Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Aaron Anderson

Second Advisor

Karen Kopryanski

Third Advisor

Keith Byron Kirk



This thesis has been constructed to create a trauma-informed teaching method to be used within performance classrooms at the college level. The first chapter starts by defining trauma and walking the reader through the neuroscience behind trauma. Next, the code of ethics created by the National Educational Association is examined and a definition for best practices within the classroom is outlined. Finally, this chapter concludes with a definition of emotional abuse that brings all the concepts together and explains how they are interlaced.

The next chapter is dedicated to learning more about the percentage of actors who have experienced childhood trauma. The two studies in this section show us that performers are more fantasy-prone, dissociate more, and tend to have more traumatic childhood experiences. From here this chapter then moves into exploring already established and successful trauma-informed teaching models outside of the performance classroom.

Chapter three then dives into the differences between teaching, therapy, and dramatherapy. After these three vocations have been explored, the six beliefs at the core of my trauma-informed model are presented and justified.

Chapter four then investigates different established acting pedagogies and pairs them with the six core beliefs established at the end of chapter three. Six theatre practitioners techniques are explored and discussed, with multiple acting exercises explained in-depth for each practitioner.

Chapter five takes a brief moment to bring light to generational trauma and trauma of marginalized groups. Concluding with a summarization of my personal process constructing this thesis.

Finally, chapter six serves as a conclusion where all the research conducted above comes together to create a visual acting trajectory, syllabus, and lesson plan for a new trauma-informed performance pedagogy.


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Date of Submission