As Performance: Therapeutic Theatre Series

As Performance: Therapeutic Theatre Series

The NYU Program in Drama Therapy As Performance series is a part of the Theatre and Health Lab. In this series, we create theatre with real people about their real lives and, together, discover how theatre supports personal and public health. We create theatre with real people about their real lives and, together, discover how theatre supports personal and public health.

By framing the topics that we explore in this series as performance, we acknowledge the culturally situated and socially constructed quality of lived experience. Our experiences become available to exploration and change when understood and expressed through performance.

Definition. Therapeutic theatre is the practice of drama and theatre with individuals and communities who want to use theatre-making and performance as a means of addressing psychological, physiological, and social concerns and to promote health and wellbeing. It is one approach used by drama therapists to support goals such as reminiscence, recovery, rehabilitation, and advocacy.
We produce two major performances a year in partnership with communities (Spring and Fall) and stage student-led performances in February (Winter Series). Our research has already begun to shed light on distinguishing features of therapeutic theatre in relation to theatre in general, methodological approaches associated with this practice, aesthetic and ethical considerations, and the positive impact that theatre can have on our physical, cognitive, emotional, and social health.
The Process. While the process will differ slightly with each project, it typically involves the following:  A drama therapist works in partnership with an individual or community in a co-creative process over 12-20 weeks in which they share personal stories, determine collective themes, make aesthetic choices, develop a script, consider audiences, rehearse, perform, and then reconvene to reflect on the process in relation to their personal and collective goals.
Propose a Project. The As Performance lab welcomes proposals for projects that have the potential for
  1. advancing our understanding of how theatre contributes to health and well-being, 
  2. involve people who would experience therapeutic benefits from bringing their stories to the stage,
  3. offer students opportunities to learn about therapeutic theatre, and
  4. are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Proposals are reviewed on an ongoing basis and selected a minimum of two semesters ahead of production. Click here to submit a proposal.
We are so grateful for the alumni, playwrights, and organizations who partner with us. Through this series, we discover just how theatre changes lives and why, with so many options available to us, we still find meaning in gathering together, often in the dark, to participate in the life of a play.
You can contact the Theatre and Health Lab at:
Fall 2018

Living With... A project that brings together long-term survivors of HIV and individuals newly diagnosed to create and perform a play about their experience.

November 28-December 2
Black Box Theatre
82 Washington Square East, New York, NY

Get tickets here