Applied Theatre and Role Playing in Organizational Development

Applied theatre refers to the use of theatrical forms in non-traditional theatre spaces to explore issues of interest and concern to communities. 
Applied theatre uses the elements of theatre performance to structure participatory theatre experiences for people. It eschews both functional role plays and simulations and also drama therapy to use theatre as a democratic process for the sharing of stories in safe and structured processes.

Applied theatre processes work to:

- Engage learners in meaningful dialogue about the issues under discussion;
- Facilitate a safe environment whereby students can engage both cognitively and affectively with the material;
- Provide a stimulus for an ongoing exploration of the issue rather than a one-off hit (and miss);
- Provide fully interactive theatre processes that engage learners in theatre making themselves.

The use of role-play as a way of training individuals for making executive decisions is by no means a new practice. This self-presentation or role is discussed at length in Erving Goffman’s (1959) book the Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. According to Goffman people engage in two kinds of communication, “expressions given and expressions given off.” It is the communications given off that constitute impressions that are presented by an individual. These impressions become social roles or parts that are performed based on the environmental context. This can therefore be constructed that the roles that are played are in fact the sum of the contextual parts. Self therefore is a dramatic effect drawn from the scene that is presented. 

Before we design the right applied theatre program for you we proved a need assessment.

Once a company or organization has recognized that they are in need of specialized training in the area of diversity, a team of industrial organizational psychologists will conduct a thorough assessment or what is typically called an “environmental assessment.” 

The purpose of this assessment is to clarify and amplify the goals, needs and challenges that the company faces. The assessment process can take several days or several weeks depending on the size of the company and/or the complexity of the stated problem. 

The assessment team will begin by interviewing top executives. At this level of inquiry the team is seeking to identify the core problem and identify who within the company has the necessary influence to make changes. 

After the problem has been clarified the assessment team will begin interviewing employees at all levels. 

During this phase of the assessment the team is looking for root metaphors and narratives.​