Performance as Education employs writing, theatre, culture, and performance to enrich the educational experience of high school students. This effort seeks to increase the attendance and retention rates of the students who participate.
Program participants are nurtured through the process of writing about their life experiences, which are then converted to a theatrical performance. In the process, students experience the culture of their collective history and discover and create their own historical and cultural identities. The students and their stories are then brought together with a professional theatre personnel (director, lighting designer, stage manager, musicians). By bringing students together with professional theatre people, the participating students are treated as professional actors, and asked to perform a "head taller" than where they are at. The end result is a production that is grassroots and professional.
Performance as Education was conceived by John Fraire, formerly Washington State University's vice president for student affairs and enrollment, who himself grew up in the Mexican-American neighborhoods of Gary, Indiana. A published playwright, he is the founder of the New Latino Visions Theatre Company and has worked with the Castillo Theatre in New York City. John was also a Washington State Arts Commissioner.