Theatre for Social Change, One-person Show


Throughout history people have sought to prompt social change through theatrical experiences. The theatre has moved the masses in ways that have frightened governments and religious establishments into closing down theatres and banning theatrical material. History proves that theatre which causes change exists and works, but it also proves there is no one definition or formula for this type of theatre. Depending on the culture, time period, issue, resources and people involved Theatre for Social Change takes a variety of forms. However, theatre affecting change does tend to maintain two common threads: the creation of a new work and the pursuit of the uncertain elements which will ensure the work affects change in its audience. With no more than two common threads, where does a young actor, recognizing a social problem and desiring change prompted through a theatrical experience begin his or her journey? How does one create Theatre for Social Change? How does one know the theatrical work has successfully caused change within an audience? If there is no certain definition, no one way to pursue it, what direction should one follow? Following Peter Brook's example as set in his 1966 production of US, I will create my own original work in the form of a one-person show and use it as the canvas to apply Brook's ideas and techniques. I hope to find that in order for an audience to change they must first be willing to participate in a performance, even if it is a performance demanding a harsh confrontation with an ignored social problem. Through this thesis I aim to prove that through an actor's personal journey with a social issue, the actor leads the way for the audience to be willing to participate and take the journey themselves resulting in change. My written thesis will include the findings of my research and preparation, a detailed rehearsal and performance journal, the original script of my performance work Knowing Fires and a reflection on the completed process including audience feedback. All of these elements will hopefully lead to a conclusive and useful approach to creating Theatre for Social Change.


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Graduation Date



Listengarten, Julia


Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program









Release Date

July 2011

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)