2017 PTO Conference

Read more about the 2017 PTO Conference below, or visit these other conference pages:


Breaking the Silence: From Rebellion to Waging Love
Each year, PTO supports a local organizing team to host an annual gathering of hundreds of educators, activists, change makers, actors and non-actors from all over the world. We come together to connect with each other, create solutions and art, and challenge each other to empower our communities and problem-solve in innovative ways.

Thank you for your conference proposal submissions! We’ll be getting back to you soon.

WHEN: June 1st – June 4th, 2017

  • Pre-Conference with Julian Boal on May 30th – June 1st!
  • Welcome Event on June 1st
  • Conference June 2nd-4th
  • Cost information below & registration info coming soon!

WHERE:  Cass Corridor Commons, 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA, a city with a rich history of activism and organizing

WHAT: A chance to LEARN, SHARE, QUESTION, and CONNECT through interactive techniques developed by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and other people working to fight oppression and create justice. Learn more about Freire and Boal and their work at ptoweb.org.

Conference participants create machines of sound and movements to reflect on their conference experience.

Conference participants create machines of sound and movements to reflect on their conference experience.

WHO: YOU. Students, teachers, scholars, artists, activists, organizers. People of all ages, places, identities, experiences. If you want to build dialogue and make a more just world, you are invited, you are welcomed, and you are NEEDED.

WHY: The 22 Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference will be held in Detroit, MI commemorating the 50th Anniversary of 1967 Detroit Rebellion and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence – in which he called for a radical revolution in values in the struggle against the evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism—and looking toward the future.

In July of 1967, responding to racist employment discrimination, segregated and substandard housing and public schools, lack of opportunity and police brutality, Black neighborhoods in Detroit exploded in what has been characterized as the most deadly urban rebellion in the United States to date. In the 50 years since the long hot summer of ’67 in Detroit, Black, Brown and poor White people have been galvanizing to counter oppressive policies.

Around the globe, oppressed people continue to face struggles against inequities that make 2017 feel eerily similar to 1967. Communities respond in action, striving towards change. But activists and advocates are likened to terrorists and public discourse around rioting, rebelling, and revolting intensifies.

Nearly 50 years later in Detroit and elsewhere, people are thinking about the meaning of rebellion and the role of radical love in transformation. Rebellions and revolutions are often expressions of justifiable anger and pain, but are not usually thought of as acts of love. What is the relationship between these strategies? What’s love got to do with either of them? As a city and as a world, what are our critical, visionary responses to a system that constantly challenges our humanity? Waging love can also be transformative and revolutionary.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed (PO) was born out of the needs of Brazilian peasants in a particular time and place, but Paolo Freire’s theory of liberatory education remains for all of us, to use his own words from Pedagogy of Hope, “an adventure in unveiling…an experiment in bringing out the truth.” Theatre of the Oppressed (TO), born out of similar needs, was ironically triggered by what Augusto Boal himself noted was an error in judgement, when his theatre company presented a play that called for “shedding our blood to free our lands” without being willing to take up arms itself. Practitioners of PO and TO continue to support, challenge, and serve communities by developing techniques that promote transformative action and amplify the voices of oppressed people speaking their own truths.

Detroit is also a particular place in a particular time with its own struggles and its own truth, but it is as well a place to continue the adventure. Now more than ever we must come together as people, as communities, as movements to develop and share strategies to combat the many oppressions that continue to rob us of our humanity. PTO invites you to be part of its conference, commemorating a moment of rebellion in the past, but also engaging in a powerful effort to reimagine current and future struggles as acts of waging love.

Become a member for discounted registration at the Conference and Regional Gatherings and to support PTO!

Pre-Conference Costs $200 total

Conference Registration Costs*

Conference Registration TypesEarly (before May 1st)Regular (May 1st-June 2nd)
Full Member:$180$210
Open Access Member:$80$95
Non-Member: $250$280
High School Student:$20$30
Organizational Registration (up to 5 attendees): $650$735

Full Member vs. Open Access Member Registration

Please notice that both “Full Member” Registration and “Open Access Member” Registration are available to Members of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. We have two payment options for PTO Members in an effort to be affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. For anyone for whom it is financially feasible, we strongly encourage you to register under the “Member” registration to ensure the sustainability of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. Please remember we are an entirely volunteer run internationally-reaching organization, all our income comes from our membership and donations, and all our income goes back into conferences, events, and activities that support your work!

Membership is only $30 and comes with additional benefits including being listed in our global PTO Member Directory and saving at least $40 on registration for the 2017 PTO Conference in Detroit, and many others.

*Registration information coming soon!


  • Apply to share your work and ideas with people from around the world.
  • Register to attend as a participant, whether you want to present or not. COMING SOON
  • If you’re local to Detroit, volunteer with us. Email conference@ptoweb.org to let us know you want to volunteer.