Marc Weinblatt, Founder & Co-Director
Marc has been a professional educator, theatre director, activist, and workshop facilitator since 1980 having extensive experience with both adults and youth. Formerly Co-Artistic Director of the Seattle Public Theatre, Marc is an internationally recognized leader in the use of Augusto Boal’s renowned Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) to stimulate community dialogue and social change. He has worked with diverse communities ranging from police to homeless youth, grassroots organizers and laborers to University deans. Internationally, Marc has worked with activists in Norway, Holland, and Canada, youth workers in Guatemala, refugees in Azerbaijan, ex-combatants in Northern Ireland, construction workers in South Africa, slum families in India, community workers in the Republic of Congo, and victims of war, among others, in Afghanistan. Marc was named “Cultural Envoy” by the U.S. State Department for his work in the Congo in spring 2010. Marc regularly facilitates T.O. based diversity / anti-oppression workshops in a wide variety of contexts across the U.S. with a commitment to bringing a deep sense of spirit and humanity into social justice work. He also directs the multi-generational Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble which incorporates T.O. and Playback Theatre techniques to generate community dialogue on burning social issues. One of Augusto Boal’s “multipliers”, Marc has trained thousands of people in the use of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques through his classes and annual week-long intensive trainings since the early 1990′s. Marc is also a dedicated father of 3 beautiful boys.
Zhaleh Almaee Weinblatt, Co-Director
Zhaleh is an Iranian American performance artist, facilitator, cultural organizer, and a joyous mother dedicated to raising conscious children. She started her theatre career in 1987 in Philadelphia with the People’s Light Theatre Company. Since 2006 she has focused on teaching and practicing Applied Theatre techniques. An active Playback Theatre practitioner and teacher, she has been a member of Boston’s True Story Theatre Company and Portland Playback in Oregon. She has also helped mentor and launch several other playback companies in the Pacific Northwest and was a key organizer in beginning Playback North America to support the continued growth and shared access of Playback Theatre. She is currently a member of the Mandala Center’s Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble as both a trainer, artist, and organizer. Some communities she has extensive experience working with include: formerly incarcerated people and their families, hospice care workers, interfaith councils, substance recovery programs, mental health facilities, and cancer survivors, among many others. She draws on her training in Non-Violent Communication, Drama Therapy, Playback Theatre, and Theater of the Oppressed. Her personal practice includes somatic arts, sound improvisation, meditation, and ritual theatre arts. It is her intention to support lifestyles of connection and foster a culture of possibility.
Cheryl Harrison, Associate Artist
Former founding member of Seattle Public Theater’s Theater of Liberation Ensemble, Cheryl has been active in anti-oppression and empowerment work with people of all ages since the mid 1980′s and has designed and facilitated workshops and trainings locally, statewide, nationally and internationally. Using music, theater, lectures, and a variety of experiential activities both Theater of the Oppressed based as well as non-T.O. based, Cheryl has worked with a wide array of organizations and communities such as homeless youth and other marginalized social groups, domestic violence survivors, school age youth, nurses, work transition programs (YWCA), as well as universities and colleges. Some agencies and organizations include the State of Washington (DSHS and Department of Labor and Industries) the International Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed Conferences in New York, Nebraska, and Ohio, University of Minnesota, Kellogg Fellows, ACLU, Amnesty International, Wheaton College, PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health), University of South Florida, Global Visionaries, Power of Hope, Labor Center at The Evergreen State College, and the Eastside Domestic Violence Program among others. Through her work Cheryl is committed to facilitating self-awareness and empowerment for individuals and communities as a means to create a world which values equity, understanding and compassion for all peoples around the world.
Ashnie Butler, Associate Artist
Originally from the island of Trinidad, Ashnie has lived in the United States for over 30 years. She has lived in New York, Los Angles, the SF Bay area, Port Townsend, and currently resides in Portland, Oregon. She is the Outreach Director for Family Forward Oregon, an organization working to change policy in the work place to facilitate a family friendly environment so that women and working families can have a shot at equality. Her strong desire to help change the challenges of racism and inequality for so many is what motivates her to participate in Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) Ashnie has been a member of the Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble off and on since she took the T.O. Facilitator’s Training with the Mandala Center in 2006. Her past jobs include working with severely emotionally disturbed boys, international unions, and as a chef. She has a bi-racial daughter and is faced everyday with the importance of working for change. She believe that the use of theater to facilitate dialogue on difficult issues such as racism, economic inequality, and basic human rights is an outstanding tool and of great value to all who experience it.
Our multi-ethnic, multi-generational (currently ages 14-76) team of actor/activists now in its 16th season!
(Front row from left) Karim Santiago, Eileen Herrling (Company Manager), Hannah Bahls, Aba Kiser, Rosaletta Curry
(Middle row) Charlie Perez, Zhaleh Almaee, Johnny Colden, Michael Hindes, Helen Curry, Marc Weinblatt
(Back row) Gary Lilly, Samantha Hiatt, Richard Sloane, Kelly Grace