Welcome to the 2019 Pedagogy & Theatre of the Oppressed Conference Schedule!

Sign up or log in to bookmark your favorites and sync them to your phone or calendar.

Paper Presentation [clear filter]
Friday, June 14

10:45am MDT

Adapting Conventional Techniques for Revolutionary Purposes
Limited Capacity seats available

Title #1: "“Four legs badass, two legs wasteman!” –  Reimagining Orwell for Austerity Britain"
Presenter: James Kenworth
Description: "Man's the enemy. Always was. Always will be. Whose side are you on?"
Abstract: In 2014, I was given special permission by AM heath Agents on behalf of the George Orwell estate to adapt and modernise Orwell’s classic satire, Animal Farm, and give it a fresh, contemporary twist, injecting its timeless tale of a revolution that went wrong with a gritty, urban, ‘in-yer-face’ language.  

The play was unique in another respect: it was staged on one of London’s longest established and largest inner city farms: Newham City Farm,
with The Independent’s Paul Taylor calling the play “a terrifically powerful update of Orwell’s classic”.

In this paper, I will explore the process/methodology of adapting a literary classic with a contemporary spin, with special emphasis on a creative and expressive approach to playwriting language/dialogue. The paper will also address the challenges of setting the play on an inner city farm and how the use of non-conventional theatre spaces affects and reconfigures the relationship between a play and audience.
Title #2: "Is Grading Inherently Oppressive?"
Presenter: Ken Burak
Description: Let’s talk about grading.Can we truly engage in Friere-inspired critical pedagogy if we maintain the hierarchical relationship of grader-graded?  What alternatives are there?  What about self-grading?
Abstract: Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed invite us to engage in pedagogical strategies that challenge the hierarchical, oppressive relationship of Teacher/Student and Actor/Spectator respectively.  But can we do so effectively if we grade our students, leaving in place the hierarchical relationship grader/graded?

After a brief presentation on how I personally came to question grading, including a review of grading abolitionist Alfie Kohn -- as well as on my practice of not grading my students – they have been self-grading for almost ten years – I will facilitate a discussion about grading, exploring such questions as:

1. Is grading inherently oppressive? Are there non-oppressive ways of grading?
2. Does grading counteract our efforts to create lifelong learners by teaching students to identify learning with school?
3. According to the theory of the overjustification effect, extrinsic motivation (rewards and punishments) tends to erode intrinsic motivation. By bribing our students with the rewards of good grades and threatening them with the punishment of bad ones, are we killing their intrinsic motivation to learn, their curiosity?
4. In an ideal world, without any pressure from our employers in academic institutions, what alternatives might there be to grading?
5. In our actual world, where we are pressured by our employers in academic institutions to grade our students, what alternatives to grading are possible?
6. What has your experience grading, or not grading, students been? What has your experience of being graded, or not being graded, been?

I don’t plan to come to this session with answers, but rather to create a space for educators and students to discuss and learn from one another’s wisdom and experience. 


Ken Burak

Professor of Philosophy, Northampton Community College
I have been teaching Philosophy from a liberatory and social justice perspective for over twenty years and my work has been heavily influenced, in content and form, by the traditions of Friere and Boal.  My PhD dissertation title was "Logic and Resistance: Reading Hegel in the Age... Read More →

James Kenworth

Middlesex University
I am a Creative Writing Lecturer/Academic and Professional Playwright and have been engaged in writing plays for socially engaged and urban community-based theatre, which involve a collaboration between professional actors and young people from economically deprived areas of London... Read More →

Friday June 14, 2019 10:45am - 12:15pm MDT
ASG Meeting Room 202 (Upper Level) 2200 Bonforte Blvd, Pueblo, CO 81001, USA

3:15pm MDT

Reports from the Field - Theatre of the Oppressed in Practice
Limited Capacity seats available

Title #1: Demechanization and Intercultural Dialogue 
Presenter: Elliot Leffler
Program Description:  Based on an ethnographic study at an international summer camp, this paper examines theatre games and exercises and their capacity to foster intercultural dialogue.   
Abstract:  Augusto Boal’s games and exercises, which are used broadly in many Applied Theatre programs, are designed to “demechanize” the body and its senses – to break our habits of movement by getting players moving and experiencing the world (and each other) in new and unusual ways.  Physical theatre exercises, such as Viewpoints or clowning work, are similarly used in participatory programs to mobilize people's bodies.  Boal writes about the power of this engagement to liberate our bodies from the routinized patterns of behavior and mind instilled in our capitalist, colonialist world – but less is written about the power of these games to bring people together across cultural differences.  In this paper, I examine the intercultural implications of this kinesthetic play.  I do so by examining the interactions of participants in a theatre program I facilitated at an international peace camp.  The teenage participants included a large and culturally-diverse group of Americans, a large and culturally-diverse group of Iraqis, and smaller groups from Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Israel, Germany, and Nigeria.  I argue that as participants engage in this intense physical play, they experience themselves and one another as incorporeal – a term Erin Manning employs to describe a state of constant metamorphosis.  These incorporeal players become less self-conscious and more enmeshed in a collective feeling of ensemble.  They establish a sense of what I call creative intimacy.  This has the potential to lay the groundwork for rich intercultural dialogue, though it also can absorb a group in such a delightful utopic feeling that participants become reluctant to engage in any dialogue that might threaten this new status quo.  

Challenging Questions
1. When have you witnessed this kind of creative intimacy empowering a group to conduct rich intercultural dialogue, and when have you witnessed it constraining a group’s intercultural dialogue?
2. What factors seem to determine whether creative intimacy is ultimately limiting or empowering for intercultural groups?
3. How can jokers successfully move a group toward greater risk-taking when they are reluctant? 

Title #2: End Stigma/End HIV-AIDS: A Forum Theatre  Intervention
Presenter: Robert Huesca
Program Description:  This proposal reports the findings from a three-year activist research project using Forum Theatre to combat stigma surrounding HIV-AIDS testing and treatment in San Antonio, Texas.
Abstract:  Findings from this research contribute to both the literature on Forum Theatre and participatory communication for social change. First, this study demonstrates the utility of systematic interviewing in crafting the Forum Theatre performances. Previous research calls for the participation of affected populations in the crafting of performances, but fails to provide much guidance on how this might be done systematically. Second, the performances affirmed the value of participatory communication in theatre as audiences developed multiple, creative interventions to confront stigma at the individual, institutional, and community levels.

Challenging Questions
1. Can systematic interviewing enhance the development of theatrical narratives?
2. What strategies and techniques are suitable for moving from data collection to theatrical production?
3. How do we respond to the reproduction of oppression by “spect-actors?” 


Robert Huesca

Professor, Trinity University
I am a Professor of Communication with a research history in participatory communication for social change. My work with Theatre of the Oppressed is in the form of a summer 2018 collaboration with 3 students, 2 community members, and two professors, one of whom has a lengthy history... Read More →

Elliot Leffler

Assistant of Theatre and Performance Studies Professor, University of Toronto
Elliot Leffler is a scholar, director, performer, and facilitator of applied theatre projects. In his research and in the creative projects he leads, Elliot primarily explores how theatre can be used as a catalyst for intercultural and interfaith dialogue. He has led theatre projects... Read More →

Friday June 14, 2019 3:15pm - 4:45pm MDT
ASG Meeting Room 202 (Upper Level) 2200 Bonforte Blvd, Pueblo, CO 81001, USA
Saturday, June 15

5:00pm MDT

My Image, My Conscience, My Story: Image Theatre as a Gateway Between Silence and Blast
Limited Capacity seats available

Program Description: This is a session paper presentation which seeks scruitiny and suggestions for its betterment for publication in the PTO Journal.

Abstract: In the last few decades Africa has seen an upsurge of the use of applied theatre in addressing community issues. In Ghana’s own case, two recent past presidents of the republic recognised in their inaugural speeches (January, 2009 and January, 2013), the potential of Applied Theatre and their thirst to patronise in its use to address community issues, during their terms of office, making applied theatre popular among Ghanaians. Unfortunately, the few theatre practitioners in Ghana who have used applied theatre have focused, mostly, on its use for sensitisation and awareness creation campaigns through plays and post-performance discussion. This paper discusses how other aspects of applied theatre could be used for intervention purposes for personal and community development in Ghana. In this presentation, Augusto Boal’s Image Theatre which was used as an investigation tool to break the silence among irregular migrants in Ghana on issues of social justice, in connection with irregular migration will be used as a case study. The study found that image theatre has high potential of fetching information from research participants in Ghana without coercion or luring but in a most agreeable manner.

Challenging Questions
1. What is the place of Testimonial Theatre in Theatre of the Oppressed
2. Can Image Theatre be used as a research tool?


Dr. Felicia Owusu-Ansah

Professor, University of Ghana
Currently a Lecturer at the Theatre Arts Department of the University of Ghana, Dr Felicia Owusu-Ansah teaches Theatre for Development, Community Theatre, Research Methods, Theatre History among others. She is an applied Theatre Scholar whose research interest and practice focus include... Read More →

Saturday June 15, 2019 5:00pm - 6:30pm MDT
Trailridge 002 (Lower Level) 2200 Bonforte Blvd, Pueblo, CO 81001, USA

5:00pm MDT

The Marxist Classroom
Limited Capacity seats available

Title: The Marxist Classroom: Exploring the Social Constructions of Alienation of Students from Academic Work and Liberation Through Application of Deci and Ryan’s Self Determination Theory of Personality Development

Presenter: Tucker D. Farris

Abstract: This paper strives to apply Marx’s theory of alienation in the proletariat class in an industrial society to the classroom in higher education. Marx’s viewpoint offers a way to conceptualize student burnout, low performance, low engagement, and lack of intrinsic motivation. Marx wrote that upon industrialization of a society, a social reality is created wherein the working classes are distanced so far from the products they are working to produce, that they experience a dissociation of self to the point that they are no longer personally invested in the work that is consuming their lives. When this line of thought is applied to a sociological study of the modern classroom, we begin to see similarities between our ivory towers and Marx’s factories. Students often feel disenchanted and alienated from their work, and this, as a result, lends to a classroom taking on a similar social reality to that of a factory floor. By conceptualizing the classroom in this way, we are enlightened to a new interpretive lens by which we can better understand the social and personal struggles our students have with the environments we create in their classes. Drawing on my experiences in graduate writing support, I will propose a lens for framing student interactions, with respects to fostering positive identity formation. The methodology serves to promote equity in the classroom by exploring the social factors of alienation, and by attempting to provide direction for educators to frame different socioeconomic, ethnic, or other backgrounds in terms of barriers to positive identity growth.  


Tucker D. Farris

Graduate Student, University of Victoria
I am a graduate student at the University of Victoria, I began my work with Pedagogy of the Oppressed when I began studying transformational teaching and experiential education during my undergraduate career in the States. When I moved to graduate school I began applying this work... Read More →

Saturday June 15, 2019 5:00pm - 6:30pm MDT
ASG Meeting Room 202 (Upper Level) 2200 Bonforte Blvd, Pueblo, CO 81001, USA