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

Throughout the four years he spent as a tackle for the Miami Hurricanes, Tyree St. Louis never consi ...

Finally, a marquee home game for the University of Miami men’s basketball team, a game big enough th ...

University of Miami basketball coach Jim Larranaga, awaiting word from the NCAA on the appeal to rei ...

The Hurricanes officially welcomed ballyhooed new quarterback Tate Martell on campus Friday, and he’ ...

Before Jess Simpson’s final playoff run as the coach of Buford fell short in a Georgia state champio ...

The University of Miami brings together leaders in academia, professional practice, and industry to ...

On Dec. 14, 2018 universal health care programs in both the United States and Mexico were dealt sign ...

For the first time in more than 15 years, two of UMTV’s weekly shows were nominated for the Televisi ...

Miami Transplant Institute performed 681 transplants during 2018, setting a new national record in k ...

Jazz aficionados launch new video series by sharing invaluable performance techniques. ...

The University of Miami women's swimming and diving team finished off a clean sweep of in-state ...

"We're excited to welcome these coaches to the Miami family," Diaz said. ...

The No. 17 Miami women's tennis team recorded its second win of the day Saturday evening at the ...

Chris Lykes scored 20 points, but the Canes come up just short against No. 13 UNC. ...

In the first of its two matches Saturday at the FGCU Tennis Complex, the No. 17 Miami women's t ...

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.