Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program


Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell PhD

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, EdD


This paper describes a high school theatre program’s project in which Anna Deavere Smith’s documentary theatre work serves as the foundation for play-building for students. Research in theatre arts supports the use of play-building as a way to explore major themes of relevance to students. However, there is little research addressing documentary theatre’s use in a high school setting. Teacher and students created a full-length dramatic play which incorporated interviews of actual people related to the theme; in this case an exploration of dreams, both aspirational and nocturnal, entitled Dreaming: Day and Night. After transcribing the interviews, an edited script weaving together the different perspectives of the interviewees, came to fruition. Students rehearsed and performed the script along with other material. The thesis project sought to record student responses to the work, especially in relation to the areas of relevance, engagement and empathy. At the end of the production students were interviewed in a focus group format by the instructor in order to collect information. Findings indicate that documentary theatre can prove relevant and engaging for students; findings indicate it can encourage a high degree of empathy as well.

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