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K-State Today

July 30, 2021

Presentation by Bailey on drama games for executive function development

Submitted by Sally Bailey

Sally Bailey, professor of theatre in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance and director of the drama therapy program, presented a workshop on "Drama in the Inclusive Classroom: How to Improve Executive Functions" at the American Alliance for Theatre in Education conference July 23 on how drama games and improvisation improve the executive functions of players of any age.

The presentation was based on her newly published book, "Drama for the Inclusive Classroom: Activities to Support Curriculum and Social-Emotional Learning," released in April by Routledge.

Teaching artists of theatre across the country are often brought into K-12 classrooms to teach creative drama, curricular material through the arts, and work on special projects that add to students' understanding of theatre arts, social justice, creativity and ability to working together on projects. However, theatre games and improvisation provide even more educational support than more regular and special educators are aware of. Theatre games, developed in the U.S. by Viola Spolin, a social worker at Hull House in Chicago and theatre teacher, and its closely allied skill of improvisation, provide practice for crucial abilities like attention, working memory, impulse control, emotional regulation, etc. which are needed for academic work. Students who need to develop these skills can learn and practice them through theatre, music lessons, and other arts-based activities which are fun and enjoyable.

Bailey is also working with the education and theatre departments at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati on the development of a dual theatre and special education degree.