Immigrant Assimilation Through Theatre


Author/Creator ORCID



Type of Work



MA in Arts Administration

Citation of Original Publication


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This major paper will examine how theatre education and participation can assist immigrants who choose to assimilate into their new culture, do so more effectively. The paper defines assimilation as a mutual process whereby the immigrant and host society both change culturally and meet in the middle. There are several factors that aid in immigrant assimilation: language acquisition, customs, culture, self-confidence, contact with native-born, attendance at social clubs or institutions of the host society, and dress. The paper ties these aspects to how theatre can assist immigrants achieve assimilation through them. Theatre can teach immigrants about the culture of the United States, and it can also teach Americans about other cultures, thereby raising mutual awareness, helping each to become more accepting of others, and teaching the native-born to empathize with an immigrant’s struggle, all while celebrating the differences among cultures. Research consisted of historical data on immigrants and assimilation, and interviews with leaders in the field of theatre, theatre history, immigration, sociology and policy. Journals in the fields of social science and psychology were used to demonstrate how theatre assists immigrants with aspects of assimilation. Books on the history of immigration were consulted in addition to secondary data on how theatre can assist in assimilation. Web searches proved useful in supplying population data and history of immigration population of the US. Articles on how theatre has helped immigrants in addition to periodicals on immigrants, immigration, and theatre were consulted. Lastly, interviews with theatre companies currently using theatre to assist immigrants in assimilation were conducted. The conclusion suggests how theatre arts administrators can use this information to make theatre more relevant to immigrants, design a program geared toward them and possible next steps for their theatre’s program.