17 Role Call


In Role Call, a teacher ‘unintentionally’ directs a microaggression towards a student he assumed was from another culture/country based upon physical characteristics in a get-to-know-you activity. This scene invites participants to explore issues of power and how we might talk back to power when these encounters happen. It also invites an exploration of microaggressions and of the relationship between ‘intent’ and ‘impact’.

Topic Risk Level: High
Dramatic Skill Difficulty: High

Watch the Scene:

Facilitation and Jokering

Hot Seat

  • Have someone play as the teacher to be hot seated. (This may be a difficult role and if there is hesitancy from learners, consider playing the character yourself).
    • What questions can we ask the teacher about how the get-to-know-you activity went? How does having more information help us understand the situation better?
    • Why did Mike ask Rosie where she was from? Did he intentionally ask about her country of origin because of how he perceived Rosie’s cultural identity or was it a random choice? Do you think he regrets using that question?
  • Have someone play as Rosie’s character
    • What were your first impressions of the instructor? Did your impression change through the morning? Why did you turn your camera off? How will you respond? Is dropping the course something you would consider?
    • Note: As mentioned in Chapter 2, caution against having a non-marginalized person play this role. (see next suggestion).
  • Have someone play as another student who witnessed the encounter
    • What were your first impressions of the instructor? Did they change through the morning’s activity? How will you respond? Is dropping the course something you would consider?

Out Scene

  • There are a number of opportunities to create a new scene from this scene. One idea would be to invite someone to play the instructor at their office hours. Then,  have another audience member play Rosie who goes to the instructor to discuss what had happened.
    • What might this conversation look like?
    • Based upon the conversation, did the instructor recognize that what he said was inappropriate and potentially harmful for Rosie? Do you think he will change his behaviours in the future?
    • What risks exist for Rosie’s character to challenge an instructor as compared to a non-marginalized witness?
    • Do you think it would be appropriate for another student in the class to go and talk with the instructor on Rosie’s behalf? Explain.

Initiating Questions

  1. Was the instructor a ‘good teacher’? What does it mean to be a ‘good teacher’?
  2. Where is the power in this scene?
  3. What risks are associated when it comes to talking back to power? What are potential benefits? Do the risks and benefits change based on social location and positionality? (If this is a new term for your learners, please see the activities in the next section around preparing learners for this work.)
  4. How could the power in this scene be disrupted? Shared? Redistributed?

Spotlight on Jokering:

Watch a virtual workshop of the scene in the video below.


Haunting our Biases: Using Participatory Theatre to Interrupt Implicit Bias Copyright © 2022 by Kevin Hobbs; Michael Martin Metz; Nadia Ganesh; Sheila O'Keefe-McCarthy; Joe Norris; Sandy Howe; and Valerie Michaelson. All Rights Reserved.

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