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
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
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.