The Interactive Theatre Troupe was created in 2009 with an exploratory grant from CCIE to put together programs addressing campus conflicts and issues of inclusive community.
The troupe developed four short plays – focusing on homophobia, sexual assault, substance abuse and victim blaming – to perform at the Firstyear Experience’s 2009 Weekend of Welcome program.
Since then, IT has performed at All Faculty Day, dealing with issues ranging from managing contentious dialogue in the classroom to respecting the academic honor code. IT student educators conduct campus workshops for students each semester on such topics as classism; sexual assault, violence and prevention; homophobia; and racism.
In 2010, Professor Reid Davis first offered “Theater for Social Change,” which members of the ITTroupe are now required to take. Fifty-six students have taken the course during the first three semesters it has been offered (one semester per year), and 22 of those have joined the ITTroupe. Davis has worked with Professor Mary McCall to develop “Creating Community:Tools for Effective Social Change,” a class introduced during the current (fall 2012) semester. Offered through the Ethnic Studies Department, it introduces a curriculum based on interactive dialogue and interactive theater.
In conjunction with “Theater for Social Change,” students have conducted outreach to a variety of community partners in Oakland.They performed at St. Martin de Porres Middle School and presented a bilingual workshop at the Fruitvale Senior Center in which seniors told stories of their childhood and experiences in the U.S. At the Oakland School for the Arts, Saint Mary’s students led a series of workshops on racism, sexism and bullying and will conduct a research project on homophobia there in 2013.
Through the InteractiveTheatre program, Saint Mary’s is integrating curricular, co-curricular and campus initiatives that encourage students to empower themselves by tapping into their own experiences and stories. Working with faculty and staff, they are creating an environment where the community can develop the skills to effectively address issues of inclusion and diversity and, in the process, change lives.