The Bok Center created a new initiative for Applied Theatre during the 2015-16 academic year. Applied theatre is an evolving field that leverages theatre as a participatory and powerful learning tool. In its purest form, applied theatre dramatizes familiar yet complex situations in order to examine the subtleties of human communication, dynamics, power, and perception.
This winter we welcomed Mara Sidmore as Artistic Director for the new Applied Theatre Practice Program at the Bok Center. In this new role, Mara will work with academic departments at FAS to develop ways that the applied theatre can aid in a deeper understanding of inclusive teaching and learning, with the goal of creating a more equitable environment in academia. In collaboration with key faculty partners, she will lead an acting ensemble in a period of research to develop new cases that reflect the current issues and challenges in Harvard's teaching and learning environment. These cases will be used to generate socially engaged interactive theatre, which, in turn, will be used as a means to spark dialogue among faculty, students, and administrators on a variety of topics. Simultaneously, the Applied Theatre Practice Program will integrate internally with the MLV team, seeking interested thought partners among faculty and teaching fellows to explore practices of the theatre as potential vehicles for maximizing effective pedagogy, classroom engagement, and creative assignments.
The Bok Players are a theatre ensemble that includes a mix of professional actors, graduate students, and undergraduate students. The Bok Players are one of the programs housed in the Applied Theatre Practice Program. During 2015-16, the Bok Players delivered performances and trainings on inclusive teaching in the classroom at a number of venues, including the New Faculty Institute, a symposium on inclusive teaching co-organized by the Bok Center and HILT (the Harvard Initiative on Learning and Teaching), and for the FAS Faculty Council.