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Using Theory U and drama as a tool for the leadership development of drama students.

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The process of play production is one of the instruments that can be used to develop the leadership skills of drama students; however drama lecturers are not focusing on leadership development during the process of play production. Hierarchical leadership is no longer as effective in modern society; a collective leadership model is required to meet the challenges currently faced, as is evidenced by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Previous studies have highlighted play production as a vital instrument to develop students, for them to know the power of speaking, listening and expressing an idea. Studies have also indicated that drama is not just about being in the spotlight on stage and television, but is couched in teamwork, collaboration and community. This study sought to explore the field of leadership development through play production at Durban University of Technology (DUT). The objectives of the study were to investigate the similarities and differences in processes of play production and Theory U, to explore how these processes may complement each other as a modality for creative innovation, and to determine the potential contribution of utilising Theory U in developing leadership through play production. Qualitative research methodology was employed in the research. The study also drew on secondary data. Email interviews were conducted with 15 drama graduates who had entered leadership positions in academia, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and business. A purposive sampling technique was used to choose participants with requisite knowledge to be able to provide information related to the research topic, and thematic analysis was used to analyse their responses. The study found that Theory U promotes leadership development and if play production can be facilitated with the objectives of leadership training borne in mind by lecturers, the process can be enhanced so that there is inherent leadership training built into drama programmes. The leadership skills that students learn through play production include flexibility, teamwork, collaboration, creativity, time movement, problem solving, as well as addressing social and political matters. It is thus recommended that the Department of Drama and Production Studies at the Durban University of Technology should utilise Theory U in the play production process, aiming to formally develop the leadership skills of drama students.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.