Undergraduate Research

Caris Gross ’23

OUR Featured Researcher: Caris Gross ’23

Caris Gross
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Caris Gross (they/she/he) is majoring in theater.  They conduct research under the mentorship of Professor and Managing Director for Theater, Dance, and Opera Eric Steggall. Their project is titled “Using Theatre Education as a Tool for Healing and Community Care.”

Please describe your project:

My project delves into the developmental and social benefits of quality theatre education in the lives of young people and the impact of theatre in all sorts of communities, using my recent production of Sideways Stories from Wayside School as a case study. I explore the art form as a way to heal from traumatic stress, respond to inequity, and address the school-to-prison pipeline and the literacy gap. I examine ways to establish sustainable theatre programming in high-need areas and remove barriers of inaccessibility for people of all ages.

What knowledge has your research contributed to your field?

I have found that many of the principles of creating safer classroom spaces conducive to experimentation and bold risk-taking for children are adaptable to any artistic context, whether educational or professional.

How has the research you’ve conducted contributed to your professional or academic development? 

Working on this project has solidified multiple aspects of my intended career path – to advocate for the integration of theatre education into curriculum pathways in public education and the increased accessibility of theatrical opportunities for underserved communities.

Caris Gross working with students in a classroom