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Peter Friedrich Goes Off Campus to Make a Difference

by Web on October 22, 2015

Peter Friedrich, chair of theater at Millsaps College, will put his skills in building community to work this summer in Mexico.

Friedrich and Millsaps students will lead in May a week-long class at Piaget school, which is located on the island of Isla Mujeres in the state of Quintana Roo, that will assist the nonprofit Fundacion BAI with its education program.

“After about a year of this kind of work at Millsaps, the time is right to do what we do -- go off campus and make a difference,” says Friedrich. “I think we’re ready.”

Fundacion BAI empowers the people of Yucatan to respond to teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and other issues and sponsors an education program for middle school and high school students in the Yucatan Peninsula.

“We are pleased to combine our efforts with the recognized and respected curriculum that Professor Friedrich will use,” said Dr. Carlos Cabrera, director general of Fundacion BAI. “Our efforts are aimed at helping young people make responsible decisions, so they can engage in healthy relationships.”

During the class, Friedrich will use a curriculum based on Michael Rohd’s Hope is Vital Training Manual and the teachings of Yale’s clowning expert Christopher Bayes.

Friedrich and Millsaps students will lead exercises meant to build a classroom environment that is expressive, trusting and respectful. The curriculum includes playing games that are fun, active and require self-discipline as well as the creation of short plays based on themes such as self-identity.

At the conclusion of the week on Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Friedrich will train Fundacion BAI staff in Merida in exercises used in the class.

Friedrich is in his second year as a professor of theatre at Millsaps College. He has lectured at several other institutions in the last year, including Stanford, New York University and Columbia University, and was a scholar in residence at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. This summer in Chicago, he will co-chair the Association of Theatre in Higher Education's preconference between interactive theatre and theatre for social change.

The American Conservatory Theater awarded Friedrich the 2013 Contribution to the Field Award for his five years of work in Northern Iraq. He continues to blend theatre-making on national, overseas and Millsaps community stages.