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Session 5: Sunday June 30th, 12:30pm - 2:30pm
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Theater of the Oppressed (TO) is a methodology and set of techniques that has its origins in the political and cultural liberation struggles that developed in Brazil during the 1950s and 1960s. It was founded by the late Augusto Boal (1931-2009) in the early 1970s, and since then has been used around the world by activists and organizers fighting against oppression in all its forms as a tool to help mobilize communities in struggle. Conceived and practiced as a martial art, TO is rooted in a popular education model of theater; its original objective is to transfer the “means of production of the theater” to people fighting to change power relations at all levels of society. In the United States context, TO has been successfully applied in immigrant rights organizing, in anti-racism education, in community leadership training, and in many other projects and endeavors that are striving for social justice and radical anti-capitalist change. Founded in 1990 with the support of the Brecht Forum/New York Marxist School, the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) is the oldest group in the US offering TO facilitation training. In this workshop, the presenters—all long-time TO practitioners—will teach some of the basic TO games and exercises, in which participants will explore how they and the communities and constituencies with whom they work can apply TO techniques to build solidarity, a sense of community, and a greater level of engagement with people who are actively working for social transformation. TOPLAB has offered annual workshops at the Socialist Scholars Conference and the Left Forum since the early 1990s. Request: Two 110-minute back-to-back sessions. This has been TOPLAB's workshop format for many years. The same workshop will be offered twice.


Janet Gerson, TOPLAB facilitator since 1997, studied w/ Augusto Boal, Marie-Claire Picher, and Julian Boal; Education Director, International Institute on Peace Education; Peace and Justice Studies Assn 2014 Award for Public Deliberation on Global Justice: The World Tribunal on Iraq; Co-Director...

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Marie-Claire Picher is a Theater of the Oppressed trainer and popular educator who worked and collaborated closely with Augusto Boal, founder of the Theater of the Oppressed, until his death in 2009. She is a founding member of the New York City-based Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB...

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