When you want to make a change in people's preexisting conceptions, reactions, or awareness, there is simply no more powerful medium for teaching (or learning) than the stage. This is why I'm a big fan of what Theatre for Young Audiences USA (TYA/USA) and The American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) are accomplishing in their joint project Dramatic Change: An Anti-Bullying Initiative. Dramatic Change uses the power of theatre to encourage respect and community, and to fight the harmful effects of bullying in the lives of young people.
And what better way to change a bully, or a bully in the making, than by holding up a mirror to that behavior? And what better way to remind (and assert) that bullying is unacceptable, anywhere, by anyone? The stage can be a powerful medium for change and public acceptance -- one that literally shines a light on behaviors and assumptions and asks us to feel something in response. So in support of Dramatic Change, both organizations are currently seeking session proposals for a Dramatic Change Pre-Conference event to take place before this year's AATE 2012 Conference (taking place in Lexington, Kentucky from August 8-12, 2012). The Pre-Conference event will spotlight the ways in which theatre arts can provide young people with the skills and strength they need to combat bullying, and to eliminate bullying from their lives.
The medium of theatre can offer participants a haven and outlet for artistic expression, as well as the powerful opportunity to explore, challenge and examine social issues and topics through a fictional fourth wall (and one that nevertheless provides a real look at bullying's effects and often life-changing consequences). With a national community of playwrights, producing theatre companies, teaching artists, researchers, classroom teachers and drama specialists, Dramatic Change seeks to tackle the epidemic of bullying in all its complexity, by harnessing the power of theatre.
Image courtesy of Kevin Pack (Flickr)