This March 2019 podcast is for anyone who teaches/studies social movements, movement building, labor history, union organizing, non-violent activism, social justice teaching, and direct action for social change! Hear Teamster Local 728 Organizing Director Ben Speight give an overview of union organizing and connections to our current times. He visited my REL/EDU 385: Religion, Education, and Activism class in February 2019 to plug us into the history of workers and why unions are still relevant more than ever.
“United, Unafraid, Undefeated, Unstoppable Leaders.” That is the description by the students of U-Lead Athens. Since August 2014 they meet every Thursday night at Oconee United Methodist Church, on the boundary of the University of Georgia (a university that bans undocumented students). Mentors and allies from the university (the UGA Undocumented Student Alliance) and the community gather to eat and study and plan for the future. Their mission statement states that they assist high school and recent graduates in preparing for college, identifying schools that are open to un(der)documented students, and applying for scholarships and other financial support. U-Lead Athens is a sanctuary, in the many meanings of that term, providing a supportive community.
In August 2018 my daughter Jacy and I visited U-Lead on a Thursday evening and interviewed current college students who returned to visit or volunteer, some current students, the director of volunteers, PhD student Nikki Luke, and two of the co-directors, Prof. JoBeth Allen and Prof. Betina Kaplan. The conversations set the context of the discrimination and anti-immigrant laws in Georgia, the activist work of students and allies to change these laws and provide access to higher education and in-state tuition, as well as working on justice issues around TPS and DACA status. The students shared their stories, their art, and their hopes and challenges.
Equal access to education is a human right. To support U-Lead Athens, click here:
U-Lead Athens website home page:
Eileen Truax, Dreamers: An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream (Beacon, 2015)
Jose Antonio Vargas, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen (HarperLuxe, 2018).
Laura Wides-Muñoz, The Making of a Dream: How a Group of Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change What It Means to Be an American (Harper, 2018).
For information about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals):
Nicolazzo asks us, “How do we think about the most vulnerable students on our campuses,” especially those who are multiply marginized? How do we work toward “a practice of freedom” (hooks)? Nicolazzo shows us a broader vision of trans*studies and pedagogies in higher education, and how attention to these intersections of oppression and freedom benefit all students and faculty. “What are we willing to risk in the name of justice?” And how can we collaborate in our classrooms and beyond in a “critical hope”?
Part 1: Toward a Critical Collaborative Pedagogy
From the field of studies in higher education come deep insights into pedagogical theory and practice. In the second of a series on trans*pedagogies, and on the recommendation of Dr. T.J. Jourian, I invited Dr. Z. Nicolazzo to talk about teaching and activism.
Nicolazzo is assistant professor of Trans*Studies in Education in the Center for the Study of Higher Education, University of Arizona, and the author of Trans*in college (Stylus, 2017), and numerous articles.
In Part 1 we discuss the components of “a critical collaborative pedagogy”: “Each time I teach a course, I introduce our classroom as a community in which we all-students and myself—both have responsibilities for our shared learning” (“Teaching Philosophy Statement: Arriving at a Critical Collaborative Pedagogy”). How do we (both trans* and non-trans* educators) do critical pedagogy and how do we practice pedagogy intersectionally? What does it mean for our classrooms and curriculum to pay attention to and learn from trans*pedagogies?
Music for this podcast is provided by fabulous artists:
Opening theme and interstitial music is by Aviva & the Flying Penguins and Lance Eric Haugan.
Ending music on Parts 1 and 2 is “Prayer for Paradise” by Paul Myhre, co-created with Mike Shelton.
Victoria Rue’s website:
Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-Actors, trans. Adrian Jackson (Routledge, 1992).
Sandra Butler and Barbara Rosenflum, Cancer in Two Voices (2nd Ed., Spinster Ink Books, 1996).
Joe Chaikin, The Presence of the Actor (Theatre Communications Group, 1972).
Maha Elgenaidi, founder of the Islamic Networks Group (ING):
Vsevold Meyerhold, Meyerhold on Theatre (Bloomsbury Meuthen Drama, 1978).
Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference:
Anna Deavere Smith, Fires in the Mirror (Anchor, 1993).
Viola Spolin, Improvisation for the Theatre: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques (3rd Edition, Northwestern University Press, 1999).
James H. Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation (Orbis, 2010).
Beverly Harrison, Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics (Beacon, 1986).
_____. Our Right to Choose: Toward a New Ethic of Abortion (Beacon, 1983).
Carter Heyward, God in the Balance: Christian Spirituality in Times of Terror (Pilgrim, 2002).
Dorothee Soelle, Thinking about God: An Introduction to Theology (Wipf & Stock, 2016).
Additional resources for theatre of the oppressed:
Bell, Lee Anne, Storytelling for Social Justice: Connecting Narrative and the Arts in Antiracist Teaching (Routledge, 2010).
Melisa Cahmann-Taylor and Mariana Souto-Manning, Teachers Act Up!: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities through Theatre (Teachers College Press, 2010).
Cohen-Cruz, Jan, Local Acts: Community-Based Performance in the United States (Rutgers, 2005).
Hannah Fox, Zoomy Zoomy: Improv Games and Exercises for Groups (Tusitala Publishing, 2010).
Katherine S. McKnight and Mary Scruggs, The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning (Jossey-Bass, 2008).
Stanley Pollack and Mary Fusoni, Moving Beyond Icebreakers: An Innovative Approach to Group Facilitation, Learning, and Action (The Center for Teen Empowerment, Inc., 2005).
Michael Rohd, Theatre for Community, Conflict & Dialogue: The Hope Is Vital Training Manual (Heinmann, 1998).
Mady Schutzman and Jan Cohen-Cruz, Playing Boal: Theatre, Therapy, Activism (Routledge, 1994).
In the second half of our conversation Victoria Rue talks about the
importance of theatre in the classroom as a way to break out of the ruts and old habits of traditional teaching. She offers suggestions for tools on the journey, as well as stories of her own experiences of transformative teaching and learning with students. Rue, like Marc Weinblatt in the previous podcast in July, calls attention to theatre as a necessary pedagogical method for social justice education.
Victoria Rue is a professor, author, playwright, theatre director and workshop leader, and Roman Catholic womanpriest. She has taught at San Jose State University from 2004 to the present in Comparative Religious Studies and Women’s Studies. In the Fall of 2018 she will be at Dar Al Calamar University College in Arts and Culture (http://www.daralkalima.edu.ps/en) Palestine as a Fulbright Scholar. For Rue learning is an encounter with the self and others, and theatre is a way to engage the whole person in critical thinking and engaging stories. She uses theatre as a way to teach cooperation, community building and somatic learning (embodied pedagogy). Through theatre games, improvisation, writing exercises, and the performance of plays, Rue creates learning communities that explore new possibilities for social change. Her work addresses issues such as HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, lgbtq issues, and homeless youth. With Augusto Boal, Rue sees “theatre as rehearsal for revolution.” According to Rue: “Theatre is an arena in which we can dream what we want in our society.” Her book, Acting Religious: Theatre as Pedagogy in Religious Studies (Pilgrim Press, 2005) has both theory and practical examples of her pedagogy and theatre work. For more information see her website: www.victoriarue.com
Theatre of the Oppressed: Explore Further!
Applied and Interactive Theatre Guide: http://www.tonisant.com/aitg/
Beautiful Trouble website: Theatre of the Oppressed: http://beautifultrouble.org/theory/theater-of-the-oppressed/
Cardboard Citizens (U.K.): http://cardboardcitizens.org.uk/
Center for Performance and Civic Practice: http://www.thecpcp.org/
Centre for Applied Theatre: http://centerforappliedtheatre.org/
CTO Rio (Boal’s original group): http://ctorio.org.br/novosite/
The Forum Project: http://theforumproject.org/about/
The Freire Institute: http://www.freire.org/
The Freire Project: http://www.freireproject.org/
Improv Encyclopedia: http://improvencyclopedia.org/references/Games_for_Actors_and_Non-actors.html
International Theatre of the Oppressed Organization: http://www.theatreoftheoppressed.org/en/index.php?useFlash=0
Jan Sanskriti Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed: (India):
Mandala Center for Change: http://www.mandalaforchange.com/
Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed: http://ptoweb.org/
Playback North America: https://playbacknorthamerica.com/
The Centre for Playback Theatre: http://www.playbackcentre.org/
International Playback Theatre Network: https://www.iptn.info/
Sojourn Theatre: http://www.sojourntheatre.org/
Theatre of the Oppressed (TOP) Lab: http://www.toplab.org/
In Part Two: Theatre for Systemic Change, Marc talks about his experiences with Forum Theatre and Legislative Theatre in addressing community issues. With over 30 years experience, Marc shows the successes, opportunities, and future vision of his theatre work.
The Mandala Center for Change: “Founded in 1999, the Mandala Center is a multi-disciplinary arts education organization dedicated to community dialogue, social justice, and societal transformation.”
Read the article by Marc Weinblatt & Cheryl Harrison, “Theatre of the Oppressor: Working with Privilege Toward Social Justice,” pp. 21-21 in “Come Closer”: Critical Perspectives on Theatre of the Oppressed, eds. Toby Emert & Ellie Friedland (Peter Lang, 2011).
“Theatre is a form of knowledge; it should and can also be a means of transforming society. Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it.”—Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed
Marc Weinblatt has been a professional educator, theatre director, activist, and workshop facilitator since 1980 having extensive experience with both adults and youth. An internationally recognized leader in the use of Augusto Boal’s renowned Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) to stimulate community dialogue and social change, Marc has worked with diverse communities ranging from police to homeless youth, grassroots organizers and laborers to University deans. Internationally, he has worked with activists in Norway, Holland, and Canada, youth workers in Guatemala, refugees in Azerbaijan, ex-combatants in Northern Ireland, construction workers in South Africa, slum families in India, community workers in the Republic of Congo, and victims of war, among others, in Afghanistan. Marc was named “Cultural Envoy” by the U.S. State Department for his work in the Congo in spring 2010. Marc regularly facilitates T.O. based diversity / anti-oppression workshops in a wide variety of contexts across the U.S. with a commitment to bringing a deep sense of spirit and humanity into social justice work. He also directs the multi-generational Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble which incorporates T.O. and Playback Theatre techniques to generate community dialogue on burning social issues. One of Augusto Boal’s “multipliers”, Marc has trained thousands of people in the use of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques through his classes and annual week-long intensive trainings since the early 1990′s. Marc is also a dedicated father of 4 beautiful boys. (bio from the Mandala Center for Change website: http://www.mandalaforchange.com/site/about-us/our-team/)
In Part One: Theatre of Liberation, Marc shares his theatre background and outlines Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) and Playback Theatre (founded by Jo Salas and Jonathan Fox). He draws examples from his experience with homeless and lbgtq youth.