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.

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 "tophilly@gmail.com" 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.

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 "tophilly@gmail.com" 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 "tophilly@gmail.com" 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 "tophilly@gmail.com" 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 "tophilly@gmail.com"
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.

Introducing: The Listening Lounge

SERIES A on "WHITENESS" in 5 parts—Links posted below
Curated by Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
Wednesdays April 19 + 26, May 3, 10 + 24
8PM at Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Avenue • West Philly
A free event • Snacks provided • Donations welcome

In the spring of 2017 we kicked off the Listening Lounge, a weekly radio hangout. where we listened to some podcast material on a particular topic and then talked about it together. This pilot series focused on the racial construction of "whiteness" from an anti-racist perspective. Each week's audio carried historical and current events into a discussion on the blocks, in-roads, and action steps toward dismantling racism.

Look for more Listening Lounges soon. And let us know if you're listening to what we've put together here by emailing "tophilly@gmail.com."

(and some extra things to hear on your own)

Week One • April 19

"The Architect of Hollywood
(99% Invisible #255) 

When Paul Williams was born in 1894, Los Angeles was a small downtown, surrounded by bean fields and orange groves, but it was changing and growing fast. Williams worked on all kinds of projects, including commercial and institutional ones, but he was particularly well known for his residential architecture. He designed a number of homes for Hollywood stars, including Frank Sinatra’s bachelor pad and a mansion for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The city gave Paul Williams a lot of opportunities he wouldn’t have had anywhere else in America at the time...although Williams still had to work harder than his white peers. 

"How Race Was Made" (Seeing White, Part 2)

For much of human history, people viewed themselves as members of tribes or nations but had no notion of “race.” Today, science deems race biologically meaningless. Who invented race as we know it, and why? *Episode features bonus commentary from Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

EXTRA: "Reporting on Whiteness"
(Seeing White, Part 1)

The How Sound podcast interviews John Biewen about his Seeing White series for Scene on Radio.

Week Two • April 26

"Mummy of Hornedjitef"
(A History of the World in 100 Objects, episode 1)

Hornedjitef was a priest who died around 2,250 years ago, and he designed a coffin that, he believed, would help him navigate his way to the afterlife. Little did he know that this afterlife would be as a museum exhibit in London.

"Made in America"
(Seeing White, Part 3)

Chattel slavery in the United States, with its distinctive—and strikingly cruel—laws and structures, took shape over many decades in colonial America. The innovations that built American slavery are inseparable from the construction of Whiteness as we know it today. *Episode features bonus commentary from Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

Week Three • May 3

"The Spelling Bee"
(from Snap Judgment)

What Davey Kim did in the eighth grade, when he went to the regional level spelling bee with his best friend, might be spelled R-E-V-E-N-G-E, and also S-O-L-I-D-A-R-I-T-Y. 
“All men are created equal.” Those words, from the Declaration of Independence, are central to the story that Americans tell about ourselves and our history. But what did those words mean to the man who actually wrote them?  *Episode features bonus commentary from Chenjerai Kumanyika. 
Week Four • May 10

"Holes In My Identity"
(from the play, Hands Up 

Nathan Yungerberg was one of seven emerging black playwrights commissioned by New Black Fest to write a collection of monologues that explore the well-being of African-Americans in a culture of institutional profiling. Six of these monologues were adapted for radio by Judith Kampfner for the BBC. * Whole piece features five more stories, archival news clips and on-street interviews. Links:

"That's Not Us, So We're Clean"
(Seeing White, Part 6)

When it comes to America’s racial sins, past and present, a lot of us see people in one region of the country as guiltier than the rest. Producer John Biewen speaks with some white Southern friends about that tendency. *Episode features bonus commentary from Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

EXTRA: "Little War on the Prairie"
(Seeing White, Part 5)

Many residents of Mankato, Minnesota grow up knowing next to nothing about the town’s most important historical event: the largest mass execution in U.S. history. In this documentary, one resident goes back to Minnesota to explore what happened, and why Minnesotans didn’t talk about it afterwards.

Week Five • May 24

"The Year Hank Greenberg
Hit 58 Home Runs"
(The Memory Palace episode 109)

While the Third Reich came to power in Germany and American Nazis rallied in their support all over the U.S., some Jewish Americans took antifascism into their own hands.

"On Interviewing A Racist" 
(from HowSound)

“What should be my mantra be as I sit in the car, my heart pumping, afraid of what I’m walking into and what might happen when I’m going to interview a racist?” Al Letson offers insight into talking to people with whom you don't agree.

EXTRA: "Chenjerai's Challenge" (Seeing White, Part 7)

“How attached are you to the idea of being white?” Chenjerai Kumanyika puts that question to John Biewen—and also to us—as we wrap up our first series of The Listening Lounge.

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 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, including a session that identifies White Fragility.

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.