Rotterdam Artist/Educator planning theatre workshops for Baltimore schools

Baltimore — April 17, 2016

Rotterdam theatre artist and educator Kathie diStefano employs participatory techniques and theatre art to create awareness with youth and seniors about the environment through creative strategies to recycle and make smart consumer decisions in Heijplaat in Rotterdam. diStefano’s organization Avalanche Arts (Dutch name: Stichting Lawine) has completed several exchange projects between Baltimore and Rotterdam and is planning more.

Avalanche Arts is planning several projects designed to educate students about sustainability and environmental stewardship:

  1. Pen Pal Project linking Baltimore high school students with counterparts in the greater Rotterdam area (More info)
  2. Improvisational theatre workshops for Baltimore public high school students (info below)

Improv theater workshops with a green theme

Avalanche Art’s approach to improv workshops:

Bringing People through ‘play’; Improvisational theater as a tool to develop group dynamics and enhance thinking outside the box

The lessons include: drama games while practicing social skills, experiencing the power of positive thought and action and teamwork.

  • expressing creativity; ‘dare to share’
  • working together; discover the ‘freedom in following’ while adding ideas along the way
  • there are no bad ideas, only underdeveloped ones; ‘failing helps us learn’
  • sometimes scary, but always enlightening: ‘self reflection’

Once the basic technique has been introduced the “green theme” is combined with the improvisational games and exercises. In this way participants will be discussing, sharing and learning about how they can become environmental stewards through a“play” approach.

Playing improv games involves putting one’s ego on hold and working towards what is best for the group. The improvisational technique used is based on the work of Keith Johnstone with a focus on “learning through laughter.”


The Baltimore-Rotterdam theatre workshops build on a pilot exchange completed in 2015 with Baltimore’s Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center and a school near Rotterdam, and on previous environmentally-themed art educational projects with children and community residents in the Baybrook area of Baltimore and Heijplaat area of Rotterdam, completed by Avalanche Arts in collaboration with Baltimore artist/educator Stephen Bradley.

The Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee (a member of the Baltimore Sister Cities 501(c)(3) association), supports these exchanges. Baltimore and Rotterdam have been sister cities since 1985. The committee encourages engagement between the two cities to creatively learn, work, and solve problems together through reciprocal exchanges and projects.