Rehearsals for Life, the social justice graduate student theater troupe at the University of Oregon, recently received national recognition for their innovative work with an Excellence Award from Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education.
The troupe earned a Gold Excellence Award in the off-campus, commuter, nontraditional, graduate, professional and related category.
“It’s an honor to be recognized,” said Abigail Leeder, director of experiential education and prevention at the UO, who also directs the group. “This award acknowledges that it is important to think creatively and outside of the box when it comes to developing inclusive environments on campus. It is also recognition that arts-based education can be extremely valuable when it comes to dealing with complex and multifaceted issues.”
The group was formed in 2009 through a partnership with the Office of the Dean of Students, the UO Graduate School and the Center on Diversity and Community. The program uses highly interactive and innovative educational techniques to engage the UO community in meaningful dialogues about issues of diversity and equity on campus.
The aim of the program is to use applied theatre to create an inclusive learning environment for students, faculty and staff contributing toward a campus environment that is free from bias and discrimination in all forms.
“Through our trainings, we hope to give people the skills and practice they need to address the complex issues we face in a multicultural world,” Leeder said. “Unlike public discussion and debate, theater and personal narratives draw the audience and community into these issues. Rehearsals for Life aims to acknowledge difficulties and seek common solutions in ways that keep the issues of equity an inclusion on a college campus alive and personal.”
The Excellence Award helps shine national attention on the creative and notable work that Rehearsals for Life is doing to promote equity and inclusion at the UO.
“Rehearsals for Life is a relatively small program and recognition like this is important so that others can see what we are doing and hopefully be inspired by this work,” Leeder said.
Read more about Rehearsals for Life in a recently published Oregon Quarterly article.
—Story by Karen Schmidt-MacKenzie, Student Life Communications, and reposted from Around the O