What We Do
The International Theatre & Literacy Project brings theatre artists from the United States to developing countries to conduct community-based playwriting and theatre workshops for secondary school students and teachers.
Over the course of a two-week summer workshop, facilitated by ITLP teaching artists and teachers from the participating schools, students write and perform an original play in English. Students meet Monday through Friday, six hours per day, with a break for a mid-day meal that we provide.
Every workshop is highly structured, with the goal of reinforcing valuable skills in verbal and written communication and physical presentation for each student. At the same time, we spark the creativity of these children and young people through a fun and engaging learning experience. Augustine Mahiga, Former Tanzanian Ambassador to the United Nations, has affirmed ITLP’s program as having “the potential to revolutionize education in Tanzania.”
ITLP teaching artists work off the ITLP Blueprint for TAs which sets out target learning indicators for first- and second-year students. This, combined with a rigorous selection and training process, helps ensure the quality of the experience across years and countries.
At the conclusion of ITLP’s residency, students perform their original play in English for parents, peers, and the surrounding community. Every play is introduced with a brief summary in the local language so that audience members, most of whom do not speak English, have an opportunity to celebrate the creativity and unique insights of the young performers.
When school resumes, the ITLP students continue to hone their skills and share their play, performing for hundreds of students at their own school, other local schools and theatre festivals. The ITLP project team conducts a post-performance discussion with the school community about the play and the creative process. They also lead professional development workshops for all teachers who want to use drama techniques to enhance their instruction.
ITLP has a lasting impact on the lives of these children and young people – by opening up their imaginations, increasing their proficiency in English, and developing their independent thinking skills. The program also contributes to new perceptions of themselves as young citizens capable of fostering a new kind of leadership in their communities and country.
ITLP conducts professional development workshops in the communities where we work, to shape pedagogy and practice beyond our summer theatre program. These workshops support local teachers in learning how to use drama and participatory teaching methods in their classrooms.
ITLP’s Professional Development Initiative was launched in 2009 in Tanzania, in partnership with Columbia University’s Teachers College. The professional development model starts with classroom observation, interviews and discussions of educational theories and instructional approaches with secondary school teachers. ITLP then conducts workshops with teachers and administrators focused on inquiry-based, learner-centered and participatory teaching approaches.
Learn more about ITLP’s Professional Development Initiative.
ITLP supports its partner schools throughout the school year, by providing textbooks and with scholarships to cover the school fees of student participants.
We also award two ITLP-Nowicki scholarships to ITLP graduates from St. Margaret’s Academy in Tanzania. Each summer, one boy and girl attend Camp Treetops, a residential camp in the Adirondack Mountains outside Lake Placid, NY – an enriching experience for these children and for the camp community.
Learn more about the ITLP’s partnership with Camp Treetops.
Read more about donor Stefan Nowicki.
ITLP welcomes opportunities for collaboration with other organizations, companies and individuals dedicated to development, education and the arts.
Past partnerships include:
- A ten-day workshop in collaboration with The World Wide Orphans Foundation for children living with HIV and AIDS in Ethiopia
- A poetry, dance and song workshop for 45 children with the Bali Children’s Project in the remote village of Ubud, Bali
- A partnership with the Theatre Department at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to work alongside local theatre artists in ITLP summer programs
- A Professional Development Initiative with Columbia University Teachers College to impact pedagogy and practice in Tanzanian classrooms