Friday, March 16 through Sunday, March 18, 2012
at Pace University
One Pace Plaza (near City Hall)
New York City
with Reg Flowers, Janet Gerson, Elia Gurna, Kayhan Irani, Marie-Claire Picher and Reka Polonyi
A unique phenomenon in the U.S. and the world, Left Forum convenes the largest annual conference of a broad spectrum of left and progressive intellectuals, activists, academics, organizations and the interested public. Conference participants come together to engage a wide range of critical perspectives on the world, to discuss differences, commonalities, and alternatives to current predicaments, and to share ideas for understanding and transforming the world. The conference is held each spring in New York City.
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Theater of the Oppressed (TO) is a methodology and set of techniques that has its origins in the popular education movement 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. 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 change.
Most recently, people involved in Occupy Wall Street collaborated with the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) to apply TO techniques within that project; this collaboration is ongoing. In this
panel, the presenters–all long-time TO practitioners–will talk about how they and the communities and constituencies with whom they have worked applied TO techniques to build solidarity, a sense of
community, and a greater level of engagement with people who are actively working for social transformation.
Reg Flowers is the founder and Artistic Director of Falconworks Artists Group and has been teaching theater since 1986. In 2006 he received the BAX 10 Award for arts education. As a professional actor
Reg has appeared on television and in plays across the United States including the national tour of Angels in America, for which he received the LA Ovation Award ("Best Featured Actor in a Play"). Reg
is a graduate of Yale School of Drama.
Janet Gerson, member, TOPLAB since 1996, has facilitated TO workshops throughout the US and internationally. Active in OWS working groups and Spokescouncil. Education Director, International Institute on Peace Education. Was Co-Director, Peace Education Center, Teachers College 2001-11. Her TO and OWS-related research include public deliberation, creative contention, coalitional processes, and
alternative pedagogies. Currently is writing on the World Tribunal on Iraq.
Elia Gurna is an artist who uses Theater of the Oppressed in her work as a teaching artist and youth worker and is a facilitator with the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB).
Kayhan Irani, recently returned from Afghanistan, is a writer, director, performer and facilitator. In 2010 she won a New York Emmy award for best writing for We Are New York a 9-episode TV drama and
English language learning and civic engagement tool for immigrant New Yorkers. She is a TOPLAB facilitator and has led workshops in NY and around the US, as well as in Kabul, Afghanistan (2010 and 2011) and Baghdad, Iraq (2004) to use theater for change.
Marie-Claire Picher is a co-founder (1989) of the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) and has worked and collaborated closely with Augusto Boal until his death in 2009. One of the most experienced
TO practitioners in North America, she has presented thousands of hours of TO facilitation training in New York and throughout the United States, as well as in Chiapas, Tabasco, Mexico City, Guatemala and Cuba.
Reka Polonyi is a social theater practitioner and Clown Doctor working in the field of theater for human and migrant rights. She works with displaced immigrant communities, asylum seekers, refugees and
internally displaced in Hungary, the UK and Ecuador. She facilitates workshops that encourage community empowerment and rights awareness, using Theater of the Oppressed in her workshops and is an enthusiastic participant in TOPLAB events, as well as an active member of Occupy Wall Street, NYC.