Interactive Theater

University of Michigan CRLT Players Visit Blacksburg


On Wednesday, April 2, 2008, the University of Michigan CRLT Players visited Blacksburg’s Lyric Theater to present a dramatization of faculty interactions designed to stimulate discussion about climate and collegiality. The performance and discussion lasted approximately 90 minutes, and was followed by a reception. Academic deans, university promotion and tenure committee members, department heads, college and department promotion and tenure committee chairs, search committee chairs, and department executive committee members were especially encouraged to attend.

Using a solid foundation of research on the experiences of faculty and students, the Players develop and present provocative vignettes to engage their audience members in thinking and talking about issues of diversity and inclusion. The theatre sketches draw the audience into the scene with a mix of comedy and drama designed to portray the complexities and challenges of everyday situations in academe. Following each sketch, audience members have the opportunity to dialogue with the characters. The actors continue to play their roles from the sketch, answering questions and making comments to the audience members. A trained facilitator guides the dialogue and provides professional expertise on the topic at hand. 

The Players have worked with the University of Michigan’s ADVANCE program to develop performances based on faculty interviews and focus groups that demonstrate the challenges female faculty may encounter in interactions with students or with other faculty. The sketch performed on April 2 posed questions regarding the fairness of some common issues and dynamics in hiring and tenure discussions and portrayed the subtle ways that gender can affect a committee’s interpretation of a candidate’s scholarship and productivity.