Citizen Artists takes the reader on a journey through the process of producing, funding, researching, creating, rehearsing, directing, performing, and touring student-driven plays about social justice.

The process at the heart of this book was developed from 2015–2021 at New York City’s award-winning Epic Theatre Ensemble with and for their youth ensemble: Epic NEXT. Author and Epic Co-Founder James Wallert shares his company’s unique, internationally recognized methodology for training young arts leaders in playwriting, inquiry-based research, verbatim theatre, devising, applied theatre, and performance. Readers will find four original plays, seven complete timed-to-the-minute lesson plans, 36 theatre arts exercises, and pages of practical advice from more than two dozen professional teaching artists to use for their own theatre making, arts instruction, or youth organizing.

Citizen Artists is a one-of-a-kind resource for students interested in learning about theatre and social justice; educators interested in fostering learning environments that are more rigorous, democratic, and culturally-responsive; and artists interested in creating work for new audiences that is more inclusive, courageous, and anti-racist.

chapter |2 pages


part I|134 pages

The Citizen Artist methodology

chapter 1|18 pages

How do we transform art into activism?

chapter 2|9 pages

What is a Citizen Artist?

chapter 3|5 pages

What is Epic Theatre?

chapter 6|10 pages

How do we get started?

chapter 7|3 pages

How do we create an essential question?

chapter 8|7 pages

How do we conduct interviews?

chapter 9|6 pages

What are enabling constraints?

chapter 10|5 pages

How do we populate the world of the play?

chapter 11|4 pages

How do we come to consensus?

chapter 12|9 pages

How do we write scenes?

chapter 14|5 pages

How do we revise scenes?

chapter 15|10 pages

How do we rehearse our play?

chapter 16|5 pages

How do we perform our play?

chapter 18|4 pages

How do we pay for all of this?

part II|24 pages

The Citizen Artist curriculum

chapter 19|6 pages

Newspaper theatre

chapter 20|4 pages

Objectives and tactics

chapter 21|3 pages

Fundamentals of dramatic structure

chapter 22|3 pages

Ethical dilemma

chapter 23|2 pages


chapter 25|2 pages


part III|59 pages

The Citizen Artist plays

chapter 26|14 pages


chapter 27|16 pages

Perfect Circle

chapter 28|13 pages


A short descent into standardized testing

chapter 29|14 pages

Nothing About Us

chapter |1 pages