Community Engagement Productions

Shluff No More: An Immersive Shpiel Experience

This site-specific immersive community-engaged performance explored The Book of Esther.

Each year from 2010-2015, I devised and directed a new community-engaged game/performance to critically explore the Jewish holiday of Purim identity through irreverent “shpiels.”

We co-created a unique collaborative performance to critically explore ethnicity, identity, and the sacred text.

The performances catalyze civic engagement and meaning-making.

As one example, for Shluff No More, I orchestrated a 60-member crew to guide 400 audience members around nine locations of a three-story synagogue in under 2 hours. Each scene playfully disarmed congregants as they encountered sacred text from The Book of Esther.

Participants reported how the event deepened their affiliation and transformed their relationship with the themes of ethnic strife.

Organizing the game logistics required tremendous planning. With the help of my dear friend Scott Osman, here is a glimpse at how I laid out the team coordination:


Each room featured participatory structures I designed to playfully disarm congregants and help them enjoy greater proximity. Three years later, many participants continue to report how the event deepened their feelings of affiliation and transformed their relationship with the themes of ethnic strife. The image below captured during the Costume Contest, conducted through Silent Disco headphones.

I had also had the opportunity to work with amazingly talented designers. For one example, Chantal Demorial and Gideon Solomon converted the basement into Vashi’s Den.


Between Drama Education and Drama Therapy: International Approaches to Successful Navigation

This article describes a workshop I presented at the 2013 congress of the International Drama/Education Association (IDEA) in Paris with Jason Butler and Clive Holmwood. Using the workshop experience as a backdrop, my colleagues and I discuss concepts within drama therapy that might serve to inform the use of emotion within education and other applied theatre spaces. The distinction between psychodrama and drama therapy is clarified and basic drama therapy concepts are explained. Contrary to the facilitators’ expectations, the workshop experience evoked several unifying questions and issues for participants: “How can we simultaneously address both ends of the emotional/expressive spectrum? How can I get my over-expressive students to settle down and participate so that I can attend to the less expressive students?” Questions of emotion regulation seemed to problematize classroom management concerns rather than galvanize discourse about boundaries between education and therapy. Through a dialogic exploration using forum theatre, the workshop participants engaged with their own relationship to the topics and explored potential solutions. The drama therapy concept of aesthetic distance was highlighted as a means to helping educational theatre practitioners navigate the potentially complex experiences when dealing with emotional involvement. This concept would allow for a clearer establishment of intrapersonal and interpersonal boundaries within the creation and exploration of theatre and drama. The article also calls for more substantial dialogues between applied drama/theatre professionals in order to more fully explore how to navigate the interstices between education and therapy.

with Butler, J. D. & Holmwood, C.

IDEA Handout

P-E-R-F-O-R-M-A-N-C-E, 2(1).