Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Theatre & Dance

First Advisor

Beth Osnes

Second Advisor

Oliver Gerland

Third Advisor

Merrill Lessley


How should one go about establishing a viable Interactive Theatre ensemble that can provide quality programming to communities on university campuses? This dissertation infers effective practices for doing so based on a study of Interactive Theatre and a comparative analysis of five representative Interactive Theatre programs in universities across the country: Theatre for Dialogue at the University of Texas at Austin, Cornell Interactive Theatre Ensemble, InterAct at The Ohio State University, the Interactive Theatre Project at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Interactive Theatre Carolina at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The data sources are threefold: interviews with ensemble leaders, funders and actors; evaluation data and other documents from the programs; and scholarship both inside and outside the field of Interactive Theatre. Effective practices are defined as those which, according to the three sources of data, have proven to be successful in maximizing the efficacy and impact of the work. The methodology is a form of qualitative social science research called “Case Study,” specifically an “Instrumental Study” and “Collective Case Study.” The study focuses on a broad set of issues and skill sets within Interactive Theatre divided up into four categories as follows: “Program Foundations,” including Genesis Stories, Funding/Sustainability/Growth, Goals, Theory/Influences, Issues, Audiences, Marketing, Space, and Allies/Advocates; “Structure and Methods,” including Services/Format/Techniques, Ensemble Structure, Recruiting/Auditioning, Student Commitment, Academic Courses on Interactive Theatre, Scene/Script Creation, and Rehearsal/Training; “Facilitation,” including Roles and Techniques of the Facilitator, Engagement of Audience Members, Creating a Safe Space, Encouraging Quieter Voices to Speak Up, Managing and Deepening the Conversation, Negotiating Conflict/Dealing with Resistance, Facilitating Social Justice Education, the Role of Identity, Co-facilitation, Hegemony/Master Narratives/Dominant Ideologies; and “Evaluation/Impact,” including Current Evaluation Practices, Evaluation Results, Scholarship on Evaluation, Effective Practices for Evaluation, and the Impact on Student Ensemble Members. Finally, the study draws additional conclusions in the form of ethical, theoretical, and practical implications and outlines the next steps for future and current practitioners. Despite the dissertation’s narrow focus on the university setting, the conclusions can be easily applied to other settings, including high schools and community organizations.