Since 1997, this interactive theatre/dialogue program has effectively challenged audiences to explore their own biases and to develop empathy for others. The themes in the Compassion Plays series are universal and the characters are relatable. Since the change in the US government in 2017, the themes in these plays have new relevance. There is an urgent need for safe and productive conversations about identity, stereotypes, xenophobia, racism and personal responsibility for change.
Students need safe campus communities where there is acceptance of diversity and inclusive social relations. Schools are struggling to serve the most diverse and disadvantaged student population in history; they need engaging programs that help them address issues of difference and bias. In order to prepare students to be compassionate, active citizens in a diverse society, schools need additional support from community-based organizations with expertise in this area.
This is an interactive theatre/dialogue program that engages participants in a safe exploration of challenging topics. A session features a solo actor performing a range of characters over the course of a 40 minute play. Before and after the show, a professional facilitator engages the audience in a discussion of the play. Audience members begin to make connections between the play and divisions in their own communities. They develop empathy and start to understand the need for change.
Long term outcomes are reduced stereotypes, greater empathy for those who are marginalized and an increased willingness to take personal responsibility for developing safer and more inclusive schools and communities. Each session can accommodate up to 100 participants, up to 10,000 can participate each year.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).