Momentary Monuments: an introdution to Theatre of the Oppressed

Tuesday • October 24 • 7–9PM
at the Rotunda • 4014 Walnut St.
Free • donations accepted as well
Click here to reserve your spot

All monuments have a lifespan. People create them with a purpose and an agenda, and inevitably each will disappear. Many change during their existence, either due to exposure to the elements or through further human intervention. And these monuments also mark  changes in us as individuals, societies and nations.

Theatre of the Oppressed is built on games and techniques that make theatrical monuments (called "images") out of living actors. Unlike wood or stone or bronze, actors are immediately adjustable, meaning that we can make and change and dismantle our monuments in an instant. In this workshop, everyone will play both sculptor and sculpture as we make and remake the monuments we see—and would like to see—in this very moment.

This workshop is free and open to all. While it serves as an introduction to the theory and practice of Theatre of the Oppressed, people with more experience in T.O. will get a lot out of it. T.O. Philly will also be accepting donations to support our sliding-scale and scholarship fund. Contact "" for more info.

The photo above is of a monument to Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay. After the people ousted the dictator in 1989, artist Carlos Colombino proposed that the statue appear as if crushed between two giant concrete blocks. Here's a radio piece about it, produced by PRI's The World:

Free Tuesday Night Workshops in West Philly

October 10 + 24 • 7–9PM
The Rotunda • 4014 Walnut St.
Free for all • Donations welcome
Sign up for one or both here

T.O. Philly kicks off its fall 2017 program with a pair of free sessions open to anyone with or without experience working in Theatre of the Oppressed. Each workshop will incorporate T.O.'s embodied ice-breakers and theatrical games that are used by actors, activists, educators, organizers, and anyone else who works with groups. These games hone skills that we then combine to do the deeper work of Theatre of the Oppressed in rehearsing strategies for a new society.

In the October 10 session, Hariprasad Kowtha leads a workshop about contradictions and how they relate to community organizing. On October 24,  participants with work with Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews to make momentary monuments as a gateway for discussing what public monuments represent today, and what they could become tomorrow. 

Click here to sign up for one or both of these sessions. Each workshop is free. We will also be accepting donations for our sliding scale and scholarship fund that helps keep T.O. affordable for all. Hariprasad and Morgan will also be co-facilitating our 5-week Unpacking Race series starting in November.

Got questions? Email "" or call 267-282-1057 and someone will get back to you.

Unpacking Race • Fall 2017 Workshop Series

5 Tuesdays: Nov 7–Dec 5
Each session 6:30–9:00 PM
led by Hariprasad Kowtha and
Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
at the Rotunda • 4014 Walnut St.
Tuition: $45–$125 sliding scale

Limited space!
CLICK HERE to sign up.
Worktrade and childcare available upon request.

On Tuesday nights this fall we bring back our popular series on race and interrupting racism.  Over the course of five weeks we'll excavate this topic through exercises, discussions, and techniques from the Theatre of the Oppressed, and equip participants with things to read and do between sessions. Our aim is to unlearn 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 for ourselves, our communities, and our world. 

The Fall 2017 Unpacking Race Series is open to anyone who can attend all five sessions. Tuition is sliding scale: $45-$125, payable at the first session. Click here to sign up. You can also email "" or leave a message at 267-282-1057. Those interested in worktrade or childcare, please contact us by October 7.

Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed has run the Unpacking Race curriculum for Widener University, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Philadelphia Theatre Company, Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, Circle of Hope, and at the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference, as well as several times as a public workshop in Philadelphia.

a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop
about moments and monuments

Saturday, September 23
11:00 am – 4:00 pm
(includes one-hour lunch break)
Part of Bodyworks
at Moore College of Art
20th Street and The Parkway
FREE—Click here to register

The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design present Bodyworks, a festival of performances, workshops and collaborative projects that examine the body as both material and tool in contemporary performance. Incorporating practices of dance, theatre, costume and sound, this exhibition brings together a diverse group of Philadelphia artists who use their bodies to engage viewers with their craft and create new spaces for social action, dialogue and representation.

As part of Bodyworks, T.O. Philly offers Occupy the Gallery, a public workshop that bridges the disciplines of visual and performance art through politics and improvisation. This workshop will shine a spotlight on the history and current dialogue around monuments, what they mean, why they're here, and how people interact with them locally, nationally, and globally. This workshop is free and open to all. Registration is not required, but we'd like a sense of how many people are coming. You can help with that by registering here.

Bodyworks is presented in conjunction with CraftNow, a citywide exhibition examining the fluid boundaries that exist between, among and surrounding varying practices in art, design and craft. Moore's Levy Gallery for the Arts in Philadelphia will transform into a multi-use performance space with a robust calendar of performances and community events—Click here to see the full roster.

BORDERLANDS: A Forum Theatre Event
with the Philadelphia Fringe Festival

Friday • September 8
Part of Asian Arts Initiative's
Hurry Up and Wait opening
1219 Vine St. Philadelphia
Art at 6PM • Performance 8PM
Friday • September 15
Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Ave.
7:30 PM show • Free

I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing...I will have my serpent's tongue--my woman's voice, my sexual voice, my poet's voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence.” — Gloria Anzaldúa

Come break the fourth wall as Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed explores the personal journeys of immigration and homecoming from prison. Devised and performed by formerly incarcerated Philly women who have reentered society, Borderlands is a live Forum Theatre event where we blur the boundaries between spectator and actor.

Created and performed by Bambi Friday, Crystal Walker, Hariprasad Kowtha, Kilo Martin, Natasha Cohen-Carroll, Christian Hayden and Paloma Irizarry,  Borderlands has two performances in two locations: September 8th's show takes place in the theatre at Asian Arts Initiative and will be preceded by Hurry Up and Wait, a multi-artist show about migration in AAI's gallery with work by Pritha Bhattacharyya, Sanjana Bijlani, Melissa Chen, Yujane Chen, Maria Dumlao, Monica Kane, Caroline Key, Ahree Lee, JJ Lee, Hye Yeon Nam, Jermaine Ollivierre, Keven Quach, Yumi Janairo Roth, Rea Christina Sampilo, Catzie Vilayphonh, and curated by Adriel Luis. September 15th's show will be at Studio 34 in West Philly.

Note: Some tickets are available at the door although Fringe Arts' website says that the event is "sold out."

photo credit: Natasha Cohen-Carroll

Press for Borderlands:

August Workshop and September Performance about Migration

Saturday August 5, 2017
Boundaries & Intersections
A one-day workshop
facilitated by Paloma Irizarry 
and Hariprasad Kowtha
Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Ave

* Proceeds from this workshop support free Forum Theatre performances for the Philly Fringe. Shows are on September 8 and 15—More details soon!

Based on Gloria Anzaldzúa's seminal work, Borderland/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed is exploring the borderlands between work, home, languages, nation-states, and neighborhoods. Using the tools of Image Theatre—movement and stillness, acting and witnessing, observing and storytelling—participants will dive deeply into a study on personal boundaries and the intersections that lie in between.

Join T.O. Philly in a physical and interactive practice as we play games and create scenes designed to confront where each of us end—and where we begin.

Borderlands, Boundaries & Intersections ran for a full day on Saturday, August 4th, 2017. Those interested in booking a similar workshop can email "" or call 267-282-1057 to leave us a message.

About the Facilitators:

Paloma Irizarry is a Philly-based theatre artist whose work invites audiences to explore the elements of her identity that confound her the most. Recent creations include I See You See Me, a performance looking at the intersections and contradictions between objectification and sexual empowerment, and an interactive installation for One Way Red with the Medium Theatre Company. Her work for T.O. Philly comprises facilitation and curriculum design for Unpacking Race as well as the co-creation of Borderlands. Paloma will also co-direct our upcoming Forum Theatre project about migration for the Philly Fringe. 

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 Ahimsa House and at the Global Leadership Academy Charter School. He joined T.O. Philly for Image Theatre in 2014 and continued facilitating the Unpacking Race series in 2016.

Monthly Summer Workshops
on Saturdays at Studio 34

This summer T.O. Philly hosts workshops one Saturday a month in West Philadelphia. Each session kicks off the morning with a slew of group games that build skills toward the deeper techniques in the afternoon. Proceeds from these workshops will go support our Forum Theatre project on immigration premiering this fall. 

DATES: June 24 • July 15 • August 5
TIMES: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
(includes a one-hour lunch break)
PLACE: Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Ave
(the studio is air conditioned)

SIGN UP for one, two, or all three workshops 
TUITION: $15–$45 sliding scale per session
(No one ever turned away for lack of funds.
Worktrade and scholarships available.)
EMAIL "" to register

Saturday June 24 • 10AM–4PM 
RIFTS: A Workshop About
What Divides Us and What Unites Us
Led by Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews

RIFTS is a workshop about social and political differences that cause schisms between individuals and groups. Whether it's ongoing dynamics within a relationship, heated family talk around the dinner table, clashing opinions at work or school, 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.


Saturday July 15 • 10AM–4PM 
How Do We Facilitate and Difficultate
A training with Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews

Teachers, trainers, facilitators, organizers and educators of every sort are invited to come to this action-oriented think-tank with three key components: 1. Sharing and playing icebreakers and group games and strategizing how we can use them in what we do. 2. Reenact challenging situations that arise in our work, then use techniques from Theatre of the Oppressed to devise ways to surmount those challenges. 3. Delve into 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. 

Saturday August 5 • 10AM–4PM
BORDERLANDS: Boundaries & Migrations
Led by Paloma Irizarry and Hariprasad Kowtha

Based on Gloria Anzaldzúa's seminal work, Borderland/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, T.O. Philly explores the borderlands between nation-states, languages, neighborhoods, work and home. Using the tools of Image Theatre—movement and stillness, acting and witnessing, observing and storytelling—participants dive into a study on personal boundaries and the intersections that lie in between. 

To sign up for one, two, or all three workshops, email "" or leave a message at 267-282-1057. Each session has a suggested donation on $15 to $45—you can pay more or you can pay less. We also offer worktrade as an alternative to using money. Got questions? Please email of call us!

a workshop to benefit Project READ

Saturday, July 8 • 2:00–5:00 PM
The Adrienne Theatre
2030 Sansom Street
Led by Sarah Schieffelin
and Hariprasad Kowtha

Suggested donation of $0–$50 and/or items for Project READ's drop-in center (see list below)

Pre-register with an email to ""
and click here to read an article about this event!

The term "safe space"
has been scrutinized as a catchphrase of the privileged, an underpinning of political over-correctness, or as a pass to avoid uncomfortable situations. At the same time, the need for personal safety is a human right and one that all of us want for ourselves and those we care about. In this workshop we will use techniques from the Theatre of the Oppressed to unpack what "safer space" actually means and looks like.

  • How can we disagree safely? 
  • What are the impacts and advantages of existing in "unsafer" spaces? 
  • What are the fine points between feeling uncomfortable and being unsafe? 

Together let’s discover what practical action we can take toward creating safer space in our daily lives.

All proceeds from this workshop go to benefit Project READ (Restoration Education Arts Development) an initiative with a goal of creating safe places for girls between the ages of 12 and 18 in Liberia. Since 2014, Project READ has founded a female-run public library café, a makers' workshop space, and girls' drop-in center. In addition to cash donations, items needed for the drop-in center include: shampoo, facial cleanser, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, hand sanitizer, nail clippers, maxi pads, tampons, panty liners, underwear, body wash, pencils, pens, notebooks, crayons, colored pencils, and young adult books.