Educational Theatre Faculty: Dorothy Heathcote

Dorothy Heathcote (1926-2011), legend and pioneer, began her teaching career as a weaver in a woollen mill and then studied dance with Rudolf Laban and acting with Esmé Church. In 1950, at the young age of 24, she was appointed lecturer in drama at Newcastle upon Tyne where she introduced innovative techniques for using drama as a basis for curriculum inquiry informed by Froebel theories of education. Her commitment to collaborative whole group drama, where teacher in role was central, quickly gained interest with worldwide educators. The influential BBC documentary Three Looms Waiting rocketed Dr Heathcote to international acclaim. American BJ Wagner documented her work in the best selling Dorothy Heathcote: Drama as a Learning Medium. British colleague Gavin Bolton wrote her landmark biography, The Dorothy Heathcote Story: Biography of a Remarkable Drama Teacher.

Heathcote developed three specific innovative systems of work, which are recognized globally: Mantle of the Expert, involving primary school children and the whole curriculum; rolling role, involving teachers in secondary education working in teams; and commission models, involving relationships of schools with business, museums, and industry. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dorothy conducted influential workshops and summer schools across the United States. She has coauthored two books, Drama for Learning and So You Want to Use Role Play?, and an anthology of her major writings appear in Dorothy Heathcote: Collected Writing on Education and Drama. She was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including The Campton Bell Lifetime Achievement Award by AATE and an Honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt) awarded by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. The Dorothy Heathcote Archive is located at the Department of Teacher Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, England. The world-renowned Dr Heathcote has taught on the NYU study abroad program in London, and was visiting adjunct professor at the Washington Square campus. She is the subject of a Steinhardt/Ed Theatre DVD project "Becoming a Teacher." View the trailer on YouTube.