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Using theater to educate and empower

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Welcome to Acting Out

Acting Out has two programs - a teen theater group as well as an outreach program that serves designated sites in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Community. Ideas from the work of Augusto Boal, a Brazilian theater activist, are used to focus on teen issues and to help them find a sense of empowerment.

The Acting Out Teen Theater meets on Thursdays during each term at a community site where trained JMU students serve as mentors to area middle school and high school teens. They discuss and work through relevant teen issues towards development of a production based on teen life experiences. At the end of the semester it is performed for friends, families and the community. This is a great place to make friends, discuss life experiences, learn about theater, and have a blast!

The Acting OUTREACH Program provides programming to designated community sites on a weekly bases during a semester using the same concepts as the teen acting out theater program and JMU students as trained mentors and facilitators.

History of the program

Founded in 1997 by Marilyn Wakefield, PhD, (a Social Work Department professor concerned about area youth) the program was started in response to a need in the community for more organizations to aide in the prevention of teenage problems. Acting Out provides a safe haven for teen participants to explore their dreams, accomplishments, hurts and disappointments.

The Acting Out Programs are now under the faculty leadership of BJ Bryson, PhD who comes to the JMU Social Work Department with extensive experience working with youth in a variety of settings. She brings the use of the creative arts to help teens be self-reflective and program development skills to create a more community responsive program.