Interactive Theater as Pedagogy Project (ITPP)

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2014 Diversity Summit (UW Tacoma)
February 28, 2014 8:00 a.m. – 3 p.m.
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ITPUsing interactive theater to promote inclusive teaching and learning

About the Interactive Theater as Pedagogy Project

ITPP is a collaboration between the Center for Teaching and Learning and Memory War Theater, a Seattle-based theater company devoted to personal and community transformation through performing arts, partnerships and education.

The Interactive Theater as Pedagogy Project (ITPP) uses Theater of the Oppressed and other interactive theater approaches to:

  • Advance community dialogue among faculty, students, staff educators, and academic administrators about creating inclusive teaching and learning environments.
  • Generate and rehearse a variety of responses to challenging situations related to classroom and institutional climate.
  • Promote performance pedagogies (i.e., active learning and multi-modal pedagogical approaches) in educational settings.

Co-directors of ITPP

Theresa Ronquillo

Theresa Ronquillo is an Instructional Consultant at the UW Center for Teaching and Learning. She received her PhD in Social Welfare from the UW School of Social Work. Her interests and skills are in the areas of inclusive teaching and learning, curricular and social transformation, Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, creative and arts-based pedagogical practices, and community-based experiential learning. Theresa is an Affiliate Faculty with the UW School of Social Work and UW Southeast Asia Center, and Participating Faculty in the UW Center for Performance Studies.

Tikka Sears

Tikka Sears is Artistic Director of Memory War Theater. As a theater director and teaching artist, she creates original works fusing oral history, Theater of the Oppressed, physical theater, and community-based performance. She is also Outreach Coordinator and lecturer for the Southeast Asia Center at the UW Jackson School of International studies where she teaches and designs workshops on Southeast Asian arts and culture. Tikka was a Fulbright-Artist-In-Residence in Indonesia for two years and has received performing arts grants from the US Embassy, the American-Indonesian Exchange Foundation, Artist Trust, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Humanities Washington and 4Culture.

For more information about ITPP, email ctlitp@uw.edu.


Why Interactive Theater?

Have you ever witnessed or experienced an act of oppression—sometimes overt, sometimes subtle, and yet always powerful? When these situations take place, many of us do not intervene or respond, or perhaps we do something that, later on, we wished we had done differently or more effectively.

As learner-educators, we do not have many opportunities to collectively generate strategies with our peers to create more inclusive and just academic environments, nor do we often get to practice or rehearse what we do or say in challenging situations involving oppression and privilege. ITPP uses interactive theater—with a focus on Theater of the Oppressed methods—to create collective spaces that promote engagement in difficult dialogues, critical thinking, and taking action for change. Research shows that using interactive theater as a vehicle for institutional and faculty development can increase audience awareness of key social justice issues and enhance instructors’ knowledge and sense of self-efficacy as educators (Using Theatre to Stage Instructional and Organizational Transformation, Kaplan, Cook, Steiger, 2006).

Interactive theater disrupts the traditional divide between actors and audience, both physically and verbally. Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.), a type of interactive theater, was developed by Brazilian theatre practitioner and activist Augusto Boal and was greatly influenced by educator and philosopher Paulo Freire. T.O. uses theater as a vehicle for promoting social and institutional change; the audience becomes activated “spect-actors” and engages in collaborative dialogue, reflection and problem-solving to transform their realities.


What ITPP does

As a co-sponsored program of the CTL and Memory War Theatre, ITPP provides a variety of pedagogical and instructional support to academic units as well as individual faculty, TAs and staff educators.

ITPP offers free consultations, and a range of fee based services, including:

  • Interactive Workshops for faculty, staff educators and student leaders
  • Performances
  • Class visits

Examples of past programs and services:

  • Campus-wide/ tri-campus performance event
  • All-day workshop and performance
  • Workshop series (two or more workshops)
  • Professional development workshops with departments on issues related to inclusivity and diversity
  • Class visits
  • Collaboration with graduate student groups
  • Learning communities
  • Workshops at local, non-UW campuses

For booking inquiries or questions about our program, email ctlitp@uw.edu.


Performance Highlight: Forum theater performance and dialogue event (April 2013, event flyer PDF)

“Theatre is a form of knowledge; it should and can also be a means of transforming society. Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it.” (Augusto Boal)

During academic year 2012-2013, ITPP recruited a group of twenty UW faculty, staff educators, and graduate students to participate in a twelve-week learning community. Through theater games, intergroup dialogue, playwriting, and constant reflection, participants cultivated skills in interactive social change theater to spark dialogue on issues of institutional power, privilege, and oppression. The project culminated in a Forum Theater performance and dialogue event in April 2013, which drew over ninety audience members.

The ITPP players co-wrote and performed three Forum Theater plays depicting unresolved, problematic situations of oppression that affect the lives of UW community members every day.

“Everywhere I Go” focused on focused on heteronormativity and the policing of gender binaries in classroom and social settings.

“It All Flows Downhill” explored power inequities rooted in ethnocentrism and language oppression within a faculty group.

“Out of Time” problematized whiteness and racial microaggressions in teaching and research.

In Forum Theater, plays are performed once without interruption, and then repeated, allowing audience members—“spect-actors”—to enter the scene, take on a character, and transform the oppressive situation. Through interactive theater, the ITPP event prompted reflection, discussion, and the “rehearsal” of a variety of interventions.

What the audience said:

“Such issues arise regularly and it’s difficult to intervene at every instance…Theater of the Oppressed can help a lot by helping others see the impact of their actions.

“There is no perfect intervention or easy intervention, but many possibilities.”

“I want to use this more in my teaching…the use of these [approaches] in teaching continues to open possibilities for me.”

“Acting out the message was much more powerful than a lecture alone. Participation always helps with learning.”


Resources

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