Professional Development Intensives (PDI)

This year’s Professional Development Intensives are yet to be announced, but here are sample workshops from our previous conference in Costa Mesa:

JIM ANSALDO:  Using Improv Theatre Techniques to Improve Accessibility, Inclusion and Social Skills

Many of us remember watching Drew Carey and his buddies make up characters, scenes and songs on the TV show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” The show taught us that improv is a lot of fun, but it offers much more. Improv represents an integrated approach to addressing academic and social-emotional learning. Improv exercises also align with best practices for supporting students with disabilities, including Universal Design for Learning (UDL), instructional scaffolding, and task analysis. A growing evidence base demonstrates that improv is a powerful tool for supporting students with (and without) disabilities.

In this participatory workshop, you will learn through experience and explore flexible, practical, and effective strategies for engaging students with disabilities in academic and social-emotional learning. The session is geared toward general and special educators, speech-language pathologists, school psychologists and social workers, community-based arts educators, and anyone else interested in learning to use improvisational theater methods in classroom and clinical settings. Participants will gain access to a free online sample curriculum of improv exercises and will receive an Indiana University certificate that may be used as evidence of completing continuing education requirements for professional licensing.

Jim Ansaldo, PhD, is a Research Scholar at the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning, Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana University Bloomington. For 20 years, he has conducted research, supported school change efforts, and facilitated teacher professional learning around applied improvisation, coaching and consultation, culturally sustaining pedagogies, curriculum design, and online learning. Jim is a founder and co-director of Camp Yes And, an improv-based professional learning intensive for educators who support teens on the autism spectrum ( For this work, Jim was honored with a 2017 Certificate of Commendation Award by the Indiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Jim trained at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and leads improv-based workshops that support IU scientists, scholars, and health professionals to communicate about their research in clear, vivid, and engaging ways. Jim has worked with faculty at the IU School of Medicine to integrate improv with cognitive behavioral therapy to support youth with anxiety disorders, and he has collaborated with the Alzheimer’s Resource Service of IU Health Bloomington Community Health to offer improv workshops for individuals living with dementia, their families, and professional caregivers.

DAPHNIE SICRE:  We are the Canon

What does it mean to revise your syllabus with a revisionist decolonizing anti-racist approach?
How do we deconstruct the meaning of “the canon” and include the missing voices?
How do we create and facilitate decolonized spaces that are both antiracist and anticolonialist?
How do we rethink teaching theatre courses and creating curricula that are inclusive?
How do we restructure theatre learning spaces and fight white supremacy culture?

These are some of the questions this PDI will explore as well as looking inward and examining our own identity, bias, and how white supremacy culture shows up in our daily practice. The workshop will also include actionable anti-racist & decolonizing pedagogy strategies that integrate diversity, equity and inclusion. Dapnie will also suggest ways of redesigning your season selection, as well as your theatre units/lessons with activities that are culturally inclusive, and relevant, while engaging in meaningful discourse to deconstruct current theatre pedagogical practices. Post workshop, she can also provide reading lists and how to incorporate them into our curricula and syllabi.

Daphnie Sicre, PhD, is an assistant professor of Theatre Arts at Loyola Marymount University, where she teaches directing, performance pedagogy, Latinx theatre and theatre for social change. She shares a deep passion for discovering multiple Latinx and African-American perspectives in theatre. Focusing on Afro-Latinx performance, she completed her Ph.D. at NYU. Her latest publication is a co-authored article entitled “Training Theatre Students of Color in the United States” in the Theatre, Dance, and Performance Training journal and a book chapter “Romeo y Julieta; A Spanish Language Shakespeare in the Park” for Shakespeare and Latinidad. Other publications include, in The Routledge Companion to African American Theatre and Performance entitled, “Afro-Latinx Themes in Theatre Today” and “#UnyieldingTruth: Employing the Culturally Responsive Pedagogy” from the book Black Acting Methods. Currently she is working on two book chapters, “A Time of Protest; Exploring Activism through Theatre of the Oppressed and Hip-Hop Pedagogy” in Dynamic Bodies, Emerging Voices- Racializing and Decolonizing Actor Pedagogy and “We Are the Canon- Anti-Racist Theatre Pedagogy” in Contemporary Black Theatre and Performance: Acts as well as a journal article entitled, “Afro-Latinidad: Being Black and Latinx in Theatre Today” for Theatre Symposium. During the pandemic, she helped compile the document, “Teaching Theatre Online: A Shift in Pedagogy Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak” which has been used across the country, as well as in England, Australia and Ireland.

Engaging in anti-racist and cultural competent theatre practices, Daphnie facilitates Theatre of the Oppressed workshops remixed with Hip Hop Pedagogy to teach about equity, diversity and inclusion in theatre. She also co-created We Are the Canon, decolonizing anti-racist theatre pedagogy workshops. When she is not writing, teaching, or conducting workshops, she can be found directing or serving as a dramaturge. Her LA directing debut is Waiting by Daniel A. Olivas (Playwrights Arena) before that, she directed the following Zoom productions: This Bitch by Adrienne Dawes (Austin Latinx New Play Festival), Diversity Awareness Picnic by Leah Nanako Winkler (LMU), Talking Peace by France-Luce Benson (Fountain Theatre) and multiple stage readings, including Waiting for Godinez. Her LMU debut was In the Heights before the pandemic hit. Select New York City directing credits include: Jose Casas’s 14 (BMCC), Shower Me by Sheyenne Brown (FringeNYC), Stranger by Kendra Augustin (Stage Black), where she won Best Director and the AUDELCO nominated Not About Eve by Karl O’Brian Williams. She is also the resident dramaturg at the Robey Theatre, where she runs the Playwright’s Lab, as well as a culture consultant for Nickelodeon. Selected dramaturg credits include Moonlighters (TheaterWorks Harford), The Disappearance of Rosie Garcia’s Family (New Play Project), Waiting for Godinez (Playwrights Arena) and The Book of Want (Circle X).

KEN LUDWIG:  Teaching Shakespeare

William Shakespeare’s plays are among the great bedrocks of Western civilization and contain the finest writing of the past 450 years. From Jane Austen to The Godfather, many of the best novels, plays, poetry, and films in the English language produced since Shakespeare’s death in 1616 are heavily influenced by Shakespeare’s stories, characters, language, and themes. In a sense, his works are a kind of Bible for the modern world, bringing us together intellectually and spiritually. Hamlet, Juliet, Macbeth, Ophelia, and a vast array of other singular Shakespearean characters have become the archetypes of our consciousness.  In this workshop, acclaimed playwright Ken Ludwig provides the tools from his acclaimed book, How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare.  Learn how to instill an understanding, and a love, of Shakespeare’s works in your students (and your own children), while enjoying every minute of your time together along the way.

Ken Ludwig has had six shows on Broadway, seven in London’s West End, and many of his works have become a standard part of the American repertoire.  His 28 plays and musicals  have been performed in over 30 countries in more than 20 languages and are produced throughout the United States every night of the year. Lend Me a Tenor won two Tony Awards and was called “one of the classic comedies of the 20th century by The Washington PostCrazy For You was on Broadway for 5 years and won the Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Musical.

In addition, he has won the Edgar Award for Best Mystery of the Year, two Laurence Olivier Awards, two Helen Hayes Awards, and the Edwin Forrest Award for Contributions to the American Theater.  His plays have starred, among others, Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett, Tony Shaloub, Joan Collins and Hal Holbrook.

His stage version of Murder on the Orient Express was written expressly at the request of the Agatha Christie Estate, and his latest play, Dear Jack, Dear Louise, won the 2020 Charles MacArthur Award for Best New Play of the Year and is optioned for Broadway.

His book How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare, published by Penguin Random House, won the Falstaff Award for Best Shakespeare Book of the Year, and his essays are published in the Yale Review.

He is a graduate of Harvard and Cambridge and is a frequent guest speaker for groups as varied as The Oxford-Cambridge Society, The Jane Austen Society of North America, The Folger Shakespeare Library, and The Baker Street Irregulars.

For more information, see his website at

 The e-book of HOW TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN SHAKESPEARE is $4.99 everywhere now through 10/19.

From now until October 19, the eBook for HOW TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN SHAKESPEARE is only $4.99 everywhere! Purchase your copy and start reading today at