2005 marks the beginning of ITLP. Stephen DiMenna, a leading theatre director and arts educator and Marianna Houston, Director of Education at The Theatre Development Fund along with actress Rebecca Blumhagen to launch a pilot project using new ways of teaching and learning through theatre. In July 2005, they conducted their first week-long project, with 21 students at the Akeri Secondary School in Tengeru Village, Tanzania.
The workshop culminated in performances of an original play in English written and performed by the students for their parents and the village community. The play expressed their challenges, hopes, and dreams, and spoke especially to the changing role of women in modern Tanzanian society.
That first project had a profound impact on everyone who participated in the workshop and witnessed the play. For the Akeri School headmistress, it was clear that theatre could serve as a powerful tool to develop literacy and independent thinking, and she asked that Marianna and Stephen return the following summer. With this request, the International Theatre and Literacy Project was born.