Associate Professor of Theatre
She received a B.S. in biology from Creighton University, a M.F.A. in theatre for youth from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is a trained Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner.
She has taught numerous creative drama and theatre workshops in schools, prisons, community centers, and churches throughout the U.S. and in Nigeria and served as Artistic Director of UJIMA YOUTHEATRE for seven years.
Her areas of interest include critical pedagogy and liberatory education, diversity and interculturalism in theatre for young audiences, integration of science and creative drama, multicultural children's literature, and African American theatre.
In her spare time Sowell directs and works as a professional storyteller.
Applied theatre can be defined most simply as the utilization of the tools of theatre for a broad set of purposes such as education, community building, healing, conflict resolution, and advocacy. Applied theatre practices and creative processes are dialogic and are most often responsive to marginalized peoples, their stories, and local settings and priorities. This community-based participatory work primarily takes place in non-traditional settings focused on personal and social change. In this course, we will explore a variety of applied theatre practices including theatre of the oppressed, theatre in education, theatre for development, prison theatre, and other modes using theatre and drama to grapple with complex social issues. Our exploratory process will include as much practical application as research with several collaborative artistic interventions via community engaged learning woven throughout the semester.
Creative drama is an integrative process that develops imaginative thought, critical thinking and creative expression in children. Beginning with the natural tendencies of children to engage in dramatic play as a springboard, students in this course will investigate theories and practices of play. We will then explore the dynamic experiential learning and teaching methodology that is creative drama. Creative drama will be critically examined as an art form; as a process for enhancing and developing language and communication skills, social awareness, problem-solving abilities, self-concept, and an understanding of theatre; and as a tool for teaching abstract concepts and core curricular subjects such as math and science. We will work together to build a vocabulary of creative drama activities, techniques, and strategies spanning a wide variety of forms including movement, puppetry, improvisation, story dramatization and process drama. Practice will occur via a significant community engaged learning project.
This course focuses on strategies and techniques for teaching creative drama and theatre with young people in primary and secondary school settings including afterschool programming. Throughout the semester we will answer questions such as - What tools and skills are required to design and implement theatre curriculum? How is youth theatre implemented in schools? How can readers theatre and oral interpretation of literature be utilized in classrooms? In addition, students in this course will focus on building their facilitation skills and establishing their teaching philosophy. The intersections of critical pedagogy and creative pedagogy will be central to this component of the course. Guest artist educators and community engaged learning experiences will provide practical examples of theatre education. Prerequisite: Some coursework in theatre and/or education.
Do you remember being read to as a child? Reading your first book out loud? How can the energy, excitement, and enthusiasm of telling tales, story dramatization, and ultimately reading aloud be harnessed, maintained and encouraged through theatre? The first step in the progression towards theatre is the child's natural tendency towards pretend play and storytelling. This class will examine reader's theatre as a way to engage children in the act and art of literacy. Students in this course will consider how arts integration, theatre education, and critical literacy methodologies that can enhance the storytelling process. We will then examine reader's theatre scripts and finally write and perform reader's theatre pieces with children at a local elementary school. Along the way, students will build upon their abilities to communicate stories theatrically. Prerequisite - some prior work with children, education, theatre preferred.
This course is designed to introduce students to the ways in which children's literature has influenced and informed the field of child drama. We'll examine an array of children's literature with an emphasis on critical literacy and representations of childhood, family, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, ability, and class. We'll consider how creative drama strategies (story dramatization, theatre games, etc.) can serve as analytical tools to empower children to challenge dominant social and cultural storylines and to imaginatively deconstruct and reconstruct these narratives in conversation with their own stories. We will simultaneously engage with plays for young audiences that are adaptations of children's literature considering what (and whose) stories are staged and how do storytelling structures, motifs, and illustrations impact the crafting of a script? For the final project, students will work with child consultants to explore a piece of children's literature, adapt it into a play script, and create an accompanying study guide for educators.
Youth theatre, predictably, describes theatre for and by young people. Youth theatre at its best is a safe space in which young people explore issues and take risks while learning the art of theatre making. This youth theatre course is comprised of three main segments: Research, skill building, and creative practice. We will begin by researching local, national, and international youth theatre troupes with a focus on activism. Next we will learn and practice strategies for directing/facilitating youth theatre (including applied theatre methods and techniques for devising original work). Finally, students will engage in an extensive community based learning experience working with a group of youth artists co-creating an original performance piece. Prerequisite: Some experience working with youth is necessary.