Beyond the Fourth Wall: Engaging Therapeutic Performance to Expand Our Impact on Communities


"It is not the place of the theatre to show the correct path, 
but only to offer the means by which all possible paths may be examined"
 --Augusto Boal, Theater of the Oppressed


Performance is a dynamic, complicated word. It can be as simple as completing a small action, or as grandiose as a staged opera. Performance can be intimate; two people interacting quietly with one another. It can be extravagant; a flash mob in Union Station. Performance can be mechanical, biological, or behavioral. 

As drama therapists, we all know the power of performance on a formal level. This power is all encompassing: from directing, to acting, to building a set and sewing costumes, to watching from the audience, everyone involved in a performance is affected and is united through the shared experience. It is this power, this magic, that leads many of us to believe in the therapeutic value of performance and encourages us to bring performance into the communities with which we work. 

At this year’s conference, we will be exploring all of the different aspects of therapeutic performance. The committee is seeking proposals that explore a wider context and challenge us to look beyond the traditional applications of this tool in our work. We welcome submissions from a variety of modalities.

As you consider your proposals, keep the following questions in mind:
•    Who is the client in therapeutic performance?  Who is the therapist?
•    How can we use therapeutic performance to expand our impact as drama therapists in the communities with which we interact?
•    How can different forms of performance be used with various populations?
•    What internal performances are taking place within us and within our clients on a daily basis? How do different behavioral, developmental, cognitive and psychological disorders perform in the body?
•    How can we use therapeutic performance to mediate a dialogue or to explore and perform difference, diversity, and social change?
•    What are the risks and benefits to utilizing therapeutic performance, and what ethical considerations need to be made?  If and when harm occurs, how can the process of therapeutic performance support repair and healing?
•    What are the roles and relationships within theatre, drama therapy, and other creative arts therapies, and how can therapeutic performance break down the walls between us?

Join us in Kansas City as we examine this compelling subject. Let’s come together to learn, play, and push ourselves to explore beyond the fourth wall!