Identity: Is Theatre an Asset in Dealing with Hard-to-Reach Youth?

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The use of theatre in sex education was analyzed drawing on identity style research and theory. A multiple method approach using questionnaires and focus groups of adolescent boys and girls in the 9th grade was completed to determine if identity theory is useful in detecting self-reported growth in sexual decision making and boundary setting when students were involved with an interactive play and workshop called Are We There Yet? A diffuse-avoidance identity style was associated with lower self-reported enjoyment of the play but higher self-reported growth in areas of sexual decision making and boundary setting. Youth who were information seeking reported greater enjoyment of the play and significant growth in areas of sexual decision making and boundary setting. In contrast, Normative youth did not have a more or less positive experience with the play than other groups but showed less growth in the areas of sexual decision making and boundary setting than other groups. The discussion briefly explores the findings that support a general theatre theory in relation to identity theory as related to promotion of teens’ sexual health. Limitations of the study are noted.


Keywords: Youth, Sexual Decision Making, Identity Types
Stream: Creative Arts and Learning
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Identity


Dr. Brenda Elizabeth Munro

Professor, Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dr. Brenda Munro is a professor in the Department of Human Ecology. She teaches and conducts research in the areas of intimate relationships and youth at risk. Her current research projects include work with homeless youth and theatre the use of interactive theatre in working with youth who are thirteen to fourteen years old. Theoretical perspectives that have been applied in this research are identity development and attachment theory.

Dr. Shaniff Esmail

Associate Chair and Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Jan Selman

Professor, Department of Drama,, University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB CANADA, Canada


Ref: L09P1684