Aurélia Mouzet, assistant professor Francophone Studies, founded the interactive theatre workshop Talk-it-OUT! to connect UA graduate students with local high schoolers in programs designed to dramatize difficult problems.
After a year of successfully working with several schools, Mouzet’s Talk-it-OUT! program and Sky Islands High School will begin a new effort this school year, with a $5,000 grant from Arizona Humanities to support “History in Action.”
“It’s a great thing for students to reach out to the community,” Mouzet says. “The idea is to really create a bond with the high school students and show them a new approach for problem solving.”
Talk-it-OUT! started in January 2018, supported by a College of Humanities Teaching and Outreach Grant. With a degree in drama education from the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle and more than 10 years of experience as an artist and performer, Mouzet put together a new concept for an interactive theatre workshop program that would engage both graduate students and high school students and open discussions around important topics
Sky Islands, a non-profit public high school, was the first partner school. Initially, Talk-it-OUT! created skits about discrimination, bullying, racism and screen addiction, performing for high school students in the spring semester. The format invites audience members to jump into the scenes, to intercede and change negative situations into positive ones.
“It was amazing to see the high school students,” Mouzet said. “They were fighting to be on stage. Their response was the confirmation that we were onto something. The graduate students really clicked with the high school students.”
For last spring semester, Talk-it-OUT! added performances at Sahuaro High School and the Gregory School, performing skits in French for students enrolled in French language classes. Mouzet is planning to return to those schools again in the spring.
With the new “History in Action” program, Mouzet and the Talk-it-OUT! graduate students are working together more regularly with Sky Islands students. On a quarterly basis, the Sky Islands tenth-grade history students focus on a major topic, for example, water is the first quarter subject this year. The program is designed to “revisit” and “restage,” in an active and relational perspective, the vital questions raised by current “wicked problems” the students study.
With weekly Talk-it-OUT! workshops, the high school and graduate students create skits that reflect on the classroom lessons and field trips. The Sky Islands students will then stage quarterly performances of their skits, with the first scheduled for Oct. 4. At the end of each semester, the Sky Islands students will perform at the UA. The performances will be filmed and become part of a documentary about the program.