Looking back on 2023

Dec. 20, 2023

For Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, 2023 has been a year full of firsts, as well as reimagined versions of longtime processes and offerings. Whether you joined us for a single event or a full season, or just spent time with us in your inbox or on social media, let's take a stroll down memory lane with a look at the last 365 days. (And, if you're so inclined, help us with the next 365 by making a donation today!)

We were so excited to share our forum plays with public and community audiences throughout the year! Our shows included ESCUCHA’s El Espejismo Americano, which toured outdoors to Corona Plaza (pictured below) and Make the Road New York members in Queens. ESCUCHA also collaborated with members of NICE-NY to create a performance for their Day of the Fallen Worker Vigil. Our Rapid Response troupe shared an excerpt from 1-800-KEEP-UR-CRIB at State Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie's State of the District event at Medgar Evers College, and headed to Albany in support of the Housing Justice for All coalition. In the spring and fall, our troupes formed in partnership with Neighbors in Action, Housing Works, the Red Hook Community Justice Center, Breaking Ground and The Fortune Society performed brand-new forum plays for their communities. 

A major first in 2023 was producing our Theatre of the Oppressed NYC festival at Theaterlab in September! We had a blast presenting a performance of El Espejismo Americano; “T.O. Talk: Praxis Makes Perfect,” a panel discussion; “Game Changers,” a T.O. game-share; and a celebration (pictured below) featuring dancing, food, and community.

Throughout this year, we’ve been excited to grow existing collaborations and form new relationships with other organizations. Our team received professional development from SLMDances, and supported audience engagement at a performance of PURPLE at Lincoln Center. Radical Evolution invited us to collaborate with street theatre group Jana Natya Manch (Janam), which led to joining December’s Sing Out For CUNY Rally (pictured below), where Rapid Response performed (Dis)orientation: A People’s CUNY.

Through partnerships with Ashtar Theatre, Friends of Ashtar NYC, Radical Evolution and The People’s Forum, an overwhelming number of you joined us in person and online in November to connect through The Gaza Monologues (pictured below). We invite you to continue to share the recording and join actions to support a ceasefire.

We were grateful to expand our connections to the creative and thoughtful artists who joined us at September's Forum Theatre Training — which we have redesigned to meet our community’s post-pandemic needs — and December’s “Answering the Call” workshop. And we were honored to share our tools via workshops at Maine Inside Out, Juilliard, The New York Public Library, and The New School, and many other places throughout the Northeast and beyond. We were also grateful to rekindle collaborations with partners like our friends in New Haven (you can learn more about our collaboration with Survivors of Society Rising Theater Company from the Arts Council of Greater New Haven’s online journal).

It was a big year for The Wildcard Workbook: A Practical Guide for Jokering Forum Theatre, which we published last year as a resource for inspiring and supporting facilitation and difficultation in many contexts. The workbook was featured in Volume 7 of the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Journal, in an article penned by Liz Morgan, Katy Rubin, and Sulu LeoNimm. Liz and Katy also contributed to the Legislative Theater section of the Participation Playbook, an interactive guide designed to help advocates, policymakers, and program managers navigate the challenges of planning and implementing participatory democracy programs.

While we share the tools of Theatre of the Oppressed, we continue to build new skills and put them into practice within our community! Our Front of House Team trained in both English and Spanish, met with and learned from a House Manager and Box Office Employee, and practiced with new feedback models. Our staff, actors and Board trained in collective decision making and consensus building with the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives to support the implementation of democratic workplace practices with our organization. This year, we implemented the projects from our 2022 Participatory Budgeting process, including our Theatre of the Oppressed NYC festival and a short documentary, which we can’t wait to share with you in 2024!

One of our proudest moments of the year? Being named as a finalist for Brooklyn Org’s 2024 Spark Prize! Each year, this award provides $100,000 to five nonprofits advancing racial justice and addressing critical challenges in our communities. We are honored and grateful to be recognized among 20 incredible organizations working toward meaningful change in New York City. We will celebrate the five winners in January 2024!

All of this work (and more!) is made possible by the generous support of folks like you. If you are able, please consider making a contribution to TONYC today. 100% of your donation goes toward helping us do what we do and allowing us to dream big in 2024.

We'll see you in the new year!