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: 


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.



Completed Sessions:

2022 Series
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.