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:

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. 

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!