Theoretical theatre: Harnessing the power of comedy to teach social science theory

Viviane Gravey, Irene Lorenzoni, Gill Seyfang, Tom Hargreaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
142 Downloads (Pure)


Role playing is increasingly used in European Studies and political science, to foster students' understanding of social science theories. Generally, role playing is only done by students. Not so in Theoretical Theatre, a teaching innovation which puts the onus on teachers to act. In our performances, teachers embody competing theories and enact dramatic scenarios in front of, and in collaboration with, their student audience. We explain how we developed Theoretical Theatre and contextualise it in the pedagogical literature of games and simulations, and of Drama In Education. We reflect on our experience of performing across four modules since 2012, and on our students' feedback, to discuss three key themes emerging from our practice: making theory more interesting and engaging, easier to understand and apply; and changing classroom dynamics and engagement. We outline the challenges and opportunities in sustaining this teaching method and transferring it to other settings and disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319-1336
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2017


  • Environment
  • Methods
  • Role playing
  • Simulations
  • Teaching
  • Theatre

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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