- Reg Flowers, Co-President
- Rachel DeSoto-Jackson, Co-President
- Charles Adams, Treasurer
- Sasha Sigel, Secretary
Members at Large
- Bonface Njeresa Beti – NEW!
- Chicago Workers’ Collaborative
- Emily Ruth Evey – NEW!
- Kelly Howe – Re-Elected!
- Lisa Jo Epstein – NEW!
- Mary C. Parker
- Maxwel Eliakim Okuto – NEW!
- Miles Boucher – NEW!
- Rebecca Struch
- Robin Brandehoff
- Skye Kantola Communications Director – Re-Elected!
- Doug Paterson, Board Member Emeritus
Reg Flowers, Co-President began his career as an actor and teaching artists in 1987. He’s performed in plays across the US, on and off- Broadway and also made several guest starring television appearances. Reg is also a director, playwright, producer and is the founder of Falconworks Artist Group a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) that uses popular theater techniques to build capacities for civic engagement and social change.
Since 2009 Reg has been a Theater of the Oppressed practitioner, working in collaboration with Theater of the Oppressed practitioners from around the world. Reg recently served as the lead organizer for the 2017 Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed Conference in Detroit, MI. Reg is currently a faculty member at Pace University in the Performing Arts & General Education Department and has been a teacher and lecturer at Montclair State University, The School for International Training, The University of the Arts and Yale University among others.
Reg currently splits his time between Brooklyn, New York with his husband, Chris Hammett and Detroit, Michigan, where he is lead artists at Alt Space Detroit, a culture project in just and sustainable living.
Rachel DeSoto-Jackson, Co-President, is an educator, scholar, and social justice artist whose work focuses on creating diversity, equity, and inclusion through Applied Theater models for social change. Her artistic practice, scholarship, and teaching explore Latinx and minority narratives of identity, culture, and social memory. At the intersection of her work is an emphasis on community-building. Rachel is an Assistant Professor of Applied Theater at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Director of SPATE (Simulated Patient/Applied Theater Ensemble). This ensemble applies Theatre of the Oppressed in a continually evolving process of creation to challenge hegemonic systems of oppression and inequality. She holds an MFA in Performance Pedagogy, MA in Theatre and Performance Studies, and MA Certificate in Film Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Rachel has held fellowships with the International Performing Arts for Youth organization and held appointments as a K. Leroy Irvis Fellow and a Hot Metal Bridge Fellow.
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.
Sasha Sigel, Secretary: I have focused on theatre for social and political change in a variety of places and capacities, such as with Center for Applied Theatre and Feast of Crispian in Wisconsin. Since moving to New York, I have been incorporating body work and mindfulness (primarily through yoga) into TO practices. I’ve volunteered with a range of activist organizations including White Nonsense Roundup, TO NYC and the Women’s Center at The University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. As a board member, I would look to link PTO with organizations centered in healing and liberation that use other modalities that compliment our practices. Actively seeking more diversity within the organization (specifically in regards to race and LGBTQIA+ community members) is also a focus of mine. As I shape my work and intentions, I would like to become more deeply involved with political and social theatre.
Bonface Njeresa Beti: I am an artist peacebuilder with over 10 years, applying TO on ethnic conflict. Since 2004, working with Amani Peoples’ Theatre. I have utilized TO tools in conflict zones in Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and in Canada working on transforming issues of colonialism. I have BA degree in communication and MA in Peace and Conflict studies fom the University of Manitoba, Canada.
The Chicago Workers’ Collaborative, Chicago, IL, promotes the creation of stable, living wage jobs with racial and gender equity for temporary staffing workers in the Chicago region through leadership development, public policy advocacy, direct action and community accountability. Low-wage workers participating in the popular education program at Erie Neighborhood House in Chicago established the Collaborative in 2000.
Emily Evey: Emily Evey lives in Altoona, PA with a BA in Theatre, Communication, and Social Justice. Emily trained in theatre for social change and theatre for personal change where she studied performance and the creative transformation of conflict. Emily studied under Julian Boal at the 2018 PTO conference and periodically goes to Pittsburgh TO workshops. She has experience in prison theatre and theatre with adjudicated youth. She volunteers for two non-profit community theatres, regularly attends arts advocacy days, and travels out of town to bigger cities to see new theatre works. Emily enjoys doing productions in her community that address social issues, such as directing an all women cast and production team of “Steel Magnolias” and directing “She Kills Monsters.” She works with the community theatres to raise money for local non-profits during their productions and give free tickets to community organizations for dress rehearsals. Emily is excited to help continue the mission of PTO through her work on the board and bring TO to her community.
Kelly Howe is teacher/organizer/writer/artist based in Chicago. She is a faculty member at Loyola University Chicago and co-organizes (with Willa Taylor and Jasmin Cardenas) a Chicago collective at the intersection of Theatre of the Oppressed and activism. Kelly co-edited (with Julian Boal and José Soeiro) The Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed (2019) and (with Julian Boal and Scot McElvany) Theatre of the Oppressed in Actions (Routledge, 2015). Her writing also appears in Theatre Journal, Theatre Topics, Theatre Survey, Text and Performance Quarterly, Comparative Drama, etc. Kelly served two terms as President of PTO and co-organized three past conferences: Austin 2010, Chicago 2011, and Chicago 2015. In collaboration with members of Chicago Workers’ Collaborative and other local artists/educators, she is co-organizing PTO’s 25th conference, Chicago 2020. Some other recent contexts in which Kelly has facilitated include the Center for Research and School Development (Technical University of Dortmund, Germany), Indiana University, and meetings of the Workers’ Theatre Collective of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative and Trabajadores Temporales de Lake County. She has served in various leadership roles with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and she has dramaturged and/or directed a range of plays in the Chicago area and elsewhere. Kelly is an advisory board member of Jana Sanskriti International Research and Resource Institute, West Bengal, India. In her previous teaching position, she worked in the theatre department at North Central College (where she was the coordinator of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and faculty coordinator of the Safe Zone LGBTQIA ally education program).
Lisa Jo Epstein: Lisa Jo Epstein (Ph.D. UT Austin), Executive & Artistic Director of Just Act, is a theatre director, educator & seasoned Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner. In the early 1990s she headed to Paris France where she trained for 3 years w/Augusto Boal at the CTO, and w/Ariane Mnouchkine (Théâtre du Soleil). After 7 years at Tulane as Assistant Professor of Theatre, she returned to Philadelphia & co-founded Gas & Electric Arts. She founded Just Act in 2015 as a theatre-based catalyst for healing, change and activism to build a just world. W/Just Act, a distinctive hybrid of artistic & community engagement, Lisa Jo develops and refreshes the capacity of social change seekers to stand up for justice with renewed compassion & emboldened courage to face challenges. Working at the intersection of theatre, social justice, anti-oppression facilitation and community engagement, Lisa Jo integrates her multi-dimensional skills into facilitation and teaching of Theatre of the Oppressed, social justice diversity, equity & inclusion training, education and facilitation of inter-group dialogue; arts and asset-based community development, engagement & planning; organizational & individual capacity development, engagement, expression and activism.
Mary C. Parker, with a desire to leave the world better than she found it, utilizes her expertise in dialogue facilitation and skills as a Comedian to consult with individuals and organizations on racial anti-bias coaching and consulting through her business Just Collaboration LLC.
Mary has written curriculum on race, inclusion, and leadership for students, communities, and organizations in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Seattle, and Zimbabwe. Her work ranges from workshops and trainings on applying vulnerability in improv using an artist’s identity to inform character choices; applying improv to everyday microaggressions; and applying improv to implicit bias and white supremacy.
In her free time, Mary performs improv comedy with Game Shark, is a member of Pittsburgh Playback Theatre and Threatre of the Oppressed Pittsburgh, and performs stand-up comedy at various mics in Pittsburgh. She is also immediate past President of Arcade Comedy Theater Board of Directors. Mary holds a BA in Sociology from Emory University and is a Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation from Duquesne University’s Palumbo Donahue School of Business. In October Mary will begin a MA in Applied Theatre at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England.
Mary plans to apply her experience as a Board Officer and coordinating volunteers for Pittsburgh Comedy Festival and Fresh Fest, the US’ first black brew festival, to support organizing the PTO conference and event planning. She is excited about collaboration and having a mutual exchange as a PTO Board Member during her Masters program in London and beyond.
Maxwel Eliakim Okuto: Maxwel Okuto, is the Director of Amani People’s Theatre Kenya an organisation that applies interactive multi-arts approaches to peacebuilding and conflict transformation. He is a practitioner of Applied Theatre, Theatre of the Oppressed, and a storyteller with over ten years’ experience, locally and internationally. He has co-authored Forum Theatre in East Africa the Domain of the Possible 2015 (Africa conflict & Peacebuilding review Vol 5) Indiana press university and Okuto, M. and Smith, B. (2017) ‘Reflecting on the Challenges of Applied Theatre in Kenya’, in Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance. Maxwel has a broad experience in facilitating art based peacebuilding initiatives.
Miles Boucher: Miles Boucher is a writer, organizer, and theatre-tician as well as the youngest person to receive their MFA from the prestigious Hilberry Repertory Theatre Company in Detroit. Upon graduating, having lived as a straight, white, sane man for their first 25 years, Miles realized that they were almost none of those things. Since then Miles has devoted their life to being an advocate and activist relearning, decolonizing, and engendering change in themselves and their community through P.T.O. practices.
Miles’s work stems from a somatic model of theatre-making grounded in truth-telling, the reality of doing, and ensemble building. Miles works as an educator and theatre artist, hoping to encourage students to become active citizens.
Miles ran a T.O. practice in the metro Detroit area, seeking to transform the artist community in which they live into activists and organizers through campaigning, performances/demonstrations, and community service. Now, situated on the East Coast & in collaboration with two other theatres, Miles promotes queer and reclaimed stories in the hopes of decoupling history from the narratives of oppressors.
Rebecca Struch, 2019 Conference Board Liaison to the Local Planning Committee, is a theatre artist, community organizer, and educator with a commitment to community engagement through participatory practice. She received her M.A. in Applied Theatre Arts from the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts and her B.A. in Theatre Arts and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Minnesota. She has an extensive background in community and youth development through liberation arts and participatory research, including more than ten years of training and experience in Theatre of the Oppressed.
Rebecca is currently a doctoral student in Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her ongoing research interests include liberation psychology, critical race theory, abolition, Theatre of the Oppressed and popular performance, decolonizing research methods, critical pedagogy, protests and social movements, and the American South. In addition to her academic work, she developed a community based theatre program at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre, where she also trains MFA actors in citizen artistry, and serves on the board of FaultLine Theater. Prior to pursuing her PhD, she ran interdisciplinary arts programs at the Stanford Arts Institute. Internationally, she has trained in Brazil at the Center for Theatre of the Oppressed and has worked with therapists, youth, and health educators in Rwanda and Kenya. She also worked with Peer Health Exchange for three years in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland, ending her tenure as the Bay Area Program Director after training over 350 college volunteers and managing a school-based health education program for almost 7,500 high school students.
Robin Brandehoff is a doctoral student at University of Colorado Denver, in the field of Education. Her undergraduate degrees are in Theatre Performance and Dramaturgy, both of which helped her to craft lessons and units that she later used in her classroom. As a middle and high school English teacher, Robin utilized the works of Brecht and Boal’s theatre games to encourage incarcerated and gang-affiliated youth from opposing factions to feel comfortable around each other and to eventually work together. Both Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed have been instrumental in Robin’s work and scholarly pursuits to guide classroom learning and community exploration, prompting students to not only explore the texts in which they read, but to rewrite and share the stories of their life.
Robin’s background prior to teaching included working at her college theatre as the educational outreach coordinator and the community blind center as a volunteer coordinator. These positions enabled her to gain organizational skills and quick problem-solving techniques in hosting conferences and large-scale events for a range of attendees. Recently, her work as Program Director for Pathways to Teaching (a teacher pipeline program for high schoolers in Colorado, Tennessee, and Minnesota) and involvement with the Grow Your Own Collective (a national collective of educators, union members, and community organizers to establish best practices for teacher pipeline programs) has increased her experience in organizing national events; writing, collaborating, editing, and publishing research papers; and using social media as a tool to update, educate, and collaborate with others.
Skye Ashton Kantola, Communications Director, is a violence prevention educator, a queer and trans community organizer, an engaged artist, and a work in progress. Skye became involved in queer justice, racial justice, and immigration reform movements while attending Texas A&M University as an undergraduate student. Skye’s passion for violence prevention, PO and TO in education and social change, and art is rooted in their experiences a disabled trans person, a survivor, and borne in part from their experience with crisis intervention and community organizing work in Texas and now Indiana.
Shortly after moving to Indiana in 2012, Skylar began contributing to intersectional LGBTQ+ focused violence prevention efforts state wide as the Program Coordinator for the Multicultural Efforts to end Sexual Assault (MESA) program based out of Purdue University. Since 2018, Skye and several collaborators have expanded MESA’s work to include a statewide Abuse Prevention Disability Task Force engaging self-advocates, caregivers, service providers, and anyone interested in connecting disability justice and violence prevention. She has been utilizing PO & TO since 2013, writes and performs spoken word poetry, and creates visual artwork focused on trauma and resiliency in marginalized communities through their art business Faerie Bear Art. Skye mostly uses she or they pronouns and enjoys going by Skye or Skylar. In their free time, Skye enjoys compassionately disrupting complacency, doing positive dog training, exploring and practicing trauma healing, and taking care of the land.
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.