I’m a candidate for a Master’s degree in Applied Theatre from the City University of New York. This July, alongside my professors and fellow classmates, I will embark on a journey to the Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) for 17 days. Our program has traveled to Rwanda every summer since 2010, creating an ongoing collaboration between the students and teachers of KIE. The goal is to share and deepen our use of applied theatre strategies and techniques.
So- what is applied theatre?
Applied theatre is a specialized field in which the medium of theatre is used to address educational and social issues. It is community-driven and typically utilized with non-actors in non-traditional contexts. You will often find this work being conducted in spaces such as classrooms, prisons, museums, hospitals, PTA meetings and senior citizen centers.
Applied theatre is about participant-centered learning. It asks questions, creates dialogue, and involves finding the agency in every situation. It requires those involved to constantly think critically about the goals of the work in relation to the needs and concerns of each specific population.
Throughout this MA program, I have been learning and practicing the theatrical and educational tools necessary for creating and implementing this type of work.
Some of the projects I have tackled since starting the program in the fall of 2014:
· Utilized the arts as a pathway to promote literacy amongst early learners (K-2nd grades) in public school classrooms located in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
· Used Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to co-facilitate a workshop at Woodbourne Correctional Facility in which the men developed and performed forum pieces revolving around re-entry and suicide in prison.
· Apprenticed with the Creative Arts Team Youth Theatre where young people aged 13-22 gained the skills to devise and perform a full-length production in less than 2 months (and yes- this means that the directors walked into the first rehearsal with NO SCRIPT)
· Currently assisting the development of a theatrical piece about the injustices of the parole system with formerly incarcerated men.
· Will be creating and performing in a short verbatim play exploring US politics and the politics of sex scandals that will premiere at a festival in early May.
Back to Rwanda- what will we be doing when we get there?
About 6 years ago, Rwanda’s Ministry of Education mandated drama as a part of secondary school curriculum. It is the only place in the country where students are learning to be drama teachers.
We will be exploring ways to utilize theatre as a peace-building instrument, specifically in Rwandan context and with Rwandan themes. KIE teachers and students will reapply the drama strategies that they are learning in ways that they deem useful. Culminating events have previously included an interactive applied theatre performance based upon the traditional tale “The Drummer,” Theatre of the Oppressed forum plays, and pieces created through playbuilding. Topics have covered corruption, plight of orphans, HIV/Aids, and house girls, among many others.
[Jumping from the town walls]
Why do I want to go?
This is a dream opportunity to witness the power of applied theatre and deepen my own understanding of its potential. This is a chance to see a part of the world and work with a culture that is completely different then my own. These experiences will strengthen me as an artist, an activist, and a human being.
[KIE students with CUNY swag]
What will your donations be going towards?
Tuition and fees
If you’d like to check out the past 4 years of experiences, please check out MA Applied Theatre Rwanda Blog
Please share this with others who may be interested.
THANK YOU for taking the time to read this!
Your help making this dream come true means the world to me!
- M.Greg Moreno
- Gregory Plunkett
- LYNDA ZIMMERMAN
- Heather Eisenlord
- Bill Brady
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