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Drama Therapy Theatre and Health Lab

The Theatre and Health Lab is the research hub of the program in Drama Therapy at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. We study how drama therapy and related theatre processes such as imagination, pretend play, improvisation, storytelling, playwriting, acting, witnessing, devising, and designing can facilitate psychological, physical, social, and public health and wellbeing.

The Theatre and Health Lab is part of the Center of Health and Rehabilitation Research and the Creative Arts Therapies Consortium. The use of arts practices and arts therapies to support health and wellbeing has been proven to help participants across the lifespan and improve outcomes in a range of settings while also reducing healthcare costs.

As Performance: Therapeutic Theatre Series

The NYU Program in Drama Therapy As Performance series involves partnerships with professional drama therapists, playwrights, and community organizations to create theatre with real people about their real lives and, together, discover how theatre supports personal and public health.

Public Lectures and Masterclasses

We host a series of public talks and immersive masterclasses taught by internationally recognized experts in their respective areas of practice.

Research Team

Director: Nisha Sajnani, nls4@nyu.edu 
Executive Producer: As Performance and Masterclass series: Maria Hodermarska 
Faculty Researchers: Maria Hodermarska, Joe Salvatore, Britton Williams, David Purdy 
Lead Statistician: Yi Yang
Lab Coordinator: Opher Shamir 
Research Affiliates: Nick Brunner, Julie Katz, Samantha Furst, Suzannah Gratz, Annie Pardoe

Current Project Partners:

  • Theatre making as an approach to reducing self-stigma and increasing sense of belonging amongst people diagnosed with HIV, Nick Bruner and Joe Salvatore
  • The use of therapeutic theatre in a public health strategy to raise awareness about opioid use, Ana Bess Moyer Bell, COAAST
  • The use of theatre-based skills to improve quality of life in adults with Parkinson's Disease: Alex Montaldo, StoPDAndrew Feigin and Milton Biagioni, NYU Neurology, Roberta Marongiu, Weill Cornell Medicine and StoPD, eMalick Njie, NeuroStorm Studios. NYU project Lead: Nisha Sajnani, Drama therapist: Annie Pardoe, Research Assistants: Julie Katz, Sam Furst, Suzannah Gratz.
  • The use of improv in supporting communication, collaboration, and leadership with David Purdy, NYU Stern School of Business
  • The experiences of therapists of color as explored through theatre-making and performance, Britton Williams
  • Empirical aesthetics/ Identifying neurophysiological measures of theatre-making and performance. Zoi Kapoula, Director of Research, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS France), Team Chair, IRIS Paris-Descartes University. NYU-PSL France funded collaboration
  • Supporting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to build full lives through theatre in collaboration with the AHRC-NYC, Project Lead: Maria Hodermarska, Research assistant: Laura Hix.
  • Musical theatre with older adults in collaboration with Penn South and Music Theatre International. Project Lead: Nisha Sajnani, Project Assistants: Rachel Morres, Ashley Ruggerio, Si-Yeung Li, Research Assistant: Samuel Grob

Contact Us: theatreandhealthlab@nyu.edu