Something extraordinary of its kind! Creativity, expression, writing, collaboration, and performance.

Whoopensocker is an education residency that uses theater as a tool to teach creative writing and social-emotional skills. Our ensemble of teaching artists brings a toolbox of new ideas to the classroom to create a dynamic community-building experience for the whole class. 

For six weeks, Whoopensocker’s teaching artists encourage students to share their great ideas through writing and performance. After the residency, we celebrate the students at a performance where adult performers present student-written work adapted for the stage. The ultimate goal is to show students the power of their ideas and creativity through play and artistic expression. 

Whoopensocker’s six-week residency is ideal for elementary schools and performances are perfect for everyone. Shows are presented for students and the public. Dr. Erica Rosenfeld Halverson, the Mayor, and co-founder of Whoopensocker is a faculty member in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at UW–Madison School of Education. Meet the rest of the Whoopensocker Team.

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*Whoopensocker is hosted by the UW-Madison School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the office of Professional Learning and Community Education (PLACE). This partnership was made possible by the generosity of the School of Education Dean’s Office.

Whoopensocker LIVE Shows!

Join us as Whoopensocker’s professional cast adapts stories written by Madison youth during school-based residencies. Shows are a combination of sketches, songs, and physical theater.

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May 2024

Friday, May 17 at 11:00 AM – Lincoln School Show. Please RSVP to slrichards@wisc.edu

Saturday May 18 at 11 AM – Public Show
Reserve Tickets here

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The UW Community Arts Collaboratory is dedicated to bringing the arts to underserved rural and low-income communities. Be the first to know when this program is scheduled to run—subscribe for updates below.

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The Whoopensocker team of teachers come into the classroom!

Our team of teaching artists will come into your classrooms for a six-week session meeting once a week for 90 minutes. A team of three senior teaching artists and one or two apprentices spend the session with the students, exploring different aspects of dramatic structure and creative writing. The children are introduced to improvisation games and given the chance to act out the group stories with guidance from the teaching artists. Then they are given notebook journals and instructions before breaking into small groups to begin creating more stories together with the Whoopensocker team. Each week, every student will have helped to build at least one original story that they perform for the rest of the class.

The students’ creative writing becomes a show for the whole school!

Whoopensocker actors come together and create a vaudeville-style sketch comedy performance of the students’ writing. They gather the children’s journals and select the pieces that will become the Whoopensocker SHOW! The students are applauded for their work as the actors take the stage and perform a 60-minute sketch show. Students’ voices are recognized, and their creativity is validated when professional actors perform the student-written show. It is a fantastic culmination of their creativity celebrated with students, staff, and the greater Madison community.

Whoopensocker’s new podcast features stories from our archive, reimagined for your ears! That is, stories written by students since our first residency in 2016, newly adapted by our creative cast of actors. Listen alone or as a family, anywhere and everywhere!

Listen to the Whoopensocker Podcast 

Latest Whoopensocker Videos

Thank you for your support of Whoopensocker, a program of the UW Community Arts Collaboratory. We are proud to share the stories of Madison’s young people in exciting digital formats! This decision is aligned with current UW-Madison plans and response to COVID-19. Premiere dates for online performances are to be determined; we’re working quickly to establish platforms for sharing young peoples’ stories. We appreciate your patience during this time.

Whoopensocker Numbers

Whoopensocker Team Coordinators

Amanda Farrar

Position title: Education Coordinator

Email: aefarrar78@gmail.com

Erica Halverson

Position title: Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, Mayor of Whoopensocker

Email: erica.halverson@wisc.edu

Jessica Jane Witham

Position title: Education Coordinator

Email: jessicajanewitham@gmail.com