Every Interaction Counts

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between what you do and role-play?
    Role-play, as it is commonly implemented, rarely works well. Role-play is often done using unwilling non-actors and in a haphazard way "hoping that it works out," so the results can vary tremendously. EffectiveArts interactive drama scenes are based on PhD-level design rigor and are implemented by uniquely trained professional actors.

    The scenes are carefully crafted to illustrate the learning objectives, and are tightly linked to the surrounding facilitated discussion. The actors are entirely and unshakably real and stay “in character” no matter what happens. Non-actor scene-participants commonly report that they forget that the scene isn’t real, even though they are being observed by two hundred of their peers while interacting with our actors.
  • What are the benefits of using professional actors?
    A professional actor, especially an EffectiveArts-trained actor, can create a multi-dimensional person and then step into that person’s skin and become that person. This allows for a level of realism that is otherwise not possible. Trained actors also have the ability to pull a non-actor, and the audience, into the reality that they have created.

    Additionally, EffectiveArts actors are willing to play characters that non-actors would find undesirable or too intense, such as someone suffering a recent loss of a spouse. Our actors can also control the emotional and mental levels of a scene, adjusting the range of heat based on the participants’ comfort and experience level, so that the non-actor scene participant succeeds in the interaction.
  • How can touchy-feely art be scientifically rigorous?
    Interactive drama has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be a powerful teaching method. Interactive drama is a form of experiential learning, one of the most potent forms of instruction known. There is a whole body of research pointing to the fact that some learning can only be transferred to real life when the learning itself is done under stress — thus the need for our Laboratories With No Consequences™. Also, EffectiveArts educational experiences are learning-objective –based, so technical concepts are embedded in the scenes and interwoven into the facilitated discussion. Our work is as much rigorous education as it is world-class art.
  • Let's cut to the chase. What's the bottom-line ROI?
    Great question, well-asked!
    • How much does recruitment and replacement cost your organization? We have the numbers to show we increase retention.
    • What does diversity look like on the ground and how much does it cost your organization? In hospitals, a lack of appreciation of diversity can look like a patient nodding "yes" to the doctor... and not understanding a single word the doctor said (because she doesn't understand the language).  The patient then gets misdiagnosed.  This does happen -- how much does it cost?
    • Then there's productivity. Happy, satisfied, and appreciated employees do indeed produce more, as do teams of people who are mutually supportive (especially in professions where caring or creativity is involved).
  • Are you serious? There is no way that my people will be willing to step into the scenes and “act.” How do you make this work?
    EffectiveArts carefully creates a disarmingly safe space, then calls on participants’ courage and commitment to contribute to their peers. We get willing volunteers EVERY TIME.
  • My staff don’t know how to “act.” How are they supposed to be realistic in the scenes with your actors?
    We go to great effort to make sure that non-actor simulation participants don’t have to “act” or “pretend” anything. We simply ask them to do their job (for example, nursing family assessment or business negotiations), then we create a solid reality for them to step into. Participants report that after about the third sentence, they forget the scene isn’t real, and they completely don’t notice they are being observed. Many of our scenes, by the way, do not involve non-actor participants.
  • Do you do comedy? Can you do “entertainment”?
    While we don’t shy away from humor when needed, our scenes are usually real-life (and real-life is sometimes funny). EffectiveArts’ performances can definitely be classified as “moving,” but we really don’t do entertainment for the sake of entertainment.
  • But isn’t improvisation unpredictable?
    EffectiveArts’ scenes are developed using improvisation, but by the time the scenes are performed for your audience, they have been run at least a half-a-dozen times, so the actors know the structure. There are no scripted and memorized lines -- we use more like “milestones” or “signposts” along the way in the scenes to make sure the learning objectives come out. This “structured improv” allows for both repeatability and the magic that comes from “being in the moment.”
  • Do you do scripted work?
    See the above question. Sometimes, however, EffectiveArts' structured improv scenes are tightly based on scripts provided by clients. Again, this allows for both rigorous content and in-the-moment presence and reactions.
  • We only need actors, can you provide them?
    EffectiveArts provides educational experiences -- we rarely provide actors. There are numerous casting agencies that provide actors. EffectiveArts’ actors, however, are uniquely trained for our style of interactive drama and provide an outstanding level of quality and realism in our scenes.
  • I’ve seen your work, and it has moved an audience of two hundred to tears [when the depressed pregnant mom just revealed that her own mother had died two weeks earlier]. How can this happen?
    That is the Mystery and the Power of Art. Hook that power to rigorous social science, and you get EffectiveArts.
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