Are you a theater artist looking for new tools to engage with community members, develop new audiences, or incorporate collaborative elements into your process? Are you an educator, social worker, or activist looking for creative strategies to make your work more effective? In either case, read on. There’s a professional development training here for you.
All of the sessions will be taught by Melanie St. Ours, a teaching artist with extensive experience in the field who has worked and studied with many of the foremost practitioners of community-based arts in the US, Canada, and the UK.

To reserve your place in one of these workshops, please send an RSVP email to with the following information.


Session(s) you’d like to register for

Preferred method of payment (cash or check)

Please feel free to write with any questions you may have about the sessions, or with requests for financial assistance to attend the Theater of the Oppressed Intensive or the Theater for Community and Transformation Intensive. (There is no need to apply for sliding scale fees for the shorter workshops. Just pay what you can between $10 and $20. Larger donations will, of course, be happily accepted!)


Wednesday 10/13    Introduction to Theater of the Oppressed
$10-$20 sliding scale

Description: Come learn the basics of the theory and practice of Theater of the Oppressed! This class is suitable for theater professionals who are new to TO and for people outside the theater world including educators, social workers, and activists who are wondering what TO has to offer their work. We’ll learn games, Image Theater, and basic dynamizations as well as the theory behind each technique. Strategies for planning successful workshops, using theater tools with non-actors, and effective facilitation will also be covered. Come prepared to play, learn, and meet like-minded people!

Sunday 10/17           Theater of the Oppressed Intensive
$150. Scholarships available based on financial need.

Wednesday 10/20     Special Topics in Theater of the Oppressed
$10-20 sliding scale

Description: Theater of the Oppressed was created, as all art forms are, under particular cultural and political conditions. How is the form evolving to be vital and applicable in different cultural contexts? We will examine the language and exercises in the TO cannon that are most problematic for the contemporary American practitioner and learn modifications that have been developed to solve them. Participants will have a chance to share their own questions and struggles with the work in TO and we’ll troubleshoot each issue together—theatrically, of course. Some background in TO recommended.

Wednesday   11/3     Beyond Talkbacks: Engagement Strategies for Performing Artists
$10-$20 sliding scale

Description: Do you want to interact with your audiences in meaningful ways? Have your community engagement strategies gotten stale and boring, or do they only run in one direction? Come to this workshop where we’ll learn and practice engagement strategies that can fit in at many points in the process of developing and performing theater works. This workshop will be useful for individual artists, administrators (we all know that engagement is hot in the funding world right now….), and artistic directors who are looking to evolve their company’s community engagement strategies.

Monday   11/8      Turning Stories into Action
$10-$20 sliding scale

Description: Do you want to do more with your art than simply “raise awareness?” Have you found yourself wondering whether your work is really making a difference in the world? Come join us for two hours of tool-sharing and skill-building as we learn to design and implement arts programs and events that take action and make a difference.

Sunday  11/14      Theater for Community and Transformation
$150. Scholarships available based on financial need.

Description: Spend the day with working community-based artist learning strategies for creating aesthetically thrilling art that builds community and initiates transformational processes. In this workshop we’ll cover principles of community engagement, steps to making art with community partners, and aesthetic strategies that Melanie uses in her own work. Drawing techniques from multiple bodies of work, participants will learn how to effectively lead story circle process, selected theater games and Theater of the Oppressed techniques, physical theater, collaborative writing, and more. In addition to the techniques themselves you’ll learn how to adapt your current ways of working to be accessible to ‘non-artists’ and to support both your aesthetic and community goals.

This workshop is designed with the arts professional in mind but would also be useful for educators, social workers, activists, and others who are seeking ways of bringing arts-based activities into their current work. No experience in community-based performance is required.


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