Playful Encounters

Key Terms: applied theatre; intercultural dialogue; play; conflict transformation

Lead: Elliot Leffler

Collaborator: Nicole Dufoe

About the Project

“Playful Encounters” is a long-term, multi-sited, ethnographic project investigating Applied Theatre projects that foster intercultural encounters.

Professor Elliot Leffler’s recent book, Applied Theatre and Intercultural Dialogue: Playfully Approaching Difference, weaves together the project’s overarching insights from across multiple sites.  Informed by play theory, the book argues that the playful elements of theatre processes nurture a unique intimacy among diverse people.  However, this playful quality can also dampen explicit conversations about participants’ cultural differences, and defer an interrogation of people’s own entrenchment in systemic power imbalances. As a result, addressing these differences and imbalances in applied theatre contexts may require particular strategies.


Articles and essays related to this project’s sites include “Bursting the Bubble of Play,” “Replacing the Sofa with the Spotlight,” “Rechoreographing Intercultural Encounters,” and “Beating the Daf and Darbuka.”

The FLOURISH Collective is supported in part by funding from the New Frontiers in Research Fund,
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the University of Toronto Connaught Fund