Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies, University of Toronto (St. George)
Flourish: Community-Based Arts for Social Wellness
Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR)
Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO)
Awards and Grants
SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (2022-24, with the "Flourish" collective)
IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, & Sustainability) Grant, 2022
Connaught New Researcher Award (2021)
UTSC Experiential Education Grant (2019, 2021)
Equity and Diversity in the Arts Grant (2019, 2021)
Dorot Fellowship (2009-2010)
Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship (2007-2008)
Leffler, Elliot. 2022. Applied Theatre and Intercultural Dialogue: Playfully Approaching Difference. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.
By Steven Cosson and Michael Friedman
Devised by The Cast
TEA PARTY: AN INTERACTIVE PERFORMANCE FOR THE ELECTION YEAR
Devised by The Cast
REMEMBERING 9/11: A PERFORMANCE AND COMMUNITY DIALOGUE
Devised by The Cast
A long-term, multi-sited, ethnographic project investigating Applied Theatre projects that foster intercultural encounters.
- My book, Applied Theatre and Intercultural Dialogue: Playfully Approaching Difference, weaves together the project’s overarching insights from across multiple sites.
- Several articles and essays related to this project’s sites include “Rechoreographing Intercultural Encounters”, “Beating the Daf and Darbuka", “Bursting the Bubble of Play”, and “Replacing the Sofa with the Spotlight”.
- This project has received support from the 2020 Jackman Humanities Institute’s Scholars-in- Residence program, a Connaught New Researcher Award, an RCPP grant, and and IDEAS grant.
- I taught a Summer 2022 course in relation to this project, with support from the UTSC Dean’s Office and Experiential Learning Fund, that engaged a group of 11 UTSC undergraduate students, taking them to Oberammergau, Germany, to witness the Passion Play and conduct interviews.
- This project has engaged two undergraduate research assistants through the University of Toronto’s work study program, and one graduate research assistant, with support of the “Flourish” research cluster.
THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED
From 2015-2018, I was an Artistic Associate at Living Stages, a non-profit organization in Portland, OR that uses “Theatre of the Oppressed” methodologies to advocate for greater racial and economic justice. I worked with Living Stages to develop interactive theatre events and facilitate those events.
From 2015-2018, I was an ensemble member of Portland Playback – a Portland-based company practicing an interactive, improvisational form of performance called Playback Theatre. With its roots in drama therapy, Playback Theatre companies solicit real stories from their audiences, and dramatize those stories in ways that stimulate audiences to look at those experiences anew.
In 2012-2013, I worked with a black Baptist church and a Reform synagogue to co-faciliitate a theatre program in which congregants studied Biblical narratives together by dramatizing them. Using a methodology called Bibliodrama, my co-facilitator Brian Smith and I catalyzed a year-long, interracial and interfaith conversation about partnerships based in Biblical narratives and unlikely relationship-building. For more information on this project, please see my PhD dissertation or my 2016 article in Research in Drama Education.
GLOBAL YOUTH VILLAGE
In Summers 2011 and 2012, I ran drama workshops at Global Youth Village – a summer camp for teenagers who come from all over the world to practice intercultural dialogue and study peacebuilding. My workshops used methodologies associated with Playback Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed to open up a space in which personal stories could be shared in a fully-embodied way, promoting intercultural understanding. I have published an article in The Drama Review based on some of my experiences at GYV, and I will be writing more about these experiences in my upcoming book.
In 2007, I ran an intercultural theatre program with juvenile inmates of Pollsmoor Prison, in Cape Town, South Africa. I worked with them to create original pieces of theatre about schools, gangs, crime, and HIV. I have written about this process in my MA thesis, and I will be writing more about it in my upcoming book.