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Theoretical Theatre: Personifying Theoretical ‘Characters’ to Facilitate Critical Thinking
Portraying key theoretical approaches relevant to sustainability, consumption, and social change through characters, which are enacted either through theatrical performances, or visual and narrative renditions.


By: Gill Seyfang (University of East Anglia) and Marlyne Sahakian (University of Geneva)

Session type: Single/Multiple sessions, Undergraduate/Graduate/TT levels, Small/Medium/Large size


  • Theoretical reflections

  • Social change

  • Social practice theory


Introduction to the teaching example:

This exercise prompts students to learn about and interact in a fun way with various theoretical frameworks related to consumption and social change as well as to encourage thinking critically.


In this exercise, identities are created to portray several theoretical approaches to consumption, such as social practice or socio-technical transition approaches. Students are given appropriate reading materials on notable authors. The created identities can be presented in different ways: either the teachers take on the personas and bring them to life in the classroom (the theoretical theater example), or they are presented as cartoons that discuss consumption. In either case, the idea is for different approaches to consumption to debate together, so that students can understand similarities and differences between the approaches.


Students interact with these characters either alone or in small groups, drawing on them to understand the distinctions and resemblances between ideas and theories. Students also identify the areas where the personalities agree/get along or disagree/conflict. 


For an introduction to theoretical theater, read this article:

For more details on the personas in cartoon format, check out this web site (in French):

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