This blog contributes to our committed practice of inquiry and dialogue.
We invite your comments on our Mandala Center Facebook page. Subscribe on Facebook or in your RSS Feed to receive new posts every month. Upcoming posts will feature Mandala Center artists, members of the Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble, involved community members, and special guests.
*Writing shared on the Mandala Center for Change Blog expresses solely the opinions, beliefs and thoughts of the author.
By Cheryl Harrison
Back as a young female of color, I was not always taken seriously or listened to at first. At times, I was challenged with a lot of defensiveness from people who didn’t want to be there or hear other perspectives. I was subjected to comments such as: “That’s reverse racism,” “I don’t mean to be sexist so don’t take this the wrong way, but…,”, and the classic, “You’re too sensitive,” or even comments like, “Slavery was good because it gave people jobs.” (more…)
By Sarah Stockholm
This summer at the Pedagogy & Theatre of the Oppressed Conference (PTO) conference in Omaha, NE, I was overjoyed to participate in a collective conversation that, in the tradition of these pedagogies, asked a lot of questions. Where have we been? Where are we? Where are we going? I began what became 10 intense conference days of questions and reflections in the pre-conference workshop on Legislative Theatre with Barbara Santos and José Soeiro.
By Marc Weinblatt
Is it possible to be both an activist and an active parent?
My to do list seems to always have several critical time-sensitive items on it – either pushing or sometimes beyond deadline (including this Blog post.) Often, I find myself about to finally get to it when…. “Waaaah!” My nearly 17 month-old son, Darius, wakes up 45 minutes early from his normal 1 ¼ hour nap. “Nooooo! This is my window…. You’re supposed to sleep for at least a half hour longer!” “Waaaah!,” Though he’s crying, I’m sure he’s laughing at me. “Guess I’ll wait a little longer to finish that project… “
By Zhaleh Almaee Weinblatt
“What’s love got to do with it?”
Tina Turner’s classic lyric rings out. As I reflect on my efforts as an agent of social change, this question lingers at the center waiting patiently for my attention to return to it again and again. Love, after all, is more than just a word; it can evoke a myriad of images, ideas, stereotypes, and emotions. Consumer culture uses it as a tactic for people to spend money, while certain Counter Cultures claim it as a way of life, and religions around the world preach it as a tenant to live honorably. And activists…well, many of us strive for our actions to come from a place of love, or justice, or peace, or equality, etc. Call it what you will, but I think the essence and intention is the same.
By Velda Thomas
“Are you speaking of me? I am not an actress,” I said after a performance. Actress sounds so LA, so Hollywood, so not me.
I was the child who cringed in school if I was chosen to read aloud in class. Safety in numbers was my rule, a friend or more felt safer. I could disappear then, no one would see me or notice me. “Blending in is best,” I told myself. I grew into adulthood as an artist, a teacher, a manager, a parent, a capable person in the world. But, was the truth of my essence being seen and heard? No, I could not allow it to be so.
By Bethany Colden
To be honest, I’m nervous about writing and sharing this blog post. I’m worried I’ll write something that makes my naivete obvious to everyone but myself. I’m worried I’ll say something hurtful in ignorance, or that I’m perpetuating societal oppression without realizing it. Still, this feels like an important topic to discuss: Privilege.
By Karma Tenzing Wangchuck
dying in pain, advised me,
“Don’t get old.”
These many years later,
I’ve disobeyed him in this also.
At 67 I’m the oldest member of our troupe this season.
In the twelve years that the Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble has existed, there have been much older actor-activists, some in their 80s and at least one who used a wheelchair. But this is the first time I remember being 67, and I’ve found it an interesting trip; so I thought some folks might enjoy a few ruminations on aging inside a Theatre of the Oppressed/Playback group.
By Danielle Bowen
Two weeks ago, I had the fortune of my birthday falling on our rehearsal day. I looked forward to sharing my special day with a group of people who have become my family. I spent the days leading up to the event in rabid anticipation. What would the day bring? Surely the sun would shine down on me. People (strangers even!) would offer me hugs and well wishes. I would feel the light of my solar return beaming throughout my entire being!
By Sarah Stockholm
After a few years of focusing the majority of my energy into community activism and education, I had stepped almost completely out of all involvement in theatre. I was more interested in movement building and educating for social change than static theatre productions. However, it wasn’t too long outside of a focused artistic community that I began to wonder how I could merge these two parts of myself. Then, I met someone and she asked me a seemingly mundane question that changed the direction of my life, “Have you heard of Theatre of the Oppressed?”