The experience of an applied theatre performance satisfies many of the main criteria for the development of self-efficacy through modelling and observational learning: provision of information; portrayal and highlighting of influences for comparison and appraisal; and the personalisation of the issues through narrative, identification and empathy. The experience of a show provides a safe means for the audience to experience (and so rehearse) the issues, without actually being at risk. The choices and their outcomes or consequences are experienced both individually and socially with peers in a context that influences them, re-enforcing outcome expectations and motivations. Once the performance is over, during the facilitated discussion, the shared emotional experience is internalised and contextualised by the audience in order for the issues and messages to be personalised and enabled; the emotional experience is supported by an intellectual, cognitive one to holistically enforce the learnings. The discussion provides an intellectual space for the experience to be contextualised and validated, facilitated by trusted peer role models (the performers), which allows for open, honest and personal communication. An environment is created which fosters debate and encourages participation and personal interaction with the issues. The audience feel able to engage in this discourse because they have identified with the characters and shared the experience. Sharing their understanding now aids in raising their confidence and self-esteem, allowing the debate and dialogue to extend to the classroom, playground and home environment. The engagement of the audience encourages the audience’s self-reflexion, self-assessment and capacity to make comparisons. All of which contribute to building feelings of competency, agency and self-worth in relation to the issues and their choices and behaviours.
arepp:Theatre for Life’s applied theatre method combines the concepts of observational learning and modelling through a theatre show with the processes of experiential, reflexive learning through a facilitated discussion to develop self-efficacy with regard to life-style choices and behaviours. The theatre experience stands in for, substitutes and becomes a life experience for the audience which is then reflected upon, analysed and theorised, and where skills are imparted to understand how to problem solve, and make sense and meaning of experience.
The arepp:Theatre for Life method achieves this engagement via the processes of fostering identification, arresting empathy and precipitating cognition among the audiences, so that the audience experience ‘themselves’ reflected and refracted through the prism of the event. The experience becomes a life experience for the audience, which, in-turn increases the reservoir of life experiences and competencies that the audience has to draw upon when faced with and responding to real life situations. The more of such opportunities or experiences that a person has in relation to the portrayed actions or behaviours, and the more skilled and able they are to analyse and interpret them, the more they will have to draw upon to assist in shaping their actions and responses to actual life events, thus developing their resilient self-efficacy.
The close alignment of the presentations with the National Life Orientation curriculum further ensures that each performance occurs within, and supports and enhances, each grade’s syllabus work on these issues, providing an invaluable resource and reference point for their annual Life Orientation outcomes and assessment.