Engaging Schools & Communities

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DTYC students have the opportunity to engage in a number of exciting ongoing programs.  Read on to learn more. 

Teachers engaging in theatre games

Drama for Schools    (DFS)







A professional development program in drama-based instruction in association with the Department of Theatre and Dance and the College of Education. DFS gives interested graduate students in DTYC opportunities to train educators in drama-based pedagogy and drama-based instructional strategies across the curriculum. DFS currently has local, national and international partnership with a variety of schools and school districts. DFS make available drama-based instruction teaching strategies and lesson plans on the DBI Network.

Learn more about DFS.

Outside the Lines

A queer youth performance ensemble supported by a partnership between Creative Action, Out Youth, and the Department of Theatre and Dance. Participating students have the opportunity to assist ensemble members in devising original performances that confront issues facing LGBTQ youth and the greater Austin community. Students also serve as advocates for higher education and introduce youth to relevant advocacy groups on the UT campus.

Learn more about Outside the Lines.


Woman with a scarf and a girl in a hat

The Living Newspaper







A collaboration between the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice of UT’s School of Law, the Department of Theatre and Dance, Creative Action, and Austin secondary schools. This program facilitates the active exploration and research of current civic issues by providing teachers and students with the resources to literally bring a newspaper to life. Interested graduate students can work closely with secondary school teachers and students to guide an exciting exploration of current events, research, and action.


Learn more about The Living Newspaper.


Rows of bunk beds

The Performing Justice Project (PJP)





Created by Dr. Megan Alrutz and Lynn Hoare, MFA, with support from the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. This program partners with high schools, juvenile justice centers, and other community-based sites to devise original performance pieces which explore and enact gender and racial justice. PJP creates live performance work, as well as digital stories and public dialogue. Graduate students have opportunities to participate in PJP as teaching artists, directors, stage managers, activists, and producers.

Learn more about The Performing Justice Project.

PJP in Action (YouTube)


Campers dancing an indigenous Native American dance

Sacred Springs Summer Camp






The Indigenous Cultures Institute (ICI) in San Marcos hosts an annual summer camp for Latino and Native American youth. This camp strives to reconnect youth with their indigenous heritage through education and exploration. DTYC students and faculty have served as teaching artists and coordinators for the camp alongside ICI, while learning and exploring with youth through danza, music and visual art.


Two people with their hands in each others' back pckets

Voices Against Violence  (VAV)







Partnership program between the Counseling and Mental Health Center and the Department of Theatre and Dance. This program offers an opportunity for students to perform and facilitate dialogue around issues of consent and sexual violence. Students can participate by taking the Theatre for Dialogue Ensemble course and by joining the Get Sexy, Get Consent ensemble.

VAV Theatre for Dialogue Ensemble.

VAV Get Sexy, Get Consent.




Students and faculty have developed and participated in several community-engaged projects. Continue reading to learn more about these unique projects.

An ornately designed balloon

The Balloon Project





A theatrical collaboration between the Department of Theatre and Dance and Patch Theatre Company. Building on an interactive performance-making model created by Patch Theatre, Theatre and Dance students devised a highly sophisticated visual theatre piece for children 3-8 years old. Community engagement forums led by DTYC graduate students coincided with this performance event.


A map with little fires sprinkled across it








An applied theatre/digital media project which invited the university community to share their stories, and more specifically, to audio record their thoughts on an often private matter (desire), for a public audience. Recorded narratives were then framed as stories, or “hot spots,” about experiences of/with desire on campus, and were performed/archived on a web-based map of the university campus. mappingDESIRE was originally conceived by students in Katie Dawson’s Drama and Theatre Applications in Museum Settings class, and was then further developed and curated by Megan Alrutz, Katie Dawson, and a multidisciplinary group of students at The University of Texas at Austin (UT), as well as staff from the Blanton Museum of Art on the UT campus.


A girl and a mustached man hugging

New Play and Production Dramaturgy






Students collaborate as dramaturgs with a variety of professional theatres and development teams. In the past, students have worked with creative teams at UT Austin, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Teatro Vivo, and ZACH Theatre, as well as Write Now.

Humans dressed as penguins

New Works Festival Projects







Graduate and undergraduate students often participate in the Cohen New Works Festival presented by the University Co-Op. The Cohen New Works Festival is a bi-yearly event that supports and showcases new artistic work created by students selected to participate. DTYC students have created or collaborated on many new works. Some recent DTYC festival projects include:


  • And Then Came Tango: Creative Lead - Emily Freeman. This play was based on the the touching true story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins that fell in love, incubated an egg, and successfully raised a baby fledgling, Tango. Poetry, dance, and music unite to tell this story for young audiences, celebrating modern families of all shapes and sizes.
  • Wonder and Wander: Creative Lead - Bethany Lynn Corey. Designed for children under the age of two, this piece invites audience members to engage in play alongside the performers as they discover a series of objects. Responding to the audiences’ own sounds and movements, this piece will provide audiences a two-way experience of narrative, movement, sound and image.
  • Slip River: Creative Leads - Katie Bender, Abe Koogler & Gabrielle Reisman. Inspired by 19th century explorer narratives, Slip River recreates the experience of encountering new worlds, where rules shift and the unknown becomes visible, where peril–or possibility–are just around the river’s bend. Incorporating interactive dance, soundscapes, and text, “Slip River” leads audiences through the shimmering underbelly of UT’s Payne Theater.
  • Third Street: Creative Leads - Briandaniel Oglesby and Ben Hardin. What dinosaurs are chasing you? “Third Street” will be a staged reading of a full-length play, developed with an ensemble, about Shane, a strange and awkward kid who escapes into fantasies of knighthood, and Otis, the bully pursued by imaginary dinosaurs. They live on Third Street, and play in dirty alleys. War Games: Creative Leads- Meg Greene and Lindsay Hearn
  • War Games is a play for family audiences that explores the story of Jonah, a young boy whose father is deployed in Afghanistan. Jonah and his family work to navigate the harsh emotional realities of war and confront the scariest question of all.

Learn more about the Cohen New Works Festival.



National Partnerships

The faculty and students in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program are affiliated with several national professional organizations, such as:

  • American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE)
  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
  • Theatre for Young Audiences/USA (TYA/USA/ASSITEJ)
  • International Drama/Theatre and Education Association (IDEA)
  • Texas Educational Theatre Association (TETA)
  • Southwest Theatre & Film Association (SWTFA)

Public and Private Partners

The faculty and students in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities program also work with schools, universities, theatres, and related organizations locally, nationally and internationally to establish positive partnerships and develop creative learning environments for young people. Public and private partners include:

  • Austin Independent School District
  • Austin Waldorf School
  • Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts (CEDFA)
  • Creative Action
  • Coterie Theatre
  • Dallas Children’s Theater
  • Leander Independent School District
  • McAllen Independent School District
  • Metro Theater Company
  • MindPOP
  • Nashville Children’s Theatre
  • Patch Theatre Company
  • Round Rock Independent School District
  • SPARK! Theatre
  • Teatro Vivo
  • The Indigenous Cultures Institute
  • The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • The Paramount Theatre
  • The Rose Theater
  • Trinity Episcopal School
  • The University of Exeter
  • ZACH Theatre