Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center

African American Community Theater Troupe


Lesson Plans


The lesson plans were designed by John Sullivan, a consultant who is participating in the training process. They are based on Theatre for Community, Conflict and Dialogue: The Hope Is Vital Training Manual by Michael Rohd (Heinemann Drama, Portsmouth, NH, 1998).

Over the course of 13 weeks, participants are familiarized with Forum Theater principles and learn how to apply them to cancer-prevention education. They develop two scenes—one on colorectal cancer screening and the other on cervical cancer screening—and engage in a two-hour rehearsal each week. At the end of the training course, the troupe gives a pilot performance of the two scenes for an audience of health-care professionals and elicits feedback to enhance the story lines for community performances. Follow-up sessions allow the troupe to review the key messages for the story lines, discuss their satisfaction with the pilot performance, explore prospects of working with community groups to create a culturally fluent health-promotion performance, and analyze their own roles in community health by using drama-based facilitation techniques. Following are brief descriptions of each lesson that link to PDF versions of the lesson plans.

Lesson 1: Participants are introduced to Forum Theater as a technique for addressing and solving community health issues. Training begins with a discussion of their motivations for joining the project and continues with games that promote team-building and confidence in using their bodies for expression.

Lesson 2: The main focus of this session is on health content related to colorectal and cervical cancer. Participants also participate in confidence-building exercises and trust-building exercises.

Lesson 3: Participants learn focusing exercises and begin to learn about image development. They begin to discuss cultural and social barriers to colorectal and cervical cancer prevention and screening, then create static images that depict some of the barriers to screening.

Lesson 4: Participants learn about sensory development and about improvisation techniques they can use to build core conflict images related to colorectal and cervical cancer.

Lesson 5, 6, 7: Participants continue to develop their improvisation and communication skills to target the knowledge level of the community, while expanding their own sensory development and sculpture-building techniques. The main focus of this lesson is story-telling: participants share stories of personal or workplace experiences in colorectal and cervical cancer prevention and screening, and gather in story circles to discuss these experiences in depth.

Lesson 8: Storytelling continues by selecting stories that resonate with the participants and reflect the group’s experience dealing with cancer in their community. Two stories are selected, one for colorectal cancer and the other for cervical cancer. The class ends with image work that helps the selected conflicts move from a negative ending to a positive ending.

Lesson 9: Participants develop story lines for the two scenes they have selected and then create core conflict images related to the story lines.

Lesson 10, 11, 12: Participants continue to rehearse the two scenes, strengthening each scene and its characters by improving one or two aspects of the performance. Participants work on the viewpoint of each scene, and develop the protagonist and antagonist for the story lines.


Community Theater Programs