For many years, I taught drama in a fairly conventional way, but I was increasingly dissatisfied with the results. In the year 2001, I decided to radically alter my theatre program. For the next eight years, I wrote scripts continually, and all my acting classes were tasked with the same objective: rehearse and perform the scripts one after the other, non-stop, at the fastest possible rate.

Each and every class from ninth to twelfth grade (age 14-18) performed four large-cast plays per semester. And each class followed the same schedule for each play: sixteen hours of rehearsal, five days of in-school performances, and one evening show for the general public.

I wrote scripts in a variety of styles, but always with the goal of challenging the actors to learn, learn, learn! I didn’t want to waste their time or mine, and I was convinced that relentless script-based performing would generate broad-spectrum, life-changing learning outcomes. For eight years we kept up the pace. Sometimes, I’d reuse scripts, but I kept writing. By the end of those eight years, I’d written more than 160 scripts.

I’m not going to assert that a script-based drama program is superior to other methodologies. It’s just one of many ways to do the job. But I will say that rehearsing and performing all those scripts made it possible for us to share a purposeful and joyful adventure that  helped us grow and change in all sorts of wonderful ways!

– Richard Stuart Dixon, March, 2015.