As Performance: Therapeutic Theatre Series

As Performance: Therapeutic Theatre Series

The NYU Program in Drama Therapy As Performance Therapeutic Theatre series is a part of the Theatre and Health Lab. We create theatre with real people about their real lives and, together, discover how theatre may promote health and wellbeing.

Definition. Therapeutic theatre is the intentional use of performance to address psychological, physical, and social concerns and promote health and wellbeing. It is one approach used by drama therapists to support goals such as reminiscence, recovery, rehabilitation, and advocacy.

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.

We produce two productions a year in partnership with communities (Spring and Fall) and host a public masterclass and performance to highlight innovations in the field 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 health and wellbeing.

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. Submit a proposal here.
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:
Spring 2019

Turbulence poster Turbulence is a co-created piece developed by Black and People of Color (BPOC) clinicians, students, and creatives that explores BPOC experiences in clinical settings and the larger world. This performance activism piece actively engages audience members and aims to stoke and foster social action.

Directed by: Britton Williams

Thursday, April 11 at 8pm
Friday, April 12 at 8pm
Saturday, April 13 at 8pm
Sunday, April 14 at 3pm