Social change through theatre

Theatre of the Oppressed to visit Mt. A.

Mount Allison’s Centre for International Studies (CIS) will present a workshop with Theatre of the Oppressed director Luciano Iogna at the end of the month, an event that hopes to explore creative methods of engaging with global issues. Though the workshop will focus primarily on theatre’s role in political activism and deconstructing power systems, Iogna’s broader goal is to help students consider how different disciplines can be combined in order to precipitate political and social change.

Originally founded in Brazil in the 1960s as a response to the military dictatorship, Theatre of the Oppressed is an organization that exists worldwide to bring national and international voices to the stage and foster education and community building around the globe. The workshop will be led by Luciano Iogna, a Toronto-based director for Theatre of the Oppressed who has worked in India, China, Turkey, and other countries to discuss issues of poverty, health, discrimination, and inequality through the medium of dramatic performance. He has recently been nominated for two Dora Awards for his plays Showdown and How Can You Tell? that were produced by Mixed Company Theatre in Toronto, both of which have been translated into several languages and continue to gain acclaim around the world. “My goal in this brief talk,” Iogna said, “is […] to recognize and appreciate the power of theatre as a wonderfully potent tool for positive social change.”

Due to the multidisciplinary nature of Theatre of the Oppressed, many have praised its productions and participants for their ability to borrow elements from the Arts, the Sciences, and Social Sciences, and forge them into a new method of combating global injustice. In this way, all students can benefit from Iogna’s workshop by experiencing one successful example of how these areas of study can instigate tangible and positive effects.

 “For people with a theatre background, I think it will be an exciting experience to be able to tie their creative pursuits into real-world scenarios,” said Becky Lockert, the Co-Coordinator of CIS. “For people with a development, sociology, or other more academically-minded background, I think that they will be challenged with considering alternative forms of engagement.”

Lockert also said that this collaboration across disciplines has recently become an increasing priority for the CIS, and that this opportunity is one that strives to meet those goals.

“By reaching out into the arts community in Sackville, I think we are able to help bridge the gap between disciplines and perhaps introduce people to new ideas and collaborations that they otherwise would not have thought of,” Lockert said.

Students expect to expand their repertoires in this way and ultimately attempt to answer his definitive question: “Are you willing to put yourself in harm’s way to stand with that [oppressed] community?”

Students can sign up for the workshop on the CIS website. The workshop is limited to twenty-four individuals and takes place on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, with a one-hour public talk at 5 pm on Jan. 31.

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