The 23rd Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference – “Disrupting the Politics of Place: Building Inclusive Communities for the Future” – at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (June 7th – 10th), and the Pre-Conference with Julian Boal (June 4th – 7th) was extraordinary. Nearly 250 participants and presenters from Thailand, Ghana, Australia, Georgia, San Salvador, Turtle Island, Canada, and the US came together to share PO and TO techniques, offer critical analysis of each other’s work, and propose actions to confront oppressions of mind, body, and spirit wherever they occur.
The conference kicked off on Thursday evening with a performance of Forum plays developed by participants in the Julian Boal led Pre-Conference. The spect-actors in attendance decided to work through a Forum performance about the intersections of anti-Blackness and sexism in employment. The interventions and conversations were passionate, creative, and loving, and delved the conference into a discussion about creating space for multiply-marginalized communities in the context of structural violence and displacement
In the spirit of creating and holding space with marginalized community leaders, two of our all-conference sessions this year were performance-discussions developed and implemented by 1Hood Media and Falconworks Theatre Group. #PTO2018 also brought together dozens of local community leaders to hold several all-conference interactive discussion panels and an incredible half-day conference Dialogue on Race and Racism lead by Rebecca Mwaze and S. Leigh Thompson. The plenaries challenged attendees to more deeply analyze and contextualize issues in politics, education, and activism while in smaller sessions presenters offered reports on their own work, led discussions to define issues and explore possible actions, shared teaching and theatre techniques, and explored the future of PO, TO, and PTO as an organization.
The Board would like to thank the many volunteers who made the conference possible, the attendees who brought their open minds and open hearts to the gathering, and all the artists, activists, social justice advocates, teachers, students, performers, spect-actors, organizers, and others who generously shared so much in such an important space. As a board, we are each deeply appreciative of the opportunity to share space, creativity, and love with so many amazing movement builders! This year we were also excited to offer conference-specific community agreements, were invited to facilitate a community accountability process in accordance with these community agreements, and aspire to continue to deepen our commitment and capacity to hold each other accountable to better support trauma healing, prevention, and intervention. Each of us gained invaluable insight into how we can improve our work in our local communities and as board members to our global PTO community. It is our hope that as a board we were able to provide the space to disrupt the politics of place and build more inclusive communities in our imaginations and our communities.
-2018 Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Board