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In Fall 2014, the CRLT Players Theatre Program received the U-M Distinguished Diversity Leaders Award for their serious and sustained efforts in improving campus climate and institutional equity over the past fifteen years. Throughout the 2014-2015 academic year, the Players continued their work in these arenas, supporting a range of college and departmental porgrams and customizing workshops to meet the particular needs of individual units. They also strategically expanded their repertoire to meet the identified needs of our campus population.
Answering faculty's call for skill-building around student mental health issues and building upon research conducted in 2013-2014, the Players developed a series of vignettes to seed conversation about instructors' responsibilities to students facing mental health challenges. This new material was presented in a series of previews in 2014-2015 to key university stakeholders, resulting in the creation of a session that aims to guide participants in proactively shaping their pedagogical practices with an awareness of student mental health concerns. Received positively in a spring pilot performance for GSI Coordinators, Distress Signals will be rolled out in CoE and LSA in 2015-2016.
The CRLT Players kicked off the 2016-17 season with a busy week that included four performances of 7 into 15 for Graduate Student Instructor Teaching Orientation, New Faculty Orientation, Engineering Graduate Student Instruction Teaching Orientation, and the Math department Graduate Student Instructor Orientation. During the course of the orientation week, the Players performed for more than 750 people from over 60 departments.7 into 15 highlights the different ways individuals engage with and experience higher education, and the versions of 7 into 15 that were performed addressed topics of student diversity, managing student concerns, teaching persona, microaggressions, time management, and instructional technology.
In 2013-2014, several units consulted the theatre program about developing performances to address specific needs, ranging from mental health to unwelcoming climate. Attending to both particular contexts and larger trends across campus and around the country is resulting in the creation of work that both anticipates broadly felt needs and remains persuasive as it is shared with new audiences. For example, as units across campus grappled with climate issues raised in the wake of the fall 2013 #BBUM (Being Black at U-M) Twitter campaign, the theatre program was pleased to have a relevant new sketch available to help facilitate necessary, but difficult conversations within campus communities. Originally commissioned by and previewed in the Department for Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS), Critical Differences was particularly timely.
Watching a group of students wrestle with a text that asks them to think critically about race, gender, and ability invites instructors to explore questions of how identities affect the ways students engage with course content, each other, and instructional methods. Premiered successfully at a DAAS faculty retreat in May 2014, the sketch is being requested by other departments for performances in 2014-2015.
Introducing the Session:
We recommend that individuals opening a Players session follow a format similar to the one below. The bolded text identifies the basic tactic that a speaker would use. The italicized text provides sample language that would be appropriate for someone introducing a session centered around a performance of The Fence.
Welcome participants. Share your personal experience of the Players work and/or information about their history/reputation.
Welcome. I'm glad you could join us this afternoon. I'm pleased to have the CRLT Players join us today to assist us in thinking about the kinds of issues you may encounter in your work on casebook committees in the coming year. At the invitation of x person or group, the Players brought the sketch you'll see today to an event I attended last fall. That group had a very positive conversation about our collective responsibilities to the tenure process and we are excited to join with you and with the Players to start (or continue) a similar dialogue about how we might most equitably approach evaluating our colleagues at this important stage of their career. Read more »