My name is Jo Franklin and I recently traveled from Australia to spend 3 weeks with TONYC in the lead up to their 5th annual fundraising event ACTIVATE. I was fortunate enough to spend many hours behind the scenes in the Judson Memorial Hall office planning and brainstorming with a powerhouse of women dedicate to social change.
Since graduating from University with a bachelor degree in Applied Theatre I have been looking for opportunities with theatre companies that could help me to realize my belief that theatre is a power medium for dialogue, community enrichment and social change. I approached TONYC because I was drawn to their vibrant and proactive approach to Theatre of the Oppressed specifically. I had a Skype interview with Katy Rubin the founder of TONYC prior to my engagement in New York and I was immediately excited by her direct interrogation as to why? Why did I want this opportunity? Why would I travel all that way? Why did it matter to me?
How could I make creative change with TONYC?
Firstly, in order to make change in any capacity I believe you have to take action and ask questions, can you teach me, what can I learn? The TONYC team embraced my desire to learn, generously taking the time to answer all my questions; How did you start out? What works and what doesn’t? How do you approach, host and nurture a troupe of actors? What is important in community partnerships? How do you maintain the integrity of story and provide a legacy for the work? Just to mention a few! Even though it was a very busy office the team at TONYC always made time to mentor me and generously offered up the secrets to their success. I was liberated by their trust and faith in me to use the information wisely, and to further strengthen the practice of TO across the globe.
Secondly, TO. During my time with TONYC I was given the opportunity to attend troupe rehearsals, engage in joker workouts, attend presentations and witness Forum Theatre in action. I came away reaffirmed in my belief that TO is an accessible medium and effective theatrical tool for communities and participants to safely open dialogue, erupt concerns and look for answers together. It was during a lunchtime chat with Katy that she gave me the words to articulate why did it matter to me? How could I make creative change? Katy said to me in so many words “we all care for others in some capacity but that’s not the most interesting part, what is interesting is that we have this tool (TO) at our disposal to help others.” This is what matters to me; I can make creative change by understanding how to use the tool correctly and that because of this understanding it is my responsibility to use it.
I am eternally grateful for the support, mentorship and kindness given tome by the team at TONYC. I feel empowered and confident in my ability to create change.