Conversations on Applied Theatre

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Conversations on Applied Theatre

Hey there!

As a former member of Geese Theatre Company, I’m writing to you to tell you about a kind of reunion we’re planning next month at Hollins University.  I was a member of Geese myself in the very early days of 1982, and working with people like you, under the direction of John Bergman, was some of the most transformative and important theatre training of my career.  The experience of touring the US and doing those intense performances, workshops and residencies were as life changing for me as I know it often was for the prisoners with which we worked so closely.

Today, I am the Program Director for the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, and John is a member of my visiting faculty—teaching Advanced Performance Techniques, Theatre for Special Populations and assisting me in a new concentration in Applied Theatre. 

Over the years, our graduate students have been fascinated by the stories John and I have told about the work we did with Geese, and my hope is that (via the magic of Zoom) we can bring together other members of the company to also share their stories and demonstrate some of the techniques we developed for doing theatre for corrections as part of a virtual conference.  On Saturday, June 20th,  John and former Geese present a history of the company, share things they remember about the work that we did, and then conduct a residency style workshop with our students.  John has suggested that we might use breakout rooms to devise and then present short vignettes on a selected topic (perhaps Covid-19 in the joint?) as a way for the participants to get a sense of our work in an immersive way.  We’d follow that with a discussion of what we’d created and more story sharing.

On Sunday, June 21st, we plan to host a series of conversations with guests who are currently active in theatre for social change, activist theatre, drama therapy and other related fields. 

Unlike some of the established conferences you may have attended, this event is intended to be an informal introduction for our students to the range of what we call applied theatre and expressive therapies.  It’s really a series of focused conversations in which we hope you’ll be available to participate.

Please have a look at the attached materials—a proposed schedule of events, information about the new concentration, and a couple of newsletters that give you an idea of what a typical summer session holds for our students.

If you’d like to be a part of all this, let us know if you’d like to just do Saturday’s activities or if you’d also like to join any of the Sunday discussions.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly via phone or email if you have any comments, concerns, or questions.  Also, feel free to suggest other people we might want to contact to extend invitations to contribute! 

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Todd Ristau, Director

Playwright’s Lab


BOX 9602, 7916 Williamson Road

Roanoke VA 24020

(540) 362-6386

(540) 362-6465 (fax)

(540) 556-5396 (cell)
COAT Schedule

[View Schedule as PDF]

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