Towards the Fear: The creation of an interview theatre piece

By Arielle Sosland

Towards the Fear, directed and created by Professor Joe Salvatore is an interview theatre piece that focuses on topics of bullying, social combat and aggression.

The company consists of eight actors/researchers, four Drama Therapy students and four Educational Theatre students.

The Cast in Rehearsal

As a student studying Educational Theatre, working with the Drama Therapy students has allowed me to consider theatre through a therapeutic lens. Although not trained in Drama Therapy practices, through working with these four actors/researchers, I am engaging in discussions on how this work may emotionally affect our audiences.

Before rehearsals began, we were required to complete the UCAIHS (University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects) Certification Exam that allows us to conduct research involving human subjects.  In our initial rehearsals, Joe trained us in the proper interview protocol and informed us of the six open-ended prompts and questions that we used with each of our interview participants.

As the interviews were happening outside of rehearsal, in rehearsal we were devising movement pieces based off of source material and conversations surrounding the topics of bullying, social combat, and aggression. We worked to create three movement pieces to be showcased at the beginning, middle and end of the performance and essentially break up the interviews. Our initial movement piece was created based on the research of Robert Faris and Diane Felmlee on Social Networks and Aggression at the Wheatley School.  Both of these sociologists make appearances in the interview sections as well.

Once we finished the interviews, each actor/researcher transcribed up to three of the most compelling 2-3 minute sections of each interview. We then took three or four rehearsals to assemble the script.  First, we narrowed our participants down to twenty “characters” for the performance, and then a second pass reduced that number to sixteen.  Then we grouped the interview sections into categories to determine which sections worked nicely with others.

Eventually, we had about 70 pages laid out on the floor of the Drama Therapy Room in the Pless Annex and with great excitement we were able to say, “we have our script!”

To be part of physically fitting the pieces of the script together allowed all the actors to feel a great sense of accomplishment when we were able to step back and look at the transcriptions laid out in order on the ground.

Through this project we hope to motivate audience members to reflect on their own experiences of bullying, social combat, and aggression, and act on ways to change these environments. Towards the Fear, the title of our production reminds audience members the challenge of changing aggressive environments and yet the adults we interviewed all stand as examples that we are able to persevere and to empower others. I look forward to seeing and hearing audience reactions about the piece and stirring up critical conversations about this important topic.

For the full research article by Faris and Felmlee click here: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/10/10/findings.from.the.wheatley.school.pdf

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Towards the Fear: An exploration of bullying, social combat, and aggression
Created and Directed by Joe Salvatore and members of the company
Program in Drama Therapy

LOCATION: Provincetown Playhouse
ADMISSION: $15 General, $5 Students & Seniors
For tickets, contact NYU Ticket Central
ONLINE: nyu.edu/ticketcentral/calendar
BY PHONE: 212 352 3101
IN PERSON: 566 LaGuardia Place
(at Washington Square South)

Thursday, April 10 at 8pm
Friday, April 11 at 8pm
Saturday, April 12 at 8pm
Sunday, April 13 at 3pm