Beyond the Borders: a teacher’s introspection on transformative pedagogy using critical theory and drama

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Stroud Stasel, Rebecca
Drama , Critical Theory
This thesis explores a pedagogical enquiry that has transformed the way I think and the way I teach. I used a variety of critical and theatre theories to frame my enquiry and for four years consecutively, visited a non-government organization (NGO) in India that uses theatre as an alternate pedagogical tool. I reflected upon the methodological differences between the theatre practices of the NGO and my practices. I then turned my enquiry inward to consider how my learning informed my teaching practices. I then created an alternate theatre project for some students in the American Midwest with Ashok, an artist from India. Ashok spent twelve days training the students in what I refer to as action theatre, while I coordinated, observed and reflected. This theatre is a form of social activism; it is designed to provide a forum for the students to express their socio-political views and raise individual and collective social awareness in the process. After the training period, the students presented a play using these theatre methods. They engaged in discussion with their audience directly after their play. After the training period, Ashok returned to India. He took on the role of mentor and informant to my ongoing enquiry. My enquiry then shifted from an introspective one to a practical one. Some of the students who wished to do so continued creating plays in this fashion. I took over the leadership of the group at their school. A new theatre troupe was created and I used the concepts learned at the NGO and from Ashok in an American suburban context. The theatre troupe created plays for three years. When I moved back to Canada, the troupe stopped its operations. Some students in the group continued activist work using art as a medium by finding other opportunities. I turned my enquiry inward once again to reflect upon how these processes have changed the way I think and the way I teach.
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