Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

THTRFLM 3PC3 Community Outreach

Academic Year: Fall 2016

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Catherine Graham


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 403

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27665

Office Hours: Wednesday 2:00 -3:30 or by appointment

Course Objectives:

This course will lead students through the process of working with community organizations to create dramatic performances based on grassroots perceptions and concerns.  To give students real-world experience of this process, we will work in collaboration with the Student Success Centre, gathering stories and images from fellow McMaster students about their vision of success and what they have learned about success through the course of their university career.  The material will then be used as a basis for proposing scenes for the 2017 version of IRIS, the Welcome Week play that is seen by most incoming first year students.  These proposals will

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • use participatory theatre-based research techniques to elicit stories and images that are important to people in the community a dramatic performance will address
  • use professional writing software to record and organize large amounts of material gathered through workshops and personal research, including written material, photographs, video and sound recording
  • work collaboratively, using professional writing software, to analyze material gathered in workshops, identifying common themes, similarities and differences of perspective on issues raised and the affective impact of core images presented in workshops
  • work collaboratively to propose short scenes that synthesize concerns, conditions, and values expressed in workshops in  a way that elicits further discussion of the concerns of the group they are working with
  • reflect meaningfully on the challenges and rewards of collaborating within artistic groups and with community partners as part of a creative research process

Material generated in this class will be shared with the artistic team that creates IRIS and will serve as inspiration and base material for next year's show.  All students in the class will be credited in the IRIS program as "creative researchers." 

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

  • The core texts for this course will be the instructions for facilitating workshops and recording the material gathered there, and the materials gathered in workshop sessions.  These, along with links to a small number of journal articles that will help guide your reflection on the processes used and results obtained, will all be available on Avenue.


  • Students must use Scrivener, a professional writing software package available from Literature & Latte at to submit some assignments.
    • The School of the Arts will make a limited number of licences for the software available to students at a bulk educational price ($40-$50).  To do this, we need to know whether you will use the software on a PC or Mac computer.  You can also download free trial software directly from the Literature & Latte site, which you can use for the first 30 days of the class. Two copies of the software will also be available in Humanities Computing labs.
  • All students in THTR&FLM 3PC3 must get a keycard for the Performance Lab, where they will be responsible for organizing lab sessions and workshops with community participants. Cards can be obtained from the School of the Arts office, TSH 414, upon payment of a deposit of $20, which will be reimbursed when the keycard is returned at the end of term (or later if the student uses it for other courses).

Method of Assessment:

Please note that through a combination of grades for Lab Reports and the Compilation of Stories and Images from In-Class Workshops, all students will have at least 23% of their grade before Nov. 4th.

All assignments will be submitted via Avenue.

Weekly Lab Reports: 

Due every Friday, starting September 18.  Value: 15% (10*1.5%)

Students will post a 200-300 word report on their lab activity each week, responding to a question that is posted on the Lab Reports Discussion Board on Avenue. Students will not be able to see other students’ reports until they have posted their own.  N.B.  Attendance is compulsory at all classes and labs and students who miss classes or labs will not be able to write effective reports.


Compilation of Stories and Images from In- class Workshops

Due Friday October 7.  Value: 15%

Each student will submit a Scrivener file that includes a record of two of the stories and listener reactions, plus the storyline and characters created in one image theatre workshop, including a written summary of the stories and storylines, photographs and video of the work they have done in their labs.  All files must be tagged with keywords determined through class discussion.  Each student’s file will be accompanied by a 300-500 word discussion of the values embedded in the material they record and of the conditions that make the stories make sense.


Compilation of Stories and Images from Peer Workshops

Due Friday November 11.  Value: 20%

Following the same pattern as for in-class workshop reports, students will submit a Scrivener file recording material arising from at least three workshops with students from outside the class.


Draft Scene Performance

Due Monday Nov. 28 in class.  Value: 10%

Students will create a 3-4 minute scene for presentation to community partners.  The scene should demonstrate how the issues raised in workshops might be synthesized theatrically in a way that could spark community discussion.  Students will not be graded on acting ability or technical skill, but on the kind of performance they propose to create.  Further instructions will be available in class and on Avenue.


Draft Scene Performance Reflection

Due December 3.  Value: 10%

A 500 word paper indicating how the group used material from workshops to create their scene, what the student thinks the strengths and challenges of their group’s performance proposal are, after having presented to the class and community partners and how they think it might integrate with other proposed scenes.


Take-Home Exam:

Due during exam period.  Value: 30%

The take-home exam will be distributed on Avenue during the exam period.  Students will have 48 hours to complete it and submit through the Dropbox on Avenue.  The exam will cover all the work done during the term, including readings, and will give students an opportunity to demonstrate how they might use the skills learned in the class in another setting.  There will be no extensions on this assignment.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Because of the collaborative nature of work in this course, it is extremely important that written work be submitted on time.  All late written work will be subject to a 2% per day late penalty.  Weekly Lab Logs will not be accepted more than 2 days after the due date.  All other written assignments will not be accepted more than 7 days after the due date.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

The course will be divided into 3 units after a brief introduction.

Sept. 19 to Oct. 7:  Storycircle and Image Theatre Techniques for Collecting Stories. 

Students will learn the basic techniques for conducting story circle and image theatre techniques by participating in them during class and lab periods.  They will also learn basic techniques for using Scrivener to record and organize material gathered in workshops.


Fisher, Amanda Stuart. "The Playwright in Residence: A Community's Storyteller." TDR (1988-) 48.3 (2004): 135-49.

Michna, C. "Performance and Cross-Racial Storytelling in Post-Katrina New Orleans: Interviews with John O’Neal, Carol Bebelle, and Nicholas Slie." TDR: The Drama Review 57.1 (2013): 48-69

Perry, J. A. (2012). A silent revolution: 'image theatre' as a system of decolonisation. Research in Drama Education, 17(1), 103-119, 161-162. 


Oct. 17 – Nov. 11   Collection and Organization of Material in Peer Workshops

Students will conduct workshops with McMaster students, which the Student Success Centre will help organize, using the workshop techniques learned in  the previous month.  Material will be recorded and shared via Scrivener files and students will learn features of the software to combine elements of different stories to create composite characters and storylines.


Excerpts on the role of gesture from Benjamin, Walter. Understanding Brecht. London: NLB, 1973.


Nov. 14 – Dec. 3   Preparation of Scene Proposals

Class exercises will identify important issues and themes coming out of workshops and ways of creating composite characters and storylines that demonstrate the dilemmas faced by students entering the McMaster community in ways that will encourage audience discussion.


Graham, Catherine. "On the Political Importance of the Aesthetic." Popular Political Theatre and Performance. Ed. Salverson, Julie. Critical Perspectives on Canadian Theatre in English Series. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2010. 145-52. Print.