Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge
comes to South Philly for the summer of 2015

Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge is a community-based experimental urban platform that uses play, games and performance to reveal, share and celebrate local knowledge produced in South Philadelphia, an area known for its rich cultural and ethnic diversity. A project by Cohabitation Strategies (CohStra), Playgrounds seeks the restructuring of urban spaces by promoting new social relations across cultural and economic divides, with the objective of generating just and sustainable forms of collective inhabiting to confront the pressures of accelerated urban development.

From May through September 2015, Playgrounds will occupy a lot at 632 Jackson Street, creating a temporary hub space where the demands of daily life are interrupted through play to inspire new spatial imaginaries and political subjectivities. Here CohStra, a cooperative of socio-spatial research, is collaborating with a variety of neighborhood partners in a participatory pilot project that activates playful ways of critically thinking of land occupation, gentrification, environmental restoration and housing through participatory design, while inspiring cross-cultural communication by generating knowledge exchange through performance, construction and dialogue.

Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed will be part of Playgrounds' events on June 29 (rescheduled from July 27), July 18, and September 19 as well as other happenings in the neighborhood. Interested in being involved? Contact T.O. Philly via ""

A Show Called CONES

Early in 2015, T.O. Philly and the Medium Theatre Company offered a series of workshops and explorations around the ideas of blindness, seeing and the spectrum in between. More than 50 people offered creative insights, which T.O. practitioner Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews and performer-creator Mason Rosenthal (both of whom are visually impaired) have incorporated into "CONES, a solo show about vampires, vision loss and ice cream."

At the heart of the piece is the notion of passing in the context of dis/ability: some people with dis/abilities may try to "pass" as more able-bodied to avoid stigma, or as less able-bodied to access services. The performance of passing is more widely discussed in regards to race and gender, but less frequently in the area of dis/ability. Part of CONES' objective is to ignite that conversation.

CONES debuts on June 19, 22 and 23, 2015, with 8PM shows at the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St. in Philadelphia. Show runs 60 minutes, and is a $5-10 suggested donation that includes refreshments. People can also support the project by reserving advance tickets or donating at the Medium Theatre Company's website.

Other Links:

About T.O. Philly

Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed (T.O. Philly) is a network of people using the tools of theatre and popular education to dismantle oppression. Much of the work we do is based on the writings and teachings of the late Augusto Boal, who developed the Theatre of the Oppressed in Brazil over 40 years ago. We also draw upon other theatre games and movement traditions, as well as models of popular education like those put forth by Paolo Freire in his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

T.O. Philly offers classes, workshops and trainings for groups in Philadelphia and elsewhere. To book a workshop, get in touch with us by calling 267-282-1057 or email ""

Theatre of the Oppressed 2-Day Training

Led by Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
Saturday & Sunday May 23 & 24, 2015
2-6 PM both days (8 hours total)
at The Whole Shebang, 1813 S. 11th St.
★ Registration is Closed ★
If you registered, click here to pay online

Theatre of the Oppressed (or "T.O." for short) uses theatre games and techniques to get at the injustices around us, and then proposes models for a more just society. In this 2-day workshop, we will unpack a bunch of social baggage through images, sounds, movement and words, and then take what we've revealed to collectively create a world we want. On Day 1, the group will build itself through exploration and discussion of T.O.'s techniques. On Day 2, we go deeper, talk a little T.O. theory and history, and learn how to carry what we've learned into the work we do as activists, educators, organizers and artists.

Space is limited! To be in this workshop, email "" or call 267-282-1057. Plan on being there both days, bookended by arriving a little early, and staying a little late. All are welcome to attend, all experiences welcome.

Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews has been making activist art and theatre in Philadelphia since 1998 and has traveled the world working with the likes of Beth Nixon from Philly/Providence, Vermont's Bread & Puppet Theater, and Jana Sanskriti in West Bengal. He discovered and trained in Theatre of the Oppressed in Brazil, New York and India, and started T.O. Philly in 2008 as way to make this work accessible and affordable in his home city. Morgan also teaches yoga and theatre around town, and creates performances with the Medium Theatre Company.

The Whole Shebang is a new South Philly artmaking, performance and studio space that offers all kinds of awesome classes. Check them out at

Free Tuesday Workshop Series

Spotlight on...
Sound • Movement • Action
with Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
First Session: Tuesday May 12, 6-8PM
(others to follow—days + times TBA)
at The Whole Shebang, 1813 S. 11th
Preregister at ""
or leave a message at 267-282-1057

Theatre of the Oppressed uses images, sounds, movement, words and the art of playfulness as building blocks for devising performance. In this workshop we'll throw these items up in the air to see where they land with theatrical experiments and games from the T.O. canon. What we discover will strengthen individual and group skills, and also inform a new movement theatre piece launching this fall. 

Let us know you're coming: RSVP here.
And click here to learn more about this project.

Blind Games: What We Played

For three days in January, 2015, theatre artists Mason Rosenthal and Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews led a series of experiential Blind Games at a community arts space in West Philadelphia. 32 people came out on a chilly Friday night, and smaller numbers returned the next two afternoons to stumble and bump into each other with eyes closed, usually with some sort of performative goal in (and out of) sight.

Blind Games often serve as icebreakers and trust-builders by organizations that work with kids and teens. Theatrical, dance and movement artists use them to build group cohesion and get performers to use more of their non-visual senses. In the Theatre of the Oppressed tradition, we use Blind Games to build skills for perceiving unseen elements of power and oppression in society. Our workshop brought all of these things together, with the base understanding that we would all be working with our eyes closed. Mason and Morgan also used these sessions for research toward a new theatrical work about vision loss and partial blindness, while offering everyone else a fully embodied experience, as well as a full list of the games and their rules. And here they are:

On Friday night we warmed up with three quick ones to get us used to working with missing information:
  • Pick Up The Cup: Mark an "X" on the floor and place a cup on it. Players line up several meters from the cup and take turns closing eyes, walking forward, and stooping down to pick up the cup once they think they've reached it. Others watch and respond: "Ooh!" for a miss, a roar of applause for a win. Everyone goes twice. No feeling around for the cup—just reach straight down and pick it up (or don't!)
  • Alpha Order Names: A name game with three simple rules: 1) Everyone must hold at least one other's hand at all times. 2) Each person is allowed to say their own name and nothing else. 3) Get into alphabetical order. Easier played with eyes open.
  • Line Up By Height: With eyes closed, without talking.
The following games we played in pairs:
  • Blind Car: One person is the Blind Car, the other its Sighted Driver who controls the Car by tapping its back to go forward, top of head for reverse, and each shoulder to turn right or left. Because this is a cooperative game, we share everything freely, so Cars occasionally get new Drivers, sight unseen.
  • Fingertips: Players ouch fingertips together, one person with eyes open, the other closed, and all dance. Pairs can switch roles (sighted/blind, leader/follower), merge into bigger groups, or have the blind lead the blind. What's most essential is some good disco music:
  • Stopping and Falling: Here the blind player leads the sighted by walking, stopping, and then and falling backward to be caught and uprighted by their sighted partner. The falls then become less predictable: sideways, diagonally, forward and at varying tempos. 
  • Bling Hug: Pairs embrace, close their eyes, and back away from each other, keeping pace to a count upwards. A countdown brings them back and hopefully into the same embrace.
  • Blind Chair: Person A ("Chair") drops to one knee, and Person B ("Sitter") sits sideways on Chair's horizontal thigh. Both close their eyes, stand up, and begin walking to a count: Sitter paces forwards, Chair backwards. A countdown brings both back to sit—Chair back down to one knee,  and Sitter back on Chair's leg, possibly even that of their original Chair…
  • Blind Tracker: A sighted player makes an Animal sound for their blind Tracker to follow around the space. Animal keeps Tracker from bumping into things purely by sound, and Tracker simply heads in the direction of that specific sound (though these dark woods may be populated by impostors who mimic certain animal sounds to lead trusting trackers astray).
These paired explorations dynamized the senses of touch, hearing, spatial awareness, proprioception and even teleception, giving us the skills to delve into more intricate blind scenarios:
  • Blind Scenes: A pair of pairs, one Sighted the other Blind. The Sighted Pair comes up with a scenario for the Blind Pair to perform, and Blind Pair is in the dark both visually and circumstantially in that they have no idea what they are about to do. The Sighted Pair announces their scene's title and manipulates the Blind Pair (using the tools from the games above) to get their Blind Pair to perform. Memorable scenes included "A Trip to the Dentist", "Survivor", and "Blind Date in the School Cafeteria". Sighted Pair announces "the end!" when it's over.
  • Magical Journey: In pairs, a sighted actor takes their blind companion on a 5-minute journey through space, telling a story using all other senses. After each takes the other on a Magical Journey, this pair can then conspire to take the larger group on a Grand Magical Journey.
  • Find Hands: Everybody forms a circle, holds hands, closes their eyes and notices what is unique about the people to either side, just by touching hands and arms no higher than the elbow. After a minute, all release, walk around with eyes closed, and then find their original partners. A great game for 7-10 people that becomes increasingly more epic in bigger groups.
After two days of working primarily with eyes closed, we opened our eyes and used some source material to explore archetypes of literal and figurative "blindness" in media. We listened to "blind songs" by Thomas Dolby, Morrissey, Manfred Mann, Run DMC, Kenny Starr, and The Who, and then made short scenes inspired by them. When also performed some classical and contemporary drama featuring blind characters with the intent of using the Theatre of the Oppressed techniques of Simultaneous Dramaturgy and Forum Theatre, but only had time for our closing games:

  • Blind Clap Together: In a circle, all close eyes and clap simultaneously.
  • Venus Flytrap: In a circle, all point left index fingers down into the center of their neighbors' upturned right palm. The object is to catch your neighbor's finger and simultaneously not get caught. After a few turns, switch hands.
  • Italian Rain: Sitting in a circle with eyes closed, all begin to tap a finger against their opposite palm, then two, then three, then four, then all five before working back down to zero. Then back up, and back down twice more until all is silent.
For more information about Mason and Morgan's theatrical projects, visit the website of the Medium Theatre Company:

Blind Games: a free workshop

• Friday January 9 • 7:30-9:30 PM
• Saturday January 10 • 3:00-6:00 PM
• Sunday January 11 • 3:00-6:00 PM
(Come to the first part on Friday, return 
on Saturday and/or Sunday if you like)
at the Rotunda • 4014 Walnut Street
Free Workshop • Click here to RSVP
or email "

Blind Games are just what their name implies: games where some or all of the players cannot see. For one evening and two afternoons, we will explore these theatrical games and what they reveal about sightedness and blindness, ability and disability, power and privilege, as well as the nature of games and playfulness. We'll also look at cultural depictions of blindness and dis/ability with a critical eye as to how that ripples out in society and within ourselves.

This fully experiential workshop will also serve as a launching point for a new theatrical work about vision loss made by two visually impaired artists. Anyone attending the first part on Friday evening  can return for either or both of the other parts on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Look forward to:
  • Friday, 7:30-9:30 PM: We play several blind games that dynamize the other senses and prepare ourselves for the theatrical work on the following days.
  • Saturday, 3:00-6:00 PM: We examine depictions of blindness in film, theatre, art, mythology and elsewhere through re-enactment and re-imagination.
  • Sunday, 3:00-6:00 PM: We delve into disability within our own lives, how it affects us and our relationships to each other.
Come and see what this is all about—Click here to RSVP or email "

About the facilitators:

Morgan Andrews has been making activist art and theatre in Philadelphia since 1998. He started with woodcuts and shadow puppets as a method for visual rehabilitation, and then branched out into other forms of performance, working with the Bread & Puppet Theater and other affiliated artists for over a decade. Morgan discovered and trained in Theatre of the Oppressed in Brazil, New York and India, and then founded T.O. Philly in 2008 as way to make this work accessible and affordable in his home city. He also teaches yoga and theatre around town, and creates plays with the Medium Theatre Company.

Mason Rosenthal is an actor, creator, dancer, director, and teacher from Skokie, Illinois. He holds a BFA in drama from NYU where he studied embodied voice with Katie Bull and community-based performance with Jan Cohen-Cruz. In 2007 Mason joined the faculty at NYU's Atlantic Theater Company Acting School before moving to Philadelphia to work for The Headlong Performance Institute. Mason has since collaborated with many Philly artists—see his website for the ever-growing list!

Free Workshop Series

Playing with Power: An Image Theatre Intensive

DATE CHANGE—3 Mondays: Nov 3, 10 and 17 • 7 to 9 p.m.
at the Rotunda • 4014 Walnut Street • West Philly
—series closed to new participants—

Like iconic photographs from history, Theatre of the Oppressed uses still images to highlight systems of power and ignite dialogues around contentious issues. In this three-part series we will play “The Great Game of Power”, a technique for sculpting images out of everyday objects to illustrate conflicts and struggles faced by those around us. When we add ourselves as actors into the picture, scenes spring to life as debates between people and politicians, friends and neighbors, and family members who can’t quite see eye-to-eye. We’ll enrich this work with some readings and discussions and create opportunities to carry our scenarios not just to the stage, but to the actual people and places embroiled in conflict.

More events soon to come. Call or email 267-282-1057 / "" for more info.

Free Workshop: Intro to Theatre of the Oppressed

Monday, October 6, 2014
at the Rotunda • 4014 Walnut Street

Theatre of the Oppressed (or “T.O.” for short) is a practice made up of images, sounds, movements, words and ideas taken from our collective experience in the world. Utilized by teachers, organizers, actors, activists and ordinary people in over 70 countries, Theatre of the Oppressed breaks down the dividing line between spectator and performer by inviting everyone to play theatrical games that hone our skills and spark conversations. These skills and conversations are the building blocks for more in-depth techniques that address power, privilege and oppression in our society and ourselves.

Here in Philly we kick off our 2014-2015 season with a free workshop that touches on some of the key practices of T.O. and the ways we can use it for personal and social transformation. Anyone of any experience and background is welcome to attend, just let us know that you’re coming by calling 267-282-1057, or email “”.

More events soon to come. Call or email 267-282-1057 / "" for more info.

T.O. Philly News: Summer 2014

It's been a spectacular spring! Several amazing facilitators officially joined the T.O. Philly team and led a variety of workshops in April and May at the Rotunda. Having so many Jokers* on deck, we were for the first time able to be practicing Theatre of the Oppressed in multiple places at once. Here's a synopsis of where we've been and who we've been with in the past couple months:

We were invited facilitators at the Zami conference for LGBTQ+ people of color, for the Ethical Humanist Society's Building an Ethical Future conference (which is where the photos on the right were taken), and at the Young Adult Friends Conference at Pendle Hill.

At local institutions, we did Image Theatre with Temple University's Institute on Disabilities, made quick Forum Theatre pieces with student art teachers through Tyler College's Arts Education Program, and brought Theatre of the Oppressed to UPenn to highlight the importance of improvisation as a tool for social change.

We also led games and anti-oppression group work with people from all over the world at the Girls Rock Camp Alliance's conference in New Jersey and for Action Service Reconciliation for Peace's seminar in D.C.

This summer we resume work with transgender and gender-variant youth at Camp Aranu'tiq on the East and West Coasts, with students and faculty at Goddard College in Vermont, with Mariposa Co-op's Food Justice and Anti-Racism group in West Philly, with South Philly's Burmese and Bhutanese refugee community at Growing Home Gardens, and with LGBT teens at The Attic Youth Center in central Philadelphia.

What else will 2014 bring? You tell us! Leave us a message on our new voicemail at 267-282-1057, or drop us a line at ye olde email:

Hope to see you soon!

—The T.O. Philly Team

*Joker is a Theatre of the Oppressed term for "facilitator" and also "difficultator". For more insight in to that, see our glossary of T.O. jargon.

Dram•Attic: Teen Forum Theatre with LGBT Youth and Allies

Performing at the Attic Youth Center's 2014 Summer Expo
Thursday, August 7th • 5:00-8:00 PM
at the William Way Community Center 
1315 Spruce Street, Philadelphia

T.O. Philly has teamed up with the Attic Youth Center this summer to present DramAttic, a Forum Theatre project with LGBTQ teens and their allies. Each week DramAttic creates a set of 5-minute mini-plays and then performs them for their wider community. After each scene, we have a Forum where audience members can step onto the stage and alter the outcome of the story.

DramAttic has been holding Thursday Morning Forums throughout July at the Attic Youth, highlights from which will be part of the Attic's Summer Expo on the evening of Thursday, August 7th at the William Way Center at 13th and Spruce Streets. Other groups at the Attic have been engaged in online social media, writing Twitter poetry, creating Vine and YouTube videos, and rethinking the way we engage on Facebook and Instagram. The Expo is open to the public—Come see what these teens are doing!

July Anti-Oppression Events at Mariposa Co-op

T.O. Philly is co-sponsoring this series of interactive workshops and discussions at Mariposa Food Co-op. Though some of these events are specific to Mariposa, all will cover material about the nature of co-ops and Philadelphia in general. All events are free to attend and take place in Mariposa's Upstairs Meeting Room, 4824 Baltimore Avenue in West Philly. For more info, email

Sunday, July 6, 5:30pm–7:30pm
Film Screening & Discussion
Come watch a popular movie about race, racism, food and a neighborhood not unlike West Philly! There will be delicious snacks, good conversation and good company.

Sunday, July 13, 2pm–4pm
Interrupting Isms: Responding to Micro-aggressions Before They Go Macro
With Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
Do racism, sexism, ableism and other forms of prejudice play out in the places where we work? Of course they do! But these “isms” are usually unintentional behaviors (sometimes called “micro-aggressions”) taught to us subtly by the world around us. This interactive workshop will identify some common micro-aggressions and practice how we can respond when they arise.

Saturday, July 19, 2pm–4pm
Discussion: Race, Racism & Our Co-op
To build an organization that is as diverse and inclusive as possible, we have to make time to talk about how the values of oppressive systems tend to arise in that organization—and what we can do about it! Mariposa Co-op staff members Clarice Bailey and Laura Smoot co-facilitate this discussion about race, racism, power and privilege. 

Tuesday, July 29, 7pm-8pm
Communicating Across Ability & Disability
With Marianne Gellert-Jones
Marianne Gellert-Jones from the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy will a discussion about speech, communication, and eating based on her 25+ years of working with people with neurological and cognitive disabilities.  

Jul 30 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Co-ops & Social Justice Book Club
Want to know more about co-ops, justice and social change?  Come join this collaborative study project about the intersection of food cooperatives and social justice organizing! This month we are reading Collective Courage, a history of African American cooperative economics by Jessica Gordon Nembhard. Email to join in.

SAVE THE DATE: T.O. Philly teams up with LGBTQ teens at the Attic Youth Center this summer! Come to the Attic's Expo on August 7th!


What does “justice” mean today? 
What could it mean tomorrow?
Led by Mika Taliaferro
PART 1: Wednesday May 21, 6:30-9:00pm
PART 2: Wednesday May 28, 6:30-9:00pm
WHERE: The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street
RSVP: Email "" 
or call 267-282-1057. 
Sliding scale tuition—no one turned away

Join us for this 2-part workshop exploring individual, societal and possible definitions of “justice”.

In the first session we will investigate recent news stories with “justice” featured in the headline. Participants will create pieces of Newspaper Theatre to reveal how the word is used in today’s media and society at large.

In the second session, we will work to re-imagine “justice." To start, we will use Image Theatre to sketch out our own pictures of a more just world. Once we establish a vision of the world we are striving for, we will explore new definitions of “justice” to discover which collective usages will best support the transition.
Mika Taliaferro first fell in love with Theatre of the Oppressed in 2009, when she attended a workshop at Bread & Puppet Theatre in Vermont led by a fellow apprentice. Since then, she has trained, interned and volunteered with several T.O. organizations including Theatre of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB), Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, People's Theatre Project and, upon moving to Philadelphia, T.O. Philly! Mika holds a BA in Theatre from Wesleyan University where she focused on the intersection of theater and social justice.

Seeing the Mask: Work-self vs. Home Self

A 2-part workshop 
Led by Amy Capomacchio 
and Erika Barrington
WHEN: Monday+Tuesday, May 12+13, 2014
WHERE: The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street

Is the person you act like at work different from who you are at home? We all wear various hats and play a variety of roles in different areas of our lives, and this workshop explores that tension between our work-selves and home-selves by asking the following questions:
  • What societal pressures influence your work environment? 
  • Are the values of your workplace in conflict with your personal values?
  • When is it healthy to be able to play a role, and when is it inhibiting your ability to do your work or make systemic changes?
  • What is your relationship to the monetary compensation you receive for your work?
  • How does society dictate what masks we wear?

Through Theater of the Oppressed techniques, participants will play with the sources and repercussions of these different masks and explore alternative strategies toward reconciling these different sides of self.

About the Facilitators:

Erika Barrington and Amy Capomacchio each hold a Masters in Dance/Movement Therapy from Drexel University. They began work with Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed in 2010 and developed methods for bringing T.O. games and techniques into their work as therapists. This fall, they will present a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop at the American Dance Therapy Association's national conference in New York City.

The Cop & The Rainbow

Running Tuesdays, April 22-May 6
Facilitated by Morgan Andrews  
Three evening sessions: 6:45-9:30pm
at the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street
Tuition is sliding scale, $10-$20 per session
Pre-register by emailing ""

Come learn the skills and ideas that build up to the Cop in the Head/Rainbow of Desire techniques devised by Theatre of the Oppressed founder Augusto Boal. Sometimes called "the Boal method of theatre and therapy", these techniques take all of our inhibitions and desires and put them on stage where we can deal them in the flesh. Over the course of three Tuesdays, this group will share, embody and unpack personal stories while asking important questions about the shared goals of personal growth and social change.


Morgan Andrews jumped into artmaking and theatre-as-activism in the late 1990s. He helped start Philly's Puppet Uprising in 2000 and has organized street theatre protest-parades and pageants with a network of artist-activists all over the globe. Morgan discovered and trained in Theatre of the Oppressed in Brazil, New York and India, and then founded T.O. Philly in 2008 as a way to make this work accessible and affordable in his home city. He also teaches yoga and creates plays with the Medium Theatre Company.

Living in Communities

A 2-part workshop led by Julie Lipson
Mondays, April 21+28, 6:30-9:00pm
at the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street
Tuition: $15-$35 sliding scale 
Pre-register with an email to "", or call our NEW voicemail number: 267-282-1057.
Many of us are constantly around others, and yet often feel alone. This two-part workshop provides the opportunity to explore what we look for in a community, what our roles are in community, and how we can build and sustain community with those around us. Through improv games and theatre techniques, we will dig deep into the dynamics of being roommates, neighbors, and even strangers to the people we encounter every day.


Julie Lipson is a songwriter and music therapist with a flair for orchestrating participatory concerts for musicians and non-musicians alike. In 2009 she co-founded Camp Aranu'tiq, a bi-coastal summer camp for transgender and gender-variant youth. She also organizes call-and-response Jewish chanting events in spaces all over Philadelphia. Julie holds an MA from Drexel University's Creative Arts Therapies Program and began working with T.O. Philly in 2011. Her craft is a vibrant and playful mixture of all of the above.

Spring 2014 Workshops

One, Two and Three Session Series
At The Rotunda 4014 Walnut Street
See below for dates, times and descriptions.

Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed (T.O. Philly for short) is excited to present a variety of sessions on an array of topics led by a team of 5 different facilitators. All of these workshops combine games, movement, sounds, images and discussion to critically examine social structures from various angles. This season we've arranged for workshops to happen on different weeknights to fit different schedules. The short list:

  • Monday, April 7, 7:00-9:00pm: Intro to Theatre of the Oppressed
  • Mondays, April 21+28, 6:30-9:00pm: Living in Communities
  • Tuesdays, April 22-May 6, 6:45-9:30pm: The Cop & The Rainbow
  • Monday+Tuesday. May 12+13, 6:30-9:00p: Seeing the Mask—Work-self vs. Home-self
  • Wednesdays, May 21+28, 6:30-9:00p: What is Justice?

Full descriptions below. Pre-register with an email to "", or call our NEW voicemail number: 267-282-1057.

We kick off with a stand-alone session from 7:00-9:00pm (2 hours total). It is free to attend

  • Monday, April 7: Intro to Theatre of the Oppressed. Led by the T.O. Philly Facilitation Team, this workshop will pack in the games, techniques and theories used by Theatre of the Oppressed practitioners all over the world. It will also be a chance to come and meet T.O. Philly's facilitators, sign up for subsequent workshops and talk with us about what we do. Tuition: Free, donations accepted. Pre-requisites: None.
These next workshops span two sessions apiece from 6:30-9:00pm (each is 5 hours total). Each double session is $15-$35 sliding scale. Group discounts and work-trade are available on request:
  • Mondays, April 21+28: Living in Communities.  Led by Julie Lipson. 
    Many of us are constantly around others, and yet often feel alone. This two-part workshop provides the opportunity to explore what we look for in a community, what our roles are in community, and how we can build and sustain community with those around us. Through improv games and theatre techniques, we will dig deep into the dynamics of being roommates, neighbors, and even strangers to the people we encounter every day.
  • Monday+Tuesday. May 12+13: Seeing the Mask—Work-self vs. Home-self. Led by Amy Capomacchio and Erika Barrington.
    Do you ever feel like the person you are at work is not who you are at home? We all wear various hats and play a variety of roles in different areas of our lives, and this workshop explores that tension between our work-selves and home-selves by asking the following questions:
         ·  What societal pressures influence your work environment? 
         ·  Are the values of your workplace in conflict with your personal values?
         ·  When is it healthy to be able to play a role, and when is it inhibiting your ability to do your work or make systemic changes?
         ·  What is your relationship to the monetary compensation you receive for your work?
         ·  How does society dictate what masks we wear?
    Through Theater of the Oppressed techniques, participants will play with the sources and repercussions of these different masks and explore alternative strategies toward reconciling these different sides of self.
  • Wednesdays, May 21+28: What is Justice? Led by Mika Taliaferro.
    Theatre of the Oppressed was created to bring justice to people facing oppression in every facet of every society on earth.  This 2-part workshop explores that theme of justice from two angles:
         ·  Part One: What does "justice" mean? How do we define justice in our society? In our communities? Is the justice in "criminal justice" the same as that in "social justice"?
         ·  Part Two: What could "justice" mean? What does a world where justice has been achieved look like? How can we re-imagine our understanding of "justice" to support our vision of a just world?
And then we have a working group that will begin with three weekly sessions, 6:45-9:30pm (eight hours total). Tuition for this is $25-$55, sliding scale, and prior experience with Theatre of the oppressed is recommended:
  • Tuesdays, April 22-May 6: The Cop & The Rainbow. In this weekly working group led by Morgan Andrews, we will utilize the Cop in the Head/Rainbow of Desire techniques. Sometimes called "the Boal method of theatre and therapy", this group will share, embody and unpack personal stories while asking important questions about the shared goals of personal growth and social change. 
Pre-register for any of these workshops with an email to "", or call our NEW voicemail number: 267-282-1057.

T.O. Philly News: Winter 2014

2013 may have been the best year yet for Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed with many amazing facilitators sharing their expertise: Ariel Morales, Magda Scharf and Morgan Andrews unpacked race and unraveled religion, Qui Alexander workshopped gender, Julie Lipson and Mason Rosenthal helped us hone our voices, and Erika Barrington and Amy Capomacchio created a dialogue about the the relationship between therapeutic goals and the goals of social change in their workshop for mental health professionals, which they then brought to the American Dance Therapy Association's national conference in New York.  All in all it's been a year of powerful, wide-ranging and wide-reaching work.

The question of therapeutic goals and the goals of social change is a good one.  Douglas Hundley raises the issue in his essay, "Theatre of the Oppressed: An American Tradition?" (Platform Vol. 1, No. 1, Autumn, 2006) where he writes about Augusto Boal's training in New York and how U.S. political and experimental theatre-makers during the Great Depression and Vietnam War helped shape the development of T.O. in South America.  Hundley concludes in saying that when Boal's work was brought back to North America, "the potentially subversive edge was gone and replaced with techniques for coping with society rather than changing society." (Hundley, 27).  This is something that T.O. Philly considers in the work that we do: workshops are often experiential and personally transformative, but they are only rehearsals for reality—real transformation can only come from taking action in the wider world.

We also recognize that in Theatre of the Oppressed there is the "theatre" side and the "of the oppressed" side and that both are important, which is why we offer a spectrum of events for a spectrum of desires.  On the theatre of side of things this January, we are promoting a 3-day workshop with Donna Oblongata drawing on traditional puppetry techniques, Pochinko clown teaching, and the her own theatre company's method of creation and performance.  Mason Rosenthal and Morgan Andrews will also be staging their new play "Nobody's Home", which was devised in part using T.O. techniques.  See the T.O. Philly Calendar on the right side of this page for details.

On the "of the oppressed" side, we are teaming up with Mariposa Co-op to present a month of anti-oppression events, including a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop on January 11th.  We are also working with Temple University's Institute on Disabilities, Bryn Mawr College's Education Program, and Haverford College's Student Leadership Office to bring anti-oppression pedagogy to students and faculty working both on and off-campus. More details soon!

Photos are from our Images of Transition workshop in December of 2013. The images above depict views on the mental health care system.

Status Roadmap

Status Map made by a dozen people at the Images of Transition workshop on 25 November, 2013.
This mapping activity explores transitions and how changes in our lives affect status. It can be done around a specific theme or multiple themes, as an exercise for one person or for an entire group. Below are instructions for doing this activity with a group around a chosen theme:

  • Colored index cards or paper to write on
  • Colored markers, pencils or crayons to write with
  • Colored tape (such as theatrical spike tape) or yarn to map with
  • A wall with 4 signs on it: "Higher Status" at the top, "Lower Status" at the bottom, "Long Ago" on the left, "Today" on the right
Each person does the following:
  1. To make your path distinctive, choose one color to write on, one color to write with, and one color to map with.
  2. Think of a transition around the given theme—something that you, or someone close to you, have gone through. What were the significant moments, incidents and sitautions along that path of transition?
  3. Write down each of these events on separate index cards.  Put them in chronological order.
  4. Use the tape to map your transition on the wall:  The X-axis is time, the Y-Axis is status. Decide what the relative status for your first event is and if that goes up or down for the next. Use the tape or yarn to link these events as you map them sequentially on the wall.
Discussion: Once everyone has contributed to the map, step back and look at it. What do you notice? What is the relationship between status and time? Where are the biggest concentrations of cards? Do people's transitions follow similar pats? What sorts of things are marked as higher or lower status? What are some recurring themes?

Variations: One person can do this exercise by picking a handful of transitions that they have gone through, each with a different theme. Do it on a piece of paper using a different color marker for each theme. Begin with the theme of aging—What are some significant events that have marked your age and how did they affect your status? What else can you map? Some other themes could be ability/disability, class/finances, education/work, faith/culture, language/geography, relationship/marital status, and so on.

a two-part Theatre of the Oppressed workshop

2 Session in Nov/Dec 2013
Facilitated by Morgan Andrews
at the Rotunda • 4014 Walnut Street
Tuition: $15-$35 sliding scale
Register at ""

Theatre of the Oppressed uses group games and techniques to dramatize our world as it is, and then create models for how we’d like it to be.

This 2-part workshop, which we ran on two separate occasions in November and December of 2013, focused on transition—both in our society and in ourselves—and how these transitions relate to shifts in power, privilege, oppression and liberation. Some such transitions could include:
  • A person who develops and adapts to a disability.
  • A child becoming an adult, then a parent, and then a grandparent.
  • A family whose economic status changes with time and circumstances.
  • A neighborhood being built, populated, abandoned, and repopulated.
  • A person whose sexual and/or gender identities go through shifts.
  • A person or group who undergo changes in faith and/or culture.
  • An individual whose identity is perceived differently depending on what group that person is associating with, or by the work they do.
Participants found common ground through sharing and enacting stories, then the group reshaped these scenarios into new possibilities.  On the days between the two sessions, we had some take-home assignments to deepen and support our work as a group.  These included:

We also developed a popular education technique called the Status Roadmap, which uses index card to show the ups and down that transitions bring us over time.

These session were also used to develop ideas for a workshop with Temple University's Institute on Disabilaties in March of 2014.