Making Theater with Adolescents: Listening Deeply to Young People’s Lives

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Making theatre with adolescents listening deeply to young people’s lives

Concept by: José Angel Santana


With an emphasis on a creative process that is grounded in mutual understanding, class participants will learn how to create a climate conducive to collaboration with young people, in order to “spontaneously” devise original dramatic works that promote peace in communities, resolve interpersonal conflicts, and encourage young people to value their own expressions.

The course will combine the craft of acting, music, dance, public art, deep listening, improvisation, storytelling, poetry and role-play with the methods of conflict resolution and mediation.

Participants will learn the processes and activities for making original theater and “community” with young people by creating a temenos (a sanctuary) where adolescents feel safe, less alone with their thoughts and feelings, valued, and thereby gain the confidence to express themselves to make a difference and contribute to society.

Learning Outcomes

Participants in this course will learn:

  • Leadership: How to lead a group by creating a climate that is conducive to collaboration by building meaning relationships with young people by using deep listening to validate teenagers’ thoughts and feelings;
  • Mentorship: How to help young people discover and support them on the path to their dreams. How to raise a young person’s self-esteem on a regular basis. How to bring out the best in young people;
  • Temenos (Sanctuary): How to create a kind “judgment-free” safe space for young people to take risks expressing themselves;
  • Theater Making: How to lead theater-making activities using improvisation, storytelling, poetry, role-playing, process theater, forum theater, and “yes, and…”;
  • Applied Theater for Social Change: How to make theater that addresses and raise awareness about important issues in your community and, if there is a need, to make theater that can resolve conflicts within the community;
  • Non-Violent Conflict Resolution: How to apply the deep listening techniques of theater to resolve conflicts peacefully;
  • Confidence: How to harness the power of “positive regard” to hold yourself and young people in your/their “highest possibility” to make a positive change in society;
  • Empowerment: How to apply “the reality of doing,” a principle from the craft of acting, to distinguish between what is and what is not in one’s power to control; and how to focus one’s actions on what you can control in order to create positive outcomes in life and art.

Tentative shedule

The schedule describes likely activities but may differ significantly based on the requests of the participants, and the trainer delivering the specific session. Course modifications are subject to the trainer’s discretion. If you would like to discuss a specific topic, please indicate it at least 4 weeks in advance.

Day 1 – Course introduction & Setting goals

Course introduction

  • Introduction to the course, the school, and the external week activities.
  • Icebreaker activities using drama for trust and ensemble building.
  • Identification of needs and goals for each participant and relevant populations.
  • Theme: Creating a Climate Conducive for Collaboration 
  • Introduction to the course and overview, the school, and the external week activities; 
  • Icebreaker activities; Presentations of the participants’ schools. 
  • Introduction of Check-In and Agreements as primary processes for successful collaboration and drama development; Reliquishing Authority: no advice, no rescue, no analyzing. 

Setting goals

  • Identify participant learning goals.
  • Introduction to Active Listening: To Encourage 
  • Intrduction To the Three Stages of Creative Process: To see, To Experience, To share, with domonstraton of theater making. 
  • Reflection Circle: What works? What doesn’t work? How to make it better?. 
  • Presentations of the participants’ schools.

Day 2 – At the Threshold of Deep listening; Connection with self and others

  • Active Listening, To Reflect, To Restate To Clarify, To Summarize, to Validate 
  • Introduction to Developing Drama: Improviation; Present-Tense Storytelling; Communion Between Actors Introduction. 
  • Reflection Circle: What works? What didn’t work? How to make it better?

Day 3 – Practice makes perfect . Check-in

  • Improvisation: The Structure and Practice 
  • Communion Between Actors: Practice Level One.
  • Theater making: from Check-In, Improviation Structure, Present Tense Story. 
  • Reflection Circle: What works? What doesn’t work? How to make it better?.

Day 4 – Practice makes perfect

  • Theme: Practice Makes Perfect 
  • Communion: Practice – Reflection & Communion Between Actors Listening & Responding 
  • Process Drama with Teache in Role from Check-In: using Improvisation Strucure and/or Present Tense Story 
  • Reflection Circle

Day 5 – Making theatre & Course closure

Making theatre

  • Warm-up Activites 
  • Forum Theater 
  • Participant Lead Threater making. 
  • Reflection Circle.

Course closure

  • Course evaluation: round up of acquired competences, feedback, and discussion;
  • Awarding of the course Certificate of Attendance;

Day 6 – Excursion

Excursion and other external cultural activities.


  • Teachers primary, secondary, vocational, adult, special needs
  • Teacher trainers; Headteachers
  • Principals
  • Managers of schools/organisations offering adult education.


  • Activities: All courses include at least one guided city tour and one full-day excursion (usually on Saturday).
  • Certificate: Certificate of Attendance guaranteed for participants who attend at least 80% of the course.
  • Lessons: Classes take place in the Morning (9:00 – 13:45) or in the Afternoon (14:00 – 18:45).
  • Platform: Participants will enjoy free access to our e-learning platform.
  • Price: 480 €

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Next courses in Berlin

  • 27 Jul - 1 Aug 2020
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