From October 28th to 30th a group of 40 language teachers, teacher trainers, drama practitioners, and researchers from all over Europe met in Uppsala to learn, share, and be inspired on all things related to integrating drama and theater into their teaching contexts.
At the premises of Teater Aros, an organization devoted to educational theater, and, among other things, teaching Swedish with theater, the 40 participants had the chance to explore drama methods in practical workshops and to hear about current best practice and research via a number of informative presentations.
The workshop program was started off by Dan O’Neill (UK), renowned movement coach and choreographer, who set the tone for a weekend by focusing on learning with body, mind and heart. Participants explored movement sequences, often mirroring each other, thus training both self-awareness and observation skills for the subtle nuances of physical movement and body language.
On the full conference days on Sunday and Monday, keynotes Cecily O’Neill (UK) and Eva Österlind (Sweden) led longer workshops with the participants. Cecily O’Neill demonstrated her approach to process drama and student-led engagement with drama tackling both serious and more light-hearted topics (from dystopian scenarios to fairy tales, to a rebellion of pets), while Eva Österlind guided the participants through a simulation on climate change and sustainability.
Other workshops included learning Swiss German, Italian, or English with drama, games and music, exploring poetry and Persian legends through dramatic play.
Researchers presented papers on topics as diverse as immersive theater, exploring heritage languages through engagement with museum exhibits, drama, and racial literacy, as well as integrating drama in university curricula and in teacher training.
Overall, participants seemed to greatly enjoy the chance to talk to like-minded drama enthusiasts, to critically discuss projects as well as seizing the chance to simply play.
The day following the conference, the Teater Aros team introduced a group of Swedish educators and DiE Days attendees to their method of teaching Swedish through theater: the SPRAKmetoden. We were delighted that about a quarter of our conference participants took the chance to also explore this Swedish take on drama in education.