Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cypher on Gender: A Rites of Passage

Yes, it's December and that water is cold. This is a rites of passage with a brotherhood, a commitment to our process of becoming real men (not like the "reel men" images of violent hyper masculinity we're bombarded with). We are making a healing offer in commitment to overcoming the cycles of gender oppression.

The Brotherhood Cypher met at Oakland Leaf for this overnight experience of trust activities, story sharing and ceremony. The Sisterhood Cypher met the same night in another location and had a parallel process. In the morning we came together to affirm and celebrate who we are and honor our process of becoming.
This was the first of two Sisterhood/Brotherhood Cypher Overnighters that Youth Roots is doing this school year to support the Youth in their transition across the threshold from childhood into adulthood.

For more about youth roots see the video below...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Drama for Critical Action

Levana Saxon of Youth in Focus, and I collaborated with Mind Power Collective to offer this facilitators training titled "Drama for Critical Action: Theatre of the Oppressed and Hip Hop Theatre for Educators"
The workshop brought together a talented group of youth workers, community organizers, educators and artists. Right off the bat, the participants were animated in their use of movement, rhythm and language to grapple with critical issues like: gentrification, immigration, sexual violence, and racism to name a few.
Collaborating with Levana gave this workshop a different flavor than other facilitators trainings I've offered. For example, we included some material about Forum Theatre in the true sense of Augusto Boal's vision (as well as some remixed versions). If you'd like a pdf copy of the handout from this workshop, email me at

For more check out:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tia Jennings at CounterPULSE

This fall I had the honor of directing Tia Jennings in her Self Revelatory Performance. Tonight she performed the piece for the first time at CounterPULSE in San Francisco.

When the show ended the audience immediately lifted into a standing ovation. An audience member commented that the show "clearly combined masterful, skillful artistic gifts with genuine, poignant psychic revelation."

Hopefully Tia will perform it again soon for those of you who didn't catch it. Watch for Tia Jennings in a theatre near you!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rap Battle of the Conscious: Incarcerated Youth

It's Sunday night at Maple Lane, a medium/maximum security long-term juvenile facility, where youth are freestyling their "moment of truth". One youth sits in the middle of two others who represent his good and bad conscious. The youth in the middle initiates the action by asking himself "should I _____?" Then the good conscious and bad conscious rap battle, and at the end, a moment of truth occurs when the seated young man decides his course of action.
Some of the youth I knew from the workshop I did there in April 2009 on my heArtwrench tour. "Though I'm not glad your still in here, it is nice to see you again."
I'm always honored to collaborate with Gateways for Incarcerated Youth. Gateways offers cultural identity groups, college prep classes, monthly cultural events and they bring guest speakers for the youth in Maple Lane and Green Hill facilities. Check out the book gateways put out: Through the Eyes of the Judged.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shakespeare in San Quinton

Today I went to San Quinton State Prison. The wind was full force pelting me with sideways rain as I approached the castle looking structure. As I waited for an escort into the caged institution the clouds parted and a large rainbow arched over the facility.
I was there to work with Suraya Keating's class she teaches through Marin Shakespeare Company for inmates serving life sentences. The class was also hosting 2 other visiters from the outside: Deborah French Frisher & Gary Roucher (Drama Therapy Professors from CIIS).
Check out this video from the production these guys did June 15th 2009:

When I arrived the men were working on Tableau's depicting aspects Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. After the tableaus I facilitated a rhythmic variation of complete the image. I asked one of the men to start a "stomp and clap" beat, then the rest of us joined in. I stepped into the middle of the circle & struck a pose I saw one of the men take during a tableau. Next I invited someone else to step into the circle & place there body in relation to mine "completing" the image. I stepped out & let another man complete the image. After a few transformations of the image I invited the men in the middle of the circle to hold their positions and freestyle a dialogue to the
stomp and clap" beat. This was fresh, as the men were quite spontaneous with freestyle's that touched on core concepts of Romeo and Juliet.

I spoke with one of the men after the class who told me about the work he does with youth groups from the inner city who visit the facility. He told me how he encourages youth to think critically about "the game" and I was reminded of
Stanley Tookie Williams who was executed at San Quinton on 12/13/05. The man I was speaking with said "that was a sad day" ... RIP TOOKIE

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Drama Therapy Conference in New York

At the National Association for Drama Therapy's annual conference Suraya Keating (pictured above - right), Nicki Koethner and I presented on our work with Drama Therapy groups for men incarcerated for violent crimes within the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project (RSVP) at San Francisco County Jail. The theatre work was informed by the theories of manalive. This presentation was similar to the one we made at the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association's Annual Conference at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA this summer. (see post)

This time we were joined by John Bergman(pictured above, center), who was one of the founders of the RSVP program and has done a lot of work using drama therapy with people incarcerated for violent crimes and he has published a fair amount. I recommend :
Challenging Experience, (2003) by Bergman J and Hewish S
Published by Woods 'n Barnes. Oklahoma.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Climate Justice Theatre

At the West Coast Convergence for Climate Justice and Action, I was part of a group who created and performed an original forum theatre piece about Climate Justice. Our group was co-facilitated by Rosa Gonzalez (headRush), & Levana Saxon (Youth in Focus). Rosa skillfully jokered the forum theatre process as audience members paused the action, and intervened to create more just solutions to the problems posed in the drama.

The forum piece was similar to the one I did with Levana and Rosa in May 2008 at the Fruitvale Plaza.

Another example of a forum theatre piece I did recently was Participatory Theatre in Auroville, India.

"The climate is changing, and so are we."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Building with Youth Roots

This fall I'm Coordinating/Facilitating with the Youth Roots Crew, or Youth Reaching deep to Overcome Oppression by planting Transformative Seeds of change in the community. It's an honor to be working with Oakland Leaf again. Check out this digital poem by Youth Roots Crew below...

This years program launches October 13th, 2009. Find out more about the program and download a fellowship application.

Love is an Action

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ascend Garden

Matthew brought me to the Ascend Garden, a Love Cultivating Schoolyards project, where I helped him harvest tomatoes. The garden is looking so good! In it's 3rd year now it's really coming together.
Check out the new fence. Maybe the youngsters won't be as tough on the garden during recess now that there is a fence for the playground balls to bounce off of.
A new mural by Refa 1, done during Oakland Peace Camp 2009.
Vertical gardening with style!

Big ups to Jackson Porretta for all his vision and advocacy. And of course props to Matthew Linzner for holding it down!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Teen Peer HIV Prevention Drama

Red Hook Initiative works to confront and affect the consequences of intergenerational poverty with the belief that social change comes from within individuals.

I facilitated a workshop for the Peer Health Educators, helping them integrate more audience participation aspects into their dramatic presentations for HIV Prevention.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Imprisoned by Concepts of Manhood

Freeing the Man Behind Bars
Presented by Evan Hastings, Suraya Keating & Nicki Koethner at the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association's Annual Conference at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.
The workshop was based on our work as Theatre for Change, facilitating Drama Therapy groups for men incarcerated for violent crimes within the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project (RSVP) at San Francisco County Jail. The theatre work was informed by the theories of manalive. By examining these issues through a variety of activities, participants engaged in a dialogue about the use of expressive arts in correctional facilities.
...unmasking the mask in masculinity

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Project Zero @ Harvard

Asks Ellen in her accordion book journal during our study group.

I just finished a week as a Faculty Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero Classroom Institute. It was an honor to co-facilitate with Todd and Arzu (pictured below).

We worked with the participants of our group, who were mostly art teachers, to help them develop a focussed inquiry question about their practice that they can continue investigating as they return to their professional practice.We used Studio Habits of Mind and Making Learning Visible frameworks to support our work.
What a rich exchange with other professionals in the field. And the dialogue continues on Study Group J Blog

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Student Reflections from Puppet Workshop

Video by Kritika Hora

In reflecting on the process Jonathon Wilson wrote:
"This project showed that one strong person could stand up and change the life of that one person"
and went on to write that the
"expression of teasing that causes humiliation or embarrassment should be stopped at the same time saying that we have the ability to control the outcome."
The above image is a reflection by Jai.

In her reflective poem Malvika Tewari wrote:
We were engaged in arguments between
the girls vs. boys perspectives of the issues addressed,
Like “are boys really harassed in India?”
And “does it matter how a girl is dressed?”

The above image is a reflection by Kanika Kaul.
The above image is a reflection by Rayika Sen.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Giant Puppet Worshop @ Srishti

The students created a giant puppet with many hands used for groping, eve teasing (adam teasing), and sexual harassment.
Cooperation was key in meeting the 3 day deadline.
It came together just in time.
Special guest puppeteers come through with a puppet that pukes up a foundie.Feel the aggression.
What a show it was! Thank you to all the students in the mural and toy group who helped make the show a well rounded success.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gender Violence Workshop

Participants of this Rainbow Inc workshop in Hyderabad, India dramatically explored gender roles and shared personal experiences related to gender violence, eve teasing and sexual harassment. We used forum theatre to try out interventions that can be used in common situations of sexual harassment and eve teasing. The workshop was power because of the deep commitment and openness of the participants. I'm honored to have had the opportunity to facilitate a workshop with this group. More photos

In the news @, The Hindu, & once again The Hindu

Check out Blank Noise cause the struggle continues.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Drama @ Vidyaranya High School

On Thursday July 2nd I facilitated a workshop at Vidyaranya High School in Hyderabad for the 25 of the 8th grade students there. The lively group projected their voices with full force while simultaneously enacting a scene between the president and a terrorist.
I was impressed with the progressive philosophy and practices of the school as well as the beautifully natural school grounds that stood in contrast the bustling city around it. The school was heavily influenced by the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Participatory Theatre Performance in Auroville

Interactive Theatre for Social Change in Auroville
Workshop: June 28th, Sunday 9.30 AM in Sawchu, Bharat Nivas
Performance: June 29th, Monday 7.30 PM Visitors Center
In this workshop participants developed original theatrical pieces portraying social problems in Auroville. These pieces were then performed publicly, in a Forum Theatre style, as a catalyst for transformation and change.
I was interviewed by the Auroville Radio after the show. You can hear it streaming online.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Love to Drishya Youth!

On Friday afternoon we had our final multi-media performance / screening for the 2 week Drishya summer camp I was working with. The course included mandala, meditation, drama, dance, video production, and live improvised interactive video performance.
And the performance was a smashing success, as boys kissed me goodbye and the young women cried, I was moved by the love that we had developed through the project.

Farewell for now Drishya!
Student photo of me on the roof of the school.

I'd put more pictures but I don't have official permission.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's the water!

Water is such an issue here. The other night I took the the wrong bus and got stranded in the monsoon. There was so much water flooding the streets. Jackson and Arzu came to rescue me in the middle of the night and on the drive home the traffic in the flooded city was at a stand/float still.

Yet there is a shortage of clean water. Especially in the communities where the youth I'm working with live. One of the groups in my class at Drishya Camp is making a public service announcement about the water situation. In the meanwhile Jackson is downstairs creating a living greywater filtration pond. And at the end of a long day of dancing and acting with the youth, I'm ready for a bucket bath!

"It's the water"

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sustainable Design & Education - India

Picture of one of the Drishya Gardens that Jackson has been working on. It was previously an abandoned lot across from the school. Now the harvest of the garden is served in the lunch at the school.

This weekend I ventured outside the city to Earth Alive: a sustainable educational community center in the making. Part of the vision is to bring the Drishya youth out to Earth Alive. Below is a picture of me planting trees at Earth Alive.
I visited this huge Banyan Tree in the country side. We removed our shoes before entering the understory of the tree. Banyan trees are the traditional classroom of India. Class discussions where hosted in the broad understory of this beautiful tree.

Check out this Drishya collaborative design for the classroom of the future: Mobile Mandala which includes a Banyan tree for every classroom. Mobile Mandala is connected to Oakland to Bangalore curriculum collaboration of the Shelter Project

Later that day I visited a Shiva Temple. It was a full moon, but we climbed the rock face in the heat of the day, barefoot because it's a sacred mountain.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Workshop for Drishya Facilitators

While I'm here I'm going to be working with youth who live in the slums of Bangalore through the Drishya program of project vision in collaboration with Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.

This week I facilitated a workshop for the Drishya Facilitators (youth workers). Below you will find some sample video and photo documentation from the workshop.

Here is a video of one of the Forum Theatre Anti-models, a scene with an resolved conflict that can be use by the group to practice interventions.

For more information about the workshop:
Drishya Facilitators Workshop Documentation