Saturday, May 18, 2013

Exploring the Boundaries of Applied Theater

By Dr. Dale Savidge, executive director of Christians in Theatre Arts
The exciting and emerging field of applied theatre offers organizations and individuals with training, experience and passion for theatre to expand their theatrical practices in the service of people (groups and individuals) in their communities. 
“Exploring the Boundaries of Applied Theatre”      
June 28-30, 2013
@ Re-Create Cafe at the Salvation Army
800 McCallie Avenue

Chattanooga TN

The wide variety of applied theatre techniques can only be introduced in this brief weekend we will spend together; but the overview will point to specific directions for the participants to explore through future training. We will survey the field and then focus our time on two specific forms of applied theatre which are in wide use around the world, and which have many applications in marginalized communities: Playback Theatre and Forum Theatre.

We will also explore the Playback Cafe. This is an applied theatre program in South Carolina aimed at building community and bringing healing to homeless people, people in recovery programs and people who are victims of abuse. It utilizes some techniques from Playback Theatre as well as other AT methods. We will learn some of the rituals of Playback, practice them together and explore how the Café model might be useful in reaching at risk groups in the community.


Thursday, June 27, 2013
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Introduction to the field of applied theatre with special reference to marginalized groups. We will engage in a variety of theatre games as a means of surfacing the central concern(s) of our group. Then we will begin practicing applied theatre methods in order to listen to each other and begin to find ways forward together. During this evening participants will experience the power of AT in their lives and they will also gain valuable instruction (and practice) in these techniques.

Friday, June 28, 2013
9:00 am – Noon

Introduction to Playback Theatre. We don’t just tell stories – we are stories. In this session we’ll practice listening and seeing each other, so that we can tune into the stories we need to tell each other. The first part will be a series of AT exercises designed to break us out of our mechanized response to our environment; the second part will be practicing the short forms of Playback. This session will demonstrate techniques which address the challenges people face from inside themselves.

Noon: conversations over lunch

1 pm – 4 pm

Performing in a Playback Café Part I. We will practice the rituals of Playback theatre and apply them to creating an atmosphere of openness to the stories of the marginalized and at-risk in our communities. As we experience the healing value of telling and seeing our stories reenacted, we will also learn how to create a theatrical atmosphere which invites disadvantaged people into our Café to create community with us and with each other. We’ll explore the Playback short forms in this afternoon session.

6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Performing in a Playback Café Part II. In this evening session we’ll practice the rituals used in long-form Playback theatre.

Saturday, June 29, 2013
9:00 am – Noon

Introduction to Forum Theatre. We will learn the ways we can work with existing groups of people (groups which are bound together by a shared external oppression: homelessness, poverty, discrimination, cultural marginalization, etc) and expose, identify, name and grapple with the challenges which are holding them back. The first part of this session will be utilizing various Image theater methods to embody and express oppression; the second part will be developing a Forum scene. This session will demonstrate techniques which address the challenges people face from outside themselves or their communities.

Noon: conversations over lunch

1 pm – 4 pm

Performing a Forum Theatre scene. In this final session together we will perform our forum scene and invite our weekend community to try out solutions to our shared problems.

4-4:30 pm

Wrap up, questions and applications for the future.

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Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light ( and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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