Containing HIV and AIDS: Creating a readers’ theatre script for professional learning in higher education

  • L. van Laren University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • K. Pithouse-Morgan University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • L. Masinga University of KwaZulu-Natal


We worked together to create a readers’ theatre script as a vehicle for learning about using everyday objects to open up conversations in a workshop on HIV and AIDS curriculum integration research in higher education. Through creating the script and a series of interconnected dialogue pieces we uncovered experiences and understandings of productive containment and connections in professional learning in higher education, especially in relation to sensitive areas such as HIV and AIDS. We demonstrate how we composed the readers’ theatre script as a creative analytical practice to gain insights into our learning, while also discovering more about how this arts-based research practice can enhance individual and collaborative meaning making. Through arts-based collaborative self-study research we were able to deepen and extend our learning in a supportive and inventive manner, which fuelled hopefulness and a renewed sense of purpose.

Author Biographies

L. van Laren, University of KwaZulu-Natal

School of Education

Honorary Senior Lecturer

K. Pithouse-Morgan, University of KwaZulu-Natal

School of Education

Associate Professor

L. Masinga, University of KwaZulu-Natal

School of Education



AVERT. 2016. HIV and AIDS in South Africa. (accessed 5 January 2018).

Coulter, Cathy A. and Mary Lee Smith. 2009. The construction zone: Literary elements in narrative research. Educational Researcher 38(8): 577–590.

Dale, Di and Chris James. 2015. The importance of affective containment during unwelcome educational change: The curious incident of the deer hut fire. Educational Management Administration & Leadership 43(1): 92–106.

Donmoyer, Robert and June Yennie-Donmoyer. 1995. Data as drama: Reflections on the use of readers’ theater as a mode of qualitative data display. Qualitative Enquiry 1(4): 402–428.

Drake, Susan M. and Rebecca Crawford Burns. 2004. Meeting Standards Through Integrated Curriculum. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

East, Katheryn, Author A M. Fitzgerald and Melissa L. Heston. 2009. Talking teaching and learning: Using dialogue in self-study. In Research Methods for the Self-study of Practice (55-72), ed. Deborah Tidwell, Melissa Heston and Author A Fitzgerald. New York: Springer.

Elbow, Peter. 2000. Everyone Can Write: Essays toward a Hopeful Theory of Writing and Teaching Writing. New York: Oxford University Press.

Elfer, Peter and Dearnley, Katy. 2007. Nurseries and emotional well-being: evaluating an emotionally containing model of professional development. Early Years 27(3): 267–279.

Flynn, Rosalind M. 2004. Curriculum-based Reader’s Theatre: Setting the stage for reading and retention. The Reading Teacher 58(4): 360–365.

Freeman, Melissa. 2017. Modes of thinking for qualitative data analysis. New York: Routledge.

Gast, Inken, Kim Schildkamp and Jan T. van der Veen. 2017. Team-based professional development interventions in higher education: A systematic review. Review of Educational Research 87(4): 736–767.

Higher Education HIV and AIDS Programme. 2012. Policy and Strategic Framework on HIV and AIDS for Higher Education. Pretoria: Higher Education HIV/AIDS Programme. (accessed 3 February 2018).

Korthagen, Fred. 2017. Inconvenient truths about teacher learning: Towards professional development 3.0. Teachers and Teaching 23(4): 387-405.

Meskin, Tamar, Tanya van Der Walt, Lee Scott, Chris de Beer and Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan. 2017. Shoes, suitcases, stones: Creative engagement with ourselves as artist–researcher–teachers through object inquiry. In Object medleys: Interpretive possibilities for educational research, ed. Daisy Pillay, Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan and Inbanathan Naicker, 175–196. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense.

McMillan, Sally and Margaret A. Price. 2005. A representative journey of teachers’ perceptions of self: A readers’ theater. In Advances in Research on Teaching, 11: Learning from research on teachers: Perspective, Methodology, and Representation, ed. Jere E. Brophy and Stefinee E. Pinnegar, 137–169. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier Publishers.

Mitchell, Claudia. 2017. “Object as subject: Productive entanglements with everyday objects in educational research. In Object medleys: Interpretive possibilities for educational research, ed. Daisy Pillay, Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, and Inbanathan Naicker, 11–28. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

Parker, Walter C. 2005. Social studies in elementary education. 12th ed. Columbus, OH: Pearson Merrill, Prentice-Hall.

Pelias, Ronald J. 2008. Performative inquiry: Embodiment and its challenges. In Handbook of the arts in qualitative research, ed. J. Garry Knowles and Andra L. Cole, 185–193. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Richardson, Laurel. 2004. Creative Analytical Practice (CAP) Ethnography. In Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods, Vol. 1, ed. Michael Lewis-Bec, Alan E. Bryman and T. Futing Liao, 212–213. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Riggens, Stephen H. 1994. Fieldwork in the living room: An autoethnographic essay. In The socialness of things: Essays on the socio-semiotics of objects, ed. Stephen H. Riggins, 101–147. Berlin, Germany: Moutin de Gruyter.

Samaras, Anastasia P., Mary Adams-Legge, Deanna Breslin, Kavita Mittapalli, Jennifer Magaha O'Looney and Dawn Renee Wilcox. 2008. Collective creativity: A learning community of self-study scholars. In Learning communities in practice, ed. Anastasia P. Samaras, Anne R. Freese, Clare Kosnik and Clive Beck, 133–147. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

Samaras, Anastasia, Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Theresa Chisanga, Joan Lucy Conolly, Lynne Scott Constantine, Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Lesley Smith and Delysia Timm. 2016. Networkism: Transcontinental dialoguing about co-facilitating transdisciplinary self-study professional learning communities. In Enacting self-study as methodology for professional inquiry, ed. Dawn Garbett and Alan Ovens, 163–170. Herstmonceux, UK: Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices (S-STEP).

United Nations. 2011. Introduction. United Nations Chronicle 48(1). (accessed 10 September 2017).

Venables, Emilie. 2018. HIV is still taboo in the DRC: Chronicles from Kinshasa. The Conversation. August 29, 2017. (accessed 4 February 2018).

How to Cite
van Laren, L., K. Pithouse-Morgan, and L. Masinga. 2019. “Containing HIV and AIDS: Creating a readers’ Theatre Script for Professional Learning in Higher Education”. South African Journal of Higher Education 33 (3), 222-40.
General Articles