Theatre of the Oppressed

Last Friday we did a Theatre of the Oppressed performance at the Kansas Parent Information Resource Center’s Parent Leadership Conference. In our session we presented three scenarios in which someone was being oppressed, then invited audience members  to come up and take the place of the oppressed person and demonstrate how that person could overcome the oppression.

The beauty of this exercise is that the audience members, not the presenters, do the teaching, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will accept and remember what they learned. We presented three scenarios: A tenant trying to get an apartment manager to replace a lightbulb in the hall; A parent reporting her child was being bullied; and, An IEP meeting where the professionals ignored the parent’s input.

Here are some of the conclusions the audience members discovered at the session:

  • The goal is not for the oppressed to become the oppressor;
  • Information is a valuable asset in overcoming oppression;
  • You should allow the oppressor an opportunity to solve the problem;
  • It helps to “humanize” the oppressor. (Acknowledge that the oppressor has problems as well.)
  • Sometimes you can overcome oppression by offering to help solve the problem and work with the oppressor.

As performers, we welcomed the applause when the session was over, but our greater satisfaction was in the knowledge that our audience left the session with useful information.




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