A Theatre of Debate Generator Workshop
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How you do make exciting drama that is enthralling to watch? How do you explain the ethical dilemmas that affect our daily lives? How do you do all this without boring people to death? The answer is – uniquely – Theatre of Debate
Baroness Joan Bakewell, Journalist, Author, Playwright and President at Birkbeck University

Why work with us

The use of entertainment as a strategy for social change is a practice that dates back to the beginnings of organised societies. Life-saving information, shared values and beliefs, and socially acceptable practices have been passed down from generation to generation through the art of storytelling.

Motivating behaviour change is difficult. While knowledge is important, other social and psychological factors are at play. Our work purposely designs characters and storylines in dramas that provide viewers with relatable models, that connect with them on a personal and emotional level, rather than through information alone. Dramas may help viewers become more receptive to new ways of thinking, as ideas are no longer abstract concepts but are experiences lived by individuals, through the dramas’ characters.

So-called edu-entertainment is defined as a communication strategy that intentionally seeks to reinforce or change attitudes, values, beliefs, or social practices by integrating educational content into entertainment productions.

Since 1995 we have commissioned and produced UK-wide tours of 16 original projects exploring advances in scientific research. We have worked with world-leading organisations including universities, the Wellcome Trust, arts centres, research centres, learned societies, charities and more.

What We Offer

Public engagement for research
  • Design, production and delivery of creative projects including theatre, film and digital media for specific issues
  • Facilitated workshops with scientists, researchers and creatives to explore creative and impactful ways to engage the public
  • Expert advice on public engagement programmes

Curriculum enrichment for schools
  • Live theatre or films
  • Support and resource materials for schools
  • Facilitation of debate and discussion
  • Widening participation
Public engagement for community organisations and schools
  • Talks and seminars
  • Plays, films and digital media
  • Resources to support organisations to develop and support debates
  • Professional facilitation / training facilitators...
  • Widening participtation

Issues that we have addressed

  • Patient and public involvement
  • Sugar, obesity and type 2 diabetes
  • Genetic disease and screening
  • Electronic patient information
  • Clinical trials
  • Novel neurotechnologies
  • Stem cells in research and therapy
  • The use of animals in medical research
  • Neuroethics
'Works like Theatre of Debate's The Gift which raise key ethical questions without giving glib answers are important in preparing us for the future.'
Robin Mckie the Observer

Generator Workshops

Every Theatre of Debate® projects begin with an exploratory workshop involving experts, playwrights and other artists, and members of the target audience. Thus, begins a conversation about the area of research, stimulating the playwrights to tackle the subject. Subsequently the experts form a project advisory group that supports the project throughout its life, feeding back on the development of the script, attending rehearsals, briefing the actors in relation to the underlying science and ethical issues, feeding back at preview performances and participating in debates at selected live performances. Experts who have collaborated with us include Professors, Lewis Wolpert, Susan Jebb, Steven Rose, Angela McFarlane, Steven Minger, Robin Lovell Badge, Simon Wessley, Bernadette Modell, Sue Pavitt and Colin Blakemore to name a few.

Monologue Drama's

Scribe illustration of Dr Susan Jebb's TOD presentation
Scribe illustration of Dr Lindiwe Sibanda's TOD presentation
Scribe illustration of Prof Tim Lang's TOD presentation

The above images are were all created by Shakeeb.abu.hamdan live as he captured and interpreted presentations by Dr Susan Jebb, Dr Lindiwe Male Sibanda and Professor Tim Lang who participated in the Hungry Generator Workshop.

Theatre of Debate Live Premium Model

A live performance of a specially commissioned play (length 60 minutes) by an experienced playwright, performed by up to four actors , followed by a facilitated debate featuring the actors in character, plus resources created from the Generator workshop. Electronic voting is used before each performance and during the debate that follows the performance, providing a snapshot of what our audience understands, feels and thinks about the subject. At the end of the tour the production is filmed and a support pack created to ensure that the project has a legacy.

We have produced 60 plus regional, national and international tours of plays by professional playwrights reaching an estimated one million young people in schools, youth clubs, community venues, studio theatres, prisons and young offenders centres.

We offer

  • UK tours of up to 10 weeks ( up to 50 performances reaching up to 15000 students) and shorter tours, up to 3 weeks (up to 30 performances reaching up to 4500 students).
  • City and regional tours, up to 3 weeks (up to 30 performances reaching up to 4500 students).

Important: A tour can either be a new commission or a revival of an existing production.

Get in touch to discover how our premium model could work for you

Theatre of Debate Digital Debate on Demand

Theatre of Debate is piloting a new service. In addition to touring live performances of our productions, we have developed eight Digital On Demand Debate packages, which offer you and your team, the opportunity to
  • screen a film of a live performance
  • facilitate the debate yourself
For an audience of your choice.

Each Digital Debate offers you

Pre Screening
  • Essential information about the area of research that the TOD production explores.
  • A set of pre screening questions (PowerPoint) to capture what your audience know and feel about the subject matter before watching the film
  • A film of the live drama (60 minutes)
  • Film Trailer (2 minutes)
  • Clips from the film to stimulate debate
The preparatory notes, the play, the debate and resources have all been created in consultation with researchers, scientists and other appropriate experts,.
After Screening
  • The Debate - A set of questions/statements - including some repeats of the pre screening questions so that you can assess what your audience have learnt and whether or not their attitudes have changed.
  • A PDF of the dialogue from the film clips

Theatre of Debate Digtial Shorts

Digital Monologue dramas are a new TOD product - here are two examples

'From the Dentist's chair'

Created for the University of Leeds, School of Dentistry in collaboration with Dr Wendy Thompson and Prof Sue Pavitt. From the Dentist’s chair’ Comprises of five filmed short monologues each one featuring a different character. Set in a dental surgery in West Yorkshire, at the start of the new year - one of the characters has died and the audience has to guess which one has met with an unfortunate end as a result of the misuse of antibiotics. The end user watches the short monologues and has to decide which character died.

The monologues are currently being used at conferences and for training workshops as a way of raising awareness around Antimicrobial-resistance

Watch the films

'Things I couldn't tell you'

Developed in partnership with The Wellcome Sanger Institue's Society and Ethics group led by Anna Middleton

While broadly inspired by the ongoing ABC versus St Georges legal case, the first case in English law to deal with a relative's claim over issues of genetic responsibility, the characters and the dialogue have been fictionalised.

The five monologues, each one representing the voice of the different parties involved; the family, the clinician and the legal professional, revealing their varying perspectives over a period of eighteen years. A woman discovers, after giving birth, that her mother carried the gene for Huntington's disease, a degenerative, incurable brain condition. Later she found out she had inherited the gene and that her own son, has a 50% chance of having it. The monologues have been created to engage viewers in debating the central question posed by the trial - Should there be a right to be informed about a family member's genetic disorder?

Wellcome Sanger have used the monologues in a survey designed to research UK public attitudes towards Doctors' duties towards patients and their families in the genomic

Watch the films

Get in touch to discover how our digital shorts could work for you

Theatre of Debate short live plays (30 minutes)

This is a new Theatre of Debate short form product. In this instance the outcome of the generator workshop is a short play ( up to 30 minutes) to be performed by four actors as a rehearsed reading - ideal for conferences, festivals and other events.

'Don't Smile '- a love story with a dental theme was developed in partnership with Leeds Uuniversity School of Dentistry and Leeds University School of Performance and Cultural industries . The short play (30 minutes) performed by students from Leeds University School of Performance and Cultural studies with facilitated debates led by the Dental Students .

'Mrs X' - tells the story of Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin and its impact on our lives, then and now. Created in partnership with Imperial College for family audiences - recently performed at the Great Exhibition Road Festival 2019 and the Imperial College festival.

Get in touch to discover how our short live plays (30 minutes) could work for you
All our work is underpinned by rigorous information gathering, consultation and collaboration with a wide range of relevant experts who enable the creation of plays, associated debates and educational resources.
  •  Telehealth


  •  Connected Systems Machine learning

    Connected Systems Machine learning

  •  Connected Systems Machine learning

    Connected Systems Machine learning

  •  From the dentist's chair workshop

    From the dentist's chair workshop

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