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 – SOLD OUT

To read additional information about the Pre-Conference or the facilitator, Julian Boal, please check out our Pre-Conference Page.

Conference Registration Costs* – On-Site Only

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

Full Member and Open Access Member registration are both open to Members of PTO. The Full Member registration is the full price registration for the conference. If you have the privilege of being funded by an organization or can personally afford to pay full price, please do. The lower priced Open Access Member registration is there to make the conference accessible to as many people as possible. Instead of making people prove a need for a “scholarship,” we at PTO believe in allowing folks to self-select for need. If you have a need for a lower registration price in order to attend this conference, please choose the Open Access Member registration.

However, for PTO to continue offering the Open Access Member registration price, those who can afford Full Member Registration cost must self-select to do so. We rely on an “honor system” to continue making the annual conference and other events financially accessible. Please don’t forget that as an entirely volunteer-lead, not-for-profit organization, we rely on your membership and donations. All of our income goes directly back into conferences, events, and activities that support your work!

Detroit Resident ONLY – Open Access – On-Site Only

This registration form is for current Detroit residents ONLY.
We have a few registration spaces available at an open access cost only available to current residents of Detroit. Your registration expense will go towards an individual, one year membership with Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. which comes with several great benefits including lower-cost registration and your information being added to our global directory of pedagogy and of the oppressed and theatre of the oppressed practitioners.

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.


  • 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.