resources can be found online as well as the book packet for Disability and Theatre). We also believe that qualitative items can be evaluated and reported. We interview our participants before and

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after projects, and have used audience evaluation sheets, teacher evaluations, and more. Through these mechanisms, we firmly believe that empowerment, social awareness, activism, and community-building can be assessed as well. We have even done evaluations six months or more after a project to check participants’ status. Since we commit to the long game, we take every chance we can to gain feedback. To support all these efforts, the comprehensive disclosure of information from all groups working in applied theatre must also become the norm. As the competition for funding is high, groups working with disabled youths may feel as if they cannot and should not reveal their process outside of their group. The techniques, learned successes, pitfalls, best practices, etc. must be shared within the applied theatre and disabled communities in order to strengthen future projects, workshops, and the youth involved. Funders, board members, and potential grant givers should also be invited to live performances. Only with this collective information and wisdom can true collaboration happen between groups, community partners, universities, and professional companies and organizations. Through careful planning, training, and understanding of this community, together we can make a commitment to supporting disabled youth as full participants in the representation and outcomes of their own lives.

References Barton-Farcas, S. (2018) Disability and Theatre: A Practical Manual for Inclusion in The Arts. New York and London: Routledge. Berstein, R. (2012) “Nearly 1 in 5 People Have a Disability in the U.S., Census Bureau Reports.” US Census Bureau. Census​.go​v. 25 July 2012. Accessed 20 Feb. 2020. https:// www​.census​.gov​/newsroom​/releases​/archives​/miscellaneous​/cb12​-134​.html. Genzlinger, N. (2017) “A Wheelchair on Broadway isn’t Exploitation. It’s Progress.” New York Times, 24 March 2017. Accessed 3 March 2020. https://www​.nytimes​.com​/2017​ /03​/24​/theater​/a​-wheelchair​-on​-broadway​-isnt​-exploitation​-its​-progress​.html. Handler, R. (2016) Backstage, 9 February 2016. Accessed 27 February 2020. https://www​ .backstage​.com​/magazine​/article​/stop​-excluding​-actors​-disabilities​-7387/. Kuppers, Petra (2003) Disability and Contemporary Performance. New York and London: Routledge. O’Neal, B. et al. (2006) “Storytelling in the Name of Justice, Junebug Productions, Inc.” NYU/Wagner, pp. 1–8. Accessed 25 March 2020. https://www​.racialequitytools​.org​/ resourcefiles​/nyuwagner​.pdf. Roberts, L. (2019) “Disability Awareness Activities.” Accessed 6 March 2020. http:// guidezone​.e​-guiding​.com​/disabili​.htm. Rowe, Mickey (2017) “The First Actor with Autism to Play Curious Incident’s Autistic Lead Speaks Out.” Playbill. 13 May 2017. Accessed 3 March 2020. https://www​.playbill​ .com​/article​/the​-first​-actor​-with​-autism​-to​-play​-curious​-incidents​-autistic​-lead​-speaks​ -out. Salas, J. (2007) Improvising Real Life: Personal Story in Playback Theatre. New Paltz, NY: Tusitala Publishing. Siebers, T. (2008) Disability Theory. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

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Resources for further reading Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts (2020) “The Language of Disability: Do’s and Dont’s,” http://inclusioninthearts​.org​/faqs​/the​-language​-of​-disability​-dos​-and​-donts/. Ladau, E. (2019) “4 Disability Euphemisms that Need to Bite the Dust,” Center for DisabilityRights. http://cdrnysorg/blog/disability-dialogue/the-disability-dialogue-4disability-euphemisms-that-need-to-bite-the-dust/. Linton, S. (2006) My Body Politic: A Memoir. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. National Center Disability and Journalism (2018) “Disability Language Style Guide.” https://ncdj​.org​/style​-guide/.

20 Inclusive theatre as drama therapy Sally Bailey

Barrier-Free Theatre is a performance approach that integrates people from all strata of a community with various ability levels for the purpose of personal growth, breaking down stigma, and enhancing inclusion (Bailey, 2009). The Barrier-Free process is twofold: First, a space is created in which people with disabilities can practice the socio-emotional skills they have not had the opportunity to develop due to lack of peer modeling, expectations, and/or practice. Second, neurotypical actors work with the actors with disabilities and thereby recognize their humanity and value their inclusion. Such theatre affirms the belief that all people deserve to experience the joy of making theatre. While the shows may vary in style depending on participant preference (devised plays, ethnodramas, adaptations, or fictional work), the theatre troupe is created not only for artistic reasons, but also for therapeutic outcomes (Bailey, 2009; 2010). This essay reflects how the Barrier-Free model specifically incorporates drama therapy to guide participants with and without disabilities to new insights and behaviors. Drama therapy is not just a clinical intervention; it can be used as a prevention and wellness modality, a psychoeducational platform, and a tool for social justice. As a drama therapist, I subscribe to the humanistic psychotherapy viewpoint of starting where the clients are and letting them lead the way in our explorations (Rogers, 1961; Yalom, 1980). As the facilitator, I focus on creating a safe space in which everyone is respected and valued. I may be told by parents, group home staff, or the actors themselves about social problems they are confronting. I also use my clinical training to observe and identify what they are struggling with in their interactions and improvisations, and plan how to address those issues through drama therapy. As a playwright and director, I ensure the actors’ ideas are well staged. As an accessibility expert, I institute the accommodations and adaptations required for success. The Barrier-Free troupe I direct is a partnership between the drama therapy program at Kansas State University and the City of Manhattan, Kansas, Parks and Recreation Department. Adolescents and adults with and without disabilities participate from September through April to create an original one-act play through improvisation. As director of the K-State drama therapy program, I have the good fortune to be assisted by graduate drama therapy student interns.

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After every rehearsal, we meet to discuss what interpersonal conflicts or socioemotional issues arose and how to proactively address them in upcoming rehearsals. Barrier-Free Theatre shares many of the methods and outcomes of other companies that serve the disabled community; like Stephanie Barton-Farcas’ description of Nicu’s Spoon Theater, we value each individual as a creative contributor and make the space and practices accessible so everyone can participate. However, our drama therapy framework further focuses on facilitating actors’ discovery and rehearsal of new behaviors and integrating those new ways of relating into their everyday attitudes and behaviors. This is a strengthbased, not a deficit-based, approach (Coholic et al., 2012). We do not view our participants as needing to be “fixed,” because there is nothing “wrong” with them. Instead, we view behavior as communication expressing either fulfilled or unfulfilled needs (Delahooke, 2019). When the interns and I see unfulfilled needs, we intervene through action via carefully designed conversations, theatre games, group discussions, improvisations, or scripts to guide participants to learn to fulfill their own needs appropriately. Actors of all abilities often arrive at rehearsal frustrated from experiences they have had at school or work. Warm-ups incorporate relaxation and stress relief. A proactive stress management technique is integrated into each play as a plot device. For instance, in Achilles Under the Sea, Neptune’s terrible temper creates storms at sea. Achilles teaches Neptune to calm down through deep breathing. The line between drama therapy and applied theatre is sometimes elusive and subtle. In both cases, the plays often become vehicles for wider understanding, sharing insights, and creating change within audience members’ attitudes. However, there are differences in the training of group leaders and the intentionality through which theatre processes are used. In addition to internships, the training of a drama therapist involves courses in drama therapy, psychotherapy, ethics, and clinical supervision. Another difference is drama therapists’ use of the healing aspects of dramatic reality to facilitate change (Pendzik, 2006). Dramatic reality is the imaginary space in which pretend happens, where all possibilities exist. Child psychiatrist D.W. Winnicott (1990) termed this the “transitional space” because change can be imagined and practiced there. During improvisations, actors show what behaviors they are capable of using and where they are stuck. With side-coaching during a scene and discussion afterwards, actors can become aware of how they function in the world and practice new behavior skills. The scene does not have to be about their personal life to illuminate stuck-points; it can be fictional. When an actor is able to make different behavioral choices, a change has taken place (Pendzik, 2008). For instance, for three years Jesslyn1 was only willing to play the evil villain. Year three, however, she started improvising characters with positive motives and actions, demonstrating a significant change in her self-image. Time will

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tell if she continues moving in this direction. Actors frequently travel amazing distances in their artistic and socio-emotional skills. Hank began with self-confidence so woefully low he would only help backstage. No one at his high school had the time to process his early traumatic experiences with him, and his anxiety kept him from concentrating in school and rehearsal. When he had flashbacks and panic attacks, a drama therapy intern would take him aside to listen to him and validate his story. They taught him relaxation techniques and how to reframe his fears, always showing concern and unconditional positive regard. The next season he bounced in ready to try new things: he sang songs, he improvised, he learned his lines before anyone else. After the show, his foster mother said, When we went to see the play, I was blown away. For him to be able to follow through and be focused and confident, and to be disciplined – it was amazing! We saw a different side of him, and he’s lived with me for six years. (Carmody, 2018) He still has flashbacks at times, but there is always an intern who will talk with him and, if he is expressing suicidal thoughts, develop a safety plan. Learning how to create a safety plan in a class is one thing: putting an intervention like this into practice with a real person is another. Practice is the only way to hone such critical skills. Frank, who has Prader-Willi syndrome, has displayed impulse control problems since childhood that lead to violent, uncontrollable outbursts. PraderWilli’s is a genetic disorder characterized by low muscle tone, short stature, cognitive disabilities, behavioral problems, and insatiable hunger that leads to compulsive overeating and obesity. All actors must sign a contract at the beginning of the season outlining appropriate behavior, and I gently, but firmly, made sure Frank knew what was expected of him when he joined us. I knew that we would have to help him scaffold his development and internalization of behavior regulation. Over the five years he has been in the troupe, he has learned to better regulate his emotions, improve his reasoning skills, become more flexible, and verbalize his feelings. Each year he has a drama therapy intern who provides one-on-one assistance and talks him through behavior choices or draws charts to help him understand what is going on. They must be very patient and consistent. For instance, he had to learn that when he was onstage as a shark, he could chase certain characters and pretend to bite, but he could not really bite because he was acting; and when he was offstage, he was no longer a shark. His choice of characters relates metaphorically to his personal struggles with anger and impulse control: he has been a monkey, a shark, a vampire doctor, a snake, and a dragon, all explosive creatures. Although playing those characters could have motivated outbursts, as a drama therapist, I determined that with therapeutic support he could learn to express himself, explore his feelings appropriately, and learn how to control them. While he

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still has occasional outbursts at his group home and his day program, he has not had any at rehearsal. Positive outcomes are also reached by giving participants agency so that they feel valued. At the beginning of the rehearsal period, participants brainstorm ideas and select the genre and topic of the play. In the process, they learn valuable skills like listening to others and making choices (something often taken away from them in their day-to-day lives). One father noted how his son, has taken on leadership responsibilities, which he takes seriously, and he really gets a sense of pride from what he does with the group. It gives him a goal to work towards, gets him to be calmer and focused … He really wants to arrive on time for rehearsal. He won’t be late. He’ll say, “I have to be there. They need me.” (Carpenter, 2018) When it comes time to cast the show, I ask each actor privately who they would like to portray. One year they chose to do a murder mystery. When I asked participants if they were willing for their character to be the murderer, each person said no. When I asked if they wanted to be the murder victim, only one actor, who at that time frequently talked about suicide, said, “Yes.” Normally, I honor actor choices because it usually reflects a symbolic issue that they need to work through, but this choice was not clinically appropriate! I offered an alternative that still respected the actors’ consensus: we created a play with a mystery without a murder. Even neurotypical actors experience personal growth. When I was in Bethesda, Maryland, at Imagination Stage, at the end of every year, the neurotypical teens would say, “I joined this group to help you [the actors with disabilities], but instead it turned out that you helped me.” One undergraduate actor from K-State similarly commented: [Barrier-Free] provided me with a sense of community when I felt I had none and gave me a stable outlet that got me through the year. So many things had changed this last school year, so many people have been in and out of my life, and so many people needed so many things from me all the time that coming to the theatre every Wednesday for two hours was the relief I so much needed. (Graffenreid, 2017) Through creating theatre together, such participants discover that everyone in the troupe experiences the same emotions, wishes, hopes, worries, fears, and dreams. They watch the actors with disabilities deal with their frustrations with determination. When one person needs support, everyone is willing to give it generously. After an experience like that, divisions between “abled” and “disabled” disappear.

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Note 1 All names of actors used in this essay have been fictionalized to preserve their identity.

References Bailey, S. (2009) “Performance in Drama Therapy,” in Emunah, R. and Johnson D.R. (eds), Current Approaches in Drama Therapy. 2nd edition. Springfield, IL: C.C. Thomas Publisher, pp. 374–392. Bailey, S. (2010) Barrier-free Theatre: Including Everyone in Theatre Arts – in Schools, Recreation, and Arts Programs – Regardless of (dis)ability. Enumclaw, WA: Idyll Arbor. Carmody, K. (2018) Personal communication. 9 August. Carpenter, J. (2018) Personal communication. 29 August. Coholic, D., Fraser, M., Robinson, B., and Lougheed, S. (2012) “Promoting Resilience Within Child Protection: The Suitability of Arts-based and Experiential Group Programs for Children in Care,” Social Work in Groups, 35(4), pp. 345–361. Delahooke, M. (2019) Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges. Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing & Media. Graffenreid, C. (2017) Personal communication. 6 Sept. Pendzik, S. (2006) “On Dramatic Reality and Its Therapeutic Function In Drama Therapy,” The Arts in Psychotherapy, 33, pp. 271–280. Pendzik, S. (2008) “Using the 6-Key Model as an Intervention Tool in Drama Therapy,” The Arts in Psychotherapy, 35, pp. 340–354. Rogers, C.R. (1961) On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Winnicott, D.W. (1990) Playing and Reality. London: Routledge. Yalom, I.D. (1980) Existential Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books, Inc. Publishers.

21 Where we do the things they think we can’t The Pegasus Ensemble Scott S. Turner

Imagination Stage has served the greater Washington DC area for roughly forty years, providing children with high-quality arts experiences. Since its founding, the organization has also placed an emphasis on serving students with disabilities in all aspects of its programming, including ensembles specifically geared towards students with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. One such ensemble, known as the Pegasus Ensemble (PE), engages students between the ages of 14–21. Structured as a two-year conservatory (to train and then mount a production), PE strives to empower the voices of youth with disabilities by challenging participants’ assumptions about their capabilities. As the teaching artist for PE, this essay offers my reflections on our 2019–2021 cycle. One of the goals of PE is for students to practice autonomy. Many of our students come from special education programs where they are accustomed to a high level of support from teachers and clearly defined roles between the teacher and the student. The teaching team (myself and three other teaching artists) collectively feared that this overreliance on adult support would hamper the students’ artistic contributions. In response, we sought to create a culture of personal responsibility in the rehearsal space. This endeavor began by creating a consistent routine for each rehearsal. The schedule of the day was always the same, the warm-up routine was identical, and activities were repeated over multiple weeks. This consistency provided students reassurance by removing the stress of adapting each week to a new classroom progression. We wanted students to be able to focus on the content of an activity rather than what was coming next, freeing their focus towards creating with the ensemble. This consistent routine was also an effort to create leadership opportunities for the participants. Within a few weeks of rehearsal, we began to turn the leadership of our warm-up and other activities over to the students. At first, this change was a shock for those who had spent the majority of their time in programs with clearly delineated authorial roles, but eventually the leading of activities became a matter of pride. This intentional adjustment challenged the students’ belief that the teacher is solely responsible for classroom facilitation, which in turn encouraged them to take more responsibility for the work. The support they might need would always be present, but by taking on leadership

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roles the students came to understand that they couldn’t simply “coast” off the adults in the classroom, and they began to break from the habit of looking to a teaching artist for direction. An unforeseen effect of sharing leadership roles was a greater sense of equity among students. While we had set out to challenge the students’ sense of their own abilities, we were not aware that we would also be challenging the students’ limited notions of one another. For instance, during one rehearsal we announced that the vocal warm-up would be led by a student who communicated, by and large, non-verbally or with an augmentative communication app. Although we made his iPad available, he made clear that he didn’t intend to use it. When the other students realized this, one of them remarked, “but he doesn’t talk so good!” Suddenly, the teaching team was confronted with the idea that the students held assumptions about each other that might be a hindrance to the process. We stopped the progression of class for a discussion, and the students reflected on the beliefs they held about both themselves and each other. We agreed to approach the rehearsal space as a “blank space,” where “we do the things they think we can’t.” After returning to the warm-up, the student leader impressed everyone, pushing his own vocalizations to coach the ensemble through each phase of the warm-up. His willingness to lead and overcome misperceptions was a powerful lesson for our group. This culture of self-reliance and leadership was key as the ensemble began to generate material for the creation and production of original work. Furthermore, the teaching team discovered a need to embolden the students’ willingness to take risks. We noticed that when students were confronted with an opportunity to generate something original, they often hesitated or checkedin with the adults looking for the “right answer.” In our post-rehearsal reflections, the teaching team discussed this pattern of hesitation. We noticed that when we encouraged students to take a risk in an exercise, they would respond with something akin to, “I don’t know how to do that.” By our estimation, the students believed that there was a single answer to the questions raised in our exercises, and the teachers were waiting for students to discover it. We therefore needed to push our students towards artistic risk-taking by pushing beyond the binary thinking of “right or wrong.” An exercise that proved useful in lowering the stakes of “being wrong” was one called “Well, Well, Well.” We asked students to cross the room as a spontaneous character given to them by a peer. The level of risk was high as students were asked to quickly make choices about their characters, leading to a near constant “checking in” with the teaching team. This is where we most often heard the students respond with the telling phrase, “I don’t know how to do this.” Even as the students eventually made their choices and began to cross the floor, their gaze was almost constantly on the teaching team to gauge if we thought the character was “right.” There was a certain inequity between the perceived “value” of the ideas of the students and the teaching artists. During an attempt at this exercise, one student was presented with an outlandish character (“snooty kangaroo”), and they froze, unable to make a choice about what

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that character might look like in practice. We paused the activity and asked each member of the class, students, and teachers, if they’d ever seen a snooty kangaroo, and all, obviously, responded that they hadn’t. We remarked to the frozen student that, “the other students don’t know, I don’t know, but make a choice, and we’ll all find out together.” This became something of a mantra for us as we began to attempt exercises with less structure and more creative risk as we began to generate original stories for performance. Barton-Farcas discusses the value of utilizing multiple mediums in both rehearsal and performance. Her work with Nicu’s Spoon incorporates various forms of poetry, movement, and personal storytelling to create personal distance from what are emotionally charged topics (p. 175). Similarly, the Pegasus rehearsal process explored multiple mediums such as movement theatre, visual arts, theatrical design, and text work. The student’s contributions in these different mediums would be united by the teaching team into an eventual performance. The intention for our process was slightly different than that of Barton-Farcas, however. Rather than creating aesthetic distance from contributions, these mediums allowed the Pegasus students to take further control of the representation of their ideas. For us, this process began with two foundational elements: Anne Bogart and Tina Landau’s Viewpoints composition system and the first choral ode from Sophocles’ Antigone. With its broad concepts (tempo, duration, spatial relationship, etc.), Viewpoints provided a common vocabulary for students and teachers alike to reflect on the work of the ensemble. Additionally, the Viewpoints were flexible enough to allow students to work in multiple art forms, selecting those that best served their self-expression. A particularly strong example of this approach surfaced in our work with the Viewpoint of Shape, which is defined as “the contour or outline the body (or bodies) makes in space” (Bogart and Landau, 2007, p. 9). Students were asked to trace their hand and arm on a tabloid sheet of paper. We provided multiple writing implements to allow for students to select one that worked best for their motor abilities. From there, students were instructed to decorate the interiors of their tracing with their favorite shapes, which enabled us to access multiple understandings of the term “shape.” Following this decoration, each student took a turn to affix their tracing to a blank wall in the classroom. As each shape went up, we reflected on the overall composition and discussed the possible pictures that the shapes were coming together to create. Students began to identify some patterns within the decorations within the shapes that reminded them of animals. This idea continued to evolve as more shapes went up, and eventually, students identified a “tree of life” present within the composition. Building on this idea, we made a list of the animals that might be present within this tree. In a subsequent week, the teaching team recreated the tree of life composition on the wall, hanging the students’ tracings in the original places, and the class returned its focus to the Viewpoint of Shape. Students were encouraged to expand the shape beyond simply their arm and create shapes with their

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entire body that mimicked that of the visual composition. Eventually, students came together to craft this tree physically. We used the students’ list of animals to create a movement composition of the tree “breaking apart” to showcase each student’s animal as it emerged from the tree. We then turned to our Antigone text, and the students identified all of the animal imagery that was present in lines 27 through 33. The movement composition was thus presented with students reciting the text simultaneously with the shape composition as the backdrop. Students invited members of their support networks to this “sharing.” No matter the medium they made their strongest contribution in, every student had a method to present their ideas to an audience and have their voices amplified by working in collaboration with those of their peers. The multiple mediums increased student engagement and affirmed their abilities by allowing flexibility of expression, while demonstrating that there is not one “right” way to present an idea. The Pegasus ensemble’s two-year process ultimately culminates in a performance to a larger audience that is open to the public with several more informal sharings (reserved for invited guests) between semesters of the process. The ensemble is certainly more process-oriented, but as celebrations of growth, these performances are a meaningful culmination of that process. The ability to encourage students to take risks creatively and socially is limited if done only in isolation. In inviting student’s support networks to the sharings and then the public for the final performance, we widen the circle of the ensemble and

Figure 21.1 (from left to right) Elizabeth Jones as Captain and Abigail Gehres as Boatswain in O Wonder: A Tempest Tale by James Lex. Produced by Imagination Stage. 2019. Photo by Jeremy Rusnock.

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provide students palpable feedback on their progress. The performances of the Pegasus Ensemble aren’t focused on changing the assumptions of the audience, but rather confirming the risks that the students took when they challenged the assumptions that they had about themselves. Our performances don’t include a formal talk-back portion, but in the informal conversations we have with students’ support network members, we often hear them discuss that they’ve never seen their student do such and such on stage (speak so boldly, make such dynamic physical choices, display such confident leadership in helping peers, etc.). This is an ideal result for us. As an ensemble, we get to see the growth that each of us (that is, teacher to student, but also student to student) makes each week, but the performances are our means to break the echo chamber of our inward focus; the audience’s reactions become the final confirmation of the power of our students’ voices beyond the confines of our rehearsal space.

References Bogart, A. and Landau, T. (2007) The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition. New York: Theatre Communications Group. Sophocles (n.d.) Antigone. E. Wyckoff, Trans. Accessed 20 May 2020. https:// assets​ . aspeninstitute ​ . org ​ / content ​ / uploads ​ / files ​ / content​ / docs​ / SOPHOCLES​ _ ANTIGONE_(AS08).PDF.

Roundtable discussion with Sally Bailey, Stephanie Barton-Farcas, Evelyn Diaz Cruz, and Scott S. Turner

Evelyn: Hi everyone. Thank you for contributing to this virtual round table conversation as practitioners of applied theatre. Stephanie: Wow! We better say important things. (Laughter.) Evelyn: My first question is regarding language in this work; and then what does your community need, and what’s in their way? Stephanie: I’m always careful of my language and put people first, for example: A person with a disability vs. A disabled person. These are terms which are all debatable; but I’m careful not to use terms like handi-capable, because I know in the disability community, it gets the response of “Whoa! Yikes!” Sally: I typically simply ask the person what term they want to use because they come from very specific situations in terms of family, education, or politics, and words mean very different things to different people. I might even use two different terms about the same disability within the same group, because two different people prefer to be referred to in those specific ways. For example, autistic versus a person with autism. Some people want to be called autistic. They say that’s their identity, that’s the way they think; it’s who they are and everything they do is filtered through that lens. They feel proud of that. Whereas there are other people who want to be a person with autism because they are a person first and foremost. Stephanie: I agree. It’s very individual. Much like nowadays the way pronouns are very individualized, and we check in about that. Scott: I work with neuro-diverse students in typically-developing classrooms. Generally, my language is less focused on specific diagnoses and more focused on practical implementation. My mentor calls it accommodation-centered language. Oftentimes, I’m prepping a teaching artist to go into a typically developing classroom where there might be a student with autism. My language is oftentimes more based on accommodations and actionable things that teaching artists can do to support that student first, and the diagnosis comes later on; and then the student’s preferred choice about language to self-identify comes when we get to know them and their personal choices better. Sally: The disability gives you a place to start from, but each person is very different. It makes so much sense what Scott is doing because that’s what

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people need to know. Not a diagnosis, but what does this person need to function at an equivalent level. Stephanie: I have also prepared teaching artists and not referred to a person’s disability. The artist might say, “why didn’t you tell me he was in a wheelchair?” And I’ve said, “because you’re teaching a drawing class, and unless you need to move him physically that doesn’t enter my frame of reference. You can see for yourself, he’s in a wheelchair. We don't need to have a discussion about it.” But I'm a little harsh maybe. (Laughter.) Sally: I think part of what is in the way for me are the professionals who work with my actors, who even more than family and teachers don’t let them become full-fledged individuals who are independent and unique. With my practice, the actors come into a rehearsal and are treated as human beings and adults. But then they go back to their home, and they are infantilized. Unfortunately, they don’t always get to use or build upon those skills that they’ve learned. Evelyn: What are the ethical challenges in that transition? Sally: I have found that you have to be respectful to the people who are not being respectful. I often have graduate students come to me and say, “So-and-so was just talking about this actor in front of him instead of talking directly to him. I’m so angry right now, I just want to go and yell at that person.” And I’ll say, “Well, don’t be angry. What you need to do is say quite nicely that they need to include that person in the conversation.” You can say, “Oh let’s hear from Bob.” Of course, it’s hard to do that politely when you’re really ticked off. (Laughter.) Stephanie: I’m upfront about the types of attitudes, treatments, or dismissiveness that are not permissible towards people with disabilities. I have even calmly said, “We won’t be needing your services anymore. I’d like you to leave, and I’ll follow up with an email.” I have fired disabled people too for treating people badly. I mean, look, I’m a taskmaster so I’m kind of always going [bares her teeth] “Grrrrr…” (Laughter.) Scott: I’m thinking of our Pegasus program, where I work with a small team of teaching artists, and we noticed that a lot of our students were coasting on our well-intentioned support. They were letting us be the ones to step in and solve their interpersonal disputes. We became concerned because it was important that the work created was theirs. That takes modeling on our part, like not pulling out our phones, taking breaks the same way, being transparent when we feel frustrated, etc. We all have a responsibility to the work and to the ensemble. It’s not me dictating to you what comes next, it’s us dictating together. Evelyn: How do you balance product versus process and why? Sally: I start with lots of process while we’re creating the piece because much more intervention can be done at that point. When we get into rehearsing, it becomes more product-focused. It can never be just one or the other. There always has to be that final product in people’s minds because

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that brings out the self-discipline and belief that what we’re doing is going to be worthwhile. Stephanie: I tend to agree, in the end there’s always the goal of that end product for everyone. A big part of the process is getting everybody to have that shared goal. Ultimately though if it comes down to a sacrifice, I’m always willing to sacrifice the product a little. Because the process is what they take home with them at night. There’s pride in the product, but in the end it’s the process that strengthens who they are, who I am, who all of us together are. The process is what has made it worth showing up. Sally: There are lots of people who stay totally with the process, and then they get to the end, and their product is a mess! (Laughter.) That certainly doesn’t help the actors or the audience at all. Stephanie: Yes, and if everybody’s on board towards a shared goal of a product, even if you sacrifice a little bit of something there, it’s still a fabulous product because everybody went through the process with shared sensibilities, goals, practices towards a quality product. Sally: I think that anybody who wants to start doing this work needs to know that. Because I have seen people who have totally infantilized everybody, and the work that resulted was a mishmash and embarrassing. That happens because they didn’t make sure that the product happened the way it should. Stephanie: I also think when a product does infantilize the community it ends up being that type of a thing where the audience views it as charity. And that hurts the whole community. Scott: I see product as confirmation of process. What we are touching on is my ideal scenario, the product as a reflection of all the growth and risktaking that we’ve done in our process. It’s one more chance for us to see how far we’ve come. In that way, we treat products/performances professionally: There are designers, actors, props, crew, etc. and students. Everyone is treated professionally, because ultimately, we’re asking them to take responsibility for their own process, and the end product will reflect that commitment. Stephanie: That absolutely makes sense because we do the same thing. We have one-third to one-half of any program with professional actors. And as I said before, I screen those professional actors like crazy. After a while you have enough of a reputation in this field where you won’t see those actors who just don’t get it. I love when audience members ask, “So who is disabled?” My response is always something like, “Why don’t you go talk to them and ask?” Evelyn: Anyone like to share an example of the limitless possibilities of using theatre to empower youth? Stephanie: This has been a weird year though. It’s been like, WOW! (Laughter.) But an interesting thing this year because of the Coronavirus is that everybody’s online now. A lot of disabled artists that I work with were already very active online and think it’s hysterical that able-bodied people have to now get used to working this way. They’re amused that

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we have to hire folks to help transition to online interaction. Disabled artists are now getting a greater audience. I’ve loved seeing that happen. Sally: I would offer that whenever I have a belief in somebody’s ability to achieve at a certain level, they have come up to meet it. Whereas maybe my graduate students sometimes haven’t learned yet what a person can do. For example, the one actor who I talked about in my essay with Prader-Willi Syndrome, gets so excited that he gets on stage and says so excitedly, “I in a play. I in a play,” again and again. The person working with him the first year had a hard time getting him to stop and told me that she couldn’t get him to contain himself. I said, “Oh yes he can contain himself.” I finally had to go to him and say very firmly, “If I hear you say, ‘I in a play,’ one more time. You will not be in a play.” (Laughter.) He wasn’t hurt—he knew that what I was saying was that now is the time to stop and contain himself. And he can. And did. (Laughter.) Scott: For me a good moment was right in the middle of our spring semester when, because of COVID, we were booted out of our space and thrown into this online platform and into a chunk of time when we weren’t meeting in person. This was early in the outbreak, and the students were still processing all of this. I led them through an activity to help get some of their thoughts out and allow them to process what they were feeling. We started having these beautiful conversations about what this outbreak was doing to them and how it was disrupting all their routines. They shared how the news was suddenly so prevalent in their lives. We took all this and created newspaper headlines, then morphed them into tableaux for these reflections. One of my students filled up his entire Zoom box with a tableau of his folded hands. I could see how much thought he had put into this and how cathartic it was for him and all of us. This confirmed what I believe: We need to provide a space, curate the voices, and then get out of the way. Stephanie: I believe it is the most important talent for new practitioners to have and to understand, and you can’t fake having that. That’s the belief that Sally, Scott, and I have. We have the ability to look at someone and say, “Yes of course you can do it!” Applied theatre artists have to honestly believe in other human beings and their capacity for change, for risk, for strength, for love, for passion, and for creating art. Scott: I would tell new practitioners that this work is not nearly as hard or as intimidating as it might seem. I just go to work every day and make good art with some great artists. And that’s really all there is to it. There’s no secret sauce, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. (Laughter.) Sally: I know I’ve succeeded when somebody gets lost on stage, and someone else is able to improvise to save the scene. For example, one actor who was playing a doctor was sitting on the edge of the stage getting a blood donation when he lost his way. He turned to somebody in the audience and said, “Oh, would you like to give some blood?” The entire audience cracked up, and I said, “Keep it, that was wonderful.” (Laughter.)

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Stephanie: Something I would like to add is that I have found that with any disabled artists that I’ve ever worked with, simply by the very nature of having a disability, they really are Olympian world class problem-solvers. Someone entering this field as a practitioner should have an understanding how by the very nature of having a disability you must solve problems a thousand times a day, in a world not built for you. Having a real respect for that helps in figuring out how to use their problem-solving skills in your work’s process. Sally: And asking that actor what can we do to make this work for you? Because they will tell you. Scott: This is a very welcoming community, so new practitioners should never feel like they’re on an island unto themselves. There are resources and people out here who want to see this field succeed. Evelyn: I would like to end this roundtable by expressing how inspired I am on a multitude of personal, professional, and activism levels. Thank you all so much.

Part 8

Amplifying voices Process and production with justice-involved youth

22 Stargate A theatre company of imagination, hope, life skills, and quality art for justice-involved young men Judy K. Tate Fostering imagination In the mid-70s, I had the pleasure of studying acting with the famed Stella Adler. Imagination, Stella taught us, is fundamental to an actor’s craft. “You cannot remember being a king or a queen. But you can imagine it,” she’d say. I currently work with young men who have been incarcerated or had other difficult interactions with the police. Many are bruised, some are broken. If you are emotionally bruised and broken, you may not be able to remember being whole—but you can imagine it. Acting gave me a language for my own emotions and behavior. I try to teach my students to also find language for theirs. I impart that imagining is a fundamental creative act. It can be exhilarating and illuminating. It is play. It is fun—serious fun. Imagination allows you to take yourself around the world. It allows you to remain curious. Like Stella, I ask them to be awake to the world so that their imaginations will awaken, too. I tell them, “When that happens, you will be alive.” Life energy heals.

Offering hope In 1994, my colleagues and I from the Manhattan Theatre Club began weekly treks to an island just over a bridge from Queens, NY, to a razor-wired compound. There we’d surrender all our possessions, then pass signs telling us that if there were a riot we were on our own. After navigating several sets of iron gates, passing riot gear stored in the hallway, we finally made it to a small library where we’d guide incarcerated young men to put their stories on paper in dramatic form. This was Rikers Island. The school was Island Academy, one of the high schools on the notorious island. We were accompanied by professional actors who would read, improvise, and ask questions to help the students develop plays of their own. At the end of the ten-session unit, the actors performed the plays for the staff and people in the general population. It was my first time working in a jail or with justice-involved young men. I’d been led to believe they were going to be intimidating. On this visit, I encountered a large young man sleeping under a table sucking his thumb; I realized that many of these inmates were children.

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I soon discovered that when you are teaching youngsters in jail, you are in jail, too. When there is a lockdown, you are locked down. If the jail is dirty, you are inhaling filth. If the powers-that-be decide people in jail are not worth caring for, their policies will affect when and where you work. Time may not be set aside routinely for your classes. Kids may be punished by having their writing taken away. Any punitive measure you can imagine will affect your work, too. I guided playwriting workshops at Rikers for about fifteen years with MTC. All those years with student inmates, talking to them about their families and lives, and reading their plays allowed me to glean insights into my Rikers students and about the world in which they live and work while incarcerated. My observations include: •• They are kids in a school mandated to teach them, but that school sits in a jail whose mandate is to punish them. This paradox can create cynicism and hopelessness. •• It’s more than individual bad behavior that lands a kid in jail; rather, it’s the confluence of systemic social problems and individual bad behavior—the primary link is poverty. •• Some kids are addicted, some have psychological problems or learning disabilities, some have grown up in foster care or juvenile justice systems. For kids like them, crime can seem like a rational choice—sometimes a job opportunity and a chance to eat three square meals a day. •• They are acutely aware that some parts of society despise them. But some of them are from a subset of society that sees incarceration as a necessary “rite of passage.” •• Many are from backgrounds where jobs are non-existent, education isn’t valued, and hopelessness is rampant. •• Once inside, they often experience further trauma, physical and sexual victimization, sleeplessness, and dehumanization. •• One element that makes a difference between a kid returning to the system and the same kid getting out is hope. •• Playwriting, by virtue of its ability to allow one to tell their own story, be it verité or fictionalized, can offer hope.

Building professional and life skills In 2012, Manhattan Theatre Club’s education director, David Shookhoff, tapped me to help create a theatre program for court-involved young men. We worked alongside Evan Elkin, an expert in the field of juvenile justice and executive director of Reclaiming Futures, who at the time was developing programs at Vera Institute of Justice. One of the problems young men were having upon their release was finding work—any kind of work, much less meaningful work. We decided to do something MTC had never done—put the young, justice-involved writers on stage to perform their own work instead

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of using professional actors to do it. They would engage in theatre as a workreadiness project and be paid to write, rehearse, and perform an original theatre piece on one of MTC’s stages. This became Stargate Theatre Company. Stargate hires an average of twentytwo individuals identifying as male, ages 16–24, for seven weeks, to create and perform a theatre piece on Manhattan Theatre Club’s Stage II at City Center. The participants are all court-involved, re-entering society after jail, or some variation thereof. They come from every borough in New York City and sometimes New Jersey. Rehearsals are held weekday afternoons at MTC studios, so that members can go to school or work summer jobs. More hours are added closer to performance when we move into the theatre itself. The young men are paid $15.00/hour, a little more than minimum wage. There are incentives for being on time, coming every day, and for returning to work from breaks on time. We have learned that incentives are more effective than punitive measures given how young men’s brains develop between the ages of 16–24 (Blakemore and Choudery, 2006; Johnson et al., 2009; Rippon, 2017). The ensemble works with a cadre of professionals: the artistic director who chooses the theme, structures the workshops, collates/writes the scripts and oversees all artistic aspects of the production; the production director who helps devise work and stage content; a stage manager; an artistic and documentation associate; a choreographer; and a company manager who is also a case manager. As a licensed clinical social worker, he counsels them and talks them down if they are having a difficult time cooperating, having a temper explosion, are chronically late, absent, or exhibiting other disruptive behaviors. He guides them to set personal goals in the program. We try to model co-leadership, and since our leaders are male, female, gay, straight, and culturally diverse, the company gets to see collaboration across difference. There are several questions asked and decisions made while putting a show together. The staff may not always agree, but we try to set an example of open, honest, and respectful communication. Many problems in the room are solved simply by managing the space or time in a smarter way: When guys fought over the outlets to charge their phones and resentment transferred onto the stage, our project manager bought enough power strips for everyone. While the Stargate staff feels we make a difference in the lives of our participants, our primary task is to create a highly aesthetic work for the theatre. We recognize that our participants have challenges stemming from lots of special circumstances—but here’s the irony: Unless you commit yourself to the work of creating an impeccable piece of art, the opportunity to develop those lifeskills in the kids will be unavailable to you. If you make rehearsal all about making the kids powerful or developing their self-esteem, you’re probably headed down the wrong path. All those wonderful things are a by-product of making the best theatre piece you possibly can. Sometimes the work we make together are collage plays with personal stories, poems, vignettes, and sometimes they are uniquely told myths with the guys’ personal stories interwoven. We typically work around a theme: the

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stages of life, friendship, family ties, love. Whatever the content, the highest value is placed on the young men being fully present, open, and honest in their writing, diligent in their re-writing, and approaching the endeavor from their highest selves. In fact, I literally ask them to take a stand for what is highest in them: to tease a company member or help them understand? To practice your choreography or snicker when it’s challenging? Just as in Rikers Island, these young men may exhibit a host of issues, including trauma, mental illness, hunger, stress, cynicism, and hopelessness, all well-documented by psychologists, child welfare advocates or juvenile justice workers (Collins and Kilgore, n.d.). But once they enter the Stargate rehearsal room, they are artists. In addition to improving their literacy by writing creatively, company members also learn to read and sign contracts, arrive on time, meet expectations around attendance, and learn what it means to participate fully and with an appropriately cooperative workplace demeanor. They learn to be prompt and reliable, to cooperate with each other through our ensemblebuilding process, and to become part of a creative community. Below is how we talk about these life skills using an artistic framework. You will learn to: •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• •• ••

Be awake and attentive to the world around you. Be able to formulate ideas in response to your observations. Be able to understand and evaluate poetic and dramatic writing. Be able to write down your ideas coherently in poetic and dramatic form. Be loud and articulate enough to be heard and understood on stage or elsewhere. Use your body and gestures in a way that supports communicating your dramatic ideas. Give and take between you and the people with whom you’re creating work. Be able to step in when someone falters. Be where you’ve agreed to be—whether that is in the rehearsal room on time or “stage right” as the lights go up. Stay focused on the task at hand and delay gratification: “I will wait for my snack until after we block this section of the play.”

Being paid for this work means they begin to connect a paycheck to work about which they are passionate. Based on our assessment, about 10–15% of these young men plan to continue in theatre; the others see a more traditional workplace for themselves. But the skills they learn here are valuable and transferable. At some point in everyone’s life they will be interviewed and asked to tell their story. At Stargate they learn how.

Creating sacred space The salon at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Creative Center is filled with energy, but it’s serious energy. It is a space dedicated to the creative process—a sacred

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Figure 22.1 (clockwise) Charlie Santiago, Khari Scarborough, Solomon De’Haarte, and Keybo Carrillo in a screenshot from the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Stargate Theatre’s Zoom presentation of The Divide. Directed by Judy K. Tate. September 10, 2020.

space. Actors rehearse lines, mouth the lyrics to audition songs, meet at the tables to discuss casting ideas. Our Stargate guys see photos hung on all the walls of theatre actors they sometimes recognize from television or films. And then they walk into one of the same professional studios to do their own work. Tell their own stories. It is a powerful message: they belong here. After all, they are being paid to write a theatre piece and perform it on a professional stage. We realize that many people do this work in whatever space is available: a community center, church basement, a Department of Probation meeting room. We encourage finding a dedicated rehearsal space. If one cannot be found/afforded, then try to find a space that can be made “sacred” by putting up the same pictures, posters, etc. whenever the group is working. Try not to change environments constantly. That makes the process feel chaotic, and structure is essential for generating trust and concentration. Some principles we emphasize: 1) Theatre-making by the Stargate Company is a professional and considered endeavor. 2) Where you work matters. Working professionally near other professionals allows you to see yourself in a new light. 3) The world is bigger than just your block, and you have every right to participate in its activities. When you work in a jail, people around you are prisoners; though creative work can be done, it will be done primarily for prisoners, and you can’t escape

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the effect that your surroundings have on you and the entire process. This isn’t to say that work inside jail isn’t important and necessary, only to make clear a contrast. When you work in a theatre where theatre professionals work, the air of professionalism permeates the environment, cultivating professional choices and behavior. It decreases the distance between insiders and outsiders, “us” and “them.” It allows the historically marginalized to occupy space in a world they might not have known exists; a creative professional world that is open and welcoming. One of the biggest surprises our guys write about in every project reflection is “how nice everybody is” at Stargate. It’s true. We are nice. We are respectful. But we are also disciplined in our commitment to creating a good show. They start to trust that we will get them over the finish line. The trusting atmosphere we create for the guys leads them to be their best. One of the markers of this is that we have never had any theft. We were able to let our security guard go after the second year. Honor, it appears, attracts honor. Sacred space also allows these young men to safely explore issues relevant to their lives through their art. People often ask why Stargate doesn’t serve women. It’s not that we don’t want to; in fact, we plan to. However, a program like this is costly, and when we launched Stargate in 2013, New York had an epidemic of male youth incarceration. It was easy to fill our troupe with guys returning from Rikers Island. There were eleven jails on 413 acres, holding an inmate population of 7,000—down from a historic high of nearly 22,000 in 1991 (Medina, 2019). Sometimes a kid from a diversion program mandated by court would join the company, but many had just recently been in jail because the “stop-and-frisk” laws disproportionately targeted Black and Latinx neighborhoods. One out of three Black boys and one out of six Latino boys were going to jail (Lenehan, 2017). These were mostly low-level drug offences. When data was released saying that white kids and Black and Latino kids all used and sold drugs at the same rate, the disparity was stunning (Rosenberg et al., 2017). We felt we had to respond to this crisis. So, our community, even in 2020 as stop and frisk has eased up, still primarily comprises Latinx and Black young men. For two of the last three years, we’ve gotten one white kid a year, typically arrested for low-level drug offences and diverted to a drug program. Furthermore, young men can arguably benefit from being in single-gendered groups (Berkowitz, 2004). For example, during the opening circle of our daily rehearsal, a group member’s language exhibited misogyny and homophobia. In response, the company manager and I identified language for the behavior and brought up the topic of “toxic masculinity.” They’d never heard of it. But as we explored the idea further, they started to talk about what was expected of “real men” growing up in gang culture. The talk was frank, sometimes vulnerable. One of our most “alpha” muscle-bound, company members who rarely smiled said, “It’s like this mask we have to wear.” It’s too simplistic to say, “now I had them write scenes or poems around Toxic Masculinity.” I’d already decided that the theme for their show Crash. Burn. Rise. would be friendship and we’d adapt the Orpheus story, but in response to prompts around their identities and complications in familial relationships,

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and as a result of our conversation, they felt licensed to explore a deeply felt bond between two male friends. Their writing (poetry, monologues, scenes) illuminated their awareness of toxic masculinity and how helpless they felt about changing its culture. Orpheus, “the illest rapper,” inherits his talent from his mother, Calliope, the Goddess of Music. Rather than clash with her, they decided, Orpheus would express his appreciation for her. Furthermore, Dyce, who’s from the hood, gets his friend Orpheus into a gang fight. As Orpheus urges them to run (“I’m a poet, not a fighter”), Dyce is killed by the police and taken to the underworld. Orpheus, for the love of his friend, braves a trip to Hades to save him. Orpheus rappels into hell, meets ghouls on his way, and uses his poetry to convince everyone from Charon to Cerberus to do what he wants. As it turns out, Hades girlfriend who we named “PerStephanie” had a taste for souls as part of her beauty regimen. The gang fight was choreographed and so was the mourning of Dyce. Our shows are funny and poignant and infused with the guys’ own stories of celebration and grief.

Providing support When working with this population, by necessity, the community also includes their teachers, probation officers, social workers, and program managers who work with them. We work with several non-profits that help with skill and career building, housing, and other services to guys returning to society. We often invite their staff members to participate in our pre-recruitment workshops so they’ll understand our program. We typically only accept young men who are attached to a community or probation program because they will provide counseling, housing assistance, and act as court liaison—services that we’re not equipped to handle. This indispensable support network, along with friends and family, become invested audience members at the end of the process. Once, we had a judge come to a performance and declare that he hadn’t fully understood some of the life experiences these young men had had. His eyes were opened by seeing guys like ones he’d sent to jail up on stage performing scenes from their lives. In a time of mass incarceration, that is a huge admission and a lesson that the empathy that is engendered by this program is not just between the company members, but between the company and the audience. I often think if the kids we work with had had the kind of support system in their early lives that they get after they’ve been arrested, their lives now, their communities, and the city at large would be better off. A lot of our kids are picked up for being on the street—smoking weed instead of being in school. Does anyone ask why they’re there? From my vantage point, many have learning issues, or psycho-emotional problems that made learning in a traditional classroom setting difficult. Kids from affluent areas get therapy, counseling, in-depth help. Kids from poor communities (as most of my kids are) receive inadequate assistance from underfunded schools or over-worked parents with low-pay jobs and little access to or knowledge of how to find effective mental

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health services. I’ve worked with many grieving kids, who smoke weed nonstop. This isn’t the behavior of an irredeemable adult, it’s the self-medication of a grieving child. Another word about this community and its resources. Food insecurity is real. Any work we do involving this population must account for it. In year one, it became obvious that the guys were hungry. Some were so hungry that they couldn’t think straight. I asked one kid when he’d last eaten (our workshops started at 4:30 pm), and he told me “yesterday afternoon.” Immediately, we decided that a portion of our budget had to be allotted to food. Now each kid has a sandwich, a snack, and a drink when they come into rehearsal. If they come to rehearsal for the food, great. If they stay for the art, we’ve had success. None of this is to say that our guys are woeful. Their major strength as I’ve observed them is their willingness to pick themselves up from hardship or adversity and keep going. They don’t tend to complain or dwell. Today this is called “resilience.” It is exciting to see their willingness to lean into the work even if they’ve done nothing like it before. I require a lot of writing in my workshops, and never once has any guy complained about it. We do all the theatre exercises—vocal and physical, scripted or improvisatory—that professional actors do, and they are always game. That’s not to say no one ever has a bad day, they do, but they are extraordinary in their willingness to meet us more than half-way on this creative road.

Stargate’s ultimate value When we create our Stargate shows, we develop the ability to imagine. The ensemble must envision what should be on their paper or the stage. The reality of their current state is that the stage is empty and their paper blank. That creates what Robert Fritz, a leading thinker in creativity and the developer of Technologies for Creating® calls “structural tension” (1989, p. 76). Imagine a spring that is pulled taut. Your vision is attached to one side and your current reality to the other. The tension in the spring seeks resolution. When an artist holds their vision of the stage filled with their powerful writing performed in their own voices, because of structural tension, their current reality (an empty stage) tends to move toward their vision. When our guys are likely to give up on their vision because the structural tension it creates is unbearable, we encourage them, chanting together “hold your vision!” This stance is as valuable in their personal lives as it is on the stage. If on your blank canvas you want to create a poem, a song, a scene, a good relationship with your parents, a life free from the after-effects of incarceration, you must hold that vision until your current reality moves toward and becomes your vision. Whether we are “writing images on the wall” to create our signature imagistic ensemble poems that can’t be performed unless everyone fully participates, or we’re improvising a scene, we are coaching them to hold their visions. In making our shows, our guys experience the excitement and energy of creation, but also the challenge

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and discipline required to finish a creative act, which is the ultimate gesture of personal accountability.

Acknowledgments Manhattan Theatre Club has demonstrated an unshakeable commitment to the young men of Stargate Theatre. I thank them for providing an artistic home for us all. I’d also like to acknowledge the teaching artists who have worked with the same population at MTC inside of jail and out. They’ve taught me more than I can say.

References Berkowitz, A. with Mathews, D. (2004) “Working with Men to Prevent Violence Against Women: An Overview,” Applied Research Forum. Accessed 23 March 2020. http:// www​.ncdsv​.org​/images​/VAWnet​_WkgMenPreventVAW​_Part​-1​_10​-2004​.pdf. Blakemore, S.J. and Choudery, S. (2006) “Development of the Adolescent Brain: Implications for Executive Function and Social Cognition,” The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. (47) 3–4, pp. 296–312. Accessed 22 March 2020. https://doi​ .org​/10​.1111​/j​.1469​-7610​.2006​.01611​.x. Collins, K. and Kilgore, M. (n.d.) “Dual Diagnosis Screening and Assessment for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System,” A Publication of Reclaiming Futures. Accessed 22 March 2020. https://www​.reclaimingfutures​.org​/publications. Fritz, R. (1989) The Path of Least Resistance. New York: Fawcett; Random House Inc. Johnson, S.B., Blum, R.W., and Giedd, J.N. (2009) “Adolescent Maturity and the Brain: the Promise and Pitfalls of Neuroscience Research in Adolescent Health Policy,” The Journal of Adolescent Health, 45(3), pp. 216–221. Accessed 22 March 2020. https://doi​.org​ /10​.1016​/j​.jadohealth​.2009​.05​.016. Lenehan, R. (2017) “What Stop and Frisk Really Means,” Prison Policy Initiative. Accessed 22 March 2020. https://www​.prisonpolicy​.org​/reports​/stopandfrisk​.html. Medina, D. (2019) “Rikers 2.0; Inside the Battle to Build Four New Jails in New York City,” The Guardian. Accessed 22 March 2020. https://www​.theguardian​.com​/cities​ /2019​/dec​/09​/rikers​-20​-inside​-the​-battle​-to​-build​-four​-new​-prisons​-in​-new​-york​ -city. Rippon, G. (2017) “Brain Scans Reveal Why Rewards and Punishments Don’t Seem to Work on Teenagers,” Scientific American. Accessed 22 March 2020. https://www​ .scientificamerican​.com​/article​/brain​-scans​-reveal​-why​-rewards​-and​-punishments​-dont​ -seem​-to​-work​-on​-teenagers/. Rosenberg, A., Groves, A.K., and Blankenship, K.M. (2017) “Comparing Black and White Drug Offenders: Implications for Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice and Reentry Policy and Programming,” J Drug Issues, 47(1), pp. 132–142. Accessed 22 March 2020. Doi:10.1177/0022042616678614.

23 The value of process Creating theatre with incarcerated youth Erin R. Kaplan

I began creating theatre with incarcerated youth when I was a young person myself, as an undergraduate member of the University of Michigan’s Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP). In the fifteen years since, I have conducted workshops in prisons, juvenile detention centers, schools, and community centers with a wide range of people: incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and some with no connection to the criminal justice system at all. As a result of these experiences, I have realized that working inside institutions of incarceration, especially those housing young people, necessitates adaptability in the face of challenges specific to this environment. In Judy Tate’s essay, “Stargate: A theatre company of imagination, hope, life skills, and quality art for justice-involved young men,” she states that the company’s “primary task is to create a highly aesthetic work for the theatre,” a goal that became untenable when working inside the facilities. Tate thus shifted to supporting young men “re-entering society after jail” (p. 199). Having experienced similar challenges has led me to an applied theatre practice directed at the process of creating theatre, rather than the product. While outside of prison, as Tate states, one can “commit … to the work of creating an impeccable piece of art” and as a result help young people in “developing their self-esteem” (p. 199), the circumstances inside mean facilitators must be highly adaptable. One of the first product-related goals I have had to relinquish was the naïve notion that I have any control over the day-to-day circumstances in the facility. There are days when the facility is in lock-down, and you cannot enter, nor can you leave. There are days (like Tate recalls), when you arrive to find one of the kids aged anywhere from 11–18 sucking their thumb or crying under a table; that one of your best performers cannot attend the workshop as a punishment; or that one of the kids has been transferred or released. In professional theatre settings, even when working with youth, we can have clear expectations and policies in terms of attendance, participation, and commitment to being an ensemble member. Again, Stargate exemplifies this professionalism: “Company members also learn to read and sign contracts, arrive on time, meet expectations around attendance, and learn what it means to participate fully and with an appropriately cooperative workplace demeanor” (p. 200). Although I always begin my workshops with a “group contract” in which the participants can each

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propose a group rule that is written on a poster board and then signed by the entire class, myself included, there are realities for which we simply cannot plan. While most workshops I’ve facilitated have had a reliable group of 10–12 individuals, there is usually a rotation of 2–5 participants in each workshop who may or may not attend for weeks at a time and then suddenly return. Creating space for those individuals when they attend, and functioning without them when they do not, is crucial. If I’ve planned an activity expecting twelve of my eighteen students and arrive to learn that I only have four today because several have been denied participation as punishment for a fight that occurred last week, I must create another plan on the spot. Having lesson plans is essential, but so is the imperative to discard them when they will not serve the students. To that end, I reserve most of the time for creating an ensemble rather than rehearsing a show. We spend weeks playing games, many of which come from Augusto Boal’s Games for Actors and Non-Actors (1992).1 We get to know one another, and in doing so, my co-facilitator (if one is available) and I can create a space for participants to have fun with us and we with them. While they might not realize it in the moment, we are simultaneously teaching them how to trust their instincts, one another, and us—the outsiders coming into their world. We strive to teach them to try new things, project their voices, offer their ideas and opinions, and to be brave in the face of what can be a terrifying notion: speaking to an audience. Once the group has established a sense of trust and community, I begin directing the activities towards an idea for a play. Having explored relationships and power in the games thus far, we can now put those concepts to practical use. I have often used “conflict scenes” as the seed for shows. Each person in the group finds a partner and has thirty seconds to conceive of an everyday conflict that they then perform for two minutes without solving it. In most workshops, one scene will stand out with several of the kids identifying with one or more characters in it. From here, I experiment with adding characters to the scene, discussing character motivations and histories, and creating scenes of what was happening just before or after this one; thereby, a play begins to form. I may ask, for example: What do you think the teacher would do if they saw this happening in the classroom? What do you think her mom would say if she made that phone call? What do you think this girl would do after school if she were spoken to this way at lunch? By asking these questions, I encourage the participants to think through the consequences of actions as well as to put themselves in the shoes of another. Each person can contribute to a scene either by adding to it, asking additional questions, or providing new information based on their lived experience in order to eventually create more fully rounded characters with motivations, desires, obstacles, stakes and more.

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As this process continues, I take copious notes and will offer to bring copies of them the following week because, and this is crucial, I almost never use scripts in these workshops. Because of low-literacy levels in carceral institutions, having to read and memorize words is often a barrier for students and can cause them to avoid attending after-school workshops. As the plays and characters develop, well-rehearsed improvisation becomes the primary mode of rehearsal. Each day we have a warm-up (participants can pick their warmup of choice), and then I tell them what we are rehearsing. Every participant rehearses in every scene and for every character while the play is in development. In this manner we can create more well-rounded characters, as each participant adds their own input to the character and scene. This also creates a situation in which any participant can step into nearly any role if someone is sick, absent, in “consequence,” or has left the facility. We become a team with a very deep bench, and everyone is always ready to play. Additionally, I always take on a small role with the goal of minimizing my presence on stage while supporting the group and garnering trust. Once the company has established the characters and a general script outline, we sit in a circle and cast the show as an ensemble. I or my co-facilitator will list the characters with generic descriptions (“angry girl,” “funny girl,” “nerdy girl,” etc.), and individuals will nominate themselves if they want to play that role. If only one person raises their hand, then the role is theirs, regardless of my perceptions of their “acting ability.” If more than one person is interested in the role, then we discuss options, second choices, and the group talks through who would best serve the role and the story. I have never once, in fifteen years of facilitation, had a problem with this method. Everyone gets their voice heard, and everyone wants to do what is best for the play because everyone has had a hand in creating it. Once casting is complete, the participants get to name their characters, and we begin finalizing the play in anticipation for the performance. My first method for adaptability in performance is to work moment by moment. I have often experienced young people who initially do not want to perform in public. If I tell them that it is a requirement, they will do everything in their (admittedly limited) power to avoid attending weekly workshops. Therefore, I never lead residencies with the product; I always focus on “here is what we are doing, right now, today.” After some months of working together and creating something about which they feel pride and a sense of ownership, participants look forward (sometimes anxiously) to the final performance. I’ve come across students who chose, on the day of the performance, not to go onstage. As a community, we never force anyone to do anything they do not want to; however, in nearly every instance I have found that the ensemble offering loving support, and sometimes literally holding their hand, will eventually encourage them to join. Another method is to empower the group to co-direct. By this point in the process, we are rehearsing the play from start to finish two or three times in each workshop, with a warm-up at the beginning, notes, and a closing

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exercise. We rehearse the scenes relentlessly so that even without a script, everyone knows their lines and can pick up any scene at any point and not miss a beat. Everyone watches the scenes they are not in and can offer notes to one another. In some instances, a particularly adept young participant will ask to take over the direction of a scene, which in my mind is a huge moment of success, as they willingly step into a leadership role among their peers. It is in the performance where the realities of working in prisons can become starkly clear. I have come to final shows to find that an actor cannot perform because of a “consequence,” they were transferred, or, on the positive end, released. In those moments, the ensemble may instinctively panic; instead, we sit down as a group and say, “what’s next?” Often, the participants know more about what is happening than I do; it is yet another disappointment in a place that is filled with them. So, we talk about it: “Who feels like they can jump in and play this role?” We might take a few minutes to talk through changes and, if offered the time, to rehearse a scene or two, but then we go onstage. We do the work. In one case, we could not even have a play, albeit for good reasons. The girls were in the step-down unit, which meant that they were all being imminently released. Each week I would arrive to meet two to three new girls and later would be saying goodbye to another few. By the end of the workshop there was an entirely new cast of characters. So, instead of having a final play, we had a day of “Invited Theatre Games.” The girls who had been in the workshop for several weeks had the opportunity to teach the games to the new girls who, in time, taught them to new people as they arrived. Each girl chose a game to facilitate, and they ran the workshop with their teachers, friends, and even corrections officers as their participants. They were nervous, unpracticed, unsure how to be leaders, but they were learning, and it showed. It was their workshop: Their words and directions were being listened to, appreciated, and valued, and that was the product. In my years of facilitation, I’ve discovered that if we focus on the process and make certain that everyone feels an integral part of the ensemble, then even if the final product isn’t of high artistic quality, the youth can still walk away feeling proud, accomplished, and appreciated. They will have felt heard, and for young people who have been told more or less explicitly that their words don’t matter, this feeling seems vital.

Note 1 See especially pages 51, 120, 139, and 141.

Reference Boal, A. (1992) Games for Actors and Non-Actors. Translated by Adrian Jackson. London: Routledge.

24 Voices beyond bars Art as a means of self-expression for incarcerated youth Joanne Seelig Lamparter

Imagination Stage’s Theatre for Change uses productions and educational workshops to bridge cultural divides, lift up underrepresented voices, and explore complex social justice issues to help build a new generation of compassionate, collaborative children capable of changing their world. Voices Beyond Bars (VBB) is one such program, in partnership with the Montgomery County Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Youth Outreach Network and the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. We work with a group of 15–20 incarcerated young men ages 16–21 weekly, over the course of four months. These young men are in a program called Choices for Change that focuses on pro-social skills. Throughout the course, they work with teaching artists to create plays, write poetry, and perform spoken word. The program culminates in a performance for an audience that includes judges, county council, social workers, and peers. Here, I offer a case study of VBBs’ 2019–2020 program, highlighting how it built bridges between seemingly disparate individuals and communities. Before working at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, the teaching artists for VBB must complete an extensive orientation at the prison. In addition to getting a badge, locating the restrooms, and learning what not to bring into the prison, we were warned not to share too much personal information and emotion with the incarcerated. Theatre, however, is a deeply personal craft; we would be asking the young men to be vulnerable and to take risks. How could we as instructors do this and not share anything in return? While abiding by this directive, we needed to find new approaches. We decided to create a “third-space” (Deasy and Stevenson, 2005) for bonding through games. Each session would begin with a simple “question of the day” posed by one of the teaching artists. My colleagues at HHS call this time círculo or a healing circle, where we can all see each other and respond to a reflective question such as, “What is your greatest strength?” or “What is one wish you have for your future or current child?” The only rule is to listen and be present. While passing was always an option, almost every young man answered each week as the others listened attentively. We quickly realized that the personal information (i.e., where we live, who is in our family, etc.) that the facility cautioned us about sharing is not what

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defines and connects us. Instead, each day we would share a wish, a hope, or perhaps identify someone we’d like to meet. The walls between those of us “from the outside” and those “on the inside” began to drop as the young men not only listened to each other but also commented on common themes. This exercise taught us that while teachers commonly “exalt the power they possess to shape their students’ self- understandings, the reverse is equally true. Students shape teachers’ self-understandings as well” (Nakkula and Toshalis, 2006, p. 13). The círculo helped even out the playing field. An additional challenge in creating group cohesion was strict regulations around touch. Acceptable physical contact is pretty much limited to a tap on the shoulder. However, we discovered that the eyes hold great power, revealing unspoken feelings and uniting us across the physical distance. Simple warm up games became significant; “Zip Zap Zop” holds great weight in a prison because it encourages being present and connected. Participants send energy to another member of the group with a clear gesture and the word “zip;” the recipient responds by gesturing towards another person and exclaiming “zap,” to which they must do the same but using the word “zop.” We play with eliminations for those who “mess up” as the friendly competition increases engagement. The game also allows for laughter, which was stress releasing for the inmates. More importantly, it creates a connection through eye contact, for you cannot win without it. In any other part of the day, the wrong eye contact between peers can result in physical harm, but here, eye contact and human connection were encouraged. Gradually a bond grew: Men from opposing gangs were on the same level and on the same team. Moreover, they were focusing as a group, building a theatre ensemble. Each week we added new layers to Zip Zap Zop, new items to the Question of the Day, and new theatre games that not only taught basic theatrical skills such as projection, blocking, and stage presence, but also encouraged team creativity. We added tableaux (frozen statues created with our bodies to demonstrate a moment from a scene or story), games to encourage objective and action, and storytelling. We didn’t need a set or props; we just needed to be open to finding the commonalities between us and accepting our differences. This group of young men, who are often segregated in prison based on race, were about to become one performing ensemble. As signaled by its name, Voices Beyond Bars attempts to give incarcerated young men the opportunity to express their lived experiences through art. In some programs, incarcerated juveniles perform a play by Shakespeare or other famous playwrights. At Berkeley Rep, where I also worked, inmates wrote their own material, but it was completely fictionalized using Daniel Sklar’s playmaking techniques (2007). This aesthetic distance allowed them to consider alternatives and step outside themselves to imagine a new world. While these approaches teach empathy for others while providing a lens to learn about yourself through another character, yet VBB takes a different stance. Though they have the option to create a character or write from the point of view of someone in their life, these young men write

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self-reflective poems in the first-person. To explore the theme of identity, prompts included “In the world I see … In the world I dream,” “What it’s like to be me,” and “The person I look up to.” The young men experimented with musical beats and explored staging. While the acting games taught them to step into another’s shoes, the ensemble now prepared to create their own work, which required further vulnerability and teamwork. As Judy Tate states, “they are acutely aware that some parts of society despise them” (p. 198). This process enables these young men to face societal judgement and share who they really are with the members of the community and imagine a new future. Many of the facility staff were concerned about the topics the young men were creating. Would this approach be prison appropriate? Would they reenact their crimes? However, as we discovered, their crimes do not define them: When faced with the challenge of creating personal narratives they had much more to share about love, family, and cultural identity. Because the poems seemed so personal, we felt it best that the creators perform their own work, and they had developed the theatrical skills to do so. Sometimes, since collaboration was another goal of the program, poems were pieced together into group or choral poems. While the individual poems were combined by the teaching artists, the staging and reading was up to the young men; they demonstrated that they knew how to creatively stage and divide the work as they cooperated and made dramatic choices in small ensembles. In the small group I worked with, one young man quickly stepped up as director. The ensemble was ready for an audience. Like Judy Tate’s description of Rikers Island, “If the powers-that-be decide people in jail are not worth caring for, their policies will affect when and where you work ... Any punitive measure you can imagine will affect your work, too” (p. 198). To ameliorate this tension, VBB works directly with a correctional specialist who oversees our participants, as well as a caseworker who is present for all sessions. To keep them in the loop, we sent the lesson plans for each week in advance. As time grew, so did a curiosity amongst guards about what we were doing, and there was often a small audience peeking in. A comradery formed between the two teaching artists and guards as they watched the theatre games like a sport—eagerly anticipating who might win or how a poem might be staged. By the day of the performance, the relationship between the young men and the facility staff had shifted. Guards were seemingly committed to the event. “Speak slower.” “I can’t hear you.” “Take the mic this way.” The staff were so invested that during the dress rehearsal we had to gently make sure there was just one director so we could get through it. But this engagement was carefully cultivated; the VBB teachers didn’t bend rules, we didn’t ask for more. We learned the culture of the prison, followed the guidelines, and were consistent with communication. Over time, curiosity and trust developed until correctional specialists were house managers, guards were stage parents, and our caseworker was an assistant director.

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“I feel like this is graduation day,” one young man began his poem. “This is a day I will never forget.” This program is an opportunity for an exchange between “the outside” and “the inside,” to change the perception of these young men so they are seen as more than the crime they committed; to provide a position of power to young people who in the past may have felt powerless. Inviting elected officials, a police officer, prison staff, and placing them in the role of audience, reverses the traditional power dynamic. The person who has been behind bars is now the authorial voice; they have the mic. In one poem entitled “What It’s Like Being Me,” the young artist speaks about his experience as a young Black man in Montgomery County. He declaims, “Local people around might hate to see you win.” By giving these young men the stage, they become the authors of their own lives, telling their truth. The performance was followed by an audience discussion, in which they shared something that will remain with them. In response, the performers shared something that surprised them about performing and then got a chance to ask the audience further questions. That exchange was just as powerful if not more so than the performance because it was a chance for members from inside and outside the prison to have an honest dialogue about the themes in the performance, how they perceive each other, and hopes for the future. To achieve this outcome, we must ensure safety nets for failure and opportunities for risk-taking. Within the multi-purpose room where we met, there were platforms constructed to serve as a stage and chairs placed in a circle for our Question of the Day, creating a sacred space for building trust. During the performance, the directors held copies of the poems if someone got stuck. When a young man was too emotional to finish his poem, a teammate hopped up to support him. A favorite caseworker was in the front row cheering the young men on. In the days leading up to the performance, the teaching artists grew nervous. Could we trust the skills we had built over the past months? Surprisingly, the morning of the performance, I got a call from the caseworker informing me that the young men had created a skit the night before, which they wanted to show the teaching artists and include in the performance. I had no idea what to expect but was intrigued to learn they were engaging theatre in their free time. What they had created was far more sophisticated than we could have designed, combining spoken-word, tableaux, and character work to create a scene using hip hop and poetry. It was self-dramaturged and self-directed. As an ensemble, they demonstrated their agency to use art as self-expression. We currently must think creatively with the performers about how to continue to create art between the bars. Publish this text? Create video performances? A live-streamed event? While such plans are yet to be determined, our work has prepared us to think beyond the literal bars to pursue the most important elements of the program: ownership of narrative, a platform to be heard, and a chance for dialogue.

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References Deasy, R.J. and Stevenson, L.M. (2005) Third Space: When Learning Matters. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership. Nakkula, Michael and Toshalis, Eric (2006) Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Educators. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Sklar, Daniel Judah (2007) Playmaking. New York: Teachers and Writers Collaborative.

Roundtable discussion with Chris Ceraso, Erin R. Kaplan, Joanne Seelig Lamparter, and Judy K. Tate

Chris: Why make theatre with these young people? Judy: Theatre affords you the opportunity to take your place in the world. Erin: There’s a point at which we’re starting to figure out characters and plot and scenes, and I ask: “What do you want to say? You’re going to have other kids from the facility in the audience, you’re going to have your teachers, your corrections officers, sometimes other authority figures who are there.” It’s an empowering moment because, generally, when you’re talking about incarcerated kids, you’re talking about low-income kids of color, and these are people who have been told that their voices don’t really matter. Joanne: There is also that magic of performing, that accomplishment. We saw it happen with our young men recently. Some of their comments after were, “I feel like this is my graduation day,” and “This is a day in my life I’ll always remember.” Judy: Theatre makes you put yourself in somebody’s shoes in a much more concrete and tangible way than if you just talk to somebody and say, “Imagine how they feel.” Erin: If we’re creating a play, we need to think about, “Okay, this is going to happen and then this is going to happen.” You're teaching them how to build a narrative, but also teaching them how to consider the long-term consequences of their actions. Judy: Last year we brought some people in and talked about the adolescent brain, how there aren’t pathways yet laid down for them to understand consequence—cause and effect—as well as they might after they’re twenty-eight. That’s drama: cause and effect, right? And this one guy said, “Oh, man. If I had known about this a few years ago, I wouldn’t have gotten arrested.” Erin: I do conflict scenes, especially if I’m working with middle school students. They have thirty seconds to come up with an everyday conflict, and they have to act it out for two minutes without solving it. And without fail, there is somebody who shoots their scene partner fifteen seconds in. “Okay, what are you gonna do for the next minute forty-five seconds? This has to continue; this goes somewhere!”

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Joanne: It’s also understanding how to get others to see your viewpoint in a creative way. If it’s built in a creative way rather than if I just tell you, “This is what you should think of me,” then it touches the mind and heart. Erin: There’s also learning when to step forward and take space in a group and when to step back, and how to work with someone you don’t like, how to support somebody who’s struggling, how to ask for help, how to listen to other people, and how to assert yourself so that your voice is heard. Chris: Judy, you work in an upscale professional theatre with these young men. Judy: It’s a far cry from Rikers. There are things that are amazing and different, and things that are the same. We’ve gotten to show night—they’re ready to perform, then we learn a police van has come by and picked up one of our guys, taken him to the police station and won’t let him go! Then suddenly there’s nobody for that person’s part. But I found that because we have a strong ensemble building process, everybody else knows everybody’s part. Chris: Erin, your venue is a big open room inside the prison? Erin: Sometimes there’s a theatre or sometimes it’s actually in the church space with an elevated stage. I have done performances in quadruple gymnasiums, and you can’t hear anything. So, we create paper programs and list what’s happening: “This is what’s happening because you’re not going to be able to hear our actors.” Joanne: Our space is technically used as a gym, but it’s a multi-purpose room. We put up stage platforms, and then they are very excited. And I may bring a fancy sound system that sometimes works. Judy: Joanne, you said that your performers ask the audience questions. I found that fascinating. Joanne: For us, a big goal was for the young people to have a finished product and to experience being performers, but also to understand and take in the reactions from the audience. We had an hour show and their performance was probably twenty minutes. For some of the young men and for some of our audience members, it was their first time ever interacting with each other. We facilitated a simple but guided conversation. It opened up a dialogue and a chance for exchange. Erin: By telling each other our stories we all humanize each other. Everybody becomes better for having created the play, seeing the play, and then talking about the play. Getting back to the original question, “Why theatre?” How many other things can allow you to do that? Judy: There are so many parts to theatre: there’s the storytelling; there’s the writing down—if you can do that—the figuring out how to capture people’s stories if they are illiterate; there’s the performing of it; there’s the devising of it. So many aspects that build slightly different skills. So often the kids are low literacy, and what I’ve taken to doing in Stargate is taking my phone and capturing them when they improv. Erin: We can’t bring phones into the facility. At high security facilities, if I lose a pen cap, I’m not leaving the space. So, if you bring in ten pieces

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of paper and pens, you have to come out with ten pieces of paper. But they don’t look at what’s on the paper. So, if people want notes from the workshop that we did last week, I say please bring a blank piece of paper to the workshop. I can give you the paper from last week with the notes. You give me the blank paper so I can make new notes. And when I go out, they see ten pieces of paper as on the manifesto. Chris: Is it a school community inside the prison? Erin: All juvenile facilities have schools within them, because the kids are required to go to school, but my work is extracurricular. Kids sign up and then they have to meet certain behavioral standards. Chris: Joanne? Joanne: The young men that we work with are part of an existing program called “Choices for Change.” It’s a therapeutic program within the prison. We go in as part of their regular “talk therapy” session. We do some fun game to keep it kind of light, but we also say what the expectations are going to be. And then from there, they can sign up. All that Erin was speaking of is absolutely happening, and we have to be very careful, but we do have the luxury of a case worker with buy-in. She wants them to be seen in a great light, and so is reviewing the notes with them, passing back their poems, putting in extra hours. Judy: “You can’t bring extra paper, and you can’t lose a pen, and you can’t …”—same way when I went to Rikers. But these guys come out and they’re in our theatre, and they’re learning trust—I'm talking about the trust that you get from a concerted effort on a project. And we have never had anybody try to cut anybody. We never had anybody try to physically get violent with anybody. We’ve never had any theft. Never. Erin: When you treat people like criminals, especially young people, they’re like, “Well, if I’m a criminal, I might as well be a criminal.” And if you treat them as artists and adults and thinkers whose words are valued, then they rise to that challenge. Judy: I had somebody write a cause-and-effect poem about that: “Because I wear a hoodie, you thought I was a gangster; because you thought I was a gangster …” and it goes on. We allow them to be perceived in a way that they would like to be perceived and is possibly truer. Chris: What ethical standards apply in your work here? Joanne: The type of permissions around work created by a young person is something that’s coming up a lot, and being cognizant, if anything is shared outside the workshops, of not sharing a last name. Erin: It’s hard when you have that performance high, and then you’re never going to see them again. You can’t write to them, and you can’t know their last names. Joanne: One of our teaching artists very much wants to be able to hire some of the young men that we work with when they’re released, and stay in touch, and that’s something that we’re not able to do.

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Erin: You spend twenty weeks working with this group. And then you say “bye,” and it is a final bye. It’s incredibly emotional and it’s really hard, and then they tell you that you can’t hug them. Joanne: I think preparing other teaching artists for that is important. Judy: I don’t have some of those constraints. My guys sign a contract when they come in, and they get a choice: If they don’t want themselves known, they get to decide how they’re going to identify themselves by first name, initials, and last names. Erin: Also, I always perform. We’re asking these people who don’t know us to be vulnerable, and so we have to do the same thing. So any activity that we do, I’m doing it. Especially when I’m working with boys and men, it’s important to confront some stereotypes of women that come up. I consider myself to be a queer feminist educator. And if I’m going to be on stage, I’m like, “I’m not playing the girlfriend like that. I'm not playing the mom like that.” Judy: I will get up and improv with them, sometimes, but we’ve got so many guys that just want to do it themselves. One of our coolest, most dominant guys was very confident in himself, and identified widely on the sexual spectrum. He would dress up and put on scarves, and because he was this alpha cool guy, we have never had any problem with men playing moms. Have you noticed that the homophobia over the past seven to ten years has decreased every year? Erin: Oh yeah, absolutely. Judy: We’ve had feminine-presenting young men for years. And then last year, we had someone who identified as a young man but was femininepresenting yet preferred to be “they/theirs.” They weren’t necessarily transitioning, but just had a completely different affect than anybody else. Erin: I’ve been doing this for sixteen years. When I was nineteen, we didn’t go around and say our gender pronouns. But now we do, and 90% of the people in the room know what it means. Judy: I have two questions. One is about the difference in working with incarcerated men and women. Two: there’s a certain amount of bridging that I don’t have to do as a Black woman with Black and brown kids in my room; as white women, how do you deal with and bridge that gap? Erin: I have less authority in the space as a facilitator with adult men. I put together an outline. I want to do these activities, and I want to work on these things. But I’m like, “Great. You run the workshop. I’m just a participant today.” You can’t do that with the kids. And corrections officers tend to be a little more intense, shall we say, in the men’s prisons, especially when you’re a young woman coming in. Joanne: I find the young men to be a bit more open, and I'm not sure why that is, but I think the young men play a little bit more than the young women … just a personal observation. Erin: To your second question about being a white woman, I try to own my privilege, especially with kids. They see through bullshit, and I’m not

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like, “Goodness, well, I'm colorblind.” When we talk about systems of oppression, I own that I am an oppressor because I am white, and I am also oppressed because I am female. We have intersecting identities. I try to let them know that I am aware of my privilege, and I am doing my best to use it for good. Joanne: I do a lot of listening and let my colleague, an African American male, take on more of the leadership in the facilitation. I take on the aspects of communicating with the staff at the facility and getting ready for the performance and doing a lot more one-on-one when we’re writing. We have another facilitator who’s been incarcerated himself. Going back into the prison with him has been a powerful thing. So, I also let him take on a lot more. Chris: One last question. What does that word “empowerment” mean for these particular young people? Joanne: I think it’s to have control over their narrative, to tell their own story. Judy: To understand and own your own thoughts and behavior, and your language. There’s power in that. Erin: I think it’s about owning and valuing your voice, and your ideas and your story, and knowing that there are other people who are going to hear it and evaluate it as well. Chris: Thank you.

Part 9

Igniting activism Performance and protest with youth

25 Young Women’s Voices for Climate Beth Osnes, Sarah Fahmy, Chelsea Hackett, and Lianna Nixon

“If a dove is the symbol of peace, then a butterfly is the symbol of change,” declared sixteen-year-old Finella Guy through a megaphone at the Climate Strike on the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder campus on September 20, 2019. Ting Lester, costumed as a huge Blue Morpho butterfly, stood by, embodying the commitment to transformational change needed for international policies and choices to reverse global warming. Finny and Ting are a part of Young Women’s Voices for Climate, a group of nine middle- and highschool-aged women in Boulder, Colorado (also including Eliza Anderson, Lola D’Onofrio, Olympia Kristl, Uli Miller, Lerato Osnes, Leela Stoede, and Sofie Wendell), along with several CU students, including Sarah Fahmy (PhD theatre), Lianna Nixon (MA education), and Jeneé LeBlanc (BS environmental studies). Young Women’s Voices for Climate uses performance-based methods to speak out and act up for a stable climate. United by a partnership between SPEAK, an initiative for young women’s vocal empowerment for civic engagement, and CU’s Inside the Greenhouse, which focuses on creative climate communication, our mission is to advance climate awareness and action through artistic expression. This group has significantly contributed to bringing performative delight, youth perspectives, and actionable solutions to community climate events. This work is nourished by the positivity of play experienced and expressed through performance. Our approach has brought us increased connection to the natural world, to each other, and to our community. The primary facilitators for this group are CU Associate Professor of Theatre & Environmental Studies, Beth Osnes, co-founder of both Inside the Greenhouse and SPEAK, and Chelsea Hackett, recent PhD graduate of New York University and co-founder and director of SPEAK. For over six years, Chelsea and Beth have been developing the use of performance-based methods to support young Guatemalan women in empowering their voices for civic participation in partnership with a female Maya-run Guatemalan organization and school, MAIA Impact. This collaborative work culminated in the creation of a twelve-session curriculum for young women. SPEAK’s approach combines vocal training and theatrical methods to support young women in empowering their voices for self and civic advocacy (see Osnes et al., 2019b). Chelsea

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and Beth continue to work closely with MAIA to create vocal empowerment curricula for each of the subsequent five grades of their school. This introductory curriculum has been implemented in Guatemala and Tanzania by local community leaders trained by Beth and Chelsea; in Egypt directly by Sarah; and in Boulder directly by all three of us (with Lianna and Jeneé) as a weekly afterschool offering for middle and high schoolers near CU. After completing the initial curriculum in the Fall of 2017, the Boulder group expressed the desire to keep meeting together with a specific focus on climate change, referring to ourselves as Young Women’s Voices for Climate (YWVC). We began to form an identity as a local source of positive creative force in Boulder City’s ambitious work on its climate action plan. Our work has been infused with new energy amid the surge of youth activism on climate by individuals such as Greta Thunberg and groups such as the Boulder-based Earth Guardians. Boulder is an international leader in developing climate policies and programs through involvement in initiatives such as the Rockefeller Foundation 100 Resilient Cities and the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance. CU is a leading university in publications, citations, and grants in environmental science. Nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, we are among numerous national labs, such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, that make this area an international hub for climate science, all of which serves as the context for our work. Our target community for SPEAK is anyone who identifies as a young woman, whether assigned female at birth or not. This group focuses on women because of the injustice and inequity still experienced by those identifying as women and the need to counter the absence of women’s voices contributing to so many sectors of our lives, policies, and culture. There is a strong tie between challenges faced by women and challenges associated with climate change, stemming from the same patriarchal domination and exploitation that has presided over women and the natural environment (Shiva, 1989; Osnes, 2014, p. 13; 32). In the book Powered by Girl: A Field Guide for Supporting Youth Activists, Lyn Mikel Brown suggests that adults work with youth to “understand and invest in the conditions that support and enable them to connect with one another, voice strong feelings and opinions, think critically, oppose injustice, and grapple with the culture of power” (2016, p. 10). In particular, “Encouraging girls’ strong feelings and taking seriously their social critique invite them to participate in the social and political world around them, a radical act with potentially transformative consequences” (Brown, 1999, p. xii). While the target community for YWVC is most directly our own city, Boulder, the young women regularly add their voices to women’s rights and climate-related actions at the national and international level. For example, they contributed to the Girls Bill of Rights campaign by She’s the First, wrote personalized messages to encourage citizens to vote through Vote Forward, and contributed public comments opposing a national proposal for roads to be built through Alaska’s national forests, which would disrupt the lives of nearby

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Indigenous communities. Supporting others’ campaigns helps us understand the scope of this issue and the multiple creative ways in which voices can be joined to impact change. One of our community’s needs is to discover effective methods for encouraging and implementing youth engagement with our city’s climate action plan. Beth worked with the City of Boulder and other cities around the world participating in the 100 Resilient Cities Initiative to use performance-based methods for young people to be supported in co-authoring local solutions to climate and resilience challenges. She did this through a musical she created and toured called Shine (Osnes, 2017). As a part of that work over the past five years, she made many local connections and partnerships that have led to performance opportunities for YWVC. Research reveals the importance of actively involving adolescents while they are still relatively young regarding climate-related issues, since pessimism about addressing climate change increases with age, particularly from early to late adolescence (Ojala, 2012; Stevenson and Peterson, 2016). We are interested in exploring how creative expression can support youth in maintaining their feelings of hope for sustained action. Performance-based methods are uniquely well-suited to this need since they give a context for exploring emotions and are rooted in action. It is only with hope, the belief that what you do can make a difference, that sustained action makes sense. Our use of good-natured comedy, inherent in many of our songs and skits, has been shown to help young people process negative emotions associated with climate change, feed hope, and sustain engagement with climate (Osnes et al., 2019a). In the book Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, author adrienne maree brown introduces something she calls “pleasure activism,” a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work (brown, 2019). Our approach is certainly in line with this sentiment. By taking on this issue with humor and creativity, these young women do not make light of the importance of the issue; they bring light to it for themselves and their audiences. Our first public-facing event in 2018 was at a talk at CU’s Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Complex by the Swedish psychologist Dr. Maria Ojala, who specializes in youth, hope, and climate change. Invited to perform, the young women chose to do their own take on the song “What’s Climate Got to Do with It?” based on Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to do with It?” The chorus was rewritten as “What’s climate got to do, got to do with it? What’s climate but a long-term view of weather? What’s climate got to do with it, got to do with it? Conditions prevailing for over a long time.” The laughter induced by the song created an audible and amicable connection with the audience. Starting with singing and dancing together aided in claiming the space and fortifying their voices for what followed: individual minute-long declarations by each young woman about her perspective on the climate crisis. Their presence at this event ensured that young people were not just being talked about, but, rather, were also being represented and heard. Here we

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developed a formula of using humor to create a shared and lively connection between the youth performers and their mostly adult audience, followed by personal sharings of youth perspectives on climate through which they were able to address a serious issue and be taken seriously by adults—notably ones who have power to effect change. Over the summer of 2019, Young Women’s Voices for Climate was invited to perform for a Boulder City Council meeting by Boulder’s senior environmental planners to convey their perspective on why the council should approve the request to revise our city’s climate action plan. The young women met with the staff at the city environmental planning office to discuss why a revision to our current plan was needed. Seated around the conference table with the staff, they shared their views, asked questions, and discussed their fiveminute portion of the presentation for the city council. Afterwards, the young women acknowledged that it felt legitimizing to literally have a seat at the table where city decisions are being made and to have their contributions sought out and valued. In the council chambers, their performance provided a rare fun occurrence that was greeted by smiles and encouraging applause by the city leaders: They performed their own version of “Wind Turbines are Beautiful” (set to The Lion King’s song, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”) with two of them costumed as wind turbines. Our creative work is guided by the work of Project Drawdown that researched and ordered the impact of the top one hundred climate solutions (Hawken, 2017). Although their use of comic skits and songs can seem frivolous, they physicalize the science behind top environmental solutions as identified by Project Drawdown (Wind Turbines are the #2 solution) and cleverly demonstrate how to activate solutions locally. Promoting wind turbines as a thing of beauty is an appropriate local action since one of the major obstacles to wind turbine development is people’s impressions of them as an eyesore. After the song, each young woman relayed a particular issue related to climate change to which they felt personally connected, such as recycling, girl’s education, access to family planning, and environmental education. A similar result occurred when YWVC was invited by Boulder environmental planners to perform at the Boulder City sponsored Climate Mobilization Action Plan Launch event in September 2019. With over two hundred people in attendance, they depicted the top five Drawdown solutions. To dramatize number five, Tropical Forests, they enacted a skit and a song created by group members Ting and Uli, featuring one young woman costumed as an old-growth tree who recoils in terror when she notices an explorer in her forest. The explorer tries to defend herself as a non-destructive human. The tree accuses her of clearing the forest to raise cattle, to which she retorts that she is a vegetarian. The tree accuses her of clearing the forest to make furniture, to which she retorts that she only buys repurposed furniture. The tree accuses her of wiping her butt, to which she admits that she does actually wipe her butt many times a day after using the toilet. The tree then suggests she recycle her toilet paper, to which the explorer responds, “That’s disgusting.” The

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tree responds, “No, buy recycled toilet paper.” At this, two costumed rolls of recycled toilet paper enter along with the rest of the ensemble to join the tree and the explorer in performing a spirited song and dance featuring the chorus “Recycled toilet paper, make sure you buy, Recycled toilet paper, make sure you buy, take from the roll to the tush and then you flush, bye bye.” Perhaps the fun, creative energy behind YWVC accounts for its appeal; besides the panel of city departmental heads, YWVC was the only group asked to present at this event. All others were invited to have a table in the lobby to share their work. Given this honor, it seems that the previous YWVC performance for City Council had been commended as a way to include youth voices and infuse positive, research-based solutions-oriented expression into our city’s climate action planning. The sense of optimism and agency has fortified the young women’s ability to tackle more substantial form and content. In November of 2019 at the Old Main theatre at CU, our group produced our first free-standing event: Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA), a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented biennially to coincide with the United Nations Conference of the Parties, or COP, which took place in 2019 in Madrid. YWVC performed two short plays focused on gender and climate change, led attendees in a creative process of their own expression on various climate-related issues, and received advice on how to use their empowered voices from female Boulder leaders, including the mayor. Sarah took the lead on our collaboration with CCTA, and in the months preceding, read all fifty plays in the collection and chose the two that focused on women and climate. The first play was entitled The Butterfly That Persisted by Jordanian playwright, Lana Nasser. This was a challenging piece due to both the subject matter and the poetic language. The group had never performed anything that carried as much emotional weight as this play, which dramatizes an intense conversation between humanity and the Earth. The tone and content unleashed a new maturity amongst the group. Sarah consulted with the members in the choice to perform it as an ensemble piece. Guided by the playwright’s notes on contrasting lyrical and reactive voices, they decided to divide the performers into two groups: seven representing voices of the Earth’s elements and three performers representing the human. This more challenging material compelled members to wrestle with collective decisions about casting and staging. We had a couple of read-throughs to define certain terms, as well as group and individual script analysis sessions. After much deliberation, the young women decided not to censor any of the words, including the line: “I am here under your feet. I am the body you raped and raped and raped; strong words you don’t like to hear” (Nasser, 2019). The adult leaders had wondered if it was appropriate to expect a minor to say this line and if it would be too shocking for the audience to hear it delivered by a young woman. After much discussion, the young women decided that the line was accurate to what actually happens to women their age and to the Earth, such that one of them should say it, and the audience should be

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forced to confront the truth of the line. As they struggled with some of the abstract, poetic language, we did a variety of movement exercises based on poetic imagery, such as flocking, in which the group stands in a clump all facing the same direction. Everyone mimics the movements of the most front person, like birds in flight all following the lead bird. When that person turns the direction of the group, they shift leadership of the movement to the new person in front. Exercises such as this engaged different senses and extra-human physicalities to help them get into character. Each of the three “human” characters developed unique identities and backstories. This helped the performers delve into creating multi-dimensional characters. We also created the illusion that the “elemental voices” could be heard by the humans but not seen, increasing the rhythmic ebb and flow of their language and the human’s abrupt reactions. While a staged reading with limited production elements, the play’s themes were clearly delineated. Simple costumes distinguished the human and elemental voices. The humans stood center stage, surrounded by the elemental voices to indicate the plea by nature to humanity to wake up and care for the Earth. The young women’s ability to handle such material was also due to the relationship YWVC consciously cultivates with the natural world. A few weeks before the performance, we all went on a weekend retreat near Estes Park. We rehearsed for hours in a clearing outside our cabin on a rare, warm fall day with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains behind us. The smell of the pine-scented air, hair tossed by the breeze, and the earth beneath our feet, all became intertwined with our understanding of the play; being immersed in nature aided the process and deepened their connection to the content. Lianna created a three-minute video that we screened directly before their performance that shared photos and footage of the young women rehearsing in this natural setting, which helped the audience understand how immersion in nature featured into the artistic process. The group’s development has not only impacted the young participants but also the adult leaders. For Sarah, who served as the primary director for The Butterfly That Persisted and is an Arab woman, this play was particularly special. It was the first play she’d worked on where the playwright’s identity reflected her own. She found it heartwarming to feel represented, let alone in a positive light, which she found to be a rarity in the theatrical canon. The guidance from the book Powered by Girl: A Field Guide for Supporting Youth Activists helped us to more accurately label what we are doing as, not youth-led, but rather intergenerational support and celebration of young women’s voices. Claiming this description helps our work benefit from the needs, contributions, perspectives, and genius of the young women but also to benefit from the experience, connections, and vision of the women. We continue to balance room for voice and choice by the young women as we co-plan and co-guide our public offerings and involve the young women in many aspects of the work, such as how to promote an event or edit the videos created to support our performances.

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While such expansion is exciting, one of our biggest challenges is insufficient time, given the young women’s busy schedules, to meet and rehearse all that we want to achieve. Given that we formed this group to support the young women in empowering their voices, allowing time for all to express their ideas and opinions is of primary importance. Consequently, some of our performances are a bit rougher around the edges than we might like, but the fun experience and positive impact is solid. In one of our feedback sessions with our group, some of the young women said they felt stress “back stage” and frustration, especially at the performance at the Climate Mobilization Action Plan Launch, where we were given multiple conflicting notifications as to when we would be performing and for how long. However, another noted that those tense situations taught them that they can be flexible and responsive to the changing needs of their partners. As someone stated, “but we pulled it off, and the audience loved it.” In the conversation that followed, they decided that they did want to try and rehearse more, as we had for The Butterfly That Persisted, but acknowledged that these rocky experiences did help them become more resilient, able to improvise, and confident. We also noted that a fair amount of disorganization is often associated with community organized events at which we are invited to perform, and it is helpful to be prepared to adjust accordingly. After a year and a half of doing YWVC, we now have an impressive collection of songs, skits, declarations, costumes, and interactive performance-based activities that the young women can perform and facilitate. As opportunities arise, together we can design public offerings using, in part, these various elements to invigorate and inspire our community to activate climate solutions. This experience has also helped the young women cultivate organizational skills for event planning. One of the members of the group, Lerato, is also a member of the Youth Advisory Counsel for Congressman Joe Neguse and arranged for YWVC to perform for our congressional district Youth Summit in the Spring of 2020. Due to Lerato’s skills learned from our many events, she was a primary contributor to the planning for this performance event. YWVC members are also utilizing skills in curating public-facing expressions on climate. They were chosen to be the 2020 climate artist-activist in residence at the Boulder Public Library and are themselves taking the lead in curating a gallery exhibit. The exhibit will feature enlarged photos of their many actions, videos of their songs and skits, costumes they have created, other interactive elements, and their actual plant-rich recipes for the dishes they have cooked at our many retreats. In addition, two young women from our group, along with Chelsea and Beth, will be partnering with MAIA Impact on a 2020 retreat at a nature reserve near Sololá, Guatemala to share some of the performance-based approaches our group has developed for a gender-aware approach to climate action. This will contribute towards the co-creation of the tenth-grade curriculum for MAIA Impact based on voice and climate action in a manner that is culturally responsive to their unique context and aims.

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In addition to the connections made with our community and the natural world through our artistic process, one of the most powerful results of this work has been the strong connection with one another. Over our internet group text, we cheer each other’s birthdays, comfort each other’s hardships, organize for events, and check in on each other. We all look forward to our weekend mountain retreats each semester with great anticipation and excitement.The young women do all the planning and cooking for our mostly plantbased meals (Drawdown solution #4 is plant-rich diet). At our weekly sessions, we maintain and vitalize this community dedicated to vocal empowerment by doing vocal and physical exercises to strengthen our voices, rehearse, goof around, and author a sparkling new story for a bright future for all. We end this essay with words from the young women as to what this group means to them. Finella shares that “vocal empowerment is a group of cool, like-minded young women doing cool and empowering activities to further their voices and share their ideas in the community.” Eliza feels that “this group is an incredible community; it’s a family and a safe space—there is so much love as we work together.” Lerato expresses, “Being a part of this group has been one of the greatest, most empowering and wonderful experiences that I have been a part of in high school. Being a part of this group also means supporting one another as women and building each other up.” In closing, Ting adds, “I have grown so much not only in my voice, but as a person—not letting the limits of society get in the way. I know that sounds cheesy, but sometimes a bit of cheese is good for you. It has protein.”

References brown, a.m. (2019) Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good. Chico, CA: AK Press. Brown, L.M. (1999) Raising Their Voices: The Politics of Girls’ Anger. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Brown, L.M. (2016) Powered by Girl: A Field Guide for Supporting Youth Activists. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Hawken, P. (2017) Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. London: Penguin Books. Nasser, L. (2019) The Butterfly That Persisted. New York: Climate Change Theatre Action. Ojala, M. (2012) “Regulating Worry, Promoting Hope: How Do Children, Adolescents, and Youth Adults Cope with Climate Change?” Int. J. Environ. Sci. Educ. (7), pp. 537–561. Osnes, B. (2014) Theatre for Women’s Participation in Sustainable Development. New York: Routledge. Osnes, B. (2017) Performance for Resilience: Engaging Youth on Energy and Climate through Music, Movement, and Theatre. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave MacMillan. Springer International Publishing. Osnes, B., Boykoff, M.T., and Chandler, P. (2019a) “Good Natured Comedy to Enrich Climate Communication” Comedy Stud. (10), pp. 224–236. https://doi​.org​/10​.1080​ /2040610X​.2019​.1623513. Osnes, B. et al. (2019b) “Vocal Empowerment Curriculum for Young Maya Guatemalan Women.” Theatre Dance Perform. Train. (10), pp. 313–331.

Young Women’s Voices for Climate  231 Shiva, V. (1989) Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development. London: Zed Books. Stevenson, K. and Peterson, N. (2016) “Motivating Climate Action through Fostering Climate Change Hope and Concern and Avoiding Despair among Adolescents.” Sustainability (8), pp. 1–10.

26 The voters are coming Moment Work and the national #HereToo Project Barbara Pitts McAdams

In “Young Women’s Voices for Climate,” Beth Osnes and collaborators describe how they work with teenage girls to help them “address a serious issue and be taken seriously by adults—notably ones who have power to effect change” (p. 226). I would add that while adult policy-makers may currently hold such power, sustained activism must begin with our youth because they are the voters of tomorrow. My recent youth-centered devising project is #HereToo: Stories of Activism, Stories of Gun Violence. This project was inspired by the surge in youth activism following the Parkland, Florida school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School on February 14, 2018, which galvanized around the March 26, 2018 March for Our Lives (MFOL) rallies. In his speech at the Washington, DC march, MSD theatre student Cameron Casky, proclaimed, “Politicians, either represent the people or get out. Stand for us or beware: The voters are coming” (Qtd. in Epstein and Amenabar, 2018). As this generation turns eighteen,1 they are poised to become a decisive voting bloc. According to Census​.go​v, among 18–29-year-olds, voter turnout went from 20% in 2014 to 36% in 2018, a 79% jump (Misra, 2019). The voters are coming. Theatre with social change objectives, like that of Osnes and her colleagues, is an essential way to enfranchise young people to engage in public policy. This merger between theatre and activism begs the questions: Is the primary goal to empower the theatre-makers, ensuring everyone gets equal stage-time and creative input? Or does process and co-intentionality take a back seat to create a dramaturgically sound and theatrically compelling production? These are the queries that have guided the development of the #HereToo Project. My adult collaborators (fellow Tectonic Theater Project company member Jimmy Maize, project associate Rich Brown of Western Washington University, and project dramaturg Jeanmarie Higgins of Penn State University) and I posed a formal question: How can we provide plot structure and content at the outset of a student devising process and still allow student-driven content and exploration of form to feel central? At Tectonic, we would call this a formal “hunch,” or inquiry about the “how” of the explorations. We also enter the room with a “hunch” about content. These hunches are what give one a burning desire to get into the rehearsal room.

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The #HereToo Project amplifies young activists’ voices through performance, with a two-pronged approach. We: 1) gather stories from youth activists and survivors of gun violence; 2) archive and share these stories with theatre-makers who, in turn, make their own devised #HereToo plays about gun culture and activism, as it impacts their own communities. As Jimmy and I initially explored the hunch, we realized the stories of the MSD shooting survivor-activists already had been documented in several mediums. We saw an opportunity to amplify the voices of lesser-known activists around the country: gun violence and a youth activist response—it happens here, too. And since many of the regional activists’ journeys began with the school walkouts after the MSD shooting, #HereToo productions could utilize the events of the MFOL’s movement as a plot structure. This creates a customizable framework, allowing each iteration of #HereToo to include local content, generated by participating students. For example, in our two pilot residencies at colleges: #HereToo-WWU from Bellingham, WA highlights tribal gun violence and prevention initiatives. It also tells the story of Maggie, a survivor of a local mall shooting who, motivated by the March for Our Lives activists, created a local teen gun-sense action group. #HereToo-Penn State highlights the experience of its international students as they confront their fears about America’s gun violence epidemic. This version also depicts the emotional resonance of growing up in a positive gun culture of family hunting trips. By sharing the voices of youth around the country grappling with this issue on local, regional, or national levels, student devisers and audiences can find relatable and aspirational role models for their own engagement. My interest in devising theatre for social change was concretized by my work as an actor/dramaturg in Tectonic Theater Project’s The Laramie Project (premiere 2000). Twenty years later, The Laramie Project has been widely produced by high school theatre departments across the country.2 As a Tectonic teaching artist, I have attended numerous high school productions, participated in talk backs, and often lead devising workshops. It is heartening to see how young people respond to both the content and theatrical forms of the play. I often ask the students, “Why do you think this play has remained so relevant?” Here are a few common responses (paraphrased): •• Hate crimes based on sexual-orientation still happen today. •• Now there is more acceptance around being gay, but trans people and people of color are still targeted. •• It’s powerful to see things like the “Angel Action” in the play, a protest that blocks the hate mongering signs at Shepherd’s funeral. •• The play tries to show all sides. •• The play uses real people’s words.

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Figure 26.1 Kendra Tamär Budd sharing the experience of Texas activist Selina organizing the vigil after the Santa Fe, Texas, shooting in 2018. #HereToo-WWU. November 2019. Photo by Rachel Bayne.

These last two comments in particular seem to be at the heart of why The Laramie Project captivates young people. Portraying the “real people” of Laramie, they feel a responsibility to honor Laramie Catholic Priest Father Roger’s call to “say it right,” since words can be the seeds of hate (Kaufman et al., 2001, p. 66). This is an achievable call to action to which young people can universally relate. And because the play gives voice to “all sides,” Laramie avoids the trap of many issue-driven works that feel didactic. Laramie is well-structured and dramatically compelling; students intuitively connect to Laramie’s complex narrative with a strong story arc. Formally speaking, Laramie is theatrically compelling because it was created through a devising process called Moment Work, the technique created with my colleagues at Tectonic Theater Project. Here is a brief description:3 Moment Work™ explores the theatrical potential of all the elements of the stage (props, sound, architecture, lights, costume, etc.) in order to create strong theatrical and dramatic narratives. The technique is our attempt to create theatrical narratives from the ground up—in other words, to “write performance” as opposed to “writing text.” ... Company members are encouraged to dream about the material they find compelling in a theatrical setting. Moment Work™ gives us the freedom to create individual, self-contained theatrical units (Moments) and then sequence these units

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together into theatrical phrases or sentences that will eventually become a play. (Tec​toni​cthe​ater​project​​.org, 2018) This process, however, takes time. The challenge when devising new work becomes how to give students a meaningful Laramie-like experience with limited time and resources and still come away with a play that feels theatrical and narratively satisfying. In 2016, for example, I attempted to devise a play with Moment Work at Kimball Union Academy (KUA) in Meriden, NH. Students’ concerns were all over the map: sexual harassment and assault, bullying, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and even suicide. How to honor the students’ desire to delve into these heavy and triggering topics when rehearsals were limited to a few hours every day after school and a few short class periods throughout the week? Ultimately, we created a play called The Incident. To give it an authentic voice, I incorporated student writing into the dialogue and a student-written rap for a party scene that sets up the play’s exposition. We devised much of the movement, and I was able to create characters based on Moments the students made. However, it was not really a student-devised play, as there wasn’t enough time to address dramaturgical concepts; to meet deadlines, I had to work around the clock, more like a playwright in-residence. This 2016 experience at KUA significantly influenced the evolution of #HereToo. Devising a successful production within the traditional parameters would require a much stronger “hunch” and a head start with content. My #HereToo co-creator Jimmy Maize and I worked with college students at WWU and Penn State respectively to beta-test our new approach: Students began making “Moments,” from interview material provided by us, while they also interviewed local activists and gun violence survivors to generate local content. This new content was then added to the national #HereToo opensource database, giving students the opportunity to contribute to a project on a national scale. Students only need to generate a portion of the play’s content because they are provided with an open-source database (previous script iterations of #HereToo, interview source material, projections, and other media). The project thus gives students the chance to co-create without the pressure of constructing an entirely new play. The #HereToo Project open-source portal is under construction. Dramaturg Jeanmarie Higgins is creating a taxonomy to codify the interviews, and we have a commitment from Penn State’s library to archive the materials. An end-user might search topics such as mental health, queer, Black Lives Matter, MFOL, NRA, voting, or legislation. Searching “queer,” they might discover Alexis from Oregon who identifies as Jewish and trans (all interviewees are identified only by first name and have the option of being anonymous). Alexis led their high school’s walkouts after the MSD shooting. Now Alexis takes this leadership and activist experience into their daily life at college, practicing what they call “covert resistance” (which might simply mean being visible as a queer

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Figure 26.2 Brian Bond and Junhong Fei re-work “Moments” in rehearsal for #HereTooPenn State. November 2019. Photo: Cody Goddard.

person, making it possible for someone else to feel safe). Another search might include the topic “Second Amendment,” and lead to interviewee Aidan, a Penn State student and Second Amendment absolutist, who proposed an opencarry demonstration at Penn State in protest of a campus sponsored event with MFOL’s David Hogg. A third search under “lobbying” or “legislation” might lead to interviews about Red Flag Laws, such as Selina in Texas, who teaches fellow students how to attend and speak up in the state legislature. The database will continue to expand as new interviews and #HereToo scripts are uploaded. Now that we have a few college iterations to draw upon, I am preparing another residency at Kimball Union Academy to create #HereToo-KUA. Returning with #HereToo is a perfect place to test the customizable structure on the high school level. Tectonic’s mission is to investigate new theatrical forms. The content of The Laramie Project was whittled from hundreds of hours of interview material into a definitive three-act play. But with #HereToo, we acknowledge that many narratives exist in our nations’ ongoing struggle with guns, and we want to make space for communities to weave in their stories. A “new form” has emerged from this open-source and from the sharing of content, allowing for each iteration to morph according to students’ generative input.

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Parissa Ballard, assistant professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest, found that “having meaningful opportunities to volunteer or be involved in activism may change how young people think about themselves or their possibilities for the future” (Damour, 2018). Having the responsibility of researching, interviewing, and interacting with the site, gives high schoolers a stake in the project’s outcome, and hopefully, having ownership over the artistic material gives them a sense of agency to act in the public arena. Research also shows that “during the teen years, kids develop a strong and stable sense of self … [they’re] in effect, hunting for causes to care about” (Moyer, 2019). Projects like #HereToo prime the voters of tomorrow, so they will be inspired to mobilize when their moment arises.

Notes 1 The legal age to vote in the US. 2 Dramatist Play Service data suggests there were over 2070 productions of The Laramie Project between 2000–2018. 3 See Moment Work:Tectonic Theater Project’s Process of Devising Theater (which I co-authored) for a detailed description and history of Moment Work.

References Damour, L. (2018) “Why Demonstrating is Good for Kids,” New York Times. 12 March. Accessed 2 June 2020. https://www​.nytimes​.com​/2018​/03​/12​/well​/family​/whydemonstrating​-is​-good​-for​-kids​​.html. Epstein, K. and Amenabar, T. (2018) “The 6 Most Memorable Speeches at the March for Our Lives in D.C.” Washington Post. Accessed 2 June 2020. https://www​.washingtonpost​ .com​/news​/local​/wp​/2018​/03​/24​/the​-6​-most​-memorable​-speeches​-at​-the​-march​-for​ -our​-lives​-in​-d​-c/. Kaufman, Moisés et al. (2001) The Laramie Project. New York: Vintage Books. Misra, J. (2019) “Behind the 2018 US Midterm Election Turnout,” census​.gov​. 23 April. Accessed 2 June 2020. https://www​.census​.gov​/library​/stories​/2019​/04​/behind​-2018​ -united​-states​-midterm​-election​-turnout​.html. Moyer, M.W. (2019) “Kid Activists Aren’t Political Pawns,” Slate. 1 April. Accessed 2 June 2020. https://slate​.com​/human​-interest​/2019​/04​/youth​-political​-activism​-climatechange​-kids​-gun​-control​-teens​​.html. Tec​toni​cthe​ater​projec​t​.org (2018) “Moment Work.” Tec​toni​cthe​ater​project​​.org. Accessed 2 June 2020. https://www​.tec​toni​cthe​ater​project​.org/.

27 Speak About It Social scripts for consent and healthy relationships Olivia Harris

Conceived at Bowdoin College in 2010, Speak About It (SAI) is a nonprofit consent education and violence prevention organization that uses theatre to teach communication, self-advocacy, and intervention skills to high school and college students across the USA. Our flagship show combines monologues and scenes that offer examples for operationalizing sexual consent, boundaries, and healthy relationships in students’ lives. SAI approaches our work with humor, humanity, and humility to model behaviors and provide language students can use in their real lives. By focusing on positivity, diversity, and empathy, we hope to support lasting change in participants’ attitudes and behaviors. The show is paired with two interactive elements. Before the performance, five Actor-Educators meet with student leaders to discuss how the topics presented relate to issues at their school and identify areas that the show may not address and challenges specific to the community. Student leaders then develop questions for post-show conversations with their peers that they will lead with SAI Educators. The one-hour show introduces various topics, so students can create questions about “slut shaming,” queer visibility, privacy, etc. The intended audience is students in eleventh grade or older; however, school partners may include younger grades at their discretion. SAI also offers multiple interactive workshops facilitated by two Educators. These include the Our Digital Selves workshop for students to discuss social expectations around sexting and the internet informed by social media examples; the Consent 101 workshop using interactive games to explore healthy relationship practices for younger students; and a Parent Program to help caretakers support their tweens and teens. Since I became the executive director in 2018, we have added two programs: a Flip the Script workshop that invites participants to create their own scripts to scenarios from the show and a Faculty Program modeled on the Parent Program. After every show or program, we gather survey data from students and administrators. SAI has reached over 450,000 students. 99% of surveyed students affirmed that the show “increased their understanding of issues of sexual assault and consent” (SAI, 2016). Since we are only at any school for a day or so, SAI kickstarts conversations about sex and identity and trains student leaders to continue them.

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I am focused on longitudinal engagement as I develop new and existing school relationships. By offering the show in one semester, and workshops targeted to specific populations (LGBTQ+ clubs, athletes, student government, etc.) in the next, we can help advance a consent culture at their institutions. SAI’s shows do not look the same everywhere. We work in twenty-eight states and Canada. We know that rural youth in a Maine mill town may have different contexts and needs than urban Texas high schoolers. Cultural specificity is vital, so we customize the show with references gathered from surveying students and staff (popular late-night food spots, campus celebrities, etc.). We also name resources in the community that students can turn to for continued support. Though the content does not change, placing it in students’ milieu helps them envision using the tools presented in their personal lives. SAI utilizes a positive, playful approach to consent education. Similar to the work of Young Women’s Voices for Change, we strive for what adrienne maree brown calls “‘pleasure activism,’ ... a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work” (qtd. in Osnes et al. 2021, p 225). SAI focuses on what individuals can do to create healthier and more satisfying relationships. As Lori Reichel, assistant professor of health education, notes, youth want to learn skills: Kids tell us, they don’t want to hear scare tactics … They want to be able to define and identify consent, make good decisions, treat people with dignity and respect, know how to find adults they can talk to, and be able to connect to their emotions in different situations. (qtd. in Varlas, 2017) SAI’s show offers participants “social scripts,” which help participants understand how they can expect to be treated in any social situation and how to interact confidently and humanely (STAR Autism Support, 2020). SAI’s humor also makes the content more palatable. In a sexual encounter scene, for instance, one character does not want to ruin the mood by asking for consent. His partner responds, “What mood? We’re in a bunk bed!” Laughter (hopefully) ensues, giving an opportunity for a collective exhale and reinforcing the point that a “mood” is not paramount to safety and choice. This humor creates buy-in: SAI acknowledges students’ reality without patronizing them. The scene normalizes awkwardness, so often seen as a sign of social weakness for high school students. Moreover, SAI presents bystander intervention as an act of community care rather than the “buzzkill” that many students dread. While acknowledging the challenges of intervening in a social situation, we propose that everyone should be invested in one another’s well-being. This can be new thinking for high schoolers who are often worried about their social standing and relationships. SAI’s show offers eight examples of bystander intervention, ranging from a friendly conversation to distraction to calling out predatory behaviors. Theatre

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Figure 27.1 (from left to right) Sampson Spadafore, Megan MacKenzie, and Karen Bombaro rehearse the “Active Bystander” scene of Speak About It’s flagship show at Maine College of Art. Summer 2018. Photo by Michael Harris.

can reduce participants’ fears by offering scripts that feel doable, since audiences have seen them enacted or even practiced them in workshops. In Flip the Script, the curriculum is scaffolded so students can test different tactics in small groups before presenting them in front of the entire workshop. Participants explore three scenarios using a modified Forum Theatre structure, including a bystander intervention scene and a flirtatious-friend scene to identify tactics for setting boundaries when nobody else is present. We collaborate with school administrators to choose the third scenario so that it is relevant to students’ experiences. SAI believes that focusing on pleasure is the best way to practice consent and “be good at sex.” Teaching pleasure is particularly important for young women,1 who often learn that they’re supposed to be desired by and perform for men, while their own pleasure is unaddressed (Orenstein, 2016). Our show includes a monologue by a woman discovering what feels good, learning to think of consent as saying “yes” instead of “go until I tell you to stop” (SAI, 2019). We teach agency, encouraging young women to think about what they want rather than what is expected of them. Our show also challenges commonly held cultural beliefs. Just as there are misconceived ideas about survivors (they are provocative, they “asked for it”),

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there are assumptions that all perpetrators are male (often athletes, frat boys, etc.), and even that men cannot be assaulted. In Our Digital Selves, students name stereotypes about men, women, and gender expansive folx and unpack how those stereotypes can impact sexual situations. One scene in the show depicts a young woman pursuing sex and a young man saying “no.” SAI intentionally showcases a diversity of survivors’ voices in the show’s assault stories, including young men. Another way in which we try to change popular stories around sexual violence is to include stories of sexual assault within relationships. The American narrative of assault is frequently tied to party culture, mostly of intoxicated men taking advantage of inebriated women. While SAI does not deny these experiences, the predominance of this narrative can erase experiences of partner assault: About one in four women and one in ten men experienced contact, sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner” (CDC 2015, p. 7). SAI therefore includes monologues written by real survivors. These stories offer examples of the consequences of not getting consent and of behaviors misunderstood as “not that bad.” This approach seems to be successful: Students report that they have a better understanding that these events “could happen to anyone.” As one student said, “since these were real stories from real people, it definitely sank in” (SAI, 2017–2019). These stories teach that anyone can cause harm, even unintentionally, if they forget that their sex partners are people with a full emotional range. In our prevention education, SAI works from the belief that people do not want to harm one another. Humans have great potential for empathy and connection but need to be taught to widen the frames of their immediate vision. Storytelling can fill the lacuna of issues that fall outside a student’s frame, offering a concrete emotional memory for the listener who may be encountering a new perspective.2 Jan Cohen-Cruz writes that storytelling is “expansive vis-àvis whose points of view are publicly valued” (2005, p. 135). The personal stories shared in our show can expand audiences’ perspectives; hearing a human voice brings humanity to issues that may feel removed when read about at a journalistic distance. Our show is likewise designed to depict diversity including and beyond gender. Anti-assault activism can narrow the movement to the powerful and privileged, erasing the most vulnerable and most affected. National sexual violence articles often ignore male, queer, and non-white survivors (Jenkins, 2019). This calls us to be more intentional about representation. We highlight the experiences of folx who are Black, brown, and other people of color. Cognizant that our Educators serve as role models for students, we recognize the importance of diverse casting and include Educators who are disabled, queer, and have various body types.3 For the last two years, we have added more information about intersectionality. In the show, we note, “the more marginalized identities a person has, like being a person of color, an immigrant, or being trans or gender expansive, the more likely they are to experience

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abuse” (Speak About It, 2019). Furthermore, SAI identifies that race, gender, and ability can influence the communication required for consent, and participants can identify strategies for communication across identities in workshops and discussions. We can go further: SAI must continue to develop the sections in our show that discuss various forms of social power. This requires partnerships with expert Educators, developing language that is accessible outside of white spaces, and including more stories about how identity intersects with sexuality. As conversations about consent become more normative, we hope to deepen those conversations by inviting students to question how power, identity, and pleasure function in their relationships. Consent is not a destination; it is a process. The problems that we tackle are complex, therefore our responses must be.

Notes 1 SAI understands that gender identity and expression exist on a spectrum. We work with many students and Educators who are gender expansive, identifying as nonbinary, agender, trans, gender non-confirming, or having no gender. This article refers to “men” and “women” in part because we do not have better academic language to understand and express the full spectrum of gender. In our education work, since we recognize how gender can impact experience, at times we use binary language, but prioritize gender expansive language. 2 Aware that we have survivors of assault as well as perpetrators in every audience, we always have counselors from the school or community there to support students and refer them to community support multiple times. 3 Though the cast introduces themselves with their pronouns at the start of every performance, queerness is not always visible and can be read differently in different situations. Similarly, not all disabilities are visible, but some Educators may choose to disclose them in pre-and post-show conversations.

References Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015) “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.” Division of Violence Prevention. Accessed 6 May 2020. Cohen-Cruz, J. (2005) Local Acts: Community-Based Performance in the United States. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Jenkins, M. (2019) “The Way Forward for Me Too, According to Tarana Burke.” Vox, October 15, 2019. Accessed 6 May 2020. https://www​.vox​.com​/identities​/2019​/10​ /15​/20910298​/tarana​-burke​-morgan​-jerkins. Orenstein, Peggy (2016) Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. London: Oneworld Publications. Speak About It (2016) Speakaboutitonline​.co​m. Accessed 7 May 2020. http:// speakaboutitonline​.com/. Speak About It (2017–2019) “Responses: Student Post Show Opinions.” Internal document: Unpublished. Speak About It (2019) “Elemental Tour Script.” Internal document: Unpublished.

Scripts for consent and relationships  243 STAR Autism Support (2013–2020) “Using Social Scripts to Teach Social Behaviors.” Accessed 10 May 2020. https://starautismsupport​.com​/using​-social​-scripts​-teach​-social​ -behaviors. Varlas, L. (2017) “Saying Yes to Consent Education,” ASCD Education Update. (59)2. 17 Feb. Accessed 6 May 2020. http://www​.ascd​.org​/publications​/newsletters​/education​ -update​/feb17​/vol59​/num02​/Saying​-Yes​-to​-Consent​-Education​.aspx.

Roundtable discussion with Lisa S. Brenner, Sarah Fahmy, Olivia Harris, Chelsea Hackett, Beth Osnes, and Barbara (Barb) Pitts McAdams Lisa: Let’s start by talking about activism. Why do you engage in activism work with youth? Why use theatre? Beth: A lot of times people pass off problems to the youth. And I’ve always sat uncomfortably with that notion because we’re still alive. We’ve benefited from the consumption, which has led to many of the challenges that these young people are facing. So, we must work intergenerationally, not just serving as mentors but also as co-learners. Barb: I enrolled in college as a political science major. I thought, if I want to be of service in the world, I have to go to law school and then be in public office. Then I had this faculty member, Grant Kearney, who said, “When we want to know how a society felt about itself, we look at their drama. We look to see what the polis was talking about; what were they concerned about? Theatre artists are the high priests of their societies.” All of a sudden, I was sitting up. I’ve seen from The Laramie Project just how hungry young people are to engage. So for me, that kind of intergenerational activism feels like the service that I can do in the world. Olivia: Walidah Imarisha says all organizing is science fiction. It’s about imagination. Young people know how to imagine what things will look like in twenty, thirty, forty years in a way that can be harder for those of us who’ve been socialized for a lot longer, especially when it comes to issues that are gendered. Chelsea: Beth, Sarah, and I have been in conversation about gender a lot, particularly as young people are shifting the ways that we collectively think about it. Sometimes it’s helpful to have spaces that are designated for people who identify as a similar gender, so you can unpack and understand your shared experiences. There is a reality that women in particular, and young women within subgroups like women of color and Indigenous women, have often been the most muted. How do we honor the reality of that history and the lived experience in which a lot of women are still finding their voices not-as-present in political spaces, while not reinforcing the binary? Sarah: Sometimes when young women are invited to the table, they’re told, “Let me, as the adult in the room, tell you what you need to think.”

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We’re trying to cultivate spaces where young people can express themselves without that intervention. Seeing this work done in multiple communities, whether it’s Somalia, the US, or Egypt, we’ve noticed that young women often don’t have any other space to have these conversations. And so that’s why it’s even more important to have designated areas for these young people to speak up. Chelsea: One thing we’ve also looked at is having young people self-identify. So, when we describe “women,” we mean any young person who is identifying as a woman. And we try to be explicit about that. Beth: We’ve even grappled with language. I teach a class called Performing Voices of Women. We were using women with the x in spelling at the end [womxn], thinking that that would be more inclusive of transgender women. And as part of the class, we had a transgender woman come in and talk about her journey. And this woman told us, “I worked so hard to become a woman. I don't want it spelt differently. I want to be a woman.” So, I just feel like I keep getting educated. adrienne maree brown’s book, Pleasure Activism, makes a caveat near the end of the introduction to the effect of “I'm using the language available to me right now and just know that if you’ve come up with new language down the road, I’d just be right there with you, supporting you and integrating that into my vocabulary.” So, I think we should offer that caveat to whoever is reading this interview in the future, we would be right with you. Barb: The #Heretoo Project is based on interviews; there’s the gender of the interviewees and then there’s the gender of the people who are going to perform those interviews. Who can play who on stage, how are you going to share that person’s experience? My students at Western Washington University came up with a form where before speaking, they would say, “I'm not Kyly, but these are her words.” There was something so transparent about it. Also being co-intentional with interviewees. I asked an interviewee, “How do you feel about someone not of your gender or someone not brown or Black, saying your words onstage?” He was adamant it needed to be somebody brown or Black, so we honored that. Olivia: I love that example. We do something similar where we read the true stories off note cards as a signifier that they are not our words. We sort of have an inverse challenge, which is that Speak About It was founded at a predominantly white institution. I don’t know the identities of all the folx who submitted monologues, but I’m willing to bet that most of them are white, and we don’t only hire white folx. We also hire gender expansive actors and present them as just as desirable as cis actors. Because sometimes folx don’t have examples of themselves being people to be flirted with or liked. Lisa: One theme I’m hearing is that when the audience sees something, they then understand that it’s possible. Theatre is a place of the imaginary. It’s a place where we can show not just what is, but what can be.

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Sarah: I think it is important to reflect on the audience members’ prejudices and stereotypes as well. For me, as someone who’s never really been represented onstage in the Western academic canon, it’s important to have a conversation of why you’ve not seen these identities represented on stage. Why are you not seeing this particular identity as a human to be flirted with? Who are we in conversation with and who are we leaving out, but also who are we making assumptions about? Lisa: How important then is the audience in your work? How much space, energy, and value do you give to the process versus the product? Barb: Christine Young has this amazing essay that I often refer to when I’m thinking about these issues. You’ve got your feminist process desires to meet, then you’ve got the director’s need to put on a good show, and then you’ve got the people with the purse strings who expect to see something. So, that’s why I came up with this hybrid form that also connects the local, national, and the global. One of the things that I noticed is that all three of our projects seem to share an ability to be nimble and to be customizable. It’s stressful because it’s last minute, but this is very feminist. And I think it creates co-learning. Beth: We also want to be working towards artistic excellence because that’s when the work has impact. You have a limited amount of access to young people’s time, which is precious. So, there’s honoring the process and knowing the benefits that come from these rich conversations, while knowing that you’re actually going to be presenting this work in front of people. And it’s going to feel terrible if you don’t have it well-rehearsed. That’s a balancing act. Chelsea: I think you’re honoring young people by making sure that they’re putting their best face forward. I think it’s disrespectful to say this is a great piece of work, knowing that maybe it’s not tight or not clear. It’s not going to communicate what they’re wanting to communicate to an audience. We want to make sure that they are taken seriously and are taking themselves seriously, too. There’s also something important about being witnessed. Something shifts when you move from a protective space where you’re with other people who might share ideas with you. There’s a risk that you take when you present those ideas to a broader audience, but there’s also a validation. Olivia: There’s power in representing and being witnessed, and there’s power in witnessing something that aligns with your experience, identity, or desire. Talking about customization, Speak About It went to a religiousfounded large institution in the South, and our partner said, “Just put one of your ‘dude’ cast members in a polo shirt and see what happens.” All the dudes in the audience in polo shirts saw a person on stage in a polo shirt, and all of a sudden, they seemed to hear themselves in his story, even though the script didn’t change. Lisa: What about assessing the work?

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Olivia: With Speak About It, one of the challenges is there’s the immediate goal and then there’s three months from now. When assessing audiences three months later we can’t guarantee that what they’re learning, they learned from us. But I don’t care if they learned it from us. I want them to learn. Sarah: Something that we have been conversing about is assessing participants’ self-confidence over the long term. We’ve been working with the young women in Boulder for about three and a half years now, and it has been rewarding just seeing them grow in front of us and realizing their full potential. Also, what makes applied theatre so powerful is that anyone can participate in it. A lot of the participants that we work with, especially abroad, have no theatre experience whatsoever. And it’s beautiful when young people discover it’s something that they’ve always been able to do. Chelsea: We also do work in Guatemala, in Tanzania, where we’re there, and then we’re gone. Something that is helpful to think about is who is staying and continuing the work after you leave. A lot of the way we approach our work is training trainers, training educators to actually be delivering the curricula that we’re building. If you’re doing a one-off workshop and want to continue to hold space for things that come up for young people, especially when we’re looking at heavy issues or deep lifelong lessons that all three of us are exploring in our work, then we have to consider who’s going be the person who’s there on the local level. Beth: With the work we’ve been doing with the organization in Guatemala, MAIA Impact, they now are at the point where young women who were a part of the program are mentors. So, this is such a rich experience. We even look to that with our Boulder group, because a big chunk of our group is going to be graduating after this next year. Lisa: To close, what are the conversations that you feel like we need to be having in this field, particularly in working with youth? Beth: One thing I grapple with is the idea of youth led versus intergenerational work. I think there’s this idea that you’re validated if it’s all youth led and they’re making all the choices. But at the end of the day, they don’t know all of the stakeholders. They don’t have the expertise, or they don’t have the time. And they want us to check back in with them. So, I think that I’d be interested in learning from others how they navigate through that challenge. Barb: One of the challenges of our method, Moment Work, is that it franchises everybody to get creative with the elements of the stage: We’re all going to create in the space. It’s a big funnel that is really open at the beginning. Anybody can throw ideas into it. And as we get closer to that performance date, the decision-makers are going to become fewer and fewer. That’s to protect you as the performers or the designers so that you can go back to doing the thing that brought you into the process. But I still think that balance is hard.

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Sarah: I think a question that I am always seeking from other practitioners is how are you engaging those who aren’t traditionally at the table? What community partnerships are you seeking? At what point in time and for what purpose? How long have these partnerships been going on for, how or why they’ve developed, and who’s benefiting from them? Chelsea: Theatre has become a privileged space, particularly, as we look at the education system; not all young people get to participate in theatre. I’m curious about how we as applied theatre practitioners ensure that we’re sharing skills beyond a privileged space so that educators can be using these skills in their classrooms after we leave, and so that young people can continue to have these experiences after the event happens. Olivia: I’m interested in moving beyond binaries: male or female, youth-led or adult-led; community or outside. Also, how do we move even beyond right and wrong, especially in activism. Our founding executive director, Shane Diamond, talks about how we’ve been socialized to believe that there is one right answer and everything else is somewhere on the bull’s eye. And if we invert that bull’s eye, and there’s one definitely wrong answer and everything else is some degree of right, you move beyond the binary to something that actually can be expansive. Lisa: In this moment of so much challenge locally, nationally, and globally, I want to vocalize my gratitude for working with you.

References brown, a.m. (2019) Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good. Chico, CA: AK Press. brown, a.m. and Imarisha, Walidah (eds) (2015) Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. Chico, CA: AK Press. Young, C. (2012) “Feminist Pedagogy at Play in the University Rehearsal Room.” Theatre Topics 22 (2), pp. 137–148. Doi:10.1353/tt.2012.0027.


Note: Page numbers in italic type refer to figures Page numbers followed ‘n’ refer to notes About Face Theatre (AFT) 133–137 About Face Youth Theatre (AFYT) 133–137; building for the future 136–137; Twentieth Anniversary Project 133–134; 20/20 134, 135 abstinence-only education 128 access 173 accommodation-centered language 190–191 Acosta, Donny, et al. 133–137 activism 7, 120, 139, 232, 237, 244, 248; anti-assault 241; intergenerational 244; Latina lesbian 136; pleasure 225, 239, 245; political 138–139; social 171; youth 224, 232 Adler, Stella 197 AdvantageArts 2, 4 aesthetic education 39, 40–41 aesthetic language 60 aesthetics, decolonizing 35 agency, giving 33, 34 Alaska: Koyukuk Athabascan elementary school 49–52 Alaska and Texas Drama for Schools project 49–54 Alexander, Jessica “Decky” 79–84; roundtable discussion 85–89 Allicock, Kuenique 107–111; roundtable discussion 112–116 Alrutz, Megan 94, 97; Digital Storytelling, Applied Theatre, & Youth 103, 105 American Plan, The (Greenberg) 39 Amikogaabawiikwe (Adrienne Benjamin): et al. 22–26; roundtable discussion 32–36 Anatomy of an Expulsion Hearing (Telling Tales Out of School) (Myers et al.) 81 Anishinaabe people 22–26 Antigone (Anouilh) 40

Antigone (Sophocles) 187–188 Anzaldúa, Gloria, Borderlands 151 applied theatre: definition 5; and drama therapy 181; terminology 140–141; with youth? 15 APT x PM Playmaking Project: challenges and opportunities 25–26; design 23–25 Arteaga Jr., Macedonio: and ChavezArteaga, Alicia 145–153, 156, 163; roundtable discussion 164–168 artistic framework, life skills using 200 artists, disabled 194 arts: as education 15; tool for social justice 94 Arts Amplifying Youth 151 ArtsEmerson, and Muriel S. Snowden International High School (Boston) 93–101 Asp, Maria: et al. 65–73; roundtable discussion 85–89 asset-based approach 87 asset-based education 102; I Dream: Boston (project) 98–100 assimilation 155 assumptions, challenging 173 Atlantic Pacific Theatre (APT) 22–26, 32 audience 5, 7, 13, 15, 20, 30, 40, 47, 86, 109, 173; ”awakened” 41; Black people 110; dialogue with 125, 140; intentional 104; participation 14; Playback Theatre 176; powerbrokers 80; teaching the Tlingit way 157 autism 177 Bagoumian, Karen, Anatomy of an Expulsion Hearing 81 Bailey, Sally 180–184; roundtable discussion 190–194

250 Index ball culture 123, 126n12; history 134 Ballard, Parissa 237 banking model of rote education (Freire) 68 Barrier-Free Theatre 180–184 Barton-Farcas, Stephanie 171–179, 187; Disability and Theatre 171; roundtable discussion 190–194 Beaty, Daniel 93–101, 114; Knock Knock 95; Mr Joy 95 Benjamin, Adrienne see Amikogaabawiike (Adrienne Benjamin) Black Arts Movement 27 Black girlhood studies 107 Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), challenges 5, 114, 119–120, 123 Blom, Lynne 130 Boal, Augusto 7, 19, 103, 119, 133; Forum Theatre 14, 19, 20, 76, 77, 86, 121, 125; Games for Actors and Non-Actors 207; rehearsal for the revolution 76, 129; spect-actor 86; Theatre of the Oppressed 1, 103, 141 Boal, Julian 2 body image 176 Bogart, Anne, and Landau, Tina 187 Boggs, Grace Lee 53 Bombaro, Karen 240 Bond, Brian 236 Borderlands (Anzaldúa) 151 Boulder City 226 Brecht, Bertolt 65, 133 Brenner, Lisa S. 1–2, 3; roundtable discussion 85–89, 138–142, 244–247 Bridges program see Neighborhood Bridges (storytelling and performance program) Brosius, Peter 65–66 brown, adrienne marie: Emergent Strategy 53, 137; Pleasure Activism 5, 225, 239, 245 Brown, Lyn Mikel, Powered by Girl: A Field Guide for Supporting Youth Activists 224, 228 Brown, Rich 232; shared recognition with 148–149 Brown, Ruth Nicole 107 Bruce-Novoa, Juan, and Valentin, David 147 Budd, Kendra Tamär 234 Butterfly That Persisted, The (Nasser) 227–228, 229 Caceres, Alberto Noel 4 CAIR MN (Committee on American Islamic Relations) 71

Cajuste, Nina 135 caria humor 147–148 Carney, Megan: et al. 133–137; roundtable discussion 138–142 Carpetbag Theatre Inc. 27–31, 32 Carrillo, Keybo 201 casting 177; cross-disability 171; neurodivergent 77 Castro, Sindy Isabel 5, 54–58; roundtable discussion 59–62 cause and effect 215, 217 censorship 116, 165 Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP) 128, 129–130 Ceraso, Chris 2, 3; roundtable discussion 32–36, 59–62, 215–219 challenge, normative systems 120–121 Chavez-Arteaga, Alicia: and Arteaga Jr., Macedonio 145–153, 156, 163; roundtable discussion 164–168 Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project 152 Chicano Native Theatre 166 Chicanx community 145–153 Chicanx Theatre, people’s theatre 146 child abuse prevention 164–165 children: as producers rather than consumers 6, 65, 74; storytelling 72 Children’s Theatre Company (CTC, Minneapolis) 66, 87 Choices for Change 210–214, 217 Choir Boy (McCraney) 42–43 Cindy Bandle Young Critics (CBYC) 16 circles, talking 150–151 círculos 150–151, 210–211 Cirino, Peter 3 cisgender 111, 126n7 cisnormativity 120–121, 126n7 Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA) 227 Climate Mobilization Action Plan Launch (2019), Young Women’s Voices for Climate at 226–227, 229 code switching 18, 34 Cohen-Cruz, Jan 241 colonized thinking 35 colorism 109 Columbian Hypnosis, Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) workshops 75 comedy 146–147, 149 communal experiences 175 community, building 113 community forging, Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) Education programs 47 Company One Theatre 112

Index  251 confidentiality 164 conflict 25, 40, 42, 181, 186, 207, 215; incarcerated youth theatre 215; intergenerational 47, 110 Conquergood, Dwight 130 Consent 101 workshop (SAI) 238 consumers, children as producers rather than 6, 65, 74 Core Program (MTC Education) 41–44, 48n1 Coronavirus (Covid), working online 192–193 Crash. Burn. Rise (Stargate Theatre Company) 202–203 cross-disability casting 171 Cruz, Evelyn Diaz 2, 3; roundtable discussion 112–116, 164–168, 190–194 Dawson, Kathryn 49–53; roundtable discussion 59–62 de los Reyes, Claro: et al. 22–26; roundtable discussion 32–36 decolonizing aesthetics 35 decolonizing theatre 167 deficit-based approach 87 De’Haarte, Solomon 201 Delgado-Padilla, Sara 4 design, theatre spaces for queer youth 120–125 DeSoto-Jackson, Rachel 102–106; roundtable discussion 112–116 Devilfish (Starbard) 157 Dewey, John 40 dialogue, multigenerational 123–124 Diamond, Shane 248 Diaz Cruz, Evelyn 2, 3; roundtable discussion 112–116, 164–168, 190–194 digital storytelling 49–54 Digital Storytelling, Applied Theatre, and Youth (Alrutz) 103, 105 disability: dispelling myths 171; drag 177; inclusion for youth 171–179; working with diverse groups 173–174 Disability and Theatre (Barton-Farcas) 171 disabled artists, problem-solving 194 disabled performers 175–177 disaffected students, MTC Education programs 45–46 Divide, The, Stargate Theatre Company 201 “Do No Harm” principle 82 Dolan, Jill 131 Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art 71 Dovetail Project (Goodman Theatre) 19, 20 drag, disability 177 drag balls 126n12, 134

Drama for Schools (University of Texas): partnerships 49–50; residency projects 50–52 drama therapy: and applied theatre 181; inclusive theatre as 180–184 drama-based pedagogy 49 Duran, Leonor: et al. 107–111; roundtable discussion 112–116 Dust Tracks on a Road (Hurston) 27 Earth Guardians 224 Eastern Michigan University: and Student Advocacy Center (SAC) 79–84; Telling Tales shows 81 economic inequities 79 Economically Disadvantaged 77n1 Edell, Dana: et al. 107–111; roundtable discussion 112–116 education: abstinence-only 128; aesthetic 39, 40–41; arts as 15; asset-based 98–100; rote 68 educational power 88 Edwards, Paul 130 Elephant Man (Pomerance) 41–42 Elkin, Evan 198 Emergent Strategy (brown) 53, 137 empowerment, incarcerated youth theatre 219 engagement 6; civic practice 13 English “only” 54–55 equity 60, 94, 166, 171–179, 174 ethics 164–165, 191; incarcerated youth theatre 217–218 Faculty Program workshop (SAI) 238 Fahmy, Sarah: et al. 223–231; roundtable discussion 244–247 fantastic binominal (Rodari) 67 FastHorse, Larissa 156 Fei Junhong 236 feminists see Material Feminists Ferris, Madison 177 Fichandler, Zelda 13 Fischer, Amanda Stuart 97 Flip the Script workshop (SAI) 238 Footlight Players (hosted by Indiana University of Pennsylvania) 102–106, 112–116; integrating applied theatre 103–104; New Works 102–106; outreach program 102–103 For Youth Inquiry (FYI) 128–132, 140; embracing play and pleasure 131–132; philosophical underpinnings 129–130; practice 130–131

252 Index Forum Theatre (Boal) 14, 19, 20, 76, 77, 86, 121, 125 Foster-Shaner, Liz 74–78; roundtable discussion 85–89 Four Corners 19 Free Southern Theater 28 Freire, Paulo 6, 125, 133; banking model 68 Fritz, Robert 204 funding 61, 77, 99, 145, 160, 172, 177–178; grant 113; lack of 96 Galati, Frank 130 games, Voices Beyond Bars (VBB) 211 Games for Actors and Non-Actors (Boal) 207 gang culture 202 García, Ofelia 55; and Kleifgen, J. 55; and Kleyn, Tatyana 57 Gay-Straight Alliance 121 Gehres, Abigail 188 GeNarrations (Goodman Theatre) 15 gender 244 gender identity 105, 120–121, 126nn2, 3 & 7, 242n1 gender pronouns 121, 126n9, 190, 218, 242n3 Generett, Gretchen Givens 74 Get on the Bus (1996) 28 Giant Suit of Armor, The performance 70 Gilbert, Rodney M. 1–2 Gillespie, Sean 27 Ginwright, Shawn 150 girl, use of term 111n1 Girls Bill of Rights campaign 224 Good People (Lindsay-Abaire) 39 Goodman Theatre (Chicago) 13–21, 32; education and engagement programs 15, 16–20; mission 13 Goodman Youth Arts Council (GYAC) 16 Grammar of Fantasy, The (Rodari) 65 Greenberg, Richard, The American Plan 39 Greene, Maxine 39 Grips (children’s theatre) 65 guiding youth 33 Hackett, Chelsea: et al. 223–231; roundtable discussion 244–247 Handler, Rachel 171–172 Harris, Olivia 238–243; roundtable discussion 244–247 #Here Too project 232, 233–237, 245; approach 233; database 236; open-source portal 235; Penn State 233, 236; WWU from Bellingham 233, 234 healing circle (círculo) 150–151, 210–211

Height of the Storm, The (Zeller) 43–45 heteronormativity 120–121, 126n8 Higgins, Jeanmarie 232, 235 HOPE IS VITAL (program) 128–132, 139; embracing play and pleasure 131–132; origins and influences 130; practice 130–131 Howes III, William (Naawakwe) 22–26 Huerta, Jorge 146 humor 146, 147–150, 225–226, 239; caria 147–148; restorative potential 150 Hurston, Zora N., Dust Tracks on a Road 27 Hyde, Lewis, Trickster Makes this World 159–160 I Dream: Boston project 93–101, 112– 116; access 99; artistic expression 99–100; asset-based education 98–100; collaborative care 99; core beliefs, pillars and curriculum 94–96; essential practices 98–100; participants 96–97; reflecting on pilot 97–98 I Dream: Omaha project 94 I Dream: Watts project 94 I Too Sing America (Goodman Theatre) 17 identity 5, 55–57, 103; gender 105, 120– 121, 126n2, 3 & 7, 242n1; incarcerated youth theatre 218–219 identity project, People’s Theatre Project (PTP) 55–57 imagination 29, 50, 68, 131, 139, 244; fostering 197 Imagination Stage 183, 185; Theatre for Change 210 Imarisha, Walidah 244 incarcerated youth theatre: art as selfexpression 210–214; casting 208; cause and effect 215, 217; conflict 215; conflict scenes 207; constraints 217–218; creating theatre 206–209; empowerment 219; ethics 217–218; identity 218–219; need for adaptable plans 206–209; performance 209; rehearsals 208–209; talk therapy 217; theatre games 209; venues 216; why? 215–216 Incident, The, with Moment Work 235 inclusion 141, 171–179, 180 inclusive theatre 171, 174; as drama therapy 180–184 Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Footlight Players 102–106 Indigenous culture 155 Indigenous peoples: digital storytelling 49–54; portrayal 165–166

Index  253 Indigenous talking circle 150–151 inequities 59, 94–95, 96, 120, 186, 224; social and economic 79 Ingram, Debra, and Madrid, Romina 72n1 Inside the Greenhouse (University of Colorado) 223 interconnectedness 150 intergenerational activism 139, 244 intergenerational benefits 23 intergenerational collaboration 123 intergenerational conflict 47 intergenerational exchange, create spaces 123–124 intergenerational interaction 120 intergenerational political action 16 intergenerational space 138 intergenerational support 244 intergenerational work 247; and activism 244 Irwin, Jeff 83 Islamophobia 87; Neighborhood Bridges 71–72 Jitney (Wilson) 39 Johnson, Marsha P. 135 Jones, Elizabeth 188 Junebug Productions 28, 175 justice-involved young men, theatre 197–205 Kaplan, Erin R. 206–209; roundtable discussion 215–219 Kearney, Grant 244 Kimball Union Academy, The Incident 235 King, Michelle 74, 76 Kleifgen, J., and García, Ofelia 55 Kleyn, Tatyana, and García, Ofelia 57 Knock Knock (Beaty) 95 Kohl, Herb 65 Koyukuk Athabascan elementary school (Alaska) 49–52 Kuftinec, Sonja: et al. 65–73; roundtable discussion 85–89 Kuppers, Petra 175–176 Kushner, Tony 119 Lamparter, Joanne Seelig 210–214; roundtable discussion 215–219 Landau, Tina, and Bogart, Anne 187 language 5; accommodation-centered 190–191; aesthetic 60; English “only” 54–55; identity 190; theater 57–58 Laramie Project, The (Tectonic Theater Project) 233–234, 236, 244

Latina lesbian activism 136 Latinx community 145–153 learning, Western way 155 Let’s Act: Rehearsing the Revolution (TO workshops) 76, 86 Lex, James, O Wonder: A Tempest Tale 188 LGBQT+ 133–134, 136–137 LGBQT+ Center on Halsted (Chicago) 134 LGBTQ youth 119–127 life skills, using artistic framework 200 Lights Up 48n1 Lillard, Toya 108 Lincoln Center Theatre (NY) 14, 39 Lindsay-Abaire, David, Good People 39 Lipman, Doug, Most Important Thing (MIT) 81 Living Stage Theatre Company 13–14 Lopez, Marion 24; et al. 22–26; roundtable discussion 32–36 love 176–177 Lowery, Lynda Blackmon 57 McAdams, Barbara Pitts 232–237; roundtable discussion 244–247 McCraney, Tarell A., Choir Boy 42–43 MacKenzie, Megan 240 Madrid, Romina, and Ingram, Debra 72n1 MAIA Impact, organization and school 223–224, 229, 247 Maize, Jimmy 232, 235 Majory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School shooting (2018) 232–233 Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) 40–48; Lights Up 49n1; Rikers Island workshops 197–205; salon 200 Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) Education: benefits and outcomes 44–45; engaging disaffected students 45–46; forging community 47; fostering self-awareness 46; surfacing untapped capacities 46; Write on the Edge (WrOTE) 43–44 March for Our Lives (MFOL) rallies 232, 233 Marshall, Tanera 105 masculinity, toxic 202 masks 19 Material Feminists 3 men, justice-involved young 197–205 mentoring program, Goodman Theatre 18 Michigan, restorative practices 82–83 Mille Lacs Reservation 22–26

254 Index Mind the Gap (MTG) program 124, 139 Minneapolis, Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) 66 Moment Work (Tectonic Theater Project) 234–235, 247 Montgomery County Correctional Facility, VBB 210–214 Morris, Gabrielle, Anatomy of an Expulsion Hearing 81 Most Important Thing (MIT, Lipman) 81 Mr. Joy (Beaty) 95 multigenerational art making 136 multigenerational dialogue 123–124 multigenerational work 138 Munar, Andrés 159–163; roundtable discussion 164–168 Musical Theatre Intensive (Goodman Theatre) 17 Muslim American experiences 72–73n1 Myers, Dakota, Anatomy of an Expulsion Hearing 81 Naawakwe (William Howes III) 22–26 Nasser, Lana, The Butterfly That Persisted 227–228, 229 Native American tales in the Cities stories 71 Nay Ah Shing School 22–26 Neguse, Joe 229 Neighborhood Bridges (storytelling and performance program) 65–73; adaptations 70–72; beginnings 65–66; creative and critical literacy 68–69; Giant Suit of Armor performance 70; initial purpose 66; Islamophobia 71–72; Native American tales in the Cities 71; students as producers and problem solvers 69–70; transformation 67–68; typical session 67–68 Nenaaw (Charles Smith) 22–26 neurodivergent casting 177 New York Theatre Workshop 138 Nicholson, Helen 52 Nicu’s Spoon Theater Company (NYC) 171–179; approach 172–173; dispelling myths 173; philosophical values 172; story-creation workshops 172 Nieto, Sonia 54 Nixon, Lianna, et al. 223–231 non-binary individuals 107, 126n2, 242n1 Nopal Boy & Other Actos (Teatro Izcalli) 145–152 normative systems, challenge 120–121 NOURISH (Goodman Theatre) 15

O Wonder: A Tempest (Lex) 188 O’Hea, Natalie 135 Ojala, Maria 225 Ojibwe culture 22–26 Olusanya, Nicole: roundtable discussion 112–116; and Streeter, Joshua Rashon 93–101, 107 O’Neal, B., et al. 175 O’Neal, John 28 online programming, TO workshops 77 online working 192–193 Osnes, Beth: et al. 223–231, 232; roundtable discussion 244–247 Osnes, Lerato 229 Our Digital Selves workshop (SAI) 238, 240–241 Pakkar-Hull, D. 55 Palmquist, Peri Stone 80 Parent Program workshop (SAI) 238 participatory sexuality education, four Ps 129 partnership, identifying 32 Pasia, Sharon, et al. 133–137 patriarchy 120, 126n6 pedagogy, drama-based 49 Pegasus Ensemble (PE) 185–189; final performance 188–189, 188; foundational elements 187; leadership roles 185–186; mediums 187; routine 185; self-reliance 186 people’s theatre, Chicanx Theatre 146 People’s Theatre Project (PTP), identity project 55–57 performers, disabled 175–177 Performing Voices of Women class 245 perspective 129 perspective-taking class 69 Pittsburgh Public Schools, challenges 74 place finding 129 Playback Theatre 19, 20, 176 PlayBuild (Goodman Theatre) 16, 17 playmaking, polycultural partnerships 22–26 Playmaking Project see APT x PM Playmaking Project playmaking techniques (Sklar) 211 playwriting 161; fostering 43–44 pleasure 129 Pleasure Activism (brown) 5, 225, 239, 245 poems, Voices Beyond Bars (VBB) 211–212 police 7, 19, 27, 197, 203, 216; in schools 75

Index  255 polycultural partnerships, playmaking 22–26 Pomerance, Bernard, Elephant Man 41–42 Pompey, Ariel, Anatomy of an Expulsion Hearing 81 portrayal, Indigenous peoples 165–166 Pose (TV show) 134 power 130; educational 88 Powered by Girl: A Field Guide for Supporting Youth Activists (Brown) 224, 228 practice for real life 129 Prentiss, Dara 135 Prentki, Tim, and Preston, Sheila 5 pride, create spaces for 122–123 Prison Creative Arts Project (University of Michigan) 206 problem-solving, disabled artists 194 process 34; value of 206–210; versus product 191–192 process-oriented theatre (Schmidt) 102 producers: rather than consumers (children) 6, 65, 74; students as 69–70 product, versus process 191–192 Project Drawdown 226 Project Mezichigejig (PM) 22–26, 32 Project US (FYI) 128 Propp, Vladimir 67 queer, term use 126n3 queer history, staging generations 133–137 queer youth: about 120; designing applied theatre spaces 120–125 queering, applied theatre 119–127 Rabhi, Yousef 82–83 Race Discrimination System, The (Reskin) 70 racism 3, 7, 93, 98, 107–108, 109, 110, 114–115, 120, 166; challenging 110– 111; institutional 96, 97, 114; structural 97; systemic 93, 114 Reale, Willie 2 Reclaiming Native Truth study (2018) 156 reflection-on-action 52–53 reframing 29 rehearse the revolution (Boal) 76, 129 Reichel, Lori 239 Remake Learning 76 representation 171–179 Reskin, Barbara, The Race Discrimination System 70 resources 87–88; youth agency 74–78 restorative practices, Michigan 82–83

Reyes, Claro de los: et al. 22–26; roundtable discussion 32–36 Rikers Island: observations 198; workshops (MTC) 197–198 Rivera, Sylvia 135 Rodari, Gianni 67; The Grammar of Fantasy 65 Rohd, Michael 6; roundtable discussion 138–142; Theatre for Community, Conflict and Dialogue 128; and Zaleski, Nik 128–132 role-play 19, 20 rote education, banking model of (Freire) 68 sacred space, creating 200–203 safe space, concept 174–175 Saint Joan (Shaw) 44 Saltworks Youth Theatre Company (Pittsburgh) 102 San Diego Unified School District 146 San Ysidro High School 145–146 Santiago, Charlie 201 Santiago-Jirau, Alexander 7, 119–127, 134; roundtable discussion 138–142 satire 146 Scarborough, Khari 201 Schmidt, E. 102, 104 schools, police in 75 Seibers, Tobin 177 self-awareness 164; MTC Education programs 46–47 self-expression, incarcerated youth theatre 210–214 Selma voting rights march (1965) 57 service dogs 173 sex-positive spaces 123 sexual consent, social scripts 238–243 sexuality education 128–132 Shaw, Bernard, Saint Joan 44 Shepherd, Matthew 133 She’s the First (Girls Bill of Rights campaign) 224 Shookhoff, David 6, 39–48, 49, 57, 198; roundtable discussion 59–62 Simone, Nina 15 skills, building professional and life 198–200 Sklar, Daniel, playmaking techniques 211 Smith, Anna Deavere 82 Smith, Charles 22–26 social change: teenage girls creating theatre 107–111; theatre with objectives 232 social inequities 79

256 Index social justice: arts as tool for 94; Teatro Izcalli 146 social mapping 19 Sojourn Theatre 128–132 Sondel, Beth 74 Sophocles, Antigone 187–188 spaces: create for intergenerational exchange 123–124; create for pride and celebration 122–123; create traumainformed 122; create youth-led 124–125 Spadafore, Sampson 240 Speak About It (SAI): Active Bystander scene 240; assessing work 247; bystander intervention 239; humor 239; organization 238–243; shows 238, 239; survey data 238–239; workshops 238, 240–241 SPEAK (vocal empowerment initiative) 223; target community 224 spect-actor (Boal) 86 Spectrum 17, 19 Spolin, Viola 130 Stage Chemistry (Goodman Theatre) 15 Starbard, Vera (Tlingit/Dena’ina) 6, 154– 158; Devilfish 157; roundtable discussion 164–168 Stargate Theatre Company 197–205, 206–207; Crash. Burn. Rise 202–203; participants 202; principles 201–202; providing support 203–204; The Divide 201; ultimate value 204–205 Stoker, Ali 177 story circles 175 storytelling 241; children 72; digital 49–54, 103, 105 Streeter, Joshua Rashon: and Olusanya, Nicole 93–101, 107; roundtable discussion 112–116 strength-based approach 181 stress management 181 Student Advocacy Center (SAC): and Eastern Michigan University 79–84; mission 79–80; Telling Tales Out of School 80, 81 students, disaffected 45–46 success stories 166–167, 181–182 Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Complex (CU) 225 Swann, William Dorsey 134 Tabori, Georg 65 talk therapy 217 talking circle, Indigenous 150–151

Tate, Judy K. 197–205, 206, 212; roundtable discussion 215–219 Taylor, Willa J. 6, 7–8, 13–21, 27; roundtable discussion 32–36 Teatro Izcalli 145–153, 166; company members 147; Nopal Boy & Other Actos 145–152; social justice 146 Teatro Raices 3 Tectonic Theater Project 232; The Laramie Project 233–234, 236, 244; Moment Work (process) 234–235, 247 Teens for AIDS Prevention (TAP) 128–129 Telling Tales Out of School (SAC) 80, 81 Telling Tales shows (EMU) 81 Texas and Alaska Drama for Schools project 49–54 Theater Renaissance for Youth (T.R.Y.) Ensemble (Carpetbag Theatre Inc.) 27–31 theatre: place in general education 59; unique nature 40 Theatre for Change (Imagination Stage) 210 Theatre for Community, Conflict and Dialogue (Rohd) 128 theatre education, translanguaging 54–58 Theatre of the Oppressed (Boal) 1, 103, 141 Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) workshops 74–77, 86; Columbian Hypnosis 75; Let’s Act: Rehearsing the revolution 76; online programming 77; rehearse the revolution 76 theatre spaces, design for queer youth 120–125 thinking, colonized 35 Three Rivers Community Foundation 76 Through a Different Lens (ART/New York’s Brooklyn performance 2019) 109 Thunberg, Greta 224 Timberg, S. 94 Tlingit people: alphabet 154; language 154–158; performing arts 155 Tolbert Jr., Joe 6, 27–31; roundtable discussion 32–36 toxic masculinity 202 transgender 120, 145 transitional space, dramatic reality 181 translanguaging: term 55; theatre education 54–58 trauma 164; mining 165; recovery 95, 97–98 trauma-informed spaces 122 Trickster Makes this World (Hyde) 159–160 trigger warnings 122

Index  257 Tuhiwai Smith, L. 49 Turner, Scott S. 185–189; roundtable discussion 190–194 20/20 (AFYT play) 134, 135 Valentin, David, and Bruce-Novoa, Juan 147 viBe Theater Experience 107–111, 112–116; culture and ritual 108 Viewpoint of Shape 187 Viewpoints composition system 187 Voices Beyond Bars (VBB) 210–214; creating group cohesion 211; guards 212; healing circle 210; orientation 210; performance 213; poems 211–212; theatre games 211; touch 211; Zip Zap Zop 211 voter turnout 232 warnings, trigger 122 Webster, Sina, Anatomy of an Expulsion Hearing 81 What’s Climate Got to do with It? performance 225 white gaze 108 white supremacy 115; culture 88; leadership 107

Williams, Cen 55 Wilson, August, Jitney 39 Wind Turbines are Beautiful performance 226 Winnicott, D.W. 181 work, multigenerational 138 working, online 192–193 Write on the Edge (WrOTE) 43–44 Young, Christine 246 Young Women’s Voices for Climate 223–231; Climate Mobilization Action Plan Launch (2019) 226–227, 229; performances (2019) 226; projects 224–225; What’s Climate Got to do with It? performance 225 youth, applied theatre with? 15 youth agency, resources 74–78 youth-led spaces, create 124–125 Zaleski, Nik: and Rohd, Michael 128–132; roundtable discussion 138–142 Zeller, Florian, The Height of the Storm 43–45 Zip Zap Zop game 211 Zipes, Jack: et al. 65–73; roundtable discussion 85–89