TAIWAN: High school dropout offers students the chance to use theatre for drama therapy
Of the approximately 100 theatre groups in Taiwan, no more than 10 are able to achieve the stable revenues indicative of a large organization. The vast majority of these groups simply exist on ideals and passion. The Teenager Performing Arts League is one such group. Founded by high school dropout Yu Hao-Wei, the group thrives, despite not employing any actors. Its most important activities are a six-month drama education event and an oft-neglected "drama therapy" activity.
The Teenager Performing Arts League provides a stage for young people interested in drama. It allows us to direct and perform our own plays. There are few restrictions as it’s meant to inspire creativity and imagination. In addition to the contest being a platform for dramatic productions, the group guides and teaches students about drama.
The goal of the Teenager Performing Arts League is to cultivate independent thinking among high school students and give them the courage to express themselves and think outside the box. Another goal is to have them think about something outside of high school.
In 2006, Yu founded the Teenager Performing Arts League and borrowed NT$2 million to undertake drama education. Unfortunately, the troupe grew much slower than the rate at which it was spending money. Yu worked without outside support until finally in 2010 the Teenager Performing Arts League was given the Cabinet’s Rudder Award for special contributions to youth.
Receiving this award allowed Yu to expand his work from drama education to drama therapy. He helped troubled teens just like himself. Chang Chih-hao, Assistant Professor at Fu Jen University remarks, "Drama therapy is a very important concept. It is basically a self-fulfilling prophecy, which lets young people express their ideas in the theater and explore things they have never thought of before. It shows people how to live life in a new way."
Yu's next goal is to create a high school dedicated to the arts that would be suited to students who have difficulty progressing through the current educational system.