Applied Theatre Trainings

The Mandala Center offers intensive trainings in Applied Theatre – the use of theatre as a participatory tool for social change. Specializing in the training and grassroots practice of Theatre of the Oppressed (T.O.) and Playback Theatre, we are also pioneers in the use of T.O. and Playback together and are unique in the world actively offering trainings in this rare combination.


Below are some program options including recommended workshop length and # of participants. We work with you to design a program that fits your group or organization’s specific context and goals.


Theatre of the Oppressed Trainings

India Bondage CroppedOur Theatre of the Oppressed (T.O.) trainings are designed for participants to use T.O. with both adults and youth. The focus can include Community-building Games, Image Theatre, Forum Theatre, Rainbow of Desire, Cop-in-the-Head, Invisible Theatre and more. Drawing on our nearly twenty-five years of experience, our trainings offer a balanced praxis — emphasizing both theory and concrete applications in the real world. Systematic oppression theory is embedded along with practices of deep listening and theatrical artistry. In longer trainings, we discuss historical context, the art of the Joker (facilitator), as well as applications in the field. When possible, a public Forum Theatre performance is presented. Advanced trainings for more experienced practitioners are also available.

(1-6 days; 10-30 participants.)

Introduction to Playback Theatre

This basic training is great for beginners or those fairly new to Playback Theatre. Included is an introduction to fundamental Playback Theatre forms — Fluid Sculptures, Pairs, Chorus, Tableau, Open Story, and more. The range of artistry is experienced as participant stories are enacted through deep listening, physical improvisation, and music. We discuss applications of Playback Theatre and opportunities for further training for those interested.

(1-3 days; 10-20 participants.)

Start your own Interactive Theatre Group

Informed by over two decades of experience running interactive theatre ensembles, we offer training and mentorship to begin and sustain a Theatre of the Oppressed or Playback Theatre ensemble with actor/activists. Depending on the experience and needs of the group, focus can include: T.O. or Playback Theatre techniques, creating Forum Theatre plays, acting and improvisation skills, Facilitator (T.O. Joker or Playback Conductor) skills, ensemble development, anti-oppression theory, program consultation, business development, and more.

(2-6 days training or pre-determined time for ongoing support; flexible group size.)

Combine Theatre of the Oppressed &
Playback Theatre

“Playback Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed are similar yet different. I see each form as coming into the house from a different door but meeting in a common living room.” –Hannah Fox, Big Apple Playback Theatre (read her article on combining Playback and T.O.)

A unique training opportunity, we present dynamic ways in which Playback and T.O. can be used in conjunction with each other — particularly to work directly around issues of social justice. Both forms work from people’s real life experiences. One difference is Playback Theatre honors and serves the Teller’s story whereas T.O. uses personal stories as a springboard for the collective exploration. T.O. tends to have a more socio-political / action focus and serves individuals in the process. In contrast Playback Theatre, originally created for therapeutic and artistic purposes, has recently focused more on social change. Both forms are interactive; both forms use physical imagery and improvisation; and both forms create a space for people to tell, listen, and heal. When brought together, T.O. and Playback can generate profound transformation on multiple levels.

(2-6 days; 10-30 participants recommended.)