Plenary Sessions

Ways of Performing Community

International Panel

Music to Make a Revolution By

An evening of political song presented by the Castillo Theatre

This live cabaret features the songs of Castillo’s retired artistic director, Fred Newman, interwoven with political songs from around the world and throughout history—from Kurt Weil to Nina Simone to Bob Dylan to the latest rap from the streets of Brooklyn. Music to Make a Revolution By brings community, the avant-garde and song together for a night of passionate, energizing and challenging political entertainment.

All Stars Come Out

Lenora Fulani, Pamela A. Lewis, and All Stars Youth

What Is Revolutionary Activity and Do You Think You’re Doing It?

Dan Friedman, Lois Holzman, Fred Newman

Opera da Cidadania (The People’s Opera)

Policia Militar da Bahia Theatre Group

From the state of Bahia in Brazil comes Opera da Cidadania, a musical performance that highlights the openness and joy with which Bahians relate to culture. It invites the audience to participate and enjoy this snippet of the local popular festivities that enchant Bahia annually.  Opera da Cidadania presents issues related to culture, social responsibility and public security, emphasizing the importance of interdependence with the goal of creating a city in which community members are committed to developing meaningful shared living spaces where diversity is honored and respected. The cast is comprised of 29 police officers who have developed their skills as musicians, percussionists, singers, dancers, capoeristas and actors.

Concurrent Sessions

Creative Aging

Helen Abel and Nina Utigaard


We live in a culture that views aging negatively, our elders often feeling invisible. How can we age in a way that inspires us to continue to grow and develop? How can we support older adults to be active participants in their community?  This experiential workshop, using improvisation, art, music, movement, and poetry, will introduce you to new ways of responding to some of the common issues faced by older adults. Join us in playing with what it means to grow older as active choice makers, whatever life may bring.

Identifying Challenges and Advantages of Peer Education and Counseling in STIs and HIV Prevention Education with PLWHA and High-Risk Youth in Pakistan

Rana Gulzar Ahmad


As poverty continues to grip Pakistan, the number of urban street children grows and has now reached alarming proportions, demanding far greater action than presently offered. Urbanization, natural catastrophes, disease, war and internal conflict, economic breakdown causing unemployment, and homelessness have forced families and children to search for a “better life,” often making children vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. This presentation will showcase a rights-based life skills project operating in eight community organizations throughout Quetta City, Pakistan. Participants will be invited to take part in a Balochi Folk Dance.

Creating a Giving Community: An Intimate Look at the Performance of Fund Raising

Jeff Aron, Joyce Dattner and Martha Jane Avstreih


In an era when budget cuts and government cutbacks have made all the headlines,  how did the All Stars Project go from soliciting $1 contributions on street corners to a $12 million performing arts complex on 42nd Street? Join a conversation with some of the people who have raised and given more than $35 million over the past 9 years and helped to build communities that have supported the national expansion of the of All Stars. Learn how to perform as a community-building fundraiser as we explore the professional, performatory, emotional and other dimensions of asking and giving.


Performing Kenya

Pamela Ateka, Nancy Muraya, and Charles Muthiora


In this session we will explore storytelling, poetry and the power of the spoken word as a source of healing and community development. Everyone is a participant in this session, and all participants will have an opportunity to also tell their own stories and write their own poems. We will explore the community of storytelling and the storytelling of community. Enjoy a piece of Kenyan passion!

Performing the Word for the Peace of the World

Babafemi Babatope


This session is both theoretical and practical, consisting of an academic paper entitled Performing the Word for the Peace of the World and a 15-minute solo drama sketch on HIV and AIDS called The Scourge. The paper will emphasize performing the word (theatre) for the amelioration of social dysfunctionality. The sketch will dramatize the ordeal of a man at the advanced stage of AIDS who decides to share his story before he gives up the ghost.

Transformance: Learning to Perform Personal and Collective Self-Determination

Dan Baron-Cohen


This illustrated presentation will demonstrate how storytelling, dance-drama, dialogic sculpture and collective ‘improvisation’ techniques can be used to transform schools, workplaces and communities into theatres where we can learn cooperatively, interculturally and democratically to shape and perform our identity, our desires, and our capacity to respond creatively to the ‘performance pressures’ of an increasingly competitive and constantly changing multicultural world.  Through a two-year project based in an agro-ecological community school, it will show how these techniques cultivate solidarity, dialogic questioning, personal and collective motivation, intercultural self-awareness and collective self-confidence to build and perform theatres of cooperation and sustainable community.


Improvisational Teaching: Pre-service Elementary Teachers in the Pedagogical Dance

Kirstin Bratt


During this workshop, we hope to engage participants in examples of the improvisational work that we use with our pre-service teachers in language arts and dance methods for elementary education majors. We use children’s literature as a basis for movement and, through these texts, encourage movement that does not reproduce literature but rather responds to it through body, effort, space, and shape.

Changing the “Language Games” of Schools, Organizations, and Institutions

Volker Bunzendahl


A story about the development of a non-dogmatic method with which we try to create zones of the next possibilities together, in collaboration with pupils, service assistants, teachers, educators and all people involved in the school. The story contains speech, pictures and small video clips, and the workshop will involve all participants in playful activities. Come and join a workshop where theory and the “best of academics” meet with practice and “the best of activism.”

Other Voices—Youth-Driven Theatre as Participatory Action Research

Andrew Burton


Andrew Burton and members of the award-winning Street Spirits Theatre Company lead this workshop example of interactive theatre as participatory action research. Collaborating with local communities of shared concern, youth actors create plays that reflect local experience of social problems such as drug addiction, racism, sexual exploitation and family violence. The play is performed for the public in “Forum,” allowing audience members to intervene and try to resolve the issues in the play. The creative process includes community consultation through interviews and focus groups to identify the issues as well as workshop-style play creation including our youth performers and community volunteers leading to a complete representative play. The workshop will include an outline of how we work and a performance of  an original play created by youth in Prince George, British Columbia during a research tour on sexual assault.

Promoting Children’s Social + Play Skills Through Improv-Based “Play Group”

Faye Casell and Barb O’Neill


Early childhood special educators Barb O’Neill and Faye Cassell discuss the application of improvisation and creative drama activities as tools to promote the social-emotional development of both special education and general education students.  Both of these educators have implemented improv-based “play groups” in preschool classrooms in order to promote the social development of the participating children.  They discuss anecdotal evidence that suggests that the use of play group interventions in school settings can help children of all abilities to take risks, develop new play skills and create friendships.

TLC Project—Theatre of Liberation Community Project

Simon Christopher De Abreu


Theatre of Liberation Community Project (TLC Project) is a fun sustainable social action that works to foster democratic participatory systems of social change.  The TLC Project brings people together to have some “SERIOUS FUN.”  Theatre games are used to empower citizens to engage their creative spirit, so they can communicate the challenges they and their community are facing.  Theatre of Liberation is an EMPOWERING collective, creative act that provides citizens an opportunity to rehearse possible real life changes which offers hope for a positive transformation of our collectively shared present, thus securing a more socially JUST future . . . so please DO get involved!

Performative Approaches to Supporting Refugee Children

Laurent Ditmann, Christina Shunnarah, Jennifer Greene and Mckenzie Wren


This forum will allow performance-focused professionals from all fields dealing with war-impacted children and refugee children to debate supportive methodologies with representatives of the International Community School of Decatur, Georgia.  The only institution of this type in the United States, ICS is a free charter school of the DeKalb County School System (K/6) serving the needs of local children as well as refugee and immigrant children to learn about the beliefs and traditions of others and encourage a respectful environmental and global perspective.

Performing Recovery

Margo Edwards


This workshop intends to continue the dialogue about using performance in recovery.  We will initially look at the existing performances used in social model recovery.  Drug and alcohol counselors and others in the recovery community are invited to share their own learning/development experiences and how they have communicated or shared these experiences with others. Counselors can benefit greatly from this performance-based session, which will be therapeutic for those in recovery (both counselors and those enrolled in recovery programs).  Come!  Let’s learn to Perform Recovery!

Handbook for Beginners: Vocabulary of Mistakes

Vera Erac and Aleksandra Jelic


In this workshop we want to present an applied theatre approach from the side of complications and frustrations. Come to explore with us our beginnings in developing the drama-based approach to working with people in different settings (prisons, schools, Roma community) in Serbia. Go with us through a series of improvisational exercises and transformations of mistake situations, and help us to look at the mistakes from different perspectives.

From Burnout to Fired Up!: The Creativity of Conversation in the Nonprofit Workplace

Esther Farmer and Dale Hamilton

Canada and USA

In order to respond to the variety of issues in human services, organizations frequently operate in crisis mode. In this environment staff sometimes gets stuck in stultifying roles that can lead to burnout. Lateral Strategies is a community development consultancy led by Esther Farmer from New York and Dale Hamilton from Ontario, Canada, that uses performance to re-ignite creativity in community building. Our work with NGOs uses performance to create new conversations and relationships among staff and clients. Participants will “try on” new ways of performing relationships, potentially opening up new possibilities in their everyday encounters in the nonprofit sector.

Improvisation in Psychology and Social Work Education (Or, “What is there to teach?”)

Nancy Feldman, Murray Dabby, and Rafael Mendez


Developmental learning is important in a world in which there is no knowing the ‘right answer’ to many of the practical and ethical questions that students confront. We are educators in psychology and social work who focus on developmental learning, particularly through the use of performance and improvisation. Our presentation will include a discussion of our experiences with improvisation as a teaching tool in psychology and social work classes. Through improvisation games and dialogue with the audience, we will explore the nature of developmental learning and its critical role in education.

The Ill-Tempered Orchestra

John Findlay


Here’s your chance to play yourself as a musical instrument.  Bring your best moans, whinges, grizzles, rowls, nagging and wails along. First we write the score and the libretto. Then we perform our symphony of discontent.


Spin-a-Play to a Hip Hop Aesop

J.E. Franklin

Jazzed, Bopped and Beat-Boxed s both a literary board game and multi-purpose learning tool which frames the goals of literacy, education and spiritual healing as a performance experience. The
session will introduce participants to richly textured, fable-based
three-minute plays, written for either interactive or choral reading
presentation. Performance Teams to be formed at the session, using  only
“human orchestration” rather than instrumentation, will be given several
minutes to rehearse the plays before performing them for the workshop.

Making Plays Through Performatory Play

Dan Friedman and Brian Mullin


At Youth Onstage! we build our young performers’ capacities for “performatory play.”  We organize theatrical environments in which they can play with and challenge the political, social, and philosophical assumptions circumscribing their lives.  In this workshop, participants will experience some of the methods by which YO! has created its acclaimed improv-based theater pieces. Interactive exercises will explore how to use observation of the world around you as well as textual sources as material for improvisation and innovative theatrical experimentation.

Imaging That! Using Image Work (Theatre) in War-Affected Areas

Elise Griede

The Netherlands

How can application of creative methods positively influence the lives of young people affected by war? This is a question that War Child Holland tries to answer. War Child is an international NGO that uses Creative Methods (drama, art, music, sports) in its projects with children and youth in 11 war-affected countries. How does that work? Combining presentation with theatre exercises, this workshop aims to give the participants an (inter)active introduction to the vision, the methods and the challenges of working creatively in a war-torn context.

Processing the “-isms”

Tom Griggs


Participants are invited to engage in process drama (O’Neill, 1995) to explore one use of acting, training, and performance techniques I propose making in teacher professional development.  Using a scenario drawn from my own first year of high school teaching experience, this workshop will explore the dynamics of exclusionary “-isms” and how they affect us, whether consciously or otherwise.  We will also interrogate how these attitudes shape our professional effectiveness in working in diverse setting.

Soweto Children’s Musical Games as Play and Performance

Susan Harrop-Allin

South Africa

This session focuses on children’s musical games observed in Soweto primary schools in South Africa and how these games function for children as play and performance. I suggest that these games are not only interesting and important forms of musical practice in their own right, but that they have implications for pedagogy. I will present a number of the games on video and discuss the musical knowledges and capacities they embody, and finally consider how teachers may ‘recruit’ these games as potential resources in the classroom.

Drama in the Hospital

Karelisa Hartigan


This presentation continues and updates my PTW3 paper on drama and healing, ancient and modern. I discuss how Playback Theater is used at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida. When a patient sees his/her story performed by the drama troupe, he/she can come to terms with it. In this way the reenactment assists the healing process. Every week the actors see their work validated by patient reaction, either bedside or in a common space. A DVD video documents their work.

Traumatic Performances: 1. The Art of Silence 2. The Sin Eater 3. The Bystanders

Jennifer Hartley


Dealing with trauma through drama. Trauma resulting from oppression – looking at the various points of view of all those involved and the workshop methods developed to work with them. Part of a three-stage project working with torture survivors, their torturers and others involved in the process that resulted in a trilogy of plays. Looking at producing theatre from trauma workshops and the repercussions of involving case studies in performances of their experiences – the ethics and the therapeutic process. A study of the complexity of oppressive situations to be judged in black and white terms.

How Performance Art Interventions Contribute to the Field of Conflict Resolution

Dena Hawes


Art can influence the way people interpret, perceive, and ultimately act in their communities. This talk explores and explains the role of art and the place of the artist in resolving and transforming community conflict. Focus is given to performance artists Suzanne Lacy and James Luna. Empirical research measured the impact that a specific kind of creative experience had on an audience, exploring the issue of intentionality how the artist’s intention can influence the attitudes and perceptions of the viewer and change the way individual members of an audience perceive a group, situation, or event.

Societal Masking

Societal Masking



In this workshop we will create personal masks and perform a collaborative “Happening.” These societal masks examine the personal psychological need to displace or heighten one’s own identity by feigning situational character types. Masks build self-confidence by providing us with a protective space that we can observe, participate and perform from. This vitalizing workshop invites you to consider your own societal masks and perform them outside of the security of workshop walls.

School and Democracy: Creating New Communities of Inclusion

Rikke Moller Johannesen


This panel is about children and their opportunities to enter into and create new communities of inclusion in a changeable and polarized world. I want to show that the formation of the self is a basis for the opportunities. The self forms through play and social interaction, and an awareness of this must be integrated into the pedagogical work of the teacher who aspires to contribute to creating new communities of inclusion. In this light I want to show that the pedagogical work with democracy and citizenship education in school can be an important key.

Discerning Community Issues for Youth Theatre Devising

Lauren Jost


This interactive workshop will focus on the methods and theories utilized for discerning community issues during the devising process of a 2007 urban youth theatre case study in East New York, Brooklyn.  In addition to providing examples of student work, we will actively explore the techniques used in discerning the issues that the young people identified as important to their community and how these issues were applied to the theatre-devising process through brainstorming and scene development. Workshop participants will activate various models and reflect on the efficacy of these techniques with different populations of young people.


Djordje Jovanovic and Edmond Makasci


In the first part of our presentation we will try to show how a post-war developing society influences the lives of people who are different. Moreover, we will try to show what happens with people who are a minority within a minority, based on our personal experience. In the second part, we will suggest a solutionsomething that helped us deal with discrimination. We are eager to hear what you think about it.

Different is Beautiful: Theatre in Education Project in Tolerance Building Among Youth in Multiethnic Regions in Serbia

Svetlana Kijevcanin


This session will be a short presentation of two similar projects that used theatre in education methodology in a tolerance building process among youth coming from different ethnic background in Serbia: Bosnians, Serbs, Albanian and Roma.

Both projects were realized within the CARE International Serbia and Montenegro in the period from 2002-2004 in the Sandzak region and Southern Serbia, in partnership with NGO CEDEUM (Centre for Drama in Education and Art).

Security System

Marianne Kim and Joseph Ravens


Security System is a portable inflatable multimedia performance inspired by fear and the illusion of safety. Choreographer/video artist Marianne M. Kim and installation/performance artist Joseph Ravens collaborate to address site-specific performance and the role of public performance. Within this piece, the performers become inventor, victim, witness, and perpetrator. Their actions blur the line between task-oriented functionality and structured ritual. Transformation, mutation, and decay serve to reinforce the concept of fear and imagined safety. Kim and Ravens create work that challenges expectations and champions the dialogue between art forms in order to transcend genres and discover concepts that are psychological and political.

Culture and Health: Ethnic Differences in Health

Prem Kuwar


This research program searched for explanations for ethnic differences in health and health care and revealed the reasons for these differences and the ways to reduce them. In this workshop we will show how new knowledge about ethnic differences from epidemiological and clinical research can be used to improve practice in the areas of prevention of various preventable diseases, including both primary health care and mental health care.

What We’ve Learned About Social Therapy Group Over the Last 35 Years

Christine La Cerva and Joyce Dattner


How does the social therapy group work? What have we learned from years of creating groups?  How do groups develop? What is the role of the therapist? The patient? What are we discovering in the day-to-day practice of the social therapy group about human development? This workshop will explore, investigate and continue to create the social therapy group.

Shakespeare and the Collective Imagination

Fiona Lesley


This session uses collaborative experiential engagement with Shakespeare’s text to unlock powerful sources of meaning and perspective between actors and non-actors. The approach focuses on the spirit of invention within the text and provides an experiential space where actors and audiences can explore, examine and create together. Through practical exercises that are both accessible and challenging, we will unpack the metaphorical layers of Shakespeare’s craft working with story, location, character and imagery to open up new insights into the plays and the power of the imagination between actor and audience.

“Hey, I have an idea for a game”: Creating Improv Activities that Support Learning and Development

Carrie Lobman and Matt Lundquist


What does it take to create your own improv games?  How can creating improv activities enhance learning and help you relate to everything as part of an ongoing improvisational performance? In this workshop, Carrie Lobman and Matthew Lundquist, authors of the book Unscripted Learning: Using improv activities across the K-8 curriculum, will work with participants to develop games and activities for use in each person’s learning environments—whether it be a classroom, a workplace, a family, or a political organization. You will come away with many new activities, and even more importantly, you will develop as an activity-creator.

“How Do We Build with this Mess?”  Creating Culture in an Inner-City Public School Using a Unique Blend of Improvisation and Brain Research

Gwen Lowenheim, Stephen Appea, Joan Mahon-Powell, and Stuart Sears


There are two exciting yet seemingly disconnected trends gaining momentum in the fields of psychology and organizational development these days. One is the growing impact of technology-aided brain research and its revelations about the importance of sustained intention for taking advantage of the brain’s ‘plasticity’ for creative re-wiring. The second is performative psychologies that relate to human beings as active creators of their lives who have the capacity to continually perform beyond themselves. Through presentation and improvisational group building activities, we will show you how a team of trainers has integrated these two strands and partnered with a school principal to create a working, organically developing culture in a New York City elementary school.

Masks of Manipulation

Simon Malbogat


Simon, Artistic Director of Mixed Company Theatre in Toronto, will share how the Sweet Medicine Teachings from the Metis Deer Tribe Society (particularly the External Manipulators and the Tyrant Oppressor Wheel) and his Masks of Manipulation may be applied to work in Forum Theatre.  Through exploration of the teachings and the Masks, participants will start to develop a unique and creative language and methodology with which to identify the various manipulations/oppressions at the center of dramatic conflict.  The ideas presented will complement the creative and analytical processes involved in developing a theatrical piece for both professional and community-based activities.

The Art of Change: Exploring Culture, Theatre, and the Development of Young People

Jerry Maraia, Jennifer Holmes, and Fiona Lesley

Various Countries

The Art of Change is an international theatre education research project that seeks to develop new practice between theatre artists and educators cross-culturally. It has been initiated by a group of leading theatre education practitioners from the UK with their international colleagues in Japan, India, Catalonia, and the USA.  The project examines the relationship between theatre practice, young people, and culture. This session will provide a practical insight into the way The Art of Change has worked with creative practice as a tool for collaborative research and share findings from developments of the project in the USA.

Writing “Ugly Duckling”

Ana Marjanovic-Shane


Exploring connections between child play and creative writing is the goal of this two-part workshop. First, participants engage in joint re-writing the “Ugly Duckling”, while exploring memories and ideas about what they want to achieve with regard to genre, possible audience, and type of presentation —book, play, poem, etc (to be videotaped.) In part two, participants are guided in these taped interactions and discussing different processes involved in the activity of story creation, establishing mutual relationships and new individual and group definitions of themselves.

Improvising With(in) the System: Performance in Action with Inner-City Schoolteachers

Jim Martinez, Matt Lundquist, and Barbara O’Neill


Three New York City teachers will share how they have used improvisation, as well as the performance-based methodology developed by Newman and Holzman, to create possibilities for learning and development in some of the least creative environments: inner-city schools. By using improvisation, teachers can go beyond the traditional teacher role and create unscripted performances of teaching and learning with their students. This session will provide a forum for an interactive dialogue about the ways in which successful teachers are working within the current educational climate to maintain a focus on the development of their students as creative, inquiring social learners.

Merging Lives: All Stars Project Present Intergenerational Theatre Workshop

Susan Massad, Vicky Wallace, and Amanda Williams


Intergenerational Theatre (IGT) is the newest program of the All Stars Project, a
nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting human development through the use of an innovative performance-based model.  IGT brings together seniors from various ethnic and class backgrounds with inner city adolescents interested in the performing arts. Led by a trained theatre director, participants learn improvisation skills and create dramatized stories, using material from each of their lives.  In creating the scenes, ‘my’ story becomes ‘our’ story. People who don’t ordinarily do things together create new conversations. Everyone develops. Seniors and youth will perform and lead a discussion.

Acting Creativity Through Theater

Kimberly A. McCarthy


Presented herein are two hands-on methods that address, through the proactive medium of theater, some of the most challenging environments that lack in community. The first is derived from the Los Angeles Poverty Department  (L.A.P.D.), a theater company based in Skid Row, Los Angeles, California. The second, Scrap Mettle Soul Performance Company, is based in Uptown, Chicago, the most diverse neighborhood in the United States. How can a sense of community exist in such high-risk, diverse, and uncertain environments, ones in which a transient lifestyle has its rewards?  Participants in this workshop will partake in some of these successful techniques.

Ceremony as the Original Performance: Post-modern Perspectives

Lewis Mehl-Madrona


In the pre-modern world, ceremony was done in accordance with prescribed rituals and protocols, passed from one generation to the next, changing as culture changed.  How do we do ceremony in a post-modern world in which any group meeting together can be composed of multiple cultures and practices?  Through circular (nonlinear) communication techniques such as the Lakota talking circle, members of multiple cultures can contribute performance vignettes which may be assembled into a spiritually powerful, novel narrative evolved from the group at hand, containing elements of all the cultures and families represented.

Tokens, Torchbearers and Transgressors: Performing Gender in the 1970s

Lois Melina


Women in the 1970s entered previously male-dominated jobs and fields of study in numbers unprecedented in peacetime. As they challenged presumptions that certain abilities, qualities, and roles were more naturally “male” or “female,” they manifested new ways of being women. They negotiated and performed gender. This workshop will engage participants in a readers’ theater presentation of the stories of women in the 1970s based on interviews with women now in their fifties. Following the readers’ theater performance, both the actors and audience will be invited to respond to the stories and the performance experience.

The Artmaker as Active Agent: Six Portraits

Susan Monagan


This workshop presents findings from a project that has engaged community-based artists in dialogue about their own experiences of working with communities and addressing and defining the new problems presented by a changing public life. This presentation will use participants’ experiences to facilitate an interactive discussion about the particular challenges and opportunities presented by this work, especially those that pertain to criticism and research.

The People’s Poet

Caroline Nderitu and Pamela Ateka


Even though, like other writers, we write and perform for arts’ sake on love, life, sunshine, butterflies and general entertainment, the bulk of our work has been writing on topical issues such as HIV/AIDs, peace, water, climate change, the digital divide, electricity, justice, patriotism, agriculture and the like. Therefore, it is only natural that we would want to accentuate the place and power of poetry as a viable voice on day-to-day issues in our societies by staging some of our social poetry.

1. Time to Deliver 2. Arise Africa

Gbenga Ojo, Nicholas Aisewomhion, and Elijah Jaiyeoba


These two songs are nice African melodies composed primarily to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS and to call on all stakeholders for increased commitment and proactiveness in combating the pandemic.


Jen Pearcy, Sabine Choucair, Robin Edwards, Dorie Kinnear, and Andy Langenfeld


“Icy” is the story of a young girl growing up in rural Kentucky in the 1950s with undiagnosed Tourette’s syndrome. Afflicted with violent ticks, uncontrollable cursing and physical deformation when the “spells” set in, she struggles to find her place in the small town world she lives in within the Appalachian mountains. Infectious Theatre investigates this story using storytelling, mime, puppetry, and Butoh dance.  We seek to find, along with Icy, where it is that she fits in.

Performing Citizenship: Constitutional Education and Youth Development in South Africa

Betsi Pendry, Fantino Masike, Ice Ngubane, Chiliza Nkabinde, and Stompie Selibe

South Africa

The workshop will be a combination of listening to and seeing some of the documentary work that learners in the Democracy Begins in Conversation have created. We will also do some of the performances that the DBIC does and will have a discussion of citizenship, performance and youth development from the South African vantage point as well as how others understand and engage it from around the world.

From margin to centre: Youth Performing and Growing Under the Willows

Ruth Pickering, Daniel Allen, and Robin Pittis


Under the Willows in Hamilton, Canada, where vulnerable youth join artists to garden, play and perform, is a growing community. Here, artists, volunteers and children work in relationship and mutual respect as they grow and learn  … in Music Circle, Drama Dressup, Oceans of Potions or Clayworld. After four weeks of consorting with Basketheads, Olivia, the Moon Bird, Foo the Phool and others, the program culminates in a final glorious celebration with music, face-painting, costumes, and story.

Gramma, Sim Frug, Foo and Olivia join dr ruth (Pickering), Daniel Allen and Robin Pittis and you for a (brief) day Under the Willows

Color Bonita: A Dialogical Act to Witness and Be Witnessed

Christopher Ramirez and Eddy F. Alvarez Jr.


Color Bonita comes out of an ethnographic art project that began two years ago in Los Angeles, California.  The initial dialogue occurred in Whittier, where 29 Latino men participated in a conversation that included discussion around growing up queer and Latino, the Latino family, the Catholic Church, homophobia and racism.  Participants in this session will explore and interact with these narratives by contributing to an ongoing dialogic performance, Color Bonita.  In essence, the audience becomes participants themselves in a collection of voices illuminating the complexities of the queer Latino experience.

Youth Participatory Evaluation: As Serious Play

Kim Sabo-Flores


Within the non-profit sector the terms “evaluation”, “outcomes”, and “impacts” have become a part of our everyday conversations.  However, what do these terms truly mean? And how can evaluation be conducted in such a way to inform our funders while continuously creating our programs and developing our youth?  This session will examine these questions and will provide concrete hands-on examples of participatory evaluation drawn from Kim Sabo-Flores’ new book Youth Participatory Evaluation.  It will be argued that these types of participatory evaluation processes support individual, organizational, and community development.

Performing the (Musical) World

Cathy Rose Salit and David Little


Join the chorus!! This musical workshop will be a rehearsal for some of the numbers in “Music to Make A Revolution By,” our Saturday evening concert on the Performing the World stage. If you love to sing, please join us for a song-filled session where we’ll arrange, learn, and practice a few songs together as the newly dubbed “PTW 4 Chorus.”

“Yes, And” in a “No, But” World

Cathy Rose Salit, David Nackman and Maureen Kelly


Come play with Performance of a Lifetime (POAL), a training and consulting firm that uses the performance tools of improvisation and theater to help executives and employees across the globe grow as leaders, communicators, and collaborators. In environments where “No” and “No, but” are the cultural vernacular, POAL brings a “Yes, and” approach to the myriad of conversations in the workplace. With clients ranging from Citigroup to the United States Olympics to the Women’s Environment & Development Organization, POAL helps people and organizations to improvise, perform, and grow.


Therapeutics, Play and Play Therapy for the New Millennium

Ishita Sanyal


As practiced in India, art, music and play therapy have empowered thousands of children and adults alike. Based on the idea that the creative act can be healing, they have been particularly useful in cases of people suffering from schizophrenia to help express hidden emotions, relieve fear and anxiety, and to discover an inner sense of freedom and security. Art not only acts as a tool for externalization of internal stress but is invaluable for vocational therapy and economic rehabilitation. We will explore this modality using art and performance media — music, poetry, writing, computer graphics, and more — to create a creative and healing environment!


David Schein


David Schein founded an AIDS Education Circus in Ethiopia.  MYethiOPIA puts the audience in an Ethiopian marketplace where a show turns dangerous. The show explores the colonial aspects of working as an artist in a “developing” country where the cost of a camera is a year’s food for a family. The moral: Art is a common language; in some situations, when language, religion, politics, and compassion don’t work, Spolin can save the day.

Where do programs go when they die?: Legacy, Transformation and Development

Barbara Silverman


Many practitioners and youth have grappled with the defunding of their programs.

What’s the impact on staff and youth? Is there a loss and if so what gets lost?  Where do programs and the work that was done go?  Is there a place called program heaven?  Join Barbara Silverman, founder of Let’s Talk About It, a school based mental health program that ran for 14 years in a panel discussion to explore new possibilities.

Let the Body Speak!

Shoshana Simons and Nina Quirk


How does the imperative to write in the language of an academic discipline restrict our ability to express the “text-ured” nature of our subject?  Entry to the Academy is predicated on speaking the “master’s tongue.”  In doing so we risk losing the deeply held knowing that brings so many of us into passionate inquiry. In this workshop, we will bring other ways of knowing into the space.  Using a range of embodied and improvisational activities, we’ll facilitate the unleashing of our indigenous knowledge in a way that is consistent with the emerging territories we are exploring in our fields.

Tricksters in White Coats: Hospital Clowning in the International Play Zone

Nancy Smithner


This workshop will be introduced by a brief talk on the impact of hospital clowning on pediatric settings globally, nationally, and specifically in New York City.  From the perspective of an academic and a fool, I have been working as a clown in hospitals for the past 15 years, and have participated in and observed the ways that this performance work builds community and nurtures the soul. We will then delve into some exercises which involve play, improvisation, noses and techniques of clowning. I have developed some very accessible techniques for finding the clown within and expressing the inner trickster. Hospital clowning is often what we term “soft sell” clowning, because sensitivity and listening skills are key. This session will investigate the merger of humor and serious performance business.

The Power of Play: BE-ing in Your Body

Jeff Smithson


Unless recognized as an athlete or performer, few of us pay close attention to how we move through space.  Be-ing in a body offers infinite opportunities for expression. And yet we often restrict the focus of our communication to words, thereby relegating our body’s expression to the unconscious. What happens when we bring greater awareness to what is happening beyond our brain?  From solo warm-up exercises to group games, participants will be encouraged to solo down and discover powerful new (and old) means of expression.  Please dress in clothing that allows for movement.

Using Improvisation and Sports Psychology to Enhance Sport Performance

Manfred Straehle and Brianna Kearns


Have you ever wondered if there was a relationship between sports performance, sports psychology, and theatrical improvisation? This workshop is designed to review and apply some basic concepts of sports psychology and theatrical improvisation using the PETAIM system (Straehle, 2003) to increase athletic performance. Specifically, we will review the PETAIM acronym in detail, which stands for Plan, Emotion, Thought, Acceptance, Intuition, and Movement. The PET part derives from sports psychology concepts while the AIM part derives from the theatrical improvisation literature. After learning and reviewing PETAIM terms and concepts, individuals will be asked to participate in sport exercises such as Frisbee, Nerf basketball, and mini-golf.

Performing with the Ancestors: Relationships and Development in African Spiritualities

Tiffany Tracey

South Africa

I’d like to tell the story of what it is to perform as a sangoma, a healer in the Zulu tradition. Many healers of southern Africa believe that the spirits of family members who have died continue to direct and guide living relatives, and sangomas are men and women who help people to hear what their ancestors ask. We are people who create developmental relationships with the amadlozi who guide us, and help others do the same with the spirits who guide them. Mostly we perform: we pray, we dance, we give, we sing. We grow into what we are not yet, with the love and guidance of people who are not there.

Power of Performance Workshop

Arlene Vadum


This workshop will focus on the “how-tos” of re-visioning self, others, and social situations to promote enhanced living with others. Participants will identify behaviors that they would like to experiment with modifying through performance. We then will work on creating fictional characters, based on ideas from social science and improvisational acting, embodying the qualities that they hope to develop in themselves, to try out on a “let’s pretend” basis in day-to-day interactions. Such performance offers a playful, enjoyable way to learn about the power of imagination in creating fulfilling interpersonal relationships.

The Music Narratives Project: Using Art, Education and Ideas for Change in India

Caitie Whelan


This presentation explores the dynamic role of music in the lives of the Merasi (Msician) community of Rajasthan, India.  The Merasi, who are categorized as Untouchable, descend from 37 generations of rich musical legacy.  Despite their seemingly noble employment as storytellers, they live in crippling poverty. Amidst tremendous marginalization, these musicians have begun to use music as an agent for social change.  Drawing from a tapestry of photographs and traditional desert music, this interactive presentation explores the issues of hope, human rights, and cultural preservation through the emotive voice of the Merasi.


Gbenga Windapo and Hafiz Oyetoro


“SAFE SEX, NO WAHALA” is one of the many plays in the repertory of  Community Alive Project, a community-based anti-HIV/AIDS project, and has been of tremendous success and impact in Nigerian communities where it has been staged. A two-man comedy, “SAFE SEX, NO WAHALA” dwells on the lives of Tom (Gbenga Windapo) and Adoola (Hafiz Oyetoro), two men living with HIV/AIDS. The play mirrors their lives, before and after contracting the virus, and how their positive living helped changed the negative attitude of their community towards them and thereby gave hope to others living with the virus.