Power Plays: Interactive Theater Demonstration

Kathy Devecka, University of Michigan

Interactive theater combines theatrical techniques with skills-based/problem-based learning. It is an intersection of phenomenology, sociology, social work, psychology and business/professional areas. The performance serves as a catalyst to spark discussion and explore difficult and complex issues. Theater provides a safe forum for discussion of ethical problems and a rehearsal for real-life ethical choices.

Performances consist of improvisations on carefully constructed scenarios, with the audience and the characters acting together to create 75 percent of the performance. Working through a facilitator, the audience chooses how the story will evolve and which issues will be pursued. No two performances are the same. The dilemmas we explore today focus on diversity, ethics and the workplace. “Power Plays” is about a group of students working on a group project, part of which involves preparing resumes and interviewing for a job. The audience interaction looks at: 1) how real/perceived diversity issues play a role in the job interviewing process and the workplace, and 2) how to deal with the ethical dilemmas this potential/real discrimination creates.

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