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Jonathan Levy Child Drama Symposium looks at ethics of working with youth

February 26, 2009

The ASU Herberger College School of Theatre and Film presents the Jonathan Levy Child Drama Symposium on Ethics and the Representation of Childhood in Performance, Pedagogy and Popular Culture.

The conference being held on the ASU Tempe campus March 6–7 explores interpretations of childhood as seen in popular culture – and looks specifically at how these depictions might influence professionals who work with young people. Noted theatre and film professionals as well as Arizona School Superintendent Tom Horne explore the ethics of how adult culture shapes and represents images of childhood.

“Adults create, control, and distribute the vast majority of images and depictions we see of children every day,” says Stephani Woodson, associate director of the ASU Herberger School of Theatre and Film. “We want to explore how these actually influence adult relationships to youth.”

This symposium aspires to track experiences about childhood as seen in art, mass media, educational theory and civic policy. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that over a quarter of Arizona’s total population is under 18 years of age, Woodson says, making the question particularly relevant for our state.

“Only a handful of publications address ethics in working with youth in such areas as juvenile law, medical care, or mental health,” Woodson adds. “We are interested in establishing an ethical framework for adults who work with young people in such areas as social work, teaching, art, children’s television programming and policy studies.”

The following distinguished individuals are slated to provide keynote addresses including, Anne Hamburger, Tom Horne, Jonathan Levy, and Jack Zipes. To read speaker biographies, visit: additional conference details, visit:

In 1999, Jonathan Levy donated his collection of more than 600 books on theatre for youth to ASU Hayden Library as well as personal papers and manuscripts from his own career. With copyrights from the 17th through 20th centuries, Levy’s collection chronicles the very early history of Theatre for Youth, the position of children in society, and the taste and sensibility of historical periods. The Levy donation supplemented the university’s previously held resources on this topic, making ASU the largest repository of materials on theatre for youth in the United States.

The public is invited to attend all events except for the luncheons free of charge. Those who contribute to the discussion may be quoted on a post-conference Web site and in an upcoming book on this topic.

Memorial Union, Alumni Lounge # 202, 301 E. Orange Mall, ASU Tempe campus

March 6–7, 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Keynotes and lectures are open to the public and are free of charge.

Public Contact
ASU Herberger College School of Theatre and Film

The School of Theatre and Film in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University provides a comprehensive range of courses in performance and directing; design and production; new work development; theatre and performance studies; film; and theatre for youth. Its Theatre for Youth program is nationally ranked in the top three and the dramatic writing/playwriting program is ranked 15th among public institutions by U.S.News & World Report. To learn more about the School of Theatre and Film, visit

Media Contact:
Laurie A. Trotta Valenti 
ASU Herberger College 
School of Theatre and Film