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Drama Institute offers a way to help students cope

June 15, 2007

Local educators have an opportunity to learn to use theater to help their students deal with difficult issues. This summer’s Drama Institute at the University of Wisconsin–Madison includes a class that was developed in response to incidents of school violence over the past year.

“It seemed that news stories about violence in the schools were becoming almost commonplace. I figured there must be a way to use theater and improvisation to give young people a voice in safe and limitless ways.”

Miranda McClenaghan, Drama Institute Director Miranda McClenaghan

So she made some calls and found Terry Greiss, who works in New York City teaching young people and educators how to deal with conflict, drug addiction and violence using theater techniques.

"After talking with Terry, I was confident he could have an amazing impact working with people who work with youth in any capacity," McClenaghan says.

The class, called "The Mirror up to Nature: Exploring Diversity and Other Issues through Drama," will be held Monday, June 25 through Friday, June 29 in Lowell Hall. It is one of four week-long classes at the 15th annual Drama Institute.

Other Drama Institute classes are:

  • Scenic Painting: From Monday, June 18 to Friday, June 22 in the Vilas Hall scene shop, students will be learning hands-on how to construct scenery in new and creative ways. Curtis Philips, a professor and set designer at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a UW–Madison graduate, will teach the course.
  • Making It Up: Devising Original Performance Material with Students. From Monday, July 9 to Friday, July 13, educators will learn how to help their students create original performance pieces. Joan Lazarus, a professor in the department of theater and dance at the University of Texas at Austin, will teach the course. Lazarus started the original Drama Institute when she was a professor at UW–Madison.
  • Learning through The Arts: From Monday, July 22 to Friday, July 27 at the School of the Arts in Rhinelander, Wis., students can choose from classes in drama, art, photography, arts management, writing, music, dance and computer skills to learn new ways to incorporate arts activities into the classroom. The classes fulfill the university’s mission to provide statewide access to continuing education.

Interested media are welcome to capture some of the scenic painting or improvisation action later in the weeks of June 18-22 and June 25-29. Classes vary from 12 to 15 students and also include three weeks of independent study with the instructor for university credit.

For more information, contact McClenaghan at (608) 265-8041,