Experiences with Student Playwriting in a Middle School Theatre Classroom
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The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences of middle school students with playwriting in the theatre classroom and the influence of these experiences on their perspectives of both writing and theatre. This qualitative action research study explores the views of both the teacher/researcher and students in an eighth grade theatre class. Using both Vygotsky’s theory of social learning and process drama as theoretical frameworks, I uncover the experiences of these young playwrights, focusing on the following research questions: How did theatre students experience the psychological and social dimensions of a middle school playwriting curriculum? How did theatre students' experiences with a middle school playwriting curriculum engage my own perspectives on teaching, research, and theatre? Data collected throughout the 24-week course in which the students participated include interviews, observations, and documents, as well as teacher/researcher journals. Four students from the class became subjects of in-depth vignettes exploring emerging themes from the data. Prevalent themes include motivation and engagement, collaboration and teamwork, the development of writing skills, and the exploration of identity. The implications of these themes crossing between the participants support the use of theatre in engaging students with writing in an active and creative way, helping them connect with their audiences, each other, and the collaborative and identity-exploring spirit of theatre.