In 2006 the American Sociological Review published an article about the decline of social discourse in America (McPherson et al. 2006). The authors studied network groups and discovered that our population is less likely to be involved in discussions about important matters, especially with people who hold diﬀering opinions, than they were in the previous two decades. Of particular concern was that people have become more insular, avoiding public discussions on topics that aﬀect their community, the nation and the world. The proliferation of blogs and other social media continue to change the ways we communicate. In the U.S., National Public Radio’s call-in shows may oﬀer the best source of public debate. But radio consists of disembodied voices; callers are not engaged in face-to-face dialogue with people with whom they disagree. TIE oﬀers an eﬀective means of promoting civic dialogue in our
schools and community. Through TIE, we can create dynamic forums for civic dialogue that encourage collective reasoning, foster critical thinking skills and help people articulate their thoughts. In so doing, we should be mindful of both the possibilities and potential limitations we may face. What are the beneﬁts and theoretical dimensions of using TIE as a tool for encouraging civic discourse? What methodologies and techniques can be used to motivate participation? How can we evaluate our success? What are the pitfalls and challenges inherent in this endeavour? What separates dialogue from didacticism when drawing upon historical content that is susceptible to one-sided or simplistic interpretation? How can a TIE company avoid endorsing its own values? This chapter will examine these questions using examples
from Theatre Espresso’s twenty-year history as a TIE company to illustrate the topics discussed.