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Barrier-Free Theatre


WINNER OF THE 2011 DISTINGUISHED BOOK AWARD from the American Alliance for Theatre in Education!

Author: Sally D. Bailey, MFA, MSW, RDT/BCT
$36.00 – paper – 499 pages

Available from Idyll Arbor Books at

Barrier-Free Theatre: Including Everyone in Theatre Arts -- in Schools, Recreation, and Arts Programs -- Regardless of (Dis)Ability is a comprehensive, hands-on, nuts and bolts handbook for special education and drama teachers, therapists, recreation, and other group leaders. It describes concrete, field-tested techniques and lesson plans for teaching drama to students with a wide array of special needs in academic, recreational, and theatre settings.

Why theatre? Theatre arts can "level the playing field" and empower participants of all ages and abilities.  Theatrical interactions create relationships that last long after a performance is over.  This book explains in simple, non-technical language how to make accommodations for successful participation in creative drama, improvisation, puppetry, rehearsals for traditional plays, and development of new plays gears to participants' strengths.

Actors will gain self-confidence, improve their communication skills, find new ways to express themselves, and work more effectively and creatively with others.

Ways to use theatre arts as a tool to teach traditional classroom subjects, such as science, social studies, and language arts, are highlighted, as well as using drama for instruction in social interaction and other vital life skills.  There is even a section focusing on inclusion with typically developing peers in aesthetic and recreation settings.

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Need for the Arts
Chapter 2: Disability and the Arts
Chapter 3: Physical Disabilities
Chapter 4: Cognitive Disabilities
Chapter 5: Getting off to a Good Start: Basic Adaptations
Chapter 6: Creative Drama and Improvisation
Chapter 7: Lesson Plans and Activities that Work
Chapter 8: Puppetry
Chapter 9: Developing Original Scripts for Performance
Chapter 10: The Rehearsal Process
Chapter 11: Drama as a Classroom Teaching Tool

Chapter 12: Inclusion

About the Author: Sally Dorothy Bailey, MFA, MSW, RDT/BCT is an established playwright, director, and registered drama therapist. She created and directed the Arts Access Program for students with special needs at the Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts in Bethesda MD from 1988-98. Currently she is professor of theatre at Kansas State University where she directs the drama therapy program and directs the Barrier-Free Theatre for the City of Manhattan Parks and Recreation Department, Manhattan, Kansas.


“Sally Bailey shares her rich expertise and experiences as one of America's foremost authorities on classroom drama and theatre production with disabled youth.  This comprehensive resource is a gold mine of methods, content, and sage advice. Barrier-Free Theatre is important, essential reading for all teachers of special-needs populations and theatre educators."

-- Johnny Saldana, Professor of Theatre, Arizona State University

“This moving and inspired book offers great insight and practical knowledge on making theatre arts inclusive for everyone.  Sally Bailey's lucid and vivid writing provides a convincing testament that a disability does not need to hold anyone back... With easy-to-follow, hands-on techniques and lesson plans for classrooms, teachers, and therapists, it is a unique and essential textbook which should be required reading for the fields of education, creative arts therapies, or psychotherapy."

-- Yehudit Silverman, Associate Professor, Creative Arts Therapies Department, Concordia University


"For those who believe that all children, regardless of special talents or abilities, need and have a right to learn through the arts, this text is a revelation.  Sally Bailey, an immensely experienced practitioner and astute researcher,...draws us in to learn with her through a wealth of examples and stories.  The information, strategies, and techniques are of value to all teachers who seek to make their classrooms more inclusion-friendly and engaging learning environments."

-- Juliana Saxton, professor emeritus, Department of Theatre, University of Victoria, British Columbia


Bibliographies on Disability & Theatre, Stigma, and Educational Accommodations



Astell-Burt, C (2001). I am the story: The art of puppetry in education and therapy. London: Souvenir Press.

Bailey, S.D. (2010).Barrier-free theatre. Eumenclaw, WA: Idyll Arbor.

Bailey, S.D. (2002).Dreams to sign. Bethesda, MD: Imagination Stage.

Behr, M.W., Snyder, A.B., & Clopton, A.S. (1979). Drama integrates basic skills: Lesson plans for the learning disabled. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, Publisher.

Cattanach, A. (1992). Drama for people with special needs. New York: Drama Book Publishers.

Chasen, L. (2011). Social skills, emotional growth, and drama therapy: Inspiring growth on the autism spectrum. London: Jessica Kingsley Publisher.

Chesner, A. (1995). Dramatherapy for people with learning disabilities: A world of difference. London: Jessica Kingsley Publisher.

Cohen, H. (1995). Dramatically able: Making drama accessible to participants with disabilities, Ann Arbor, MI: Wild Swan Theatre. Book plus video.

Davies, A. (2004). Teaching social skills through acting. Arlington, TX: Furture Horizons, Inc. (Book and DVD).

Martin, N. (2009). Art as an early intervention tool for children with autism. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Martinovich. J. (2006). Creative expressive activities and Asperger's syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Nevil, N.F., Beatty,M.L., & Moxley, D.P.  (2010). Socialization games for persons with disabilities. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.






Allport, G. (1958). The nature of prejudice. New York: Doubleday.

Beck, A.T. (1999). Prisoners of hate. New York: HarperCollins.

Condeluci, A. (1996). Beyond difference. Delray Beach, FL: St. Lucie Press.

Condeluci, A. (unkn). Interdependence: The route to community. Delray Beach, FL: St. Lucie Press.

Crutchfield, S., & Epstein, M (ed.). (2000). Points of contact: Disability, art, and culture. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Fries, K. (ed.) (1997). Staring back: The disability experience from the inside out. New York: Penguin Group.

Goffman, E. (1986).  Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Hardaway, B. "Imposed inequality and misommunication between physically impaired and psychically nonimpaired interactants in American society," The Howard Journal of Communications. Vol 3 (1 & 2), pp. 139-148.

Jones, R. L. (ed). (1985). Reflections on growing up disabled. Reston, VA: ERIC.

Lichtenberg, P., van Beusekom, J., & Gibbons, D. (1997). Encountering bigotry: Befriending projecting persons in everyday life. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Murphy, R.F. (1987). The body silent. New York: Henry Hold and Co.

Pelka, F. (1980). "Sick? It's your own damn fault!" On the Issues. Spring, pp. 34-37.

Peters, W. (1987). A class divided: Then and now. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Sontag, S. (1990). Illness as metaphor and AIDS and its metaphors. New York: Doubleday.

van der Klift, E. & Kunc, N. (1994). Hellbent on helping: Benevolence, friendship, and the politics of helping. In J. Thousand, R. Villa, & A. Nevins (Eds.). Creativity and collaborative learning: A practical guide to empowering students and teachers. Baltimore: Paul Brookes.  Also available for download from

Williams, K.D. (2001). Ostracism: The power of silence. New York: Guilford Press.

Westbrook, M., Legge, V., & Pennay, M. (1993). "Attitudes towards disabilities in a multicultural society, " Social Science and Medicine. Vol. 35 (9), pp. 1093-1102.

Young-Bruehl, E. (1996). The anatomy of prejudices. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.




Armstrong, T. (1987). In their own way: Discovering and encouraging your child's personal learning style. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.

Armstrong, T. (1993). Seven kinds of smart: Identifying and developing your many intelligences. New York: Penguin Books.

Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple intelligences in the Classroom. 2nd Ed., Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Cabrera, D. & Colosi, L. (2009). Thinking at every desk: How four simple thinking skills will transform your teaching, classroom, school, and district. Ithaca, NY: Research Institute for THinking in Education.

Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed: Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York: Basic Books.

Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences: 10th Anniversary Edition. New York: Basic Books.

Gardner, H. (1992). Multiple intelligences: The theory in practice. New York: Basic Books.

Goleman, D. (2006). Social intelligence: The new science of human relationships. New York: Bantam Books.

Goleman, D. (2005). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, 10th Anniversary Edition. New York: Bantam Books.

Hannaford, C. (1995). Smart moves: Why learning is not all in your head. Arlington, VA: Great Ocean Publishers.

Jensen, E. (2000). Brain-based learning. San Diego, CA: The Brain Store.

Levine, M. (2002). A mind at a time. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Markova, D. (1991). The art of the possible: A compassionate approach to understanding the way people think, learn, & communicate. Emeryville, CA: Conari Press.

Pauley, J., Bradley, D.. & Pauley, J. (2001). Here's how to reach me. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing.

Williams, L.V. (1986). Teaching for the two-sided mind: A guide to right brain/left brain education. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Zull, J.E. (2002). The art of changing the brain. Sterling, VA: Stylus Press.





Duncan, J. Gish, C., Mulholland, M.E., & Townsend, A. (1977). Environmental Modifications for the Visually Impaired: A Handbook. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

Ludins-Katz, F, & Kats, E. (1990). "Arts and Disabilities: Establishing the Creative Art Center for People with Disabilities." Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books.

National Endowment for the Arts (1989 revised.). "The Arts and 504: A 504 Handbook for Accible Arts Programming." Washington, DC: NEA.

National Endowment for the Arts (1994). "Design for Accessibility: An Arts Administrator's Guide." Washington, DC: NEA.

Research and Training Center on Independent Living (2001). "Guidelines for Reporting and Writing about People with Disabilities." 6th ed. (and many other resources), Lawrence, KS. Or go to website at:

Very Special Arts Maine (unkn). Theatre Without Limits. VHS 26 minutes.



Drama Therapy Bibliography


For a full bibliography on books, articles, and chapters in books on drama therapy, see the NADT website at


Bailey, S.D. (1993).Wings to Fly: Bringing Theatre Arts to Students with Special Needs. Rockville, MD: Woodbine House.

Bailey, S.D. (2010). Barrier-Free Theatre. Eumenclaw, WA: Idyll Arbor.

Emunah, R. (1994). Acting for real: Drama therapy: Process, technique, and performance., New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Grainger, R. (1990). Drama and healing: The roots of dramatherapy.London: Jessica Kingsley Publisher.

Jones, P. (2007). Drama as therapy: Theory, practice and research, (2nd Ed.). New York: Routledge.

Landy, R. (1994). Drama therapy: Concepts, theories, and practices (2nd ed.). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.

Landy, R. (1993). Personna and performance: The meaning of role in drama, therapy, and everyday life. New York: Guilford Press.

Johnson, D. R. & Emunah, R. (Eds.). (2010). Current approaches in drama therapy, (2nd. Ed.). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.

Schattner, G. & Courtney, R. (Eds.). (1981). Drama in therapy: Volume one: Children & Volume two: Adults. New York: Drama Book Specialists.

Sternberg, P. (1998). Theatre for conflict resolution in the classroom and beyond. Portsmouth, NJ: Heinemann.

Sternberg, P. & Garcia, A. (2000). Sociodrama: Who's in your shoes? Westport, CT: Praeger.



Fox, J. (1986). Acts of service: Spontaneity, commitment, tradtion in the nonscripted theatre. New Paltz, NY: Tusitala Publishing.

Fox, J., & Dauber, H. (1999). Gathering voices: Essays on playback theatre. New Paltz, NY: Tusitala Publishing.

Salas, J. (1996). Improvising real life: Personal story in playback theatre. New Paltz, NY: Tusitala Publishing.



Blatner, A. (2000). Acting-in: Practical application of psychodramatic methods. New York: Springer.

Blatner, A. (2000). Foundations of psychodrama: History, theory, & practice, (4th Ed.). New York: Springer.

Fox, J. (ed.). (1987). The essential Moreno: Writings on psychodrama, group method, and spontaneity by J.L. Moreno, M.D. New York: Springer.

Hudgins, K.M. (2002). Experiential treatment for PTSD: The therapeutic spiral model. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Leveton, E. (1992). A clinicians's guide to psychodrama. (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.

Moreno, J.L. (1993). Who shall survive? Foundations of sociometry, group psychotherapy, and sociodrama. ASGPP.

Moreno, J. L. (1994). Psychodrama (4th ed.). Volumes I, II, III, ASGPP.



Boal, A. (1979). Theatre of the oppressed. New York: Theatre Communications Group.

Boal, A. (1992). Games for actors and non-actors. New York: Routledge.

Boal, A. (1995). The rainbow of desire: The Boal method of theatre and therapy. New York: Routledge.

Boal, A. (1999). Legislative theatre. New York: Routledge.

Schultzman, M. & Cohen-Cruz, J. (eds.). (1994). Playing Boal: Theatre, therapy and activism. New York: Routledge.




Dramascope. Newletter of the National Association for Drama Therapy. Free subsription with membership.

The Arts in Psychotherapy. Newsletter published five times per year on all the creative arts therapies. Elsevier Science, Inc.

The International Journal of Action Methods. (formerly the Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Psychodrama & Sociometry). Heldref Publications.

The National Association for Drama Therapy.






Recommended Resources for Playwriting


Bailey, Sally; Duncan, Allissa; & Johannes, Elaine (2008). Giving Voice to the Experiences of Military-Connected Youth: SOMK-IT Workbook for Leaders and Speak Out for Military Kids Interactive Theatre Project Handbook for Troupe Members. Available for free from Elaine Johannes, KSU Research and Extension, Operation Military Kids - Kansas.  email or call 785-532-7720.

Bailey, Sally (2010). Chapter 9: Developing Original Scripts for Performance in Barrier-Free Theatre. Eumenclaw, WA: Idyll Arbor, Inc., pp.291-334.

Ball, David (1983). Forwards and Backwards. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois Press.

Downs, William Missouri & Wright, Lou Ann (1998). Playwriting: Formula to Form. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

Weigler, Will (2001). Strategies for Playbuilding.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.