Edge, Theater

Theater becomes part of the UM Law School curriculum

The UM Law Health Rights Clinic is revolutionizing the way students and interns learn to practice law by taking an old theater concept called Forum Theatre and applying it to the modern classroom setting.

Some undergraduate students may be familiar with the idea from a similar program used during Orientation events, called “Theatre in Action: Bystander Intervention.” Though organized by different groups, the concept is the same: training for real-life situations through theatrical simulations.

It works by having students watch a realistic scene play out in front of them. Then, students discuss what happened and what they would have done to intervene. Students then get the chance to replay the scene and enter it themselves to change the outcome.

At the Health Rights Clinic, a 6-credit course at UM School of Law, students begin their first class or orientation with this method. They watch a scene in which a lawyer is representing a client in an oppressive way, all played by other members of the clinic. Then the students can stop the scene and replace the actor playing the lawyer, improving the treatment of the client.

By starting with Forum Theatre, students experience first-hand some of the ethical dilemmas they will face when they begin their careers.

“It has the elements that you can discuss what’s wrong, so you’re doing a theoretical approach, and you can practice and force yourself to become involved and find out what’s wrong and correct it yourself,” said Joshua Mandel, a third-year fellow in the clinic.

Mandel acts as the Joker in the scenes, meaning he narrates and facilitates the scene. He said the theater-based learning is effective because it it creative, innovative and fun for students.

“It’s a bunch of peers and a bunch of people who know each other,” Mandel said. “They’re laughing. We all get a kick out of it.”

Director of the Health Rights Clinic JoNel Newman and Assistant Director Melissa Swain were first introduced to Forum Theatre in Strathclyde, Scotland, during one of their exchange programs. One of the professors at the University of Strathclyde demonstrated the technique, impressing the UM students.

“Everyone else did papers and PowerPoints, but they came up with this cool script that really depicted the ethical dilemmas at both universities, and the whole audience was able to participate and stop the action and give their own version of how they would handle it,” Swain said.

Because of the great feedback they got from students, Newman and Swain brought the technique back to campus for UM Law orientation and the first classes of the Health Rights Clinic.

Now they also showcase the technique at conferences around the world in conjunction with the first students and colleagues from Strathclyde. Newman and Swain said they hope to expand the concept of Forum Theatre to other areas of study and to one day take it back to South America, where it began.

Newman and Swain have applied to take Forum Theatre to Colombia and perform it in Spanish.

“We’re playing with the idea that we’ve done it in English,” Swain said. “Now can we make the transition to do it in Spanish? That would be just amazing. This is something that on the Miami campus we could be running in Spanish and in English.”

Photo courtesy Pixabay user kellierae.

October 23, 2017

Reporters

Esther Ponce De Leon


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The college football season doesn't begin until the end of August, but that never stops media o ...

There were indications, even before Lonnie Walker IV was selected No. 18 by the San Antonio Spurs in ...

Add another player to the Miami Hurricanes' 2019 recruiting class. Defensive end Jahfari Harvey ...

From the onset, the Miami Hurricanes' plan was for the Carol Soffer football indoor practice fa ...

Gino DiMare on Tuesday stood in a spot that two men before him had crafted into a pinnacle of succes ...

At the University of Miami, employee recognition comes in many forms. ...

Community art project encourages the public to explore the vibrant downtown area of Coral Gables and ...

It appears that his third run for the presidency will be successful as he distances himself from the ...

Teachers tackle challenging questions at the Holocaust Studies Summer Institute. ...

A University of Miami lecturer explores the role of the front porch in black communities. ...

The University of Miami volleyball program will host nine ACC home matches and the Sunshine State Ch ...

Walker picked 18th overall by San Antonio Spurs, Brown 42nd by Detroit Pistons. ...

Gino DiMare was introduced as the 10th head baseball coach in Canes' history. ...

The University of Miami women's golf team had three individuals selected to the 2018 Atlantic C ...

Haley Templeton is set to travel to Detroit, Mich., on Friday to train and compete with the U.S. Wom ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.