chapter  13
Trying to like TIE: an American critic hopes TIE can be saved Lowell Swortzell
Pages 12

Leafing through the earlier edition of this book I was amused to come upon a pencilled entry made when I first read Tony Jackson’s declaration in the Introduction stating that: ‘No one who has seen good TIE in action will need much persuasion of its potency as an educational resource, nor of its value as a medium of theatre.’ My marginal note exclaims, ‘Oh, yeah?’ And this impertinent expression of doubt may be the right place to begin a discussion of several characteristics that in my view keep TIE from realizing its full ‘potency’ and ‘value’. Yet let me state that however strong or harsh some of these opinions may be, they originate from a deep belief in the potential values of TIE as well as from a hope to see it hold an established place in both education and theatre. As an American professor of educational theatre, I have watched the TIE movement from its beginnings in England; as a researcher, I have studied earlier efforts in other parts of the world, including the impressive ‘Blue Blouse’ companies playing throughout the Soviet Union in the 1920s and the excellent programmes of the Federal Theatre Project in the United States in the 1930s. In editing The International Guide to Children’s Theatre and Educational Theatre (1990), I collected information about TIE as it was practised around the world through the 1980s. And I have advocated the adaptation and advancement of TIE in the United States ever since our first efforts in this direction at New York University in the early 1970s. Still, for reasons that follow, I am not convinced that after all these years TIE can yet be called ‘a medium of theatre’. And one of the questions to be examined here is: ‘Should it be?’