Pedagogy & Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. (PTO) supports people whose work challenges oppressive systems by promoting critical thinking and social justice through liberatory theatre and popular education. Our vision is to create global access to popular education pedagogy and liberatory theatre of the oppressed methods to support a world based on radical love and social justice in stead of oppression and violence.
Our approaches stem from the theories and practices of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal. We foster collaborative connections to share, develop, promote, and document liberatory theatre, popular education, and other revolutionary actions. PTO serves as a resource for oppressed peoples and their allies in diverse communities, contexts, and traditions around the world.
PTO promises activists and social change agents, our members, and actors and non-actors alike that you can count on us to provide global and expanding connections to PTO practitioners, access to updated PTO tools, resources, and research, and support for your liberatory education and theatre efforts.
This organization developed from a series of four conferences held in Omaha, Nebraska from 1995-1998. The conference was based on the ideologies and works of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal. Using pedagogy and theatre, they each worked with oppressed peoples of the world to develop critical literacies and actions to overcome social systems of oppression.
The first conference, in 1995, was a result of Doug Paterson’s work with Boal and his commitment to Theatre of the Oppressed. [Doug is a professor of Dramatic Arts at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).] Working with Mary Macchietto of UNO’s Conference Center, the idea of a conference emerged. The theme of the conference would be liberatory pedagogy and theatre, thus integrating Freire and Boal.
Doug and Mary solicited faculty and community support as the conference developed. From year to year, there was overlap in the advisory board, maintaining both continuity and development of procedures for requesting proposals, the organization of the conference, and the evaluation of proposals. However, it was an Omaha endeavor.
From 1995 – 1998, attendance fluctuated from around 200 to over 800 when Paulo Freire participated in 1996. After the 1998 conference, several of the “Omaha organizers” decided that, to maintain the integrity of the conference and make it accessible to more people, it was necessary to find additional homes for it. Thus, we began the process of moving it to various locations. This also seemed to be a prime time to develop an organization.
Beginning with three people who had been involved with the conference for those four years: Doug Paterson, Irvin Peckham, and Carol Lloyd; and adding three more: David Catalan, Franklin Thompson and Angela Eikenberry; an “Ad Hoc Steering Committee”/”Board of Directors,” as we variously called ourselves, met frequently to incorporate in the state of Nebraska and register with the Internal Revenue Service as a not-for-profit organization.