- Community Arts Partner Name
- Lauren Patrice Goldman Marshall
- Partner Type
- Profile Photo
- Individual Bio or
- Lauren Goldman Marshall has an MFA in Music Theatre writing from NYU, and BA and JD from Stanford. She served as Co-Artistic & Producing Artistic Director of Seattle Public Theater for five years, before stepping down to start a family in 2001. Through SPT’s acclaimed Theater of Liberation program, she worked with youth to explore strategies for conflict resolution and empowerment. Her award-winning plays and musicals have been produced nationally and published by Samuel French. They range from the hit Seattle revue Waiter, There’s a Slug in my Latté to Abraham’s Land, a drama set in the Middle East. She was one of 6 local artists selected to develop new musicals in the 5th Avenue Theatre’s 2013-15 New Works program. Lauren has worked with diverse groups, including Israeli and Palestinian teenagers, Lummi Nation youth, and kids and teens with disabilities, to develop and produce original plays and video plays. She is the founding director of Theater of Possibility, 2010-present, which uses applied theater techniques to practice relationships skills for youth with autism spectrum and other disabilities, as well as kids living in subsidized housing. She has directed numerous plays and musicals for professional, community and youth theater. Lauren co-founded Aspire Girls, a social group for girls with Asperger’s, and has two school-age daughters.
Grade Levels Preferred
- Grade Levels Preferred
- 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th
- Developing interpersonal skills and community building through generative theater, including improvisation, introductory acting, collaboration and playwriting
- Theater, Playwriting & Collaboration; professional development on doing theater with special needs students
- Previous School Partnerships
- WA State TAT Lab Graduate
- Other Trainings or Certifications
- Sample Lesson Description: Student / Classroom Residencies
- Sample Workshop Description: Teacher Professional Development
Areas of Experience and Expertise
- Approved Professional Development Provider
- Approved Classroom Residency Provider
- Experience with English Language Learners
- Experience with Students in Special Education
- Teaching Philosophy + Approach
- I designed and teach a program in generative theater, called Theater of Possibility ("TOP"), blending aspects of introductory improvisation, acting and playwriting with drama therapy and Augusto Boal's Theater of the Oppressed. It is generative in that we create our own material from the students' stories and ideas. The primary focus of TOP is on collaboration skills. It is premised on the notion that together we can create something more wonderful than any of us can create alone.
TOP is also applied theater, in that the skills we practice have real life applications outside the classroom. Central to TOP is the idea that you have the power to change a bad situation by changing your own actions. TOP offers tools to better understand relationship dynamics and be empowered, but the social skills training is subtly embedded into an approach that is playful and non-didactic.
Having previously trained and worked in Boal's Theater of the Oppressed, I started TOP in 2010, initially focusing on working with youth with autism spectrum and related disabilities. I thought I would be using theater to teach social skills, but my philosophy has evolved as I learn from my students. Rather than teaching them to conform to social norms, I aim to give them a voice to teach the world. Along the way, we shape powerful emotions and ideas into moving, profound and funny short works of theater. The act of coming together to create a collective work is in itself a powerful social skills training.
I teach TOP to diverse populations, including kids and teens with special needs, ranging from Down Syndrome to high functioning Asperger's, previously homeless youth living in subsidized housing, and a variety of typically- developing and integrated classrooms. I like working with diverse populations because I believe theater is the glue that can bring us all together. My activities are designed to let every person shine, whether the class clown or the dreamy introvert. Because we create our own plays, reading or verbal acuity is not a prerequisite, and activities may be tailored to the developmental readiness of the students. My greatest joy comes when students who assumed they had nothing in common with one another come to value their classmates' contributions. TOP is especially suited to inclusion classrooms, kids entering a new learning environment such as middle school or high school, or any classroom where here is a desire to build cohesion among diverse students.
In addition to working directly with youth, I also teach professional development workshops to educators, counselors, staff and parents, who are interested in learning and incorporating these techniques. The focus of these workshops is on applying theater techniques to build cohesion in a differentiated classroom. Related ideas include helping students overcome writer's block and frozen creativity, and integrating students who are used to being marginalized as poor learners or disruptive.
- Curriculum Integration Possibilities
- My program can be tailored to different teaching goals and durations, ranging from a 90 minute introductory session to a 20 hour full curriculum, and anything in between. The program can be tailored to a specific theme, such as anti-bullying, bridging differences, inclusion, or risk-reduction, or be open-ended to explore whatever topics the students most want to express.
A 20 hour program ideally takes place over twelve 90 minute sessions, plus a two hour performance event. If limited to 50 minute class times, I recommend 15-20 sessions to get to performance. Early sessions focus on foundational skills. At about day 7, we turn to play creation, and finally rehearsal, all the while continuing to develop skills. A performance typically involves a demonstration of select theater games, followed by 2 - 3 short mini-plays, created by the ensemble. Depending on the goals of the workshop, these plays may be presented as ends in themselves, or they may be launching points for further exploration. In the latter case, each short play (3-5 minutes) presents an unsolved relationship conflict. Then, using Boal's technique of "forum theater," the actors and audience ("spect-actors") are invited to take turns stepping into the shoes of the protagonist to try out different solutions to the conflict. Or, we might first create a "rainbow" of the different feelings the characters in conflict are experiencing, in order to better understand the nuances of the problem. Through these and other techniques, students get to demonstrate their mastery of improvisation and relationship skills. They becomes the educators, teaching their peers and teachers what they have learned. It also allows us to turn 10-15 minutes worth of rehearsed material into a very powerful 1 1/2 hour interactive theater event.
With a total process of less than 15 hours, it is hard to get to performance of original material, but TOP can still be used to teach collaboration skills and bring curriculum to life. Shorter workshops might culminate in a structured improvisation. A single 1 1/2 - 2 hour workshop will have an arc to it, from warm up activities to a larger structure, and can be tailored to a single idea, such as, for example, "joining in". Two or four short workshops can be linked to give a taste of forum theater, working from a predesigned scenario.
TOP can be integrated into social skills/anti bullying/health programs, and also into language arts, social science or science curriculums. For social science or science, we might, for example, use theater to bring to life relationship dynamics (e.g. social hierarchy in an ancient civilization), or organic processes (e.g. a water drop's journey through the water cycle). For language arts, my program teaches about writing and the writer's process. E.g. how does one come up with ideas? How so you work with others to merge idea without diluting or compromising your artistic vision? We learn about the elements of drama and story arc. Some of my kids may never have thought of themselves as writers before this class. I have had autistic kids who are barely verbal write amazing dramatic scenes! Other kids might draw out their story in pictures and delight to see it come to life on stage. Drama education helps with executive functioning, sequencing, cause and effect, problem solving and many other skills essential to academic success.
- Special Skills and Areas of Expertise
- I have special expertise in working with special education students and inclusion classrooms, in which special education students are integrated with typically developing peers. I also have worked with other populations who typically have little to no theater experience, including previously homeless youth and students from immigrant families, some of whom may be ELL. I also like working with gen ed populations. Building on successful experiences with an inclusion model in my after-school disability program, one of my particular goals is to do a long term (20 hour) project in an inclusion classroom, where we can really focus on building understanding among those who are differently and typically abled. By doing it in an ongoing classroom, I hope to build relationships that can last beyond our workshop experience. I would especially love to do this with teens, for the greater depth we can achieve, although I think there is also great value in building awareness and compassion among younger students.
As mentioned above, I also lead professional development with K-12 teachers interested in learning these specific applied theater techniques.
In other contexts, I also teach workshops in playwriting and play adaptation, coaching students in taking a segment of literature and adapting it into a dramatic scene (for example, Oliver Twist for a workshop at the 5th Avenue Theater). This can be done as a single workshop or a longer event.
- Testimonials from Schools
- Andew Ryder, Chair, SPU Theatre, email@example.com
Jen Kulik, Founder, Silver Kite Community Arts, LLC, Fullbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Fellowship, former drama teacher, Northwest School, firstname.lastname@example.org
Douglas Kaback, Department of Theatre, California State University Northridge, email@example.com
David Olivera, Child Care Lead, Sand Point Family Housing, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah M. Talbot, Principal, Laurelhurst Elementary, email@example.com
Susan Foley, teacher UCDS and parent of student, firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Moffitt, parent of student, email@example.com
- Negotiable, but typically $50/hour for teaching time, prep time (typically up to 50% of teaching time) and planning meetings. May be less for longer projects (e.g. $1,250-$1,500 for 20 hour residency culminating in performance), depending on the amount of planning and customization involved.
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- Lauren teaching a weekend long educator's workshop at California State University Northridge
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- Performance by students in Theater of Possibility teen class
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- Warm up activities at educators' workshop on Theater of Possibility for autism, California State University Northridge
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- Warm up activities at adult educators' workshop on Theater of Possibility for autism, California State University Northridge
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- Theater of Possibility - Sand Point Housing performs The Rude Princess at Seattle Public Library