RE: COMMUNICATIONS


In November of 2012 Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed hosted German activist-organizer Magdalena Scharf for two evenings of workshops at Studio 34's new art space.  Each 2-hour session was aimed at re-imagining and re-shaping how we communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, and how that affects power relations in our daily lives.  Magda will be sending us her rules for all of these games to be posted here, starting with these:
  • Bang! Participants stand in a circle, facilitator calls a name. That person has to duck as quickly as possible as people on their left and right “shoot”—loudly! The slower one “is shot,” leaves the circle and calls out the next name. 
  • Picasso: Each person gets 5 index cards and then walks around the space. Stopping to face one other person, they have 1-2 minutes to sketch each other (and write the name) without looking at the card. All resume walking and find new partners. After 5 rounds, all hand the pictures to their respective partners. People choose the picture they like best and explain to the others (in a small or large group) why they chose that picture.
  • Noah’s Ark Break-out Groups: Distribute images of animals that participants “act” out in order to find each other. Nice way to have random groups without cliquing. Same can be done by cutting up similar looking postcards that participants piece together the cards like a puzzle.
  • Concentric Interview Circles: An even number of participants face each other in an inner and outer circle. Facilitator asks a question that each partner answers for the other for one minute before switching. Questions move from broader to more specific, or from less personal to more intimate. Some questions might be:
    • What is the story/meaning of your name?
    • What experience do you have facilitating groups?
    • What audience do you work with?
    • What was the last dream you can remember?

Here's a description of the workshops:

Workshop #1: UNPACKING LANGUAGE
Tuesday November 27 from 7pm to 9pm

at Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Ave.
Do you, or others you spend time with, speak a language other than English?  This interactive workshop will break down barriers built by language differences while playing with language in non-traditional ways.  We’ll explore the nature of language and power relations and have fun with games that don't use spoken language at all. 


Workshop #2: ICE-BREAKERS AND ENERGIZERS FOR ORGANIZERS
Thursday November 29 from 7pm to 9pm

at Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Ave.
Whether you’re an educator, an activist, an organizer or anyone who works in group settings, this workshop will be packed with tools for getting folks up out of their chairs and communicating in different ways.

About the Facilitator:

Magdalena Scharf was born to German and Spanish parents, grew up in Iran and Brazil, and currently divides her time between Philadelphia and Berlin.  She has been involved in bringing LGBT youth from Germany and Brazil together for cross-cultural exchange, and runs the NGO Action Service Reconciliation for Peace, which fights racism, discrimination and social exclusion internationally.  She has been involved with Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed since 2011.

Questions? Leave us a comment below!

T.O. Philly News: 2012-2013

2012 has been filled with new and different things for Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed. We hosted weeknight workshop series in the winter, spring and fall, a summer retreat, a 2-part facilitator/difficultator training, and some of us went to the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference in California. We also led workshops with youth interns from the Urban Nutrition Initiative and for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Young Friends group at Camp Onas.

Heading out of 2012 and into 2013 we have some exciting things coming up with different facilitators leading workshops on a variety of topics:
  • November 27 & 29: Guest facilitator Magdalena Scharf returns from Germany to lead workshops about games and language at Studio 34's new arts space!
  • January-March 2013: Ariel Morales and Morgan Andrews present a 5-part workshop series called "Unpacking Race" that will include readings, discussions and Theatre of the Oppressed about race and racism.
  • Forum Theatre? Rainbow of Desire? (See our online glossary for an explanation of these terms): People want to start a group to either create and perform Forum Theatre or to work with Rainbow of Desire techniques. Either of these will require a solid group to meet regularly and consistently. If you are interested, leave us a comment and tell us which you'd like to do!
See you soon!

October 2012 Workshop Series


This is a notice about past events. For information on upcoming events, click here.

Facilitated by Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews
October 1, 8, 15 and 22 at Studio 34 
4522 Baltimore Ave. West Philadelphia

Theatre of the Oppressed (T.O. for short) has been around for 40 years and is practiced by millions of people in over 70 countries.  It takes on various forms, from games and theatrical warm-ups, to staged plays where the audience has the power to change the ending. Some T.O. workshops are autobiographical reenactments that blur the line between theatre and therapy, some are wordless dialogues spoken by the human body, and some prepare people for taking to the streets to engage in public political discourse and direct action.

Over the course of 4 evenings, we surveyed the different branches of the Theatre of the Oppressed Tree, to understand and experiment with how this awesome tool merges art with activism, and how play can lead to personal change. Every week we used the game Colombian Hypnosis (follow this link for an explanation of the game) to lead us into these forms of T.O. as follows:

  • Week 1: Learning the basics of Colombian Hypnosis and then creating different models to illustrate different systems of power.
  • Week 2: Using Colombian Hypnosis to make Image Theatre, creating still images and then turning them into scenes of oppression.
  • Week 3: Demonstrating Forum Theatre by having those who are hypnotized break free from their hypnotists.
  • Week 4: Moving into more personal experiences by having Colombian Hypnosis segue into the Mask of the Oppressor technique, followed by a demonstration of Rainbow of Desire.
Some of the above terms are explained in greater detail in our online Theatre of the Oppressed Glossary, found here.

T.O. Philly and Youth

Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed strives to make its events accessible for all ages, as well as to those who take care of young people. We do this in a few different ways:
  1. Book your own event: We offer workshops tailored to any age range—kids, adolescents, teens, adults of any decade, and mixed-age groups. Contact us to set up an event or workshop series for your group: 267-282-1057 or "tophilly@gmail.com"
  2. Participate in an event: Some of our regular events are great for young people to attend with their caregivers (most games workshops and Forum Theatre performances for example), while others are better suited for adults (Cop in the Head, Rainbow of Desire, and other things dealing with mature themes or internalized oppression). If you are a caregiver to young people, you may have a sense of their attention spans and ability to engage in workshop activities and discussions. If you're not sure, contact us and we'll figure it out.
  3. Childcare is available at our events for caregiver participants. To use this service, please let us know at least two weeks prior to the date of the event and we will provide childcare on-site. If you have requested childcare and need to cancel, please let us know well in advance of the event.
Got questions or suggestions? Leave a comment below!

2012 Summer Retreat

Theatre of the Oppressed offers us the space and skills to unravel the oppressions that we face in our world, our relationships, and our selves.  This work can be profound, especially when shared with a group of people who can dedicate some time together.  Over the course of one weekend, T.O. Philly brought 16 people to just that at Fellowship Farma retreat center dedicated to peace and conflict resolution.  We shared meals, played games, and went deeper into the techniques of Theatre of the Oppressed while taking time out from the city and enjoying nature, quiet and fun. 

About the Retreat: The group made use of Fellowship Farm's 120 acres of meadows and woods, along with indoor spaces, for workshops and recreational activities.  Workshop time was divided into 6 chunks or 2 to 3 hours each, that started with games, get-to-know-each-other exercises and general conversations about power, and then moved into deeper, more personal work.  Some debriefing happened during workshop time, and a lot also happened around the dinner table or campfire.  Many  people at the retreat had experience with Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) and many did not.

The Workshops:  Here's a brief synopsis of what we did:

1. Friday Evening—Colombian Hypnosis: After learning each other's names and coming to some agreements about how we would carry ourselves through the weekend, we played many versions of the quintessential TO game Colombian Hypnosis as a way to begin conversations about power in different kinds of relationships.  What does power look like between 2 people?  Between 2 parents and 1 child?  In a school system with a superintendent, principals, teachers and students?  In a nation during a revolution?  And how do we want that power to look?  By changing the rules of the game, we can create proposals about how to change power.

2. Saturday Morning—Identities and Isms: We played some games where we took on animal and other non-human identities, then played a version of 2 × 3 × Bradford where people made statements about who they are.  We tested these "I Am" statements with the group to generate some topics—gender and sexuality, dis/ability and mental health, race, ethnicity and spirituality—to creat some short skits about some of the "isms" in our lives.

3. Saturday Afternoon—T.O. Olympics, Funhouse and Museum: Dividing into teams, we played a series of highly competitive (and also cooperative) games before heading into the woods to work with Image Theatre.  We mirrored one another, and sculpted and witnessed each other as images of surprise, curiosity, guilt and denial, before putting some of these images together into animated scenes.

4. Saturday Evening—Images of Privilege: A theatrical meditation on what privilege looks like to each of us, and to all of us.

5. Sunday Morning—Reflections of Oppression: We walked in silence up to Fellowship Farm's Meditation Meadow, then walked to the pulses, breaths and energies of others before sharing very personal stories to be relected back through various techniques, including Holographic Listening, more Image Theatre, and some techniques borrowed from Playback Theatre.

6. Sunday Afternoon—Darkness and Discoveries: We closed the weekend with some experimental games using spatial awareness and working with closed eyes, interspersed with speaking and listening about what the weekend brought up for each of us.  This culminated in Boal's Song of the Siren technique, followed by a blind scavenger hunt around the farm before saying our goodbyes.

Future Retreats and Ways to Participate:  T.O. Philly's 2012 Summer was a success and we're eager to do more!  Thanks to many people's generosity, we offered a sliding scale and scholarships, and plan to offer more in the future to enable more people to come.  We welcome donations and fundraising ideas from the community—both here in Philadelphia, and internationally through the network that is Theatre of the Oppressed—Please get in touch!

Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed
215-730-0982 • tophilly@gmail.com

T.O. Philly Scholarship Fund

Part of T.O. Philly's mission is to make Theatre of the Oppressed accessible and affordable to anyone and everyone. We do this in a two ways:
  1. All of our workshops are either by donation or sliding scale. People who are able to contribute more enable others with fewer resources to attend for cheap or free.
  2. Each year we set aside some money in a scholarship fund that helps people travel to deepen their training in the techniques of Theatre of the Oppressed.
To inquire about scholarship opportunities, or anything else, contact us at "tophilly@gmail.com" or 215-730-0982.



T.O. Philly News: Summer 2012


Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed began 2012 with a bunch of weekly workshops, free intro classes, and held our first facilitator (and difficultator) trainings. Some of these sessions were recorded by Gabriel Dattatreyan, a local filmmaker who is putting together an ethnographic documentary called Image to Lifeworld, about how those of us using Theatre of the Oppressed in Philadelphia take the work beyond the workshop into our communities, our relationships, and our wider world. We hope to screen Gabriel's film in the fall.

A few of us also traveled to California to attend the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO) Conference in Berkeley, funded in part by T.O. Philly's 2012 Scholarship. We put some of what we learned at PTO to use with the Urban Nutrition Initiative in a team-building and social justice workshop with staff and youth interns. We've also been invited back to Camp Onas to do similar work with teens from all over Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Events on the horizon include a Theatre of the Oppressed Retreat from August 10–12 at Fellowship Farm in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. If you're interested in going, there are a few spots reserved for last-minute registration. We are, as always, available to lead workshops of any size and shape that you like—please get in touch! tophilly@gmail.com or 215-730-0982.

2012 Scholarship

JD Stokely in San Francisco
Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed is honored to announce our 2012 T.O. Scholdarship recipient! JD Stokely studied playwriting, directing, and collaborative theatre-making at Hampshire College. They have written, produced and directed several plays and make use of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to create new collaborative pieces. Stokely is  also o recipient of the James Baldwin Playwriting Award and put the T.O. Philly Scholarship toward attending the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO) conference in Berkeley this year. Stokely writes:
I was first introduced to Theatre of the Oppressed during my first year of college. I was on the fence about whether or not I should be studying theatre or education, or both. TO felt like a happy medium for me, especially because I am interested in alternative education and social change. Most of my work has consisted of creating original and collaborative plays while incorporating TO into my directorial and dramaturgical methods. Currently I am working with a Brooklyn-based arts production company called Roots & River Production (rootsandriver.com) that is dedicated to supporting the work of queer artists of color.   
JD Stokely with Roots & River 
I wanted to go to the PTO conference because I felt the need to hear about the work that other TO practitioners were doing. I was mostly just curious about what a TO conference would look like. While I was there, I realized that what I was actually searching for was a sense of healing and a reminder of the kind of work that I want to be doing. I left the conference feeling happy and at peace, like I had just breathed a huge sigh of relief—the kind that often follows the final moments of a TO workshop.  
JD Stokely leading a theatre workshop in Philly
But a few days after returning from Berkeley, I felt my initial anger and frustration starting to creep back, fueled by all of the violence against queers and people of color that I was reading and hearing about in the media. One of the facilitators at the conference reminded us during a workshop that we play games in TO for a reason. That these games are fun, yes, but are also used as metaphors to talk about larger issues of oppression. The complicated thing about a conference is that it is happening in a relatively low-risk environment. People go there to learn, share, and hopefully push themselves; the real world is hardly ever friendly. I know that I can't take the skills I learned at the conference and single-handedly make all bad things stop—but it did make me want to try. The conference did help me eradicate some of the intense "burn-out" I had been feeling about activism and art-making. What's left in its place is urgency. I am hoping to take that feeling of urgency and fuel it into the work that I am doing with Roots & River. Not only do I have new facilitator tricks and games to use, but I also feel energized and inspired for the work that my company will be producing this upcoming fall.   
I am very grateful to T.O. Philly for giving me the opportunity to go to an amazing conference! 

Documentary Screening: Image to Lifeworld

EVENT POSTPONED
Technical difficulties have set back the finishing of the film Image to Lifeworld. Sign up for our email list to find out when we'll be showing the film.

Image to Lifeword is an ethnographic film exploring how Theatre of the Oppressed is fostering community in West Philadelphia. Focusing on workshops held in the spring of 2012, the film follows how participants use Image Theatre—one of the many modalities developed under the umbrella of Theatre of the Oppressed—to parse issues of injustice that the group works on together. Interspersing interviews with workshop footage, Image to Lifeworld shows how these dynamic and sometimes challenging exchanges connect to lived and embodied experiences, producing personal growth, new relationships, and a stronger sense of collective belonging.

Due to a hard drive crash (and we do mean crash—a collision with the floor resulted in a loss of footage and other data) this screening of Image to Lifeworld has been postponed for some time later in 2012. For more info, contact tophilly@gmail.com or call 215-730-0982.

Spring 2012 Workshops

"Turning Issues & Isms Inside-Out"
A 5-part T.O. Workshop Series
Tuesdays 4/17, 4/24, 5/1, 5/8 & 5/15
7:00-9:00pm at the Rotunda
4014 Walnut Street, West Philly
(Series closed to new participants)

Theatre of the Oppressed uses words, sounds, images, movement and the art of playfulness as ways to examine society from different perspectives. In this workshop series, the group will pick a handful of target issues and "isms" (e.g.: racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, etc.) and develop some tools for collectively deconstructing and rearranging this stuff in new ways. From there we'll strategize on how to replicate these transformations in the wider world.

Week-By-Week—What We Did: Click on the links below for rules and variations on a few games and techniques we explored each week, along with some notes on facilitation:

Week 1: Concentric Circles
Week 2: Cut-Ups
Week 4: Status by Number

...and if you have your own games or things you've discovered through Theatre of the Oppressed, let us know by leaving us a comment!

Status by Number

This exercise comes to us from Jana Sanskriti, the movement for Theatre of the Oppressed in West Bengal, India. Jana Sanskriti uses it to facilitate the creation of their plays, as well as creating societal dialogues in the communities where they practice. It works best with large groups.

Part 1—Interactions of Status: Each member of the group is assigned a secret number from 1 to 7. Each begins to walk around the space, thinking about this number in terms of status with 1 being the lowest and 7 being the highest. On this scale, how does someone with this status walk? How do they carry themselves? What actions do they perform in daily life? In silence, each person develops a character based on their assigned status and begins to interact with others, solidifying these status roles though wordless dialogues of gesture. At the end of this part, the group discuss experiences playing their roles and interacting with others.

Part 2—Images of Status: The group sorts itself out into smaller groups with an even distribution of status levels. Each smaller group then creates an image—a still, human sculpture—that portrays these expressions of status. Members of the other groups then share observations about each image, comparing both the status of individuals, as well as the expressions of status as created by each group.

Variation—Vampires of Disparity: In the first part of the exercise, everyone freezes except for those with highest status. These elites can touch those of lesser status and "absorb" status points, lowering the status of those touched with their own status become even greater. All resume motion, performing according to their new status. This can also be used in the still image in the second part of the exercise, with those who have top status remain as they are, while all others assume images of lower status than they originally had.

Got more variations? Tell us about them by leaving a comment below!

2 × 3 × Bradford Variations


This Theatre of the Oppressed game (named for a town in England where it was developed) is one of Boal's "classics" and can be found in the book Games for Actors and Non-Actors. Here's a version with a guessing game twist:
  1. In pairs, each person picks and issue or -ism, and then chooses which one they will work on first.
  2. Pairs count 1–2–3–1–2–3... alternating who says which number,
  3. When signaled, one person replaces saying #1 with a movement and sound based on the chosen theme. #2 and #3 are subsequently replaced as well.
  4. One this rhythm of sounds and movements is established, each pair shows their work to the rest of the group who then tries to guess what issue or -ism was being communicated. 
  5. Each pair then goes back to create another sequence, based on their other theme.
Group Movement Variation: To everyone moving together, other members of the group can add themselves in to a paired rhythm, choosing sides or forming groups that copy the sound/gesture. This can highlight different sorts of societal relationships: What's it like to have one vs. many? Women vs. men? Some standing onstage while others lie down on the floor? There are many possibilities.

Facilitator's Note: In the spring of 2012 we discovered an incidental variation on this technique when one pair chose "white guilt" as their theme. They had created their 3 sound/gestures, but each performed sound/gesture #3 quite differently—one from the perspective of someone dealing with their own guilt, the other in response to that person's expression of guilt. So the "1–2–3–1–2–3" pattern became a "1–2–3–1–2–4" pattern!

Cut-Ups


This technique was developed in England by Julia Barclay and her group Apocryphal Theatre. It deals with stereotypes and can be used with small or large groups. The form here uses just text, but other layers can be added in using sounds, gestures and movements.
  1. Each person writes down 5 clichés, based on the issues of class, gender, race, religion, and then something else of their choosing. A group of 4 or 5 people volunteers to go first. They are the Actors, and the other participants form the Audience.
  2. The Actors stand in a line and state their clichés in turn, first to themselves, then to each other, then to the Audience, and finally to "The Grid"—the system and space in which these clichés exist (if that's too obtuse, think of performing to The Grid as "not performing to yourself, your fellow Actors or the Audience). 
  3. Once all clichés have been performed in all of these ways, the Actors then move about the space, stating any of these clichés—their own or those of their fellow actors—in any order, repeating ones that they heard others say or stringing two or more together. For this part, each clichés is said in its entirety, without any change to its wording.
  4. From here, the actors fall "Off The Grid" by cutting and pasting words from these clichés to make new (often hilarious) phrases.
  5. Debrief, with the Audience sharing their experiences, followed by the Actors sharing theirs before the next group talks the stage.
Historical Note: Barclay adapted this Cut-Up technique from Beat artist/poets Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs who would type up pages of text, and then cut and paste them to create new words and phrases that went beyond the confines of conventional language (a.k.a. "The Grid"). Decades before the Beats, Dada poets and Surrealist artists were doing similar things with words and images via collaging and "exquisite corpse" experiments. Contemporary to the Beats, cut-ups have been used in experimental music and film, and more recently in the "versioning" of dub reggae and sampling in hip hop, creating awesome breakthroughs in the sorts of sounds we listen to and images we see. As Burroughs put it, "When you cut into the present, the future leaks out." With regards to theatre and dismantling oppression, Augusto Boal adds, "Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it."

Concentric Circles

This game highlights stereotypes and is good for large groups. It uses sounds, gestures, and has people of working with eyes closed and open. It's great for a group or workshop focusing on a particular issue, such as gender, sexism, whiteness, etc. Here are the basic steps:
  1. Group divides in half and stands in two circles, one inside the other, with everyone facing center. People in the inner circle (Circle A) close their eyes, while those in the outer (Circle B) watch with eyes open. 
  2. Facilitator names a theme and someone from Circle B steps into the center of Circle A to make a stereotypical gesture and sound based on the theme. Those in Circle A repeat the sound and—with eyes still closed—each makes a gesture presumed to accompany that sound. 
  3. Everyone in Circle A then opens their eyes and repeats their gestures with eyes open, and finally the maker of the original gesture repeats it for all to see. 
  4. After a few rounds, Circles A and B switch places and roles. When both halves of the group have spent equal time in each role, have a seat and debrief the exercise.
Facilitator's Note: I first learned this game as an exercise on gender. The facilitator divided the group into "female" and "male" and had the men make feminine stereotypes for the women to imitate, and then the group switched roles with the women making masculine stereotypes for the men to imitate. I've seen this be revelatory for people who have lived either comfortably or uncomfortably in this gender binary. I've also seen this be disastrous, as many people do not ascribe to this binary and thus stand aside when told to choose "female" or "male". To better understand this, imagine if the given topic were race and the facilitator said, "Black people in one circle, white people in the other." Where would people of mixed or other identities go? Our identities are not always as visible or as static as others perceive. The above variation on the Concentric Circles game is a way of letting people be free to show the pervasiveness of stereotypes without forcing people to squeeze themselves into an identity group that might not fit.

Multi-Issue Variation: When we first played Concentric Circles in Philly in the Spring of 2012, the group began this game making sounds and gestures around issues of gender—expressions that are stereotypes of femininity, masculinity and/or this gender binary. We then moved on to age stereotypes—another binary, this time young/old with some gradations (for example, expressions of "youth" could be infantile or adolescent). The group switched roles, and made stereotypical expressions of The United States of America, and eventually religion, which many found to be a difficult or sensitive issue to express this way. Let us know what variations you have of this or other games by leaving a comment below!

T.O. Philly News: Spring 2012

Graphic from Gayer Panchali (Song of the Village),
from the book Where We Stand: Five Plays from 
the Repertoire of Jana Sanskriti, used by permission.
Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed has had a productive and fun fall and winter. In West Philly, we held several series of workshops on Games, Image Theatre, and Rainbow of Desire, which included readings by Augusto Boal and members of India's Jana Sanskriti movement. We also co-facilitated a retreat with German volunteers from Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, and shared T.O. tools with North American volunteers from Reach Up, Reach Out, who are traveling to Guatemala to teach acro-yoga and capoeira to kids. (They're having a pancake brunch fundraiser this Sunday—do come!)

Right now a few of us are involved with a theatre project called The Sea of Tranquility  that debuts inside a historic mansion in Allamuchy, New Jersey (about 2 hours from Philly by car, 60 minutes from NYC). The piece is devised work, meaning that the script gets developed through its rehearsal process, and includes physical theatre, live music, dance and mask work. We're also integrating a lot of Image Theatre into our process as we take local folklore and explore how stories can be told from different perspectives. Performances are March 2nd, 3rd and 4th at 6:30 and 8pm in Rutherfurd Hall, right off of I-80 in Allamuchy. More details and tickets can be obtained from Rutherfurd Hall's website.

This spring in Philly we will host our first Theatre of the Oppressed facilitator training on two consecutive Saturdays—March 17th and 24th at Studio 34 from 11am to 6pm. Tuesday night workshops will resume at the Rotunda, plus there will be a number of fundraising events to help folks travel to the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference in California. To pre-register for the trainings, or for more info on these events, drop us a line: "tophilly@gmail.com or call 215-730-0982.

See you soon!

How to Facilitate...and Difficultate


Recap of March 2012 trainings

"Facilitator" means "one who makes things easy," while a "difficultator" can mean "a facilitator who offers challenges for a group to overcome." This is the essence of Theatre of the Oppressed: to use the stage as a place to rehearse the hard stuff we face in everyday life. On March 17th and 24th of 2012, T.O. Philly held its first Facilitator/Difficultator training (or "Jokering" in T.O. speak), covering some essentials of playing and leading Theatre of the Oppressed games, designing workshops, and using these tools in anti-oppression work. We sharpened our skills as facilitators and difficultators by balancing fun with meaningful transformation, and worked through holding space for a group while simultaneously offering challenges for that group to work through.

Recap of March 17th Joker Training:
Our first day had two main parts. The first part was a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop made up of games and Image Theatre techniques that were all followed by discussions. The second part was a facilitator training where we examined the workshop in how it was put together, then divided into small groups that took turns facilitating each part of a similar workshop. Here is how the structure of each half played out:

Type of Game
First Part
Second Part
Name Game
Writing Names in the Air
Expression Circle
Walking Series
a. Number Speeds
b. Eye Contact/Greetings
c. Counterpoint
d. Equilateral Triangle
a. Ages
b. Greetings. Contact, Reactions
c. Grouping by Number
d. Grouping by Shapes
Rhythm Game
Horseshoe of Rhythms
Machines:
a. Generic
b. Theme: Springtime in Philadelphia
Partner/Power Game
Colombian Hypnosis
Complete the Image:
a. Plus One Wish
b. Switch Partners
c. Quartets
Image Theatre Techniques
Image of the Word:
a. Individual Images
b. Group Images
c. Dynamizations
d. Three Wishes
Multiple Images of Oppression:
a. Images in Pairs
b. Zooming Out to See the Bigger Picture
Blind Game
Prui?
Vampire of Strasbourg

At the end of the day, particpants gave each group of the facilitators feedback on what they did well and we discussed how these games and techniques could be used and applied beyond the bubble of a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop.

Recap of March 24th Joker Training:
Our second training day was different from the first in that it focused on more introspective techniques and specific tools for Jokering. We spent more time highlighting aspects of Dfficultation, starting with circle games (Name 3 Times, Switching Places, Pass the Sound) and then adding more complexity by layering games on top of each other, mixing up the order of where people stood or what certain words meant. We moved quickly into personal contact and trust with some blind games (Blind Hug, Find Hands) and other acts of Difficultation (Unifying Rhythms, Peruvian Ballgame). We then moved into Boal's "Child Series," which can be found in his book Games for Actors and Non-Actors along with many of the other aforementioned games. After debriefing this workshop, we used other games to work on the different ways we communicate as Difficultators by leading partners around an obstacle course with their eyes closed, first using words, then touch, and finally with a single sound that our blind partners had to follow.

Winter 2012 Workshop Series: From Image to Action

Theatre of the Oppressed is a tool for rehearsing reality: what we do onstage we may strive to do in everyday life. We held this 3-part workshop in January/February of 2012, in which the group used theatre games and techniques to identify, explore, and take apart various forms of oppression. We then strategized ways to transform our ideals for liberation into concrete actions.

What we learned and made in this workshop was supplemented with take-home readings written by others who use Theatre of the Oppressed in different ways: peasant farmers in India and Brazil, young people in New York and Minneapolis, and survivors of torture and war in Colombia and Afghanistan. These readings show us how this work can be used in the wider world and inspire us to transform our own communities in similar ways. These workshops were also filmed for the documentary Image to Lifeworld, about how Theatre of the Oppressed is producing opportunities for both temporary and more enduring community in West Philadelphia.