THEATRICAL CONVENTIONS and METHODOLOGY
ATC believes in a participant-centered pedagogy that is heavily influenced by Brazilian writer, activist and educator Paulo Freire. This approach places participant interests first and puts them at the center of their own quest for change. The conventions described below are the ways in which we engage our partners and activate this pedagogy.
Storytelling celebrates individual assets and strengthen connections. Applied theatre practitioner Jan Cohen-Cruz offers, “Storytelling as critical pedagogy . . . provides a way for people who identify with one another to imagine different actions leading to different outcomes.” One of ATC's main goals in using this methodology is to create space for participants to identify with one another and, by doing so, establish an environment in which new possibilities can be imagined to address common concerns.
"I think how similar . . . we are, like our images and scenes . . . we didn't even have any idea . . . The commonality, I mean I knew we had it but to that level, I was kind of amazed by that." -- Workshop Participant
Devising is the process of creating original theatrical pieces. ATC uses devising to create small segments of theatre reflective of participants’ experiences to give them a clearer picture of the issues in their community and offer more active ways to communicate about them. This methodology allows participants to try on many different roles, engaging in performance themselves, to gain an understanding of others while also imagining different alternatives out of the struggles they are experiencing.
Improvisation is not only fun, but it helps develop collaborative approaches to problem-solving and team-building. Improvisation requires participants to support each other in a present and committed manner. ATC uses improvisation techniques to strengthen the active listening, collaboration, collective imagination, and critical thinking skills for participants.
"It is kind of startling to see it from the outside when you see it everyday. You do kind of have a numbness to it, but to see it re-enacted it is sort of a shock to the senses. " -- Workshop Participant
Augusto Boal‘s Theatre of the Oppressed techniques are arts-based strategies to address participants’ concerns. Boal is one of the most recognized and influential practitioners in theatre for social change. This practice also offers participants the ability to examine their experiences and options for meeting their needs.