T.O. Philly News: Winter 2011-2012

2011 has been packed with a number of weekly workshops exploring different aspects of Theatre of the Oppressed, including communication without words, exploring the senses, and developing tools for facilitation. We also started hosting public performances of a family of techniques called the Rainbow of Desire. Known as "the Boal method of theatre and therapy," the Rainbow of Desire takes people's ongoing experiences with oppression and replays the situations in which these oppressions occur. We use the stage and the audience to expose hidden elements of the story, then take the pieces of the story apart and put them back together in a way that we would like the situation to be. From there we work to expand these acts of liberation beyond the stage and into the wider world. The Rainbow of Desire is a personally transformative process—If you'd like to host or participate in a workshop, get in touch!

Other things T.O. Philly has done this year have included a screening of the film Jana Sanskriti: A theater on the field, about the large Theatre of the Oppressed movement in India. The screening coincided with the release of the book, Celebrate People's History: The Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution, and the printing of a Jana Sanskriti poster featured in the book. Details on this show are posted on the venue's website. We also started a reading group to study and discuss some of the more historical and theoretical aspects of Augusto Boal's work, and some of us have been involved with ongoing Forum Theatre workshops and performances at the Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia. T.O. Philly has also been focusing on food justice by doing work with Mariposa Co-op in West Philly and at the Rooted in Community Youth Conference, hosted by the Urban Nutrition Initiative.

Outside of Philadelphia, T.O. Philly recently held college workshops with
North American Students of Cooperation at the University of Michigan; for an Applied Theatre course at The College of New Jersey; with the Marywood Players Theatre Club of Marywood University; and for a service learning program with students from William & Mary College. We also led trainings with English For Action in Providdence, RI; at Our Space LGBTQ drop-in center in Hayward, CA; at national retreats organized by the Jewish Farm School; at a camp for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Young Friends program; and at the 17th Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference in Chicago.

For more info about what we do or how you can get involved, contact us at 215-730-0982 or "tophilly@gmail.com".

Games for Actors and Non-Actors: What We Played, January 10th, 2012

In 2012, T.O. Philly takes up residence at the Rotunda for a number of classes and workshops on Tuesday evenings. Our first was on January 10th, with two dozen people who came to play games. These games come from a variety of sources: theatre games used by actors to warm up before rehearsal, trust-building and non-competative games from the "New Games" movement, and techniques that examine social relationships from the Theatre of the Oppressed—all have a folkloric quality that can be brought to almost any group.  Here's what we played:

Circle Games:
Flying Dutchman: Ghost ships that race to safe harbors without colliding (hopefully).
• Group Juggling: Throwing and catching each others names, as well as juggling balls.
• Ooh-Ahh: The "ooh" goes one way, the "ahh" the other, and then the names start flying as games get combined.
Walking Games:
• Number Speeds: Speed up and slow down at the shout of a number, then do it without breaking eye contact with one other person.
• Handshakes/Hi-Fives/Hugs/Hellos: Each action (shaking hands, high-fiving, hugs, and waving hello) must be performed with a specific partner on cue. Combined with the previous game it's a beautiful mess.
• Lines and Trinagles: Secretly pick two people and form a shape with them—either a straight line or an equilateral triangle—without letting them know who they are. Oh, and everyone else is trying to do the same thing as well.
Hagoo: Two teams form a corridor, one on each side, and each send a member to walk toward each other down the middle. The walkers cannot smile or laugh, though opposing team members try to make them do so, thereby getting them to join they're team.
Rhythm Games:
• Bronx/Paper/Scissors: Pairs play each other and the loser joins the winner's gang, backing 'em up as they play other RPS gang leaders. Everyone ends up in two big gangs, and then just one gang with no one left to fight.
• Carnaval em Rio: Same situation as above, one instead of throwing fingers, players throw rhythms—sounds made the mouth and movements made by the whole body. Pairs "morph" there rhythms into a unified compromise of individual movements and sounds, then morph with others into to fewer, bigger groups, until everyone is doing the same thing in unison.
• Rhythm Challenge: With one unified rhythm, the group faces the same way. A challenger steps out, faces the group and proposes a new rhythm, which members can defect to or refuse. Larger group wins with new rhythm being adopted by everyone or no one, and then a new challenger steps out, and so on.
Image Theatre Games:
• Animal Ritual: Everyone is secretly assigned an animal. They all enter the space in the manner of each animal—moving, making noises, foraging for food, and eventually interacting. Before exiting, each animal must find their mate (hopefully) of the same species.
• 10 Seconds of Noticing: In pairs, one stands with eyes closed while the other sculpts themselves into a motionless Image. The other open the eyes for 10 seconds, then replicates the image to the best of their ability. Adjustments are made by the original sculptor before switching roles. Individual images can then evolve into group images, movements, or anything else that adds layers of nuance, language and fun to the exercise.

Check out other rules for games on this site. Add your own by posting a comment below!