FAQ: What is a Joker?

FAQ: What is a Joker?

Apr. 29, 2015


by Sophie Nimmannit

FAQ: What is a Joker?

Here at TONYC, you will see the titles “Joker” and “Joker-in-Training” in the program of our forum theatre performances. The Joker is the facilitator of the TO experience. In rehearsals and workshops, the joker guides actors though games and exercises to investigate shared experiences of oppression. In our troupes, the Joker helps actors develop scenes to share these experiences with an audience. At a Forum or Legislative Theatre performance, the Joker’s role is part MC, part moderator of the forum, when audience/spect-actors discuss the oppression(s) in the play, and enter to scenes to improvise creative strategies. 

Frequently Asked Next Question, or FANQ: Why is it called a “Joker”?

In a deck of cards, the jokers do not belong to any suit, and can serve as a wild card and change in value/rank. In TO, the Joker is inside and outside and going-between. The Joker is with the spect-actors in support of their actions and exploration, while also stepping out to identify biases or problematize ideas that magically escape reality. This position is not neutral, however. The Joker’s agenda is the goal of TO: concrete, ethical action against oppression and toward the realization of human rights.

These are the briefest of answers. Please continue to explore TONYC’s blog to read the experiences shared by Jokers & Jokers-in-Training, and leave comments and questions. Join our training mailing list to learn about our Joker Workshops. Before you go please enjoy this image:


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Design: Risa Takeuchi '16; Design Corps
Pratt Institute, designcorps.pratt.edu

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© 2015 Theatre of the Oppressed NYC
Design: Risa Takeuchi '16; Pratt Institute, designcorps.pratt.edu
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