Exploring Empathy through Theater

February 10, 2017

Students in the upper school’s Foundations of Theater class have been working on a rehearsal technique called rasaboxes. Rasaboxes explore eight key emotions that are described in The Natyasastra, an ancient Sanskrit text on performance. In working with rasaboxes, actors are encouraged to simply “jump in and do” without thinking too much. In tandem with their work with rasaboxes, students created their own “empathy” monologues based on the prompt: think of a time when your feelings were hurt or you hurt someone else’s feelings. How did it change you and the way you think about the world? The monologues were turned into scripts and performed by students wearing masks they had created. Each monologue was read by the playwright and performed in mask by their peers to bring them to emotional life. In doing so, the students learned to work as an ensemble and to support one another through very personal and vulnerable work.

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