The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival awarded its Innovative Teaching Prize to Professor April Daras for her recent work
crafting new courses and performance opportunities through applied theater at IUP.
Daras’ courses in “The Performance of Caring,”
for Nursing students, and her application of student actors as simulated
patients in IUP’s Nursing Simulation Lab were her first foray into broader work
developing at IUP. She has also
developed simulations for IUP’s Educational Psychology and Psychology
Daras’ broader vision is for theater in service to community.
She is a member of the Pittsburgh Playback Theatre company. Playback
Theatre is an original form of
improvisational theater in which
audience or group members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted by
a company of players. Daras joins other
faculty in IUP’s Department of Theater and Dance who are developing a program
of devised, applied, and ensemble theater. This program seeks to prepare students to work in a variety of methods,
collaborating to invent theater practice for the 21st century.
American Theatre magazine’s special section “Approaches
to Theatre Training—Art For Whose Sake?” this month, in fact features articles
examining theater used to effect change by innovative applications that bring
civic engagement and communal healing to the fore. Among the articles is a survey of
theater-studies programs across the country. There are only a few, and these are all relatively new, forward-thinking
programs, demonstrating the interdisciplinary vitality of a program like Daras
The Innovative Teaching Prize is sponsored by the
Association for Theatre in Higher Education, which is the leading American
organization for university theater. An
advocate for the field of theater and performance in higher education, ATHE
serves as an intellectual and artistic center for producing new knowledge about
theater and performance-related disciplines, cultivating vital alliances with
other scholarly and creative disciplines, linking with professional and
community-based theaters, and promoting access and equity.
Department of Theater and Dance