Theatre in Our Schools:
'22 Workshop Series

AATE is pleased to present an ongoing community conversation series focused on bringing awareness to the importance of theatre education in our schools.
AATE Members can access recordings of
completed sessions below:

*note you will be prompted to sign into your AATE account

Upcoming Sessions: 


Completed Sessions:

2022 Series
TYA and Inclusion Roundtable
with Fran Sillau
Monday, December 5th, 2022, 7PM (EDT)
Do you love Theater for Young Audiences? Do you strive to cast inclusively? Do you want to engage with others that want to cast inclusively? This workshop will be a space to dive into, how to how to create the best inclusive cast, through small and large group think. Come ready to share!

Fran Sillau (HE/HIM/HIS) is a multidisciplinary theatre artist with a disability and a member of the GLBTQIA community. Fran has worked professionally as a playwright, director, producer, education coordinator, teaching artist, arts administrator, grant writer, and inclusion consultant. He has been working extensively within the world of Theater For Young Audiences (TYA) for over twenty years.

Fran spent seven years collaborating with theatrical producer Deborah Denenberg (Dodger Productions and Big League Theatricals) on The Doll Maker’s Gift, a property for which he obtained permission from the author. He then assembled the creative team, co-wrote the book, and directed the world premiere at the Rose Theater in 2019. The Omaha World Herald said “Families should flock to this one.” He currently is working on his second collaboration with Ms. Denenberg, set for production in 2023. Fran is currently collaborating with Bay Area Children’s Theater and serving as Artistic and Inclusion consultant with Trike Theater. He is a past Aurand Harris Fellow with The Children’s Theatre Foundation of America and a winner of The Access Grant from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he is a frequent contractor.

Fran serves as the Director of Accessibility at The Rose Theater, where he is leading an expansion of the popular Every Single Child Program (a multi-layered program that serves an average of 35,000 students each year at more than 70 school buildings). The expansion will develop production and residency programming for students in self-contained special education classrooms in the Omaha area. He also directs mainstage productions at the Rose; some of his credits include Shrek: The Musical, Go,Dog.Go! and the Omaha premiere of Hanna’s Suitcase.

He also serves as Executive Artistic Director of Circle Theatre, Omaha’s theater for individuals of all abilities. Circle Theatre has produced several TYA plays. Under his leadership, the Circle co-commissioned My Broken Doll, a play based on the life of holocaust survivor Beatrice Karp and adapted by Ernie Nolan, and Over the River, a play about friendship by Ellen Struve. Both plays recently toured the state of Nebraska. In December of 2016, Sillau directed a regional premiere of A Charlie Brown Christmas. This production incorporated American Sign Language, Shadow Interpreting, Audio Description, as well as actors with various physical and developmental disabilities. He is also currently developing new original TYA work for The Institute For Holocaust Education and Great Plains office of the Anti-Defamation League.

Fran currently serves as the United States representative to International Inclusion Arts Network, a program of The International Association of Children’s Theatre Companies (ASSITEJ). He is also an Emerging Leader fellow for Theater for Young Audiences USA. He holds an MFA specializing in directing and inclusion from Goddard College.


SEL In Devising Theatre with Youth 
with Quenna L. Barrett
Wednesday, November 9th, 2022, 7PM (EDT)

In the November TIOS workshop, we will explore practices and approaches for embedding social emotional learning in devised theater with youth. The practices will also have applicability in more traditional approaches to theater education. Together we'll identify and discuss how we might already be joining these practices and how we can more intentionally name and share that with students. Dr. Quenna L. Barrett will share frameworks she uses for devising projects and how SEL is weaved throughout, and will invite participants to share their best practices and challenges in their work as well.

Quenna Lené Barrett is an actress, director, and theatre educator, who develops programs that amplify teen + community voice and hold space to rehearse, tell, and change the stories of their lives. She is a company member with ICAH’s For Youth Inquiry company, Associate Artist with Pivot Arts, co-curator for Theatre of the Lake, and serves as the Associate Director of Education at the Goodman.

She has organized with the Black Youth Project100 and #LetUsBreathe Collective, and is a company member at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health For Youth Inquiry, where she where she directs and performs participatory plays supporting the sexual health and rights of young people. Quenna is a Chicago native who received her BFA in Drama from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and a Masters in Applied Theatre from the University of Southern California, and is currently pursuing a doctorate of education in Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt. 

Continuing to build the world she wants to see/live in, she is developing a practice of poetic performance, and is currently re-writing the Declaration of Independence as a Free Street artist-in-residence.

Recent performance and directorial credits include: Re-Writing the Declaration with Free Street Theatre and NYU Steinhardt (Director), Don't Go with Sojourn Theatre Company, Ctr Alt Delete and ob•li•ves•cence, The Theatre School at DePaul (Director); Free Street Theatre's 50 in 50 (Director); Black Lives Black Words I Am...Fest at the Goodman, Eclipsed at Pegasus Theatre (Assistant Director), Radio Golf at Court Theatre (u/s), The Green Book at Pegasus, This Boat Called My Body and First with FYI (Director), Theatre Unspeakable's Moon Shot and American Revolution, and Cor Theatre's Late Company (u/s).


Locating Order in the Chaos: Revisiting Assessment in the Drama Classroom
with Jonathan P. Jones
Wednesday, October 12th, 2022, 7PM (EDT) 

A close reading of the drama education literature will uncover that though there are many books that explicate drama content and teaching methods, assessment is generally given a small sliver of attention—a status-quo that invites disruption: how can we plan instruction and deliver content if we don’t have a firm foundation in how we will measure student growth and learning? Drama teaching is sometimes disordered and messy; assessment in the drama classroom is often the same.

In light of that, in this interactive workshop, I will propose a back-to-basics approach to assessment in the drama classroom that:

• provides a brief overview of drama content we might consider and the role that theatre standards play in crafting curriculum.
• provides an refresher on learning objectives and how to generate them.
• provides overviews on summative assessments, diagnostic assessments, and formative assessments (presented in the order in which they should be planned, not in the order in which they are typically employed): what they are, how to craft them, and how to use them for learning.
• promotes reflective practice—which is to say, teacher’s self-assessment practices to enhance teaching and learning.

Key questions we will investigate include:
• Why do we assess and why might we assess in this particular way?
• What are the challenges and successes of assessment in the drama classroom?
• How much autonomy do we want our students to have in our classrooms and how will we provide space, time, and support for that to manifest?
• How can we adapt these methods for our learning context

Jonathan P. Jones, PhD, is an advisor, faculty member, and coordinator of doctoral studies at NYU’s Program in Educational Theatre. He has presented on theatre education, research, creativity, and pedagogy in the US, UK, Canada, China, and Iraq. Jonathan serves as editor for ArtsPraxis and is on the board of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) where he serves as chair for research and scholarship.

Making Use of Ritual in the Classroom
with Jamie Macpherson

Monday, September 26th, 2022, 7pm (EDT)

As we head back to school, we have an opportunity as teachers and teaching artists to reflect on their teaching practice, and consider what new approaches, or activities to incorporate into the mix. September’s TIOS workshop examines the idea of "ritual" as it exists in the classroom. How do we use opening and closing rituals to shape the theater classroom environment? What role does ritual play in managing behavior expectations and creating a culture of collaboration? How do we realize the full potential of these ritual practices? Come ready to share and discuss your favorite theater classroom rituals, and leave with new tools for implementing ritual into your teaching practice!

Jamie Macpherson is a freelance teaching artist and intimacy/fight director based out of Chicago, IL. She has been an invited artist at the Lawrence Art Center, Macalester College, Augsburg College, and the University of Chicago, and has 15+ years of experience teaching students preschool - college. Her research centers on pedagogy and thinking critically about shaping collaborative spaces. Her work has been published in Youth Theater Journal, Howlround, and The Fight Master. Jamie holds an MFA in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University. You can check out more about her work at


Creating Theatre with Multilingual Participants
with Sindy Castro
Tuesday, August 23, 2022, 7pm (EDT)

Sindy is a teaching artist with various organizations in NYC. This session will offer a sharing of practical strategies she has used in K-12 theatre classrooms. A moment to discuss and reflect, and to share strategies used to create theatre that embraces and celebrates multilingualism.

Sindy Isabel Castro is an actress, educator, and theatre artist. She is co-founder of Jugando N Play, a multilingual theatre for young audiences. She graduated with her Master’s in Applied Theatre from CUNY’s Schools of Professional Studies in 2019 and was awarded a Distinguished Thesis Honorable Mention from AATE for her thesis “¡BE PREBEARED! TEATRO EN EDUCACIÓN – THEATRE IN EDUCATION” in 2020.

Sindy is a teaching artist with Arts Connection, Lincoln Center Theater, New York City Children's Theatre, and the People's Theatre Project in NYC. She strives to use theatre as a tool for creating multilingual and multicultural spaces where young people are empowered to embrace their home languages and cultures.

Before moving to NYC, Sindy was a teaching artist/education administrator in Chicago for seven years and worked with Steppenwolf Theatre, Writers Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Adventure Stage Chicago, and Project AIM. She was an invited member of Young IDEA at the IDEA Congress in Paris in 2013, a member of the TAD (Teaching Artist Development) Studio Cohort at Columbia College in 2014, part of the Intermediate Teaching Artist Lab at Lincoln Center Education in 2016, and a U.S. Delegate at the International Teaching Artist Conference (ITAC) in 2018. She was a recipient of a DCASE Theatre and Dance Residency in Chicago for her project Stories from my Mother in 2016.

Identifying Colonizing Practices in Performance and Teaching: Transforming the Space
with Elena Velasco
Tuesday, June 7th at 7pm (EST)

It's been two years since "We See You White American Theatre", the renewed anti-racist movement in the arts, and a recognition of colonizing practices in our rehearsal and learning spaces. What has changed and what's still evolving? In "Decolonizing the Process," presenter and facilitator Elena Velasco will share practices that she engages in her work as artist and educator, open the space for others to deconstruct their own work and identify resources needed to continue to revolutionize theatre for all. 

Elena Velasco (she/ella) is a theatre artist whose work encompasses performance, production, activism and education. During her 25 year career she has devoted her time equally between performance and residency work. Her directing and choreography credits include Convergence Theatre, Synetic Theater, GALA Hispanic Theatre, Adventure Theatre, Keegan Theatre, Imagination Stage, Mead Theatre Lab, Young Playwrights’ Theater, Capital Fringe, Source Theatre, Discovery Theater, Catholic University and the Kennedy Center’s New Visions New Voices Festival. She has choreographed for Avant Bard, Theatre J, Mosaic Theatre Company, and Keegan Theatre. Ms. Velasco has been a member of SAG/AFTRA and AEA, and has performed at the Kennedy Center, Theatre Alliance, NextStop Theatre, Discovery Theatre, Imagination Stage, and in several films, commercials, and TV shows. As well, she teaches and creates theatre through the lens of community engagement and education throughout the DC metro area. Ms. Velasco is the Artistic Director and Co-founder of Convergence Theatre, a multidisciplinary performance collective that creates work centered on social justice, grounded in decolonized, consensus-organized processes and structures. She currently serves as the Co-Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, is on the advisory board of Carpe Diem Arts and Educational Theatre Company, and has been a featured speaker for Boston Conservatory at Berklee, George Mason University,Montgomery College, and Theatre Washington. Ms. Velasco is the theatre production coordinator and theatre professor at Bowie State University.

Capturing Stories and Perspectives on the Page: An Invitation to join ElevAATE
with Carolyn Marie Wright
Wednesday, May 11th at 7pm (EST)

Interested in collaborating with ElevAATE as a writer or editor? Join us for a TIOS workshop to learn more. Editor Carolyn Marie Wright will provide an overview of the writing and editing process and share her journey on the editing team from the relaunch of then-named Incite/Insight in 2018 to the current digital platform now-named ElevAATE. There will be a brief writing prompt activity with time for sharing. We will end with a Q & A.

ElevAATE is a space for folx working in the intersection of theatre and education to share online resources and engage in dialogue together. Featuring lesson plans, reflective practice, interviews, opinions, and case studies, this resource is free and open for all to benefit.

In solidarity with AATE’s Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression goals, the ElevAATE editing team promises to dedicate online space and provide visibility to BIPOC/GM artists, scholars, teachers, and citizens in the AATE digital platform.

Questions? Comments? Just want to say hello? Email [email protected].

Carolyn Marie Wright hails from upstate New York and is currently based in Phoenix where she serves as Theatre Director & English Teacher at Brophy Prep and Artistic Director of Humanity Play Project. Proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, AATE, and Arizona Theatre Company’s Cohort Club.

Telling Our Stories and Finding Connection
with Joel Jason Rodriguez
Wednesday, March 30th at 7pm (EST)

State legislators across the US are introducing, or passing, laws which are jeopardizing teachers' careers by making it illegal to instruct on lessons focused on racism, sexism, gender identity, LGBTQIA+, etc. In some states, educators could find themselves at the center of lawsuits by the parents while others are proposing curricula submitted a year ahead for parents to approve and review. If there are objections, parents can opt their student out of the lesson and the teachers must offer an alternative. The overreach and restrictions being placed upon educators is gaining momentum and threatening the livelihood of many dedicated and passionate professionals. At a time when districts are struggling to hire and retain teachers, laws are being proposed and passed which prevents them from instructing to the best of their abilities and gives them more reason to leave the profession.

Our time together is meant to hear your stories, find the connections, and build a network of accomplices and allies to support and advocate for one another. This is the first of a three part monthly series focused on the current state of educators across the US.

Joel Jason Rodriguez (he/him/his) is the Chair of the Theatre & Dance Department at South Texas College.  His work in higher education began serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for Brown University’s Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service.  Twenty years later, he continues to work in arts and education.  Mr. Rodriguez graduated from the University of Texas- Austin with an MFA in Theatre with an emphasis in applied drama, performance studies, theatre outreach, playwriting, and drama and theatre for youth.  Before teaching at STC, he taught theatre in La Joya ISD for seven years.  His theatre background includes community-based theatre, performance art, and theatre-in-education (TIE).  He has devised participatory-based TIE programs for youth focusing on bullying, Sticks and Stones (1999); on dating and relationships, Truth or Dare (2001); and on masculinity and growing up, The Master Plan (2002). He has directed more than fifteen productions and participated in countless theatre outreach projects throughout his career.  He currently serves as the Chair Elect for the American Alliance for Theatre & Education’s Board of Directors as well as the organization’s Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression, Equity, & Justice Committee Co-Chair.   He also serves as the President of the Council of Chairs for the college.  He shares his home with Monty, his french bulldog.  His other two fur babies, Diego and Frida, are waiting for him on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.  

2021 Series

Youth Theatre, Mental Health, and Wellbeing: What Does the Research Say?
with Chris Miller
Thursday, March 25th at 7:30pm (EDT)
Have you ever wondered about the mental health benefits of young people engaged in theatre? What about social-emotional benefits? If so, please join us as Chris Miller, Ed.D. provides insights on the mental health benefits of youth participation in theatre. Through a review of the literature, a real-life case vignette of suicidal youth, and sharing of best practices, Dr. Miller speaks about the broader mental health and social-emotional benefits of youth theatre and conclude with recommendations for those that are engaged in youth theatre work on how to develop positive social environments that support all of our youth.

Dr. Chris Miller is a religious studies teacher at a Catholic High School in the San Francisco Bay Area and is currently enrolled in a Master of Science program in Clinical Psychology at Notre Dame de Namur University. A recent graduate of the University of San Francisco, where he earned a Doctoral Degree in Education, Chris has degrees from Boston College and Santa Clara University in the areas of education, history, pastoral ministries, and youth and young adult faith development. He volunteers his time with stage crew for the award-winning Children’s Musical Theatre in San Jose, CA, having crewed 53 shows since 2007.

New Sight Lines: Deepening the Work
with Broderick Stanze Ryans, Khalia Davis, Chil Kong, Tara Moses, & Ilasiea Gray
Thursday, April 22nd at 5pm (EDT)

In this conversation, we talk about tangible and strategic next steps on how we ground anti-racism work across our organizations, rehearsals, and classrooms. We invite you to reflect on what you have already learned and how you have changed your practices. Our panelists will share how they have disrupted racism and systemic inequity, what they have built in its place, and what we must do together to inspire and sustain the necessary and lasting changes in educational theatre.

Broderick Stanze Ryans will be the Panel Facilitator. Ryans is the creator and host of a podcast called TIMEOUT w/Broderick that is about bridging the gap between POC culture, creative arts spaces, and educational theatre based in Seattle, Washington.

Khalia Davis serves as Artistic Director at Bay Area Children’s Theatre in California.
Chil Kong is the Artistic Director at Adventure Theatre MTC in Maryland.
Tara Moses is the co-Artistic Director in Residence at Red Eagle Soaring. She also serves as Producing Artistic Director of telatúlsa and co-Founder of Groundwater Arts that currently based in Oklahoma.
Ilasiea Gray is an Actress, Teaching Artist, and Director based in Colorado.

Story Drama in the Elementary Classroom
with Joshua Streeter
Tuesday, May 25th at 7pm (EDT)

This workshop actively explores how to bring a text to life through story drama, a specific approach to drama education. Extending beyond the lines of the text, we create characters, inhabit imaginary worlds, and examine situations. Specifically considering culturally responsive literature, the session discusses ways to select a text and ethically embody stories.

Joshua Rashon Streeter is an Assistant Professor of Theatre Education at James Madison University. He leads the Theatre Education Pre-Professional Licensure Program and the Teaching Artist Concentration. His teaching focuses on pre-service and in-service education in K-12 schools, drama and theatre education, Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA), musical theatre, and arts integration.

Staging Intimacy with Young People

with Jamie Macpherson
Tuesday, June 1st at 7pm (EDT)

What do the top 5 most produced shows in high schools across the U.S. have in common? Why, moments of intimacy that are central to their plot! In the professional world, we are seeing a shift as more theaters are hiring Intimacy Directors for their productions, and drafting up policies for rehearsals. But what about when it comes to working with young people? What does this work look like for classroom teachers and youth theater programs? What about in virtual spaces during the pandemic?

Join us in this workshop as we explore consent, self advocacy, and physical storytelling, with a special lens of how this work applies to TYA specifically. Leave with tools to incorporate into your classroom and rehearsal spaces to promote the wellbeing and creativity of your students and production teams!

Jamie Macpherson is a Chicago-based Intimacy and Fight Director who specializes in working with young people. Jamie has worked at such institutions as the Lawrence Art Center (KS), Macalester College, Augsburg University (MN), Arizona State University, and the University of Chicago. She is a member of the Society of American Fight Directors and received her MFA in Theater for Youth from Arizona State University.

AATE TIOS National Core Theatre Standards Workshop
with Jim Palmarini
Wednesday, August 25th at 7pm (EDT)

In 2014 AATE and the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) collaborated to create new, grade-by-grade PreK-12 theatre standards. The two nation theatre education organizations were part of a larger coalition of national arts groups that came together to write standards across all arts areas, using an overarching structure built on the four artistic processes of Creating, Performing, Responding and Connecting. The National Core Theatre Standards have since been adapted by 39 states, with multiple other states expected to follow. This session, presented by EdTA Policy and Advocacy Advisor Jim Palmarini, will offer a comprehensive overview of the standards’ structure and their applicability in the classroom and onstage. We’ll also have an open discussion about how they validate theatre as a rigorous academic discipline and serve as a springboard for creating curriculum that both classroom educators and teaching artists can use to build and measure student learning in theatre.

James Palmarini is director of educational policy for the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) and a member of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards Leadership Team. As EdTA director of educational policy, Mr. Palmarini serves on the Arts Education Partnership Advisory Board; the Washington, D.C.-based Arts Education Working Group; and EdTA's Advocacy Task Force. In 2012, he led or participated in four presentations about the new National Core Arts Standards with Americans for the Arts, Arts Education Partnership, National Guild for Community Arts Education, and Educational Theatre Association. He tweets regularly at @edtadvocacy and blogs occasionally at

Creating a Universally Designed Drama Classroom
with Fran Sillau
Wednesday, September 22nd at 7pm (EDT)

This sixty-minute workshop will unpack strategies for creating a truly inclusive drama classroom, utilizing the principles of Universal Design for Learning. Participants are encouraged to bring their favorite ensemble games and exercises to share, we will create inclusive versions of these games and activities to take right back to the classroom.

Fran Sillau serves as the Accessibility Coordinator at The Rose Theater, where he organizes educational opportunities for students with disabilities. Sillau also serves as Executive Artistic Director of Circle Theatre, a company dedicated to creating theater that includes artists with disabilities. Sillau is an Aurand Harris Fellowship recipient and a winner of The Access Grant from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where he is a frequent contractor. He also served as a Teaching Artist Fellow for VSA: The International Association for Arts and Disability. He holds an MFA in directing and inclusion from Goddard College. Learn more at

Stage to Page: Reimagining the Teacher/Practitioner Role in Scholarship
with Jonathan Jones
Tuesday, October 26th at 7pm (EDT)

Research and scholarship in theatre for, with, and by young people requires the perspectives of teachers and practitioners in the field. However, much of what is published comes from practitioners with college and university appointments. What if we reimagined the paradigm? What if the teachers, practitioners, and theatre artists who are not affiliated with the academy were contributors as well? 

Join AATE Board member Jonathan Jones and a panel of Youth Theatre Journal authors who will share takeaways from their research and insight into the process of writing for an academic journal. What is your practice in researching and writing? How can you draw upon your practice as a space for reflection and learning for you and the wider field? What are the mechanics to formally submit something? How are partnerships between practitioners and scholars moving the field forward? What are the next steps for would-be authors?

CTE Theatre: Impacting Theatre Education through Training & Connection
with Felicia Latoya Brown
Monday, November 29th at 7pm (EST)

Whether or not your local high school or your state recognizes theatre as a Career and Technical Education (CTE) subject, there is so much that every theatre program and company can gain from a CTE Theatre program. Learn about the different types of programs, what states recognize them, what all is taught, how to connect with others, how to build an advisory committee for your theatre education program, and what is on the horizon for CTE theatre across the country.

Felicia Latoya Brown is currently the Career and Technical Education (CTE) theatre educator at Trenton Central High School in New Jersey. Her love for cultural and ethnic understanding drives the work she does. Besides teaching in the US, she taught short theatre programs in Kenya, Brazil, and Costa Rica. Ms. Brown holds an MA in theatre studies and another MA in arts administration.

Mindfulness & Theatre Arts: Social-Emotional Wellness for Theatre Arts Educators
with Carla Gómez Klein
Thursday, December 9th at 7pm (EST)

This one-hour workshop designed for theatre educators features a number of different recharging techniques and practices for a more balanced 2022! Join us as we discover new social-emotional wellness strategies to utilize in our lives.

Carla Gómez Klein is an award-winning Mindfulness and Theatre Arts Educator in Santa Monica, CA. She serves on the board of trustees for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. Trained through UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, Carla's approach to mindfulness coaching is to help clients find balance in their lives for optimal productivity. Carla is passionate about teaching social-emotional wellness skills to educators and social justice performance to young activists through a mindfulness lens.