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- S. Leigh Thompson, President
- Katherine Burke, Past President
- Charles Adams, Treasurer
- Shannon Ivey and Richard Piatt, Co-Secretaries
- Doug Paterson, Board Member Emeritus
Members at Large
Charles Adams, Treasurer, has his PhD in Theatre Historiography from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in drama and theatre for youth from the University of Texas at Austin. His research is in areas of theatre and social change, especially in the fields of Theatre in Education, critical pedagogies, and transformation. He has worked as a teaching artist for 15 years, training novice teaching artists as well as teaching educators in methodologies and philosophies for using embodiment as a means of resisting dehumanizing modes of education.
Katherine Burke, Past-President, is a multidisciplinary artist, teacher, and activist. Her work in health humanities at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine engages Cleveland residents, medical students, health care workers, and physicians in an ongoing examination of health and well-being. As the directing and devising force behind the acclaimed verbatim play May 4th Voices, she brought to life the oral histories of witnesses to the 1970 shootings at Kent State University. Burke is an activist who uses Theatre of the Oppressed and other arts-based techniques to foster dialogue and inspire action, and has taught and implemented applied theatre for social change methods nationally and internationally. www.katherineburke.net
Ruthi Engelke is on the Leadership Team at Move to Amend (MTA), a coalition of hundreds of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests. She works with Outreach and Engagement, Barnstorming, and as a liaison to the Pachamama Alliance, a partner group whose mission is to empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just and sustainable world. Ruthi is a former theater teacher with a BA in Theater from the University of Texas as well as an MA in Literature from the University of Houston-CL. She has been working on creating a new Art & Culture Caucus for Move to Amend that examines art and culture as transformational movement work. Ruthi is also a certified yoga instructor.
Tatiana Grasso is an impassioned educator, theater director and drama teacher with a well-established career in the performing arts that began in 2001. She completed her Performing Arts (Theatre and Education) degree in Brazil and her Master’s of Performing Arts (Theatre) in France, specializing in Augusto Boal’s theory and practice. As a member of the esteemed Parisian Theatre of the Oppressed company from 2007, Tatiana became proficient in Forum Theatre techniques and worked extensively with groups of people from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds for three years in Paris’ suburbs. She has performed in and directed plays that travelled internationally as a part of influential theatre companies in France, Spain, Italy, Brazil and Australia, promoting debates and reflection, and (re)thinking the world wherever she goes. Moving to Australia in 2010, Tatiana continued to work with Theatre of the Oppressed ideologies within formal and informal institutions that ranged from universities to established and recently created theater companies. Working with diverse groups of people Tatiana had the chance to incorporate a variety of themes during the workshops, which culminated in substantial Forum Theatre performances around Melbourne for a mixture of audiences. Tatiana has also initiated and developed Theatre of the Oppressed projects in collaboration with institutions like RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees, NMIT: Young Adult Migrant Education and the Australian Centre of Performing Arts, working with participants that combined different cultures, themes of interest, ages, motivations and passions to develop social actions in many cases. Residing in Chicago since 2014, Tatiana has been contributing towards the creation of a Brazilian Centre of the Arts alongside other educators who value Paulo Freire’s pedagogies of learning, and continues acting, teaching and directing theater performances.
Kelly Howe is an activist, teacher, artist, writer, and dialogue facilitator based in Oak Park, Illinois. She is a member of the theatre faculty at North Central College, where she also serves as the coordinator of the gender and women’s studies program. Kelly teaches courses in performance and social change, theatre history, script analysis, acting, and feminist and queer theory; she also directs plays and mentors students interested in theatre for dialogue, applied theatre, community-based theatre, devised performances, dramaturgy, and theory and criticism. Her writing appears in Text and Performance Quarterly, Theatre Journal, and Theatre Topics. Kelly’s research interests include Theatre of the Oppressed and other forms of activist performance; community-based performance; critical pedagogy; and feminist, queer, and critical race theory. Her dissertation examined North American adaptations of Augusto Boal’s Legislative Theatre experiment. She is currently co-editing–with Julian Boal and Scot McElvany–Theatre of the Oppressed in Actions: An Audio-Visual Introduction to Boal’s Forum Theatre (Routledge). Her other recent scholarship focuses on radical performances critiquing notions of zygote personhood and corporate personhood. She also writes about theatrical contributions to conversations on U.S. health care reform, 2008-2010. She has facilitated summer performance devising programs for youth in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood, and she currently sits on the advisory board for the Houston Forum For Arts In Health. As an artist, she specializes in collaborative devising, Forum Theatre, and new play direction. She holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Performance as Public Practice from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in Theatre and English from Muhlenberg College.
Shannon Ivey MFA, AEA, is an actress, director, activist, educator, and TEDx Presenter. She holds an MFA in Acting from UNC Greensboro and a BA in Theatre from Mississippi University for Women. Ms. Ivey is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association, a designation she earned on a national tour with the Kennedy Center. Ms. Ivey has over 20 years of experience teaching, facilitating workshops, and directing traditional and/or devising plays, musicals, and performative experiences for audiences of all ages. Ms. Ivey is a member of SETC, SCTA, Network of Ensemble Theatres, NADTA, and lastly, PTO, for whom she serves as a Board Member. FMI: www.improvactivist.com
Skye Ashton Kantola is a social justice activist, a queer and trans community organizer, and an artist. Skye became involved in queer justice, racial justice, and immigration reform movements while attending Texas A&M University as an undergraduate student. After moving to Indiana in 2012, they became the lead facilitator and Director of Programming at Trans Lafayette, a local trans support and anti-oppression organization based out of Lafayette, IN. Skylar also contributes to intersectional LGBTQ+ focused violence prevention efforts state wide as the Outreach Coordinator for the Multicultural Efforts to end Sexual Assault (MESA) program based out of Purdue University. They have been involved in and utilizing PTO since 2013, write and perform spoken word poetry, and create abstract and liberation themed visual art. As a self proclaimed unicorn, Skye welcomes being referred to with any (respectful) gender pronouns. Skye lives in Lafayette, IN, with their partner and three large dogs and hopes to return to the South one day.
Doug Paterson, Emeritus, is Professor of Theatre at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. While he has published on numerous topics, his passion remains theatre and social change. He is co-founder of three theatres including the Dakota Theatre Caravan in South Dakota, the Circle Theatre in Omaha, and an Omaha group dedicated to TO work. To date he has offered over 200 Theatre of the Oppressed workshops and presentations in Omaha, across the US, and around the world. International sites include Rio de Janeiro, Israel, Iraq, Liberia, Australia, India, Croatia, and Palestine. Doug began the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed series of international Conferences in 1995, now in its seventeenth year. Doug Paterson continues to work actively to promote the work of Augusto Boal and Paulo Freire and is a peace and social justice activist in the Great Plains.
Fr. Richard J. Piatt, O.S.A. holds an MA in theatre from Villanova University, an M.Div. from Washington Theological Union, and is currently finishing his doctorate in Drama from Goldsmiths, University of London. His primary area of research is Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, and he continues to conduct workshops in the field. He has served on the board of directors for Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed, Inc and is a member of the international Sociology of Theatre and Performance Research Group. Publications include “There are no Good Torturers: Theatre of the Oppressed and the Problem of Evil” in the book Mis/Representing Evil: Evil in an Interdisciplinary Key, and “Faith Acts: Exploring the Possibilities for Theatre of the Oppressed and Latin American Liberation Theology” in Come Closer: Critical Conversations about the Practice of Theatre of the Oppressed and Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Recent directing credits include: Rent, Into the Woods, The 9/11 Effect, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and the Macbeth, The Producers, Little Shop of Horrors, and Doubt. At Merrimack, Fr. Rick teaches Acting, Directing, Introduction to Theatre, The Politics of Performance, and American Musical Theatre.
S. Leigh Thompson, President, is a social justice artist, a critical educator and a raging queer and has spent his adult life working for political and social justice, especially within the queer and trans* communities. He has a BA in Theatre Direction from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and an individualized MA from Gallatin at NYU, focusing on utilizing Theatre of the Oppressed for political and social change. Leigh is the President of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. and has been a member since 2001. He is the Co-founder of The Forum Project and provides creative and critical workshop facilitation in NYC. Learn more about his work at sleighthompson.com. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Mark Weinberg is co-founder of The Center for Applied Theatre. He has over 35 years of university teaching experience in theatre and communication skills. Mark began his study of Applied Theatre techniques with Augusto Boal in 1992 and has studied and/or co-facilitated with Julian Boal, Doug Paterson, Michael Rohd, David Diamond, Leigh Thompson, Norma Bowles, and others. He has conducted social justice and problem solving workshops and Applied Theatre educational sessions for educators, administrators, students, workers, community organizations and those they serve in the U.S., Australia, and Canada. Mark has been active in transformative theatre work in many capacities – as educator, as one of the founding performers in the Other Theatre Company collective, as co-founder of the Theatre and Social Change focus group of ATHE, and currently as board member of PTO. His publications include Challenging the Hierarchy: Collective Theatre in the United States (Greenwood Press), “Community-based Theatre” in Theatre Symposium (8), “We Are All Theatre” in The Citizen Artist (with Doug Paterson), “The One-Line Play: Elaborations on Image Theatre” in Come Closer (with Jenny Wanasek), and “Boal and Us” in the PTO International Journal (with Katherine Burke and Long Tran). A Fifth-degree Black Belt in Karate, Mark is owner and lead instructor of Black Belt Leadership Academy in Wauwatosa where he trains and supervises staff and teaches leadership skills through the martial arts.