“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.
In Part 2 of our conversation Vialla Hartfield-Mendez and Doris Sommer takes us further on some wonderful creative tangents on generative learning and democratic education. They discuss the (re)use of art as a vehicle for getting “unstuck” in imagining just societies, and the practice of Augusto Boal’s theatre of the oppressed as a way of embodied learning. The pronouncement of the death of the humanities is not only premature, it has served as an impetus for rethinking students and teachers as cultural agents for creative change. The changes to classrooms, through the examples they discuss from k-12 to higher education, are inspiring.
Pre-Texts is an expansion of critical pedagogy using the arts to create democratic discourses and connections between university and the world for social transformation. Pre-Texts is part of Cultural Agents (culturalagents.org) at Harvard University: “arts and humanities in civic engagement.” Pre-Texts is an approach to the humanities and to social change, grounded in student-centered learning. The handmade books from recycled material (Cartonera) in Latin America, and the art activism of Antonus Mockus, former mayor of Bogata, are two example of art in the world.
Doris Sommer, Ira and Jewell Williams jr. Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and Vialla Harfield-Mendez, in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and Professor of Pedagogy at Emory University, joined me in a conversation on May 24, 2017 at Emory. They talk about Pre-Texts origins and evolution, the train-the-trainer pedagogy sessions, and the re-imagining of the humanities in the world. The tangents they follow provide examples of new ways of defining leadership, learning, and innovative change practices.
The foundational sources by Doris Sommer include her edited book, Cultural Agency in the Americas (Duke University Press, 2006) and The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities (Duke, 2014).
A Podcast of Radical Musings on Social Justice, Pedagogies for Transformation, and Feminist Activism