Introducing: The Listening Lounge


SERIES A on "WHITENESS" in 5 parts (posted below)
Wednesdays April 19 + 26, May 3, 10 + 24
8PM at Studio 34 • 4522 Baltimore Avenue • West Philly
A free event • • Snacks provided • Donations welcome

The Listening Lounge is a weekly radio hangout. Every Wednesday we listen to some podcast material on a particular topic, and then talk about it together. This pilot series focuses on the racial construction of "whiteness" from an anti-racist perspective. Each week's audio will carry historical and current events into a discussion on the blocks, in-roads, and action steps toward dismantling racism.

Anyone can come to any number of sessions, and Studio 34's lounge is open all evening leading up to the event. Email "tophilly@gmail.com" with any questions or feedback.

WHAT WE LISTENED TO
(and some extra things to hear on your own)

Week One • April 19

"The Architect of Hollywood
(99% Invisible #255) 

When Paul Williams was born in 1894, Los Angeles was a small downtown, surrounded by bean fields and orange groves, but it was changing and growing fast. Williams worked on all kinds of projects, including commercial and institutional ones, but he was particularly well known for his residential architecture. He designed a number of homes for Hollywood stars, including Frank Sinatra’s bachelor pad and a mansion for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The city gave Paul Williams a lot of opportunities he wouldn’t have had anywhere else in America at the time...although Williams still had to work harder than his white peers. 

"How Race Was Made" (Seeing White, Part 2)

For much of human history, people viewed themselves as members of tribes or nations but had no notion of “race.” Today, science deems race biologically meaningless. Who invented race as we know it, and why? *Episode features bonus commentary from Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

EXTRA: "Reporting on Whiteness"
(Seeing White, Part 1)

The How Sound podcast interviews John Biewen about his Seeing White series for Scene on Radio.

Week Two • April 26

"Mummy of Hornedjitef"
(A History of the World in 100 Objects, episode 1)

Hornedjitef was a priest who died around 2,250 years ago, and he designed a coffin that, he believed, would help him navigate his way to the afterlife. Little did he know that this afterlife would be as a museum exhibit in London.

"Made in America"
(Seeing White, Part 3)

Chattel slavery in the United States, with its distinctive—and strikingly cruel—laws and structures, took shape over many decades in colonial America. The innovations that built American slavery are inseparable from the construction of Whiteness as we know it today. *Episode features bonus commentary from Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

Week Three • May 3

"The Spelling Bee"
(from Snap Judgment)

What Davey Kim did in the eighth grade, when he went to the regional level spelling bee with his best friend, might be spelled R-E-V-E-N-G-E, and also S-O-L-I-D-A-R-I-T-Y. 
“All men are created equal.” Those words, from the Declaration of Independence, are central to the story that Americans tell about ourselves and our history. But what did those words mean to the man who actually wrote them?  *Episode features bonus commentary from Chenjerai Kumanyika. 
Week Four • May 10

"Holes In My Identity"
(from the play, Hands Up 

Nathan Yungerberg was one of seven emerging black playwrights commissioned by New Black Fest to write a collection of monologues that explore the well-being of African-Americans in a culture of institutional profiling. Six of these monologues were adapted for radio by Judith Kampfner for the BBC. * Whole piece features five more stories, archival news clips and on-street interviews. Links:

"That's Not Us, So We're Clean"
(Seeing White, Part 6)

When it comes to America’s racial sins, past and present, a lot of us see people in one region of the country as guiltier than the rest. Producer John Biewen speaks with some white Southern friends about that tendency. *Episode features bonus commentary from Chenjerai Kumanyika. 

EXTRA: "Little War on the Prairie"
(Seeing White, Part 5)

Many residents of Mankato, Minnesota grow up knowing next to nothing about the town’s most important historical event: the largest mass execution in U.S. history. In this documentary, one resident goes back to Minnesota to explore what happened, and why Minnesotans didn’t talk about it afterwards.

Week Five • May 24

"The Year Hank Greenberg
Hit 58 Home Runs"
(The Memory Palace episode 109)

While the Third Reich came to power in Germany and American Nazis rallied in their support all over the U.S., some Jewish Americans took antifascism into their own hands.

"On Interviewing A Racist" 
(from HowSound)

“What should be my mantra be as I sit in the car, my heart pumping, afraid of what I’m walking into and what might happen when I’m going to interview a racist?” Al Letson offers insight into talking to people with whom you don't agree.

EXTRA: "Chenjerai's Challenge" (Seeing White, Part 7)

“How attached are you to the idea of being white?” Chenjerai Kumanyika puts that question to John Biewen—and also to us—as we wrap up our first series of The Listening Lounge.

About T.O. Philly


Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed (T.O. Philly) is a network of people using the tools of theatre and popular education to dismantle oppression. Much of the work we do is based on the writings and teachings of the late Augusto Boal, who developed the Theatre of the Oppressed in Brazil over 40 years ago. We also draw upon other theatre games and movement traditions, as well as models of popular education like those put forth by Paolo Freire in his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

T.O. Philly offers public workshops that individuals and groups can come to. We also work for organizations and institutions. We can tailor a workshop to whatever your group needs. You can see who we've worked with and what we've got coming up on this website's sidebar. Below are a few curricula that we regularly run. To bring a workshop to you, email "tophilly@gmail.com" or call 267-282-1057.

Theatre of the Oppressed
Intro, Intermediate & Advanced Workshops

We offer everything from single 90-minute sessions, to weekly classes and full day, weekend, or week-long retreats that cover the history, theory, and practice of Theatre of the Oppressed games, techniques, and traditions. These workshops cover the trunk of the Theatre of the Oppressed tree, with human sculpture-driven Image Theatre as a base for the interactive performances of Forum Theatre for which Theatre of the Oppressed is internationally known.

Games: Playing & Teaching

Whether you just want to play games or learn some games that you can play with others, we can do that! T.O. Philly has hundreds of games for groups of any size or age range that get us out of our heads and into our bodies, build trust and a cooperative spirit, and get at issues of social justice. Whether it's just for one or two hours, or one or two days, let the games begin!

Dis/ability Justice 

Many of Theatre of the Oppressed's games and techniques "dynamize the senses" by working in silence or darkness or with limited mobility. Since 2012, we've been using these techniques to address issues of ability and disability. In 2015 T.O. Philly supported work on a play about vision loss and dis/ability passing with a series of sessions called Blind Games. In 2016 we expanded some of those ideas into a broader workshop called Unpacking Ability. Facilitated by people on the dis/ability spectrum, these themes can run deep in just a couple hours.

Workshopping Gender

As our public discourse around gender and sexuality continues to change, the occasional workshop can help members of an organization or institution get on the same page. We offer everything from a "Gender 101" to more intensive sessions for groups ready to delve deeper into gender dynamics.

Unpacking Race 

In 2013 we rolled out a curriculum all about race and undoing racism. We offer a short workshop called "Engaging Courageous Conversations on Race" that gives the basics. The "Unpacking Race" module can be a multi-part workshop series, weekend retreat, or something that a group does over the course of many months. We also offer workshops on undoing racism specifically for people of color and/or white allies, including a session that identifies White Fragility.

Group Dynamics

Theaatre of the Oppressed is a also a tool for organizations interested in improving communication, colllaboration, workplace environment, and for better fullfillment of a group's mission and vision.

The Cop & The Rainbow

The Cop in the Head and the Rainbow of Desire represent the introspective branch of Theatre of the Oppressed with roots in psychological and internalized forms of oppression. We can offer these sessions as performance demonstrations, with audience members volunteering to step up onstage to be in a scene. We also run Cop/Rainbow as one-day or two-day intensives. These techniques are really meant to be done on an ongoing basis as they are about a group coming together to collectively disarm the cops in our heads and sort out a spectrum of sometimes conflicting desires so that we have more tools for contending with ourselves in everyday life.

Bring T.O. to you!

To book any of the above workshops (or others not on the list) email "tophilly@gmail.com" or leave a message at 267-282-1057 and someone will get back to you shortly.