RIFTS: A Workshop About What Divides Us & What Unites Us

Saturday December 10 
11am-4pm  (includes lunch break)
at the Children's Community School
1212 S. 47th Street, West Philadelphia
facilitated by Morgan Andrews
FREE—Contact tophilly@gmail.com” 
or call 267·282·1057 to register

T.O. Philly presents RIFTS, a one-day workshop about social and political differences that cause schisms between people. Sometimes fueled by age, class, dis/ability, education, employment status, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, religion, sexuality, or whatever is happening in the world, these rifts can manifest in ways that affect each of us deeply, both cerebrally and tangibly. Whether it's ongoing dynamics within a relationship, heated talk with family around the dinner table, or polarized viewpoints that divide a nation, the roots of these rifts have much in common. In this workshop we'll physicalize our experiences by using the language of theatre to dig up these roots in order to build the world we want.

In the morning session, we'll build our skills as a group by playing theatre games, getting to know each other, and opening up this topic of conversation. After lunch, we'll go deeper by unpacking specific stories, reconstructing them onstage, and then reconfiguring them into what we wish they could be. Our aim is to leave with some tools for tackling these issues in everyday life.

This workshop is FREE and runs from 11am till 4pm with a one-hour break for lunch around 12:30. No prior theatre experience is necessary, all life experiences welcome. To register, send an email to "tophilly@gmail.com" or leave a message at 267-282-1057.

Unpacking Race Fall 2016
Week 5: Because Your Liberation Is Bound Up With Mine

In the Fall of 2016, T.O. Philly hosted a workshop series on race and undoing racism. Each week we posted material here for folks both in and outside of the workshop to use. Links:
"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."   

—Lilla Watson, Indigenous Australian activist and academic

In our final Unpacking Race session we combined all of our theatrical tools to make scenes highlighting instances of oppression that intersected race with education, class, health care, and other social strata. To build these scenes, we worked with a scale of archetypes that play various roles onstage and off:

Oppressed      (Potential) Ally       Bystander       Passive Oppressor        Oppressor
Protagonist   (Deuteragonists, Tritagonists, Tetratagonists, etc.)      Antagonist

In making these scenes, we noted how acts of allyship often shift the the focus of the story away from the person who is oppressed and shine the spotlight on the ally. The work of Theatre of the Oppressed is to make those experiencing oppression the protagonists of the story. Two terms that are helpful in understanding these dynamics in relation to race:
  • White Fragility: A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.
  • Solidarity: Unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.
Here are two quotes about solidarity that were critical in the early development of Theatre of the Oppressed:
"Solidarity requires that one enter into the situation of those with whom one is in solidarity; it is a radical posture"  —Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed 
"Solidarity means running the same risks."  —Ernesto "Che" Guevara 
ONGOING ASSIGNMENT: Keep journaling about race. When you write about an instance of race or racism in your life, ask yourself:
  1. What role did I play? Oppressed? Ally? Bystander? Oppressor? Was my role active or passive? Did my role change and who changed it?
  2. For those who identify as people of color: Was I affected by internalized or horizontal racism? How can I empower myrself and others to deal with racism in our lives and take action to end racism?
  3. For those you benefit from white privilege: How did my white privilege play into this situation? How can I move from feelings of guilt and shame about racism to taking responsibility for my role as an agent of racism?
  4. For everyone: What are the costs and benefits of actively confronting racism, and doing anti-racism work?

Unpacking Race Fall 2016
Week 4: What Does Solidarity Look Like?

In the Fall of 2016, T.O. Philly hosted a workshop series on race and undoing racism. Each week we posted material here for folks both in and outside of the workshop to use. Links:
Right after last week's session, a majority of U.S. voters elected a president who ran his campaign on several racist platforms. As we move into our final session together, we reflect on lessons learned from other recent incidents of mass racism.

1. WATCH this short video responding to the increase in overt racism in Britain after their vote to exit the European Union (a.k.a. "Brexit"). Note that this video contains actual cellphone footage of racist aggression. Also note that some prefer the word "target" in place of "victim" to describe being on the receiving end of oppressor aggression.

2. READ Mia McKenzie's short essay, "How to Tell the Difference Between Real Solidarity and 'Ally Theater'" on Black Girl Dangerous.

3. WATCH this short promo from White Squad, a spoof company created by MTV's Look Different initiative in 2015. Learn more about that at this link, where you can also watch a longer video about whiteness and white advantage.

4. READ the short essay, "Rural White Folks Need to Speak Out Against Racism in Our Communities" published by Country Queers..

5. WRITE in your race journal about the above videos and essays, the election, and/or your own experiences.

Unpacking Race Fall 2016
Week 3: What Are Microaggressions?

In the Fall of 2016, T.O. Philly hosted a workshop series on race and undoing racism. Each week we posted material here for folks both in and outside of the workshop to use. Links:
This week instead of meeting as a whole group, we buddied up and had a couple of check-ins with that buddy about our race journals and last week's videos and essays. This week we have another short video and chart detailing different sorts of racial microaggressions. First, some definitions:
  • Racial Microaggressions: Brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults towards people of color.
  • Internalized Racism: The conscious or unconscious assimilation of racist attitudes or beliefs by people in the subordinate or dominant group towards members of their own ethnic group, including themselves. This can include the belief in ethnic stereotypes relating to their own group.
Next, this week's assignments:

1. WATCH this short animation about microaggressions:

2. READ through this chart, which lists 10 common themes of racial microaggressions with examples and the messages that these microaggressions transmit.

3. WRITE in your Race Journal!

4. CHECK IN with your buddy about what you've been reading, writing, and experiencing.