RIFTS: A Workshop About What Divides Us & What Unites Us

Saturday December 10 
11am-4pm  (includes lunch break)
at the Children's Community School
1212 S. 47th Street, West Philadelphia
facilitated by Morgan Andrews
FREE—Contact tophilly@gmail.com” 
or call 267·282·1057 to register

T.O. Philly presents RIFTS, a one-day workshop about social and political differences that cause schisms between people. Sometimes fueled by age, class, dis/ability, education, employment status, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, religion, sexuality, or whatever is happening in the world, these rifts can manifest in ways that affect each of us deeply, both cerebrally and tangibly. Whether it's ongoing dynamics within a relationship, heated talk with family around the dinner table, or polarized viewpoints that divide a nation, the roots of these rifts have much in common. In this workshop we'll physicalize our experiences by using the language of theatre to dig up these roots in order to build the world we want.

In the morning session, we'll build our skills as a group by playing theatre games, getting to know each other, and opening up this topic of conversation. After lunch, we'll go deeper by unpacking specific stories, reconstructing them onstage, and then reconfiguring them into what we wish they could be. Our aim is to leave with some tools for tackling these issues in everyday life.

This workshop is FREE and runs from 11am till 4pm with a one-hour break for lunch around 12:30. No prior theatre experience is necessary, all life experiences welcome. To register, send an email to "tophilly@gmail.com" or leave a message at 267-282-1057.

Unpacking Race Fall 2016
Week 5: Because Your Liberation Is Bound Up With Mine

In the Fall of 2016, T.O. Philly hosted a workshop series on race and undoing racism. Each week we posted material here for folks both in and outside of the workshop to use. Links:
"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."   

—Lilla Watson, Indigenous Australian activist and academic

In our final Unpacking Race session we combined all of our theatrical tools to make scenes highlighting instances of oppression that intersected race with education, class, health care, and other social strata. To build these scenes, we worked with a scale of archetypes that play various roles onstage and off:

Oppressed      (Potential) Ally       Bystander       Passive Oppressor        Oppressor
—————————————————————————————————————
Protagonist   (Deuteragonists, Tritagonists, Tetratagonists, etc.)      Antagonist

In making these scenes, we noted how acts of allyship often shift the the focus of the story away from the person who is oppressed and shine the spotlight on the ally. The work of Theatre of the Oppressed is to make those experiencing oppression the protagonists of the story. Two terms that are helpful in understanding these dynamics in relation to race:
  • White Fragility: A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.
  • Solidarity: Unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.
Here are two quotes about solidarity that were critical in the early development of Theatre of the Oppressed:
"Solidarity requires that one enter into the situation of those with whom one is in solidarity; it is a radical posture"  —Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed 
"Solidarity means running the same risks."  —Ernesto "Che" Guevara 
ONGOING ASSIGNMENT: Keep journaling about race. When you write about an instance of race or racism in your life, ask yourself:
  1. What role did I play? Oppressed? Ally? Bystander? Oppressor? Was my role active or passive? Did my role change and who changed it?
  2. For those who identify as people of color: Was I affected by internalized or horizontal racism? How can I empower myrself and others to deal with racism in our lives and take action to end racism?
  3. For those you benefit from white privilege: How did my white privilege play into this situation? How can I move from feelings of guilt and shame about racism to taking responsibility for my role as an agent of racism?
  4. For everyone: What are the costs and benefits of actively confronting racism, and doing anti-racism work?

Unpacking Race Fall 2016
Week 4: What Does Solidarity Look Like?

In the Fall of 2016, T.O. Philly hosted a workshop series on race and undoing racism. Each week we posted material here for folks both in and outside of the workshop to use. Links:
Right after last week's session, a majority of U.S. voters elected a president who ran his campaign on several racist platforms. As we move into our final session together, we reflect on lessons learned from other recent incidents of mass racism.


1. WATCH this short video responding to the increase in overt racism in Britain after their vote to exit the European Union (a.k.a. "Brexit"). Note that this video contains actual cellphone footage of racist aggression. Also note that some prefer the word "target" in place of "victim" to describe being on the receiving end of oppressor aggression.



2. READ Mia McKenzie's short essay, "How to Tell the Difference Between Real Solidarity and 'Ally Theater'" on Black Girl Dangerous.

3. WATCH this short promo from White Squad, a spoof company created by MTV's Look Different initiative in 2015. Learn more about that at this link, where you can also watch a longer video about whiteness and white advantage.



4. READ the short essay, "Rural White Folks Need to Speak Out Against Racism in Our Communities" published by Country Queers..

5. WRITE in your race journal about the above videos and essays, the election, and/or your own experiences.

Unpacking Race Fall 2016
Week 3: What Are Microaggressions?

In the Fall of 2016, T.O. Philly hosted a workshop series on race and undoing racism. Each week we posted material here for folks both in and outside of the workshop to use. Links:
This week instead of meeting as a whole group, we buddied up and had a couple of check-ins with that buddy about our race journals and last week's videos and essays. This week we have another short video and chart detailing different sorts of racial microaggressions. First, some definitions:
  • Racial Microaggressions: Brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults towards people of color.
  • Internalized Racism: The conscious or unconscious assimilation of racist attitudes or beliefs by people in the subordinate or dominant group towards members of their own ethnic group, including themselves. This can include the belief in ethnic stereotypes relating to their own group.
Next, this week's assignments:

1. WATCH this short animation about microaggressions:



2. READ through this chart, which lists 10 common themes of racial microaggressions with examples and the messages that these microaggressions transmit.

3. WRITE in your Race Journal!

4. CHECK IN with your buddy about what you've been reading, writing, and experiencing.

Unpacking Race Fall 2016
Week 2: What Is This Thing Called Racism?

In the Fall of 2016, T.O. Philly hosted a workshop series on race and undoing racism. Each week we posted material here for folks both in and outside of the workshop to use. Links:
After defining race and ethnicity In Week One of our Fall 2016 Unpacking Race workshop series, we talked about racism and shared the following definitions:
Institutional Racism: A system of advantage based on race and supported by institutional structures, policies and practices that create and sustain advantages for the dominant white group while systematically subordinating members of targeted racial groups. This relative advantage for Whites and subordination for people of color is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms, and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.
Individual Racism: The beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate institutional racism. Individual racism can occur at both unconscious and conscious levels, and can be both active and passive. Examples include telling a racist joke, using a racial epithet, or believing in the inherent superiority of Whites.  
Active Racism: Actions that have as their stated or explicit goal the maintenance of the system of racism and the oppression of those in targeted racial groups. People who participate in active racism advocate the continued subjugation of members of targeted groups and protection of “the rights” of members of the advantaged group. These goals are often supported by a belief in the inferiority of people of color and the superiority of white people, culture, and values. 
Passive Racism: Conscious and unconscious beliefs, attitudes, and actions that support the system of racism, racial prejudice, and racial dominance and contribute to the maintenance of racism, without openly advocating violence, discrimination, or an ideology of white supremacy.

These are from Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin, (Routledge, 2007). 

This week's assignments include a 3-minute video, one or two short essays, keeping your journal, and (because we have no workshop next week) a one-on-one discussion.

1. WATCH this short segment from comedian Aamer Rahman:


2. READ one or both of the following. Note that they're written for different audiences in mind: The first is addressed to people of color, the second to people who benefit from white privilege. 

  • 2A. Andrea Smith's 2013 essay "Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy." This is a primer for people of color confronting the complex systems of how internalized racism can be a barrier to organizing  This is a scanned PDF, and this version is better for text-to-speech devices..
  • 2B. Peggy McIntosh's seminal essay, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." This PDF is the original version from the 1980s, and it touches on a lot of what we've discussed so far. It also contains a list of privileges, which McIntosh continued to add to, and this short video features her expanded list.
3. WRITE in your Race Journal!

4. CHECK IN with your buddy about what you've been reading, writing, and thinking about.


Unpacking Race Fall 2016
Week 1: Who Am I?

In the Fall of 2016, T.O. Philly hosted a workshop series on race and undoing racism. Each week we posted material here for folks both in and outside of the workshop to use. Links:
In Week One of our Fall 2016 Unpacking Race workshop series, we got to know each other, defined race and ethnicity and shared some of our experiences through movement and discussion. The definitions we used:
Race: A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance (particularly skin color), ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation or history, ethnic classification, and/or the social, economic, and political needs of a society at a given period of time. Scientists agree that there is no biological or genetic basis for racial categories.

Ethnicity: A social construct that divides people into social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history, and ancestral geographical location. Members of an ethnic group are often presumed to be culturally or biologically similar, although this is not in fact necessarily the case. Examples of ethnic groups identified in the U.S. are: Cape Verdean, Haitian, African American; Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese; Cherokee, Mohawk, Navajo; Jamaican, Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican; Polish, Trinidadian, Irish, and French.

Racial and Ethnic Identity: An individual's awareness and experience of being a member of a racial and ethnic group; the racial and ethnic categories that an individual chooses to describe themselves based on such factors as genealogical or ancestral heritage, physical appearance, cultural affiliation, early socialization, and personal experience. Puerto Ricans, for example, may be racially European, African, indigenous, or various blends, yet they refer to themselves collectively as Boricuas. Despite color differences, Puerto Ricans share a culture which shapes food, language, music and customs.
 
These are from Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin, (Routledge, 2007).

In moving from the practice of unpacking race into unpacking racism, please do this: at the following.
1. JOURNAL about race. When you notice something in your life that relates to race, write about it. While we can learn lots from reading, talking, performing, and engaging in workshops about race and racism, making time for self-reflection is also essential. Your journal could be a daily practice, or a few times a week, or maybe you've always got it with you, ready to jot down your thoughts about race as they occur. No matter how you do it or how often, keep a race journal. 


2. WATCH Jay Smooth's short talk, "How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Discussing Race". Jay is the host of Underground Railroad, New York's longest running hip-hop show, and also has a video blogger about race.


3. READ Audrey Smedley's short essay, "The History of the Idea of Race...and Why it Matters", detailing the history of race in the United States.

4. ALSO SEE this history of race in the U.S. as covered by the documentary, Race: The Power of an IllusionWatch the first part here. Seeing the first part may compel you to watch the rest, so here are links for Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4.

Unpacking Race • Fall 2016

A workshop series about undoing racism

with Hariprasad Kowtha and Morgan Andrews
Mondays 7–9PM • Oct 17, Oct 24, Nov 7, Nov 14
Circle of Hope, 3800 Marlton Pike, Pennsauken, NJ
Tuition is sliding scale: $45-$145 for the full series
To pre-register, email "tophilly@gmail.com"
You can also email us to inquire about carpooling!


On Monday nights this fall we bring back our popular series on race and racism.  Over the course of four weeks we'll explore this topic through a variety of exercises, discussions, and techniques from the Theatre of the Oppressed, supplemented by things to read and do between sessions. Our aim is to unlearn the systemic racism we’ve been taught throughout our lives, to heal from racial privilege and oppression, and to offer starting points for structural and personal change in ourselves, our communities, and our world. 


The Fall 2016 Unpacking Race Series will be led by a pair of facilitators (read about them below.) Because space is limited and each week's ideas build toward the next, we ask that participants commit to coming to all four sessions. Tuition is sliding scale: $45-$145, payable at the first session. To sign up, email "tophilly@gmail.com" or leave a message at 267-282-1057. You can also contact us about sharing rides to and from the workshop.

FACILITATOR BIOS

Hariprasad Kowtha has dedicated his life to performance as a vector of identity and resistance. He sang bhajans with the South Asian community in Phoenix, Arizona, practiced Carnatic vocals and performed Bharathanatyam. He began practicing large and small group facilitation skills in early high school through the Unitown/Anytown camp program. He currently teaches yoga, meditation and movement at the at a Project Home facility in North Philadelphia with Sheltered Yoga, and recently co-founded Mustard Seed, a South Asian film festival. He joined Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed in 2014 and works as a diabetes counselor at his childhood camp in Prescott, AZ.

Morgan Andrews is a Ukrainian-Irish-American activist-artist from a Muslim-Jewish-Catholic-Unitarian family. He co-founded Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed in 2008 having trained at TOPLAB in New York, with Jana Sanskriti in India, and with T.O.'s late founder Augusto Boal. He's since worked for LGBT youth in Philly, activists in Brazil, German citizens doing holocaust reconciliation work, and with the general public. Morgan also teaches yoga and performs a solo show about dis/ability and passing with the Medium Theatre Company. He holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College.

COLLABORATORS

Paloma N. Irizarry and Ariel Morales have also been instrumental in designing this curriculum for T.O. Philly's Unpacking Race series. Ariel laid the foundations for Unpacking Race and co-led our previous series in 2013, and Paloma did the same for our series in the winter of 2016.

Neighborhood Games: Following the Leader

A free T.O. Philly workshop
led by Hariprasad Kowtha
Saturday, September 17
11AM –12:30 PM
Hosted by Asian Arts Initiative
in the Pearl Street Viaduct
1150 Pearl Street, Philadelphia
Register at "tophilly@gmail.com"

Come join Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed as we play games designed to express movement and stillness while in conversation with others. We'll explore what happens when you take someone else's movements and try them on in your own body and see what your movements look like with someone else doing them. FREE outdoor workshop. Dress to move! 

RSVP at "tophilly@gmail.com" or call 267-282-1057. See you there!

Made possible with support from Asian Arts Initiative: www.asianartsinitiative.org

Coming up:

  • Oct 4: Intro to Theatre of the Oppressed
  • Oct 11-25: What Does Democracy Look Like?
  • Oct 17-Nov 14: Unpacking Race




T.O. Philly News: Summer 2016

2016 has a been a good year so far, kicking off with our second Unpacking Race workshop series at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia. We've since led several trainings around dis/ability, gender,  and race, as well as facilitation trainings and game-playing session. This spring and summer we partnered with Asian Arts Initiative, Camp Common Ground, Cornell University, Outward Bound, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, UPenn's Disability Advocates, among others.

As summer rounds out, we'd like to update you on a few things:
  1. A new South Asian festival in Philly
  2. Another South Asian festival in India
  3. Upcoming T.O. Philly events this fall

1. Mustard Seed Film Festival

In July we held a joint benefit for Mustard Seed, a South Asian film festival for its Philly premiere on August 19 and 20. August 19's opening features food, music and dancing in tandem with films under the Reading Viaduct, hosted by Asian Arts Initiative. August 20 offers a full day of exciting screenings at three locations around the city. For a full schedule and more info, please visit www.mustardseedfilmfest.org.

2. Muktadhara VII

At our benefit with Mustard Seed, we showed a film about Jana Sanskriti (Bengali for "people's culture"), the largest Theatre of the Oppressed movement in the world. Every two years, Jana Sanskriti hosts a festival called Muktadhara (meaning "free flow") in the Indian province of West Bengal. The festival starts with a week-long intensive in which participants make pieces of Forum Theatre in preparation for the following week's travels into Kolkata and the countryside. Muktadhara makes clear connections between politics and theatre, activism and art, positioning Theatre of the Oppressed with folk performance and direct action.

Jana Sanskriti wants you to come to Muktadhara VII, Decmber 5-20, 2016, and they've sent us this video to pique your interest:


For more info, write muktadhara.janasanskriti@gmail.com
and visit www.janasanskriti.org.

3. T.O. Philly Events for Fall 2016


Mark your calendar for the following:
  • Saturday, Sept 17, 10:30AM: "Neighborhood Games". free workshop at Asiana Arts Initiative
  • Thursday, Sept 29, 4:30PM: "CONES", free performance at the Rotunda
  • Tuesday, Oct 4, 7PM: "Intro to Theatre of the Oppressed" workshop at the Rotunda
  • Tuesdays, Oct 11-25, 7:00PM: "What Does Democracy Look Like?" workshop series
We'll have info on these soon. To learn more about our work, please visit our archive.

Big Thanks!

This summer Sarah Schieffelin worked as T.O. Philly's first ever official intern. The list of things Sarah did for us would be too long for this post to hold. Suffice to say that all of it was outstanding—Thank you Sarah!

How to Facilitate & Difficultate:
A One-Day Training

Saturday August 6 • 10AM-4PM
Led by Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
at Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Ave. West Philly
Tuition sliding-scale, $15-$55
Write "tophilly@gmail.com" to RSVP

With summer wrapping up and the school year about to begin, T.O. Philly presents an open rehearsal for anyone who works with groups. Teachers, trainers, facilitators, organizers and educators of every sort are invited to come to this action-oriented think-tank with three critical components:

FIRST we will warm up by sharing and playing some great icebreakers and group games that we can use in our work.

SECOND we will reenact challenging situations that arise in our work, then use techniques from Theatre of the Oppressed to devise ways to surmount those challenges.

THIRD we will discuss overall design and flow of whatever we do, be it a workshop, event, ongoing class, or direct action.

You will leave this training with useful tools to make group work more productive and fun, as well as handy strategies for turning problems into solutions.

Session begins at 10AM and runs till 4PM with a 60-minute break for lunch around noon. Wear comfy clothes suitable for movement and expect to work without shoes. To reserve your spot, email "tophilly@gmail.com" or call 267-282-1057.  All experiences welcome, none required!

July 30th Neighborhood Games Workshop

Neighborhood Games

Free! at the Reading Viaduct


Make sure you RSVP:

   tophilly@gmail.com
       
              OR
 
      267.282.1057

Summer 2016 Workshops

T.O. Philly hosts ongoing public workshops for the rest of 2016. RSVP with an email to "tophilly@gmail.com" or call 267-282-1057.
——————————————————————

Saturday July 30 • 3PM-5PM
NEIGHBORHOOD GAMES
led by Hariprasad Kowtha
Free outdoor workshop
at Asian Arts Initiative
1219 Vine Street, Philadelphia

Maybe you used to play kickball in the street with your friends. Or perhaps you enjoyed hide and seek. Or maybe you and your siblings and your neighborhood friends invented a game of kickball where you could only score a run if you could successfully find the opposing team who were hiding. However you used to play in your neighborhood, this workshop is for you!

Welcome to Philadelphia Theater of the Oppressed Neighborhood Games workshop. We will play individual and group movement games to learn more about our expansive Philadelphia community and use these games to explore our own stories. The Theater of the Oppressed is a modality that integrates movement and voice to build community. Neighborhood Games is an outdoor (shaded) two-hour workshop open to the public (ages 10 and up) in the North Chinatown section of Philadelphia. Come play!

Made possible by a Micro Grant from the Asian Arts Initiative.
——————————————————————

Saturday August 6 • 10AM-4PM
HOW TO FACILITATE & DIFFICULTATE
a one day training led by Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
at Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Ave. Philadelphia
Tuition sliding-scale, $15-$55

With summer wrapping up and the school year about to begin, T.O. Philly presents an open rehearsal for anyone who works with groups. Teachers, trainers, facilitators, organizers and educators of every sort are invited to come to this action-oriented think-tank with three critical components:

FIRST we will warm up by sharing and playing some great icebreakers and group games that we can use in our work.

SECOND we will reenact challenging situations that arise in our work, then use techniques from Theatre of the Oppressed to devise ways to surmount those challenges.

THIRD we will discuss overall design and flow of whatever we do, be it a workshop, event, ongoing class, or direct action.

You will leave this training with useful tools to make group work more productive and fun, as well as handy strategies for turning problems into solutions.

To reserve your spot, email "tophilly@gmail.com" or call 267-282-1057.  All experiences welcome, none required!
——————————————————————

Look forward to more workshops coming later this summer and fall!

Benefit Dinner & Movie
for Mustard Seed Film Festival

Sunday July 10 • 7:00 dinner, 7:30 film
at Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Ave. West Philly
Donation $5-$50 sliding scale • No one turned away
RSVP here or by emailing "tophilly@gamil.com"

On July 10, T.O. Philly teams up with Mustard Seed, a South Asian film festival happening all over Philly in August. Our July event will feature food, a film, a chat, and some prizes as added incentive to raise funds for Mustard Seed and Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed. We might even play a game or two.

The Dinner

Chefs Hariprasad Kowtha and Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews shall stir up a multi-course vegetarian buffet to kick off the evening. Anyone who came to T.O. Philly's recent Unpacking Race series or Studio 34's not-so-recent vegan brunches can attest that these fellows sure can cook. There will plenty of rice and dal to last us all night, but be there early before the ginger chutney and vegan saag paneer are gone!

The Film

"Jana Sanskriti: A Theatre in the Field" mixes interviews and performances from the world's largest activist theatre movement. For three decades Jana Sanskriti (Bengali for "People's Culture") has used Forum Theatre to foment dialogue and create change in Indian society. Film runs 50 minutes and a little Q&A will follow. Here's a 3-minute excerpt of a Jana Sanskriti Forum performance:



The Raffle

Everyone coming to this event has a chance to win prixes that promote wellness and social justice. These include:
  • Tickets to the Mustard Seed Film Festival
  • Books about art and activism
  • Acupuncture treatments
  • Yoga mats and props
  • A meditation DVD
Extra raffle tickets available for extra donations. More prizes to be announced soon!

Your Donation

Funds raised from this event support the Mustard Seed Film Festival on August 19 and 20 and ongoing programming for Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed. For further info, email "tophilly@gmail.com"

T.O. Philly's Offerrings

T.O. Philly offers public workshops that individuals and groups can come to. We also work for organizations and institutions. We can tailor a workshop to whatever your group needs. You can see who we've worked with and what we've got coming up on this website's sidebar. Below are a few curricula that we regularly run. To bring a workshop to you, email "tophilly@gmail.com" or call 267-282-1057.

Theatre of the Oppressed
Intro, Intermediate & Advanced Workshops

We offer everything from single 90-minute sessions, to weekly classes and full day, weekend, or week-long retreats that cover the history, theory, and practice of Theatre of the Oppressed games, techniques, and traditions. These workshops cover the trunk of the Theatre of the Oppressed tree, with human sculpture-driven Image Theatre as a base for the interactive performances of Forum Theatre for which Theatre of the Oppressed is internationally known.

Games: Playing & Teaching

Whether you just want to play games or learn some games that you can play with others, we can do that! T.O. Philly has hundreds of games for groups of any size or age range that get us out of our heads and into our bodies, build trust and a cooperative spirit, and get at issues of social justice. Whether it's just for one or two hours, or one or two days, let the games begin!

Dis/ability Justice 

Many of Theatre of the Oppressed's games and techniques "dynamize the senses" by working in silence or darkness or with limited mobility. Since 2012, we've been using these techniques to address issues of ability and disability. In 2015 T.O. Philly supported work on a play about vision loss and dis/ability passing with a series of sessions called Blind Games. In 2016 we expanded some of those ideas into a broader workshop called Unpacking Ability. Facilitated by people on the dis/ability spectrum, these themes can run deep in just a couple hours.

Workshopping Gender

As our public discourse around gender and sexuality continues to change, the occasional workshop can help members of an organization or institution get on the same page. We offer everything from a "Gender 101" to more intensive sessions for groups ready to delve deeper into gender dynamics.

Unpacking Race 

In 2013 we rolled out a curriculum all about race and undoing racism. We offer a short workshop called "Engaging Courageous Conversations on Race" that gives the basics. The "Unpacking Race" module can be a multi-part workshop series, weekend retreat, or something that a group does over the course of many months. We also offer workshops on undoing racism specifically for people of color and/or white allies.

Group Dynamics

Theaatre of the Oppressed is a also a tool for organizations interested in improving communication, colllaboration, workplace environment, and for better fullfillment of a group's mission and vision.

The Cop & The Rainbow

The Cop in the Head and the Rainbow of Desire represent the introspective branch of Theatre of the Oppressed with roots in psychological and internalized forms of oppression. We can offer these sessions as performance demonstrations, with audience members volunteering to step up onstage to be in a scene. We also run Cop/Rainbow as one-day or two-day intensives. These techniques are really meant to be done on an ongoing basis as they are about a group coming together to collectively disarm the cops in our heads and sort out a spectrum of sometimes conflicting desires so that we have more tools for contending with ourselves in everyday life.

Bring T.O. to you!

To book any of the above workshops (or others not on the list) email "tophilly@gmail.com" or leave a message at 267-282-1057 and someone will get back to you shortly.

Unpacking Race 2016, Part 6:
The Mirror and The Hammer

In early 2016, T.O. Philly hosted a workshop series on race and undoing racism. Each week we posted material here for folks both in and outside of the workshop to use. Each page archived here contains things to read, watch, hear and do: 
We opened this series with this Jay Smooth's talk, "How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Discussing Race." Watch it again. What's changed since you first saw it? 



In our final Unpacking Race workshop, we talked about the costs, risks and benefits of doing anti-racist work and used Image Theatre techniques to explore what solidarity looks like. We also danced to "Le Pétrin" ("The Grain") by La Tordue:
"On vient tous du même pétrin,
Qu'on soit froment ou sarrasin,
Herbe folle, maïs ou blé noir,
Du champ voisin ou de nulle part." 
"White, pumpernickel or rye,
Wheat, corn meal processed or blue,
From fields anywhere or nearby
We all come from the same grain,
Enriched by the same rain." 
La Tordue recorded this song with a cast of poets and musicians from all over the globe, each reinventing the lyrics in their native tongues, merging their various musical styles, instruments, and cultural references to unite against France's double peine law that sends immigrants convicted of a crime to prison and then deports them upon their release. The artists held concerts to protest the law, and all proceeds from the song funded the solidarity movement.

Art has this power to unite people against oppression. Oppressors know this, and that is why art and the artists who make it are often the first targets when quelling dissent. In 1930s Germany the Bauhaus School was the first thing the Third Reich shut down when they took over before waging genocide on the Roma and Jews. In the 1940s Spain's fascist regime purged books from libraries and artworks from museums. In 1960s Israel all designs printed in the colors of the Palestinian flag were outlawed. The 1970s dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil rounded up and tortured actors and musicians. Mainstream media did not acknowledge hip hop culture throughout the 1980s until it became commercially viable. In the U.S. at the turn of this century, municipal, state, and federal agencies conspired to target low-power radio stations and puppeteers who were at the heart of organizing grassroots movements. And more journalists have been killed in Putin's Russia of the past decade than in any other nation that's not currently fighting a war on their own soil. Every time this happens, artists resist and persist, and their art lives on as a testament to that resistance long after oppressive regimes have fallen and been maligned by history.

William Shakespeare said that art was a mirror held up to reality. Centuries later, playwright Bertolt Brecht refuted The Bard, saying, "Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to break it." Theatre of the Oppressed sees both analogies—mirror and hammer—as steps toward unpacking and then dismantling oppression. As we close this round of Unpacking Race, what are ways that you use art, theatre, music, writing, speaking, photography, movement, film, or any form of creative expression to unpack race and dismantle racism? What are ways that you see others do this? What are the costs, risks, and benefits engaging in creative—and courageous—conversations about race? Share it by leaving comments below.