T.O. Philly News: Spring 2013

What an amazing winter it's been!  We had a great turnout for a day-long workshop on the Rainbow of Desire technique, and did some work with students at Haverford College and dancers at University of the Arts.   Ariel Morales and Morgan Andrews led a month-long curriculum on race and interrupting racism that included games and theatre pieces, as well as readings and videos, all of which are posted on this blog—See the Unpacking Race tab on the right for easy reference.  The series proved so popular that we will offer an expanded version of it again in the near future.

On April 23rd Qui Alexander led an evening workshop about gender, and on June 8th Magda Scharf visits from Berlin to lead a one day workshop about religion.  To sign up, send an email to "tophilly@gmail.com".  We're also seeking proposals for other workshops in spaces around Philly, as well as input and ideas for another summer retreat.  Please give us feedback by leaving a comment below.

In April, Morgan went to North Carolina to lead a free workshop for people interested in cooperative economics and food justice in Durham, and then an artistic development weekend for Paperhand Puppet Intervention, a theatre company that does incredible stuff around Chapel Hill and Raleigh.  He also went to Washington, DC and worked with 21 German volunteers who are in the U.S. for the year through Action Reconciliation Service for Peace.  Morgan also uses Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to make devised work with the Medium Theatre Company—Read about their latest project here.

Rainbow of Desire Workshop
Saturday March 16th 2013

A dozen-plus people came together at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia in this one-day workshop: The Rainbow of Desire.   We spent the morning playing getting to know each other through a series of games that loosened up the senses and pushed at our comfort zones, then went into to some deeper work after lunch before moving on to the Rainbow of Desire technique.  Here's a list of the activities we used in the morning:
  • Writing Our Desires:  As people arrived, each wrote down what they desired from the workshop on an index card, then boiled that down to one word.  We later used these words in another activity.
  • Expression Circle:  A name game to get acquainted and get the body active.
  • Walks:  Starting, stopping, moving quickly and slowly, making movements large and small, playing with proximity, eye contact, making oppositional movements and mirroring.
  • Machines:  We used a "generic" machine as an example, then made machines based on single-word desires from peoples index cards.
  • Image of the Word:  Again, taking single-word the desires from people index cards, people formed small group sculpture-poems.
  • Colombian Hypnosis:  We played this quintessential Theatre of the Oppressed game to get ourselves thinking, talking and feeling out dynamics of power and oppression.
After lunch, we went into the following:
  • Blind Tracker:  In pairs, one person plays a sighted animal, guiding their blind tracker through the darkness with only a single sound.
  • Technique: Mask of the Oppressor:  For a description, see Augusto Boal's book, Games for Actors and Non-actors.
  • Technique: Rainbow of Desire  For a description, see Augusto Boal's book of the same name.  In our version from this session, everyone ended up onstage to participate in a single person's story—half in the role of the protagonist's family members, half in the role of desires from the protagonist's own mind.
  • The Glass Cobra:  Another blind walking game in which the whole group breaks apart and then tries to put itself back together again...
To book a workshop, send an email to "tophilly@gmail.com"

Unpacking Race 2013:
A 5-Part Workshop Series

Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3  Part 4 • Part 5

Our Winter 2013 Workshop Series
Co-facilitated by Ariel Morales
and Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews

Theatre of the Oppressed combines experiences, images, sounds, movements and dialogue into ideas and actions for making social change.  For 5 weeks in the winter of 2013, we focused on the topics of race and racism.  Our aim was to create a safe space where participants could speak their own truth and start to do the important work of unlearning the systemic racism we’ve been taught our entire lives.  In our hope to offer participants healing from racial privilege and oppression, we offered some starting points for making structural and personal changes to undo racism in ourselves, our communities and our world.  Each 2-hour session mixed theatrical games and techniques with discussion, supplemented by take-home readings and practical assignments to be enacted in everyday life.

Curriculum, Week by Week

In this first session we establish a positive learning environment and explore definitions of race and racism to build a shared understanding of systemic racism and how it affects each of us.
This second session delves into the material consequences of racial construction for people of color.  We will also explore immigrant experiences in adapting to U.S. racial constructs.
February 18:  Institutional Racism
For this third session participants identify cultural and institutional privileges and advantages attached to “Whiteness,” and how institutional racism within housing, education, labor, media and the criminal justice system target people of color.  We also identify the myth of  “post-racial institutions.” 
In this fourth session we go deep into concepts of white privilege, internalized racism, collusion, microagression and also empowerment, examining how all of these things crop up in our own lives.
In this final session we strategize ways to take action against racism in personal, work and community settings by identifying our spheres of influence and how to empower ourselves to take action.

About the Facilitators:

Ariel Morales is a Puerto Rican and Ashkenazi American activist, facilitator and organizer currently working with Philadelphians Allied for a Responsible Economy and Mariposa Co-op's Food Justice and Anti-Racism working group.  He is trained by the Multicultural Resource Center in Ithaca, New York to lead dialogue on race and racism. He is also a stone mason and holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning.  Ariel has been doing T.O. since 2011 and has been with Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed since the summer of 2012.

Morgan Andrews is a Ukrainian-Irish-American activist-artist from a Muslim-Jewish-Catholic-Unitarian family.  He co-founded Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed in 2008 having trained at TOPLAB in New York, with Jana Sanskriti in India, and with T.O.'s late founder Augusto Boal. In addition to hosting workshops in West Philly, Morgan has jokered T.O. extensively for LGBT youth in Philly, with activists in Brazil, at student co-ops around North America, and for German citizens involved in reconciliation work.  Morgan also teaches at Studio 34 and Maha Yoga, and creates plays with the Medium Theatre Company.