Social Justice & Political Theatre

Content here focuses on theatremakers, companies, and projects with a political or social justice mission.

The Latest

New to New Orleans / Venant d’arriver à la Nouvelle Orléans
Essay

New to New Orleans / Venant d’arriver à la Nouvelle Orléans

Three Theatremakers’ Impressions on Parades versus Protests /  Les impressions de trois femmes de théâtre des parades et des manifestations

by Amelia Parenteau
23 May 2019
Theatre During a Time of Upheaval
Essay

Theatre During a Time of Upheaval

by Farai Mabeza
15 May 2019
Howlround Theatre Commons
From the World Theatre Map
Hands Up
Essay

Hands Up

Testaments From The Policed

11 December 2014

Keith Josef Adkins shares excerpts from Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments, ten-minute monologues commissioned in response to the recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island.

Painting It Out
Essay

Painting It Out

The Living News Project’s SHELTER/CHICAGO

7 December 2014

Director Lisa DiFranza employs Living Newspapers—an 80-year-old theatrical form that combines theatre and journalism—to share compelling narratives about twenty-first century homelessness in Chicago. 

Photo from Forgotten Future: The Education Project.
Broken Public Schools and Community Dialogue at Collaboraction
Essay

Broken Public Schools and Community Dialogue at Collaboraction

4 December 2014

Based on interviews with local teachers and students about the current educational climate, Forgotten Futures creates space for discussion of the dysfunction plaguing Chicago Public Schools.

Photo for Sweet Dreams, Mr. Heroin.
Sweet Dreams, Mr. Heroin in Lewiston, Maine
Essay

Sweet Dreams, Mr. Heroin in Lewiston, Maine

28 November 2014

Amy Merrill writes about Sweet Dreams, Mr. Heroin and the value of presenting this piece at a substance abuse recovery center in Lewiston, Maine.

Photo from Native Son.
Trauma and Agency in Native Son at the Court Theatre
Essay

Trauma and Agency in Native Son at the Court Theatre

4 November 2014

At this historic moment in which it is still quite dangerous to be a black man in the United States, Native Son offers an important provocation. For all the world has changed since 1939, the production asks us to take a good hard look at what has not.

Beyond Lukashenko
Essay

Beyond Lukashenko

New Short Plays About Belarus

3 November 2014

In addition to new works by Belarusian playwrights, writers as far-flung as Europe and the United States, Australia and New Zealand, ended up making excellent contributions. The Belarusian Dream Theater project linked playwrights with more than a dozen independent presenting groups in Europe and North America, who donated their time and talents to assemble the collaborators necessary to present as many of the twenty-five new plays as each group wanted.

Encuentro 2014
Essay

Encuentro 2014

Moving Forward, Never Forgetting the Past

2 November 2014

Professor Jorge Huerta gives a short overview about the precedents that led to the historic and revolutionizing event, focusing on the growth of Chicano/a theatre festivals since 1970. 

Citizen Theatre
Essay

Citizen Theatre

Anne Hamburger on Basetrack Live

28 October 2014

Bertie Ferdman interviews Anne Hamburger about Basetrack Live, a multimedia theatre production inspired by Basetrack: One-Eight, a web project created in 2010 by photojournalists embedded with US Marines fighting in southern Afghanistan.

Cast of the Fully Functional Cabaret.
Just Say Yes
Essay

Just Say Yes

22 October 2014

Drawing a comparison between the manifestation of love and activism, Annie Danger offers compelling insight into queer art in theatre.

Beyond Cool
Essay

Beyond Cool

Moving Towards True Transgender Visibility

19 October 2014

MJ Kaufman shares insight on the necessity of trans voices being developed and acknowledged in diverse, multi-faceted, and complex narratives. 

A white board of collected ideas.
Script Analysis
Essay

Script Analysis

No Screaming Matches, No Riot Police

16 October 2014

When we teach, how do we discuss something truly important? Specifically, how could I talk about the murder of an unarmed black man the same age as my students? What is taught in the not teaching? What is not covered in a course? When we omit difficult conversations or troubling current events, what does that teach students about what is important, worthy of attention, urgent?

Creating the Belarusian Dream Theater Project
Essay

Creating the Belarusian Dream Theater Project

19 September 2014

While I was reaping the benefits of working internationally, my Belarusian friends were living as a theater company in exile. What could I do to help make a difference? What tools could I use, as a theater artist, to break down this silence, censorship, and oppressive regime?

Listening for Unheard Voices—Syria
Essay

Listening for Unheard Voices—Syria

The Trojan Women

18 September 2014

Derek Goldman offers an overview of the production of Syria: The Trojan Women.

The Twitter logo.
Twitter Chat
Essay

Twitter Chat

Ferguson & What Can Artists Effectively Do In the Context of Social Justice Issues, Crises, & Conflicts?—#newplay—Thurs, Sept 18

16 September 2014

This week's Twitter conversation topic is "Ferguson and What Can Artists Effectively Do In the Context of Social Justice Issues, Crises, & Conflicts?" and will be co-moderated/prompted in open collaboration with anyone participating by Claudia Alick @claudiaalick and Danny Bryck @DannyBryck. This hour-long Howl will take place on Thursday, September 18 on hashtag #newplay at 11am PDT (Vancouver) / 1pm CDT (Ferguson) / 2pm EDT (New York) / 18:00 GMT / 7pm BST (London).

The Scottish Independence Debate at the Edinburgh Festival, Part Two
Essay

The Scottish Independence Debate at the Edinburgh Festival, Part Two

16 September 2014

Talya Kingston continues her look at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival and diologue on the Scottish independence referendum, here she writes about Rona Munro's triology of James plays.

A Lover's Guide to American Playwrights
Essay

A Lover's Guide to American Playwrights

Kia Corthron

10 September 2014

Todd London on playwright Kia Cothron on winning the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prize from Yale University.

A Dialectic in Ferguson
Essay

A Dialectic in Ferguson

7 September 2014

I’ll always be fighting for my voice to be heard. That’s why we need more eyewitness accounts. People saying I was there. I saw everything. I know the truth. And that’ll be me. Telling the truth.

The New America?
Ferguson Moments
Essay

Ferguson Moments

Artists Respond

6 September 2014

An overview of the Ferguson Moment which was created from an impulse of theatremakes across the nation to spark and organize artistic responses to the oppression, violence, and resistance happening in Ferguson. 

Photo from #FergusonMoment.
Ferguson Artist Gathering
Essay

Ferguson Artist Gathering

In Conversation with Jacqueline Thompson and Don McClendon

5 September 2014

On Sunday, August 24th at the Regional Arts Commission in St. Louis, St. Louis-based theater artists Jacqueline Thompson and Don McClendon participated in the #FergusonMoment gathering and workshop with forty-five local artists and five visiting artists. In the workshop, Don's story of a recent moment of racial profiling was the basis of a short play that the group created and investigated. On Tuesday, September 2nd, Jacqueline interviewed Don about his experience in the gathering.

A Veteran's Protest Play – Why The March of the Bonus Army Now?
Essay

A Veteran's Protest Play – Why The March of the Bonus Army Now?

29 August 2014

Researching the war and the following years, the ripple effects of World War I impacted not just international politics, but everything from race relations to art, music and literature. The Bonus Army is one of these ripples.

Photo from Spoiling.
The Scottish Independence Debate at the Edinburgh Festival, Part One
Essay

The Scottish Independence Debate at the Edinburgh Festival, Part One

28 August 2014

Talya Kingston writes about plays and events at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival which address the possibility of Scotland's independence from the UK.

Posters for the National Arts Festival.
Past, Present, and Future Collide
Essay

Past, Present, and Future Collide

The 40th Annual National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa

26 August 2014

Paul Adolphsen covers the 40th anniversary of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa, looking at the works exploring legacy and South Africa's first democratic elections.

Belarus, Theater, and Breaking the Zones of Silence
Essay

Belarus, Theater, and Breaking the Zones of Silence

15 August 2014

I felt compelled to act, to do something, to speak up—but how? What could I, an expatriate American living in Scandinavia, do to break the zone of silence surrounding Belarus? While I was enjoying certain freedoms as a theater artist in this affluent Nordic country, my friends and colleagues elsewhere in Europe—writers, directors, journalists, and more—were being imprisoned and threatened.

Dreams of Resistance, Action, and Empowerment at ATHE 2014
Essay

Dreams of Resistance, Action, and Empowerment at ATHE 2014

7 August 2014

Association for Theatre in Higher Education pre-conference attendees made their way to Scottsdale, Arizona via bus, through a carefully planned route that covered important sites connected to SB 1070, labor history, and immigration. Through this tour, participants acquired a richer understanding of contemporary Arizona immigration policy and its implementation.

Beyond Victims and Villains
Essay

Beyond Victims and Villains

From Ethnography to the Stage

29 July 2014

I had become exhausted from fighting the trafficking fights... The result has been policies that do more harm than good, and wide scale media misrepresentations of the problem. Those of us doing the actual on the ground fieldwork—talking to survivors, working with people who have experienced the harrowing challenges of exploitation—have been writing against the wave.