Social Justice & Political Theatre

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

The Latest

Livestreaming a staged reading of Stolen
Video

Livestreaming a staged reading of Stolen

A new play by  F. Lynne Bachleda at Rich Mix in London

Monday 1 April 2019
London, England
Performing Gitanidad (Romaniness) On Stage
Essay

Performing Gitanidad (Romaniness) On Stage

by Miguel Ángel Vargas
14 March 2019
The Revolution is Here and Now
Essay

The Revolution is Here and Now

The Revolution is Roma, Queer, and Feminist

by Arman Heljic
12 March 2019
Howlround Theatre Commons
From the World Theatre Map
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.

Photo from That’swhatshesaid.
Political (Act)ivism and the (New) Avant-garde
Essay

Political (Act)ivism and the (New) Avant-garde

26 July 2014

There is a prevailing sense that the millennial avant-garde is not creating political, activist theatre to the same extent as the avant-garde of the ’60s and ’70s. I don’t think this is true. But I do think that the challenge has changed.

Dispatch from the Youth Theater Festival in Ramallah, Palestine—Part Two
Essay

Dispatch from the Youth Theater Festival in Ramallah, Palestine—Part Two

19 July 2014

In a volatile, war-torn place, things change quickly and recurring issues of conflict, occupation, and survival dominate—all the more reason to have festivals like this and theaters like Ashtar that persist under such circumstances and create transformative experiences.

Mine Own Deformity
Essay

Mine Own Deformity

Shakespeare Through the Lens of a Military Veteran

18 July 2014

Questioning the meaning life, and contemplating an offer to go back into active duty military service, I hopped on an Amtrak and weaved my way around the western states. I jumped off in Montana and wandered into a theater. The house lights faded as a deformed man in a military uniform walked on stage.

An exercise from the Youth Theatre Festival.
Dispatch from the Youth Theater Festival in Ramallah, Palestine—Part One
Essay

Dispatch from the Youth Theater Festival in Ramallah, Palestine—Part One

2 July 2014

In 2012, eleven young theater students succeeded in starting Ashtar’s first youth festival. Ashtar Theatre, which was founded in 1991 by Iman Aoun and Edward Muallem, describes itself as “a dynamic local Palestinian theatre with a truly progressive global perspective.” Their core programs are drama training of local youth through an extracurricular after school program, Theater of the Oppressed Forum Theatre productions that explore “essential critical topics in Palestinian society” and international collaborations.

Belarus Free Theatre
Essay

Belarus Free Theatre

Threats and Open Conversations

2 July 2014

These personal experiences of Belarus Free Theatre—what they have endured, and what they are willing to sacrifice for what they believe in—humbles me. I cannot imagine being arrested for doing theater, much less being physically threatened by my own government for a play I wrote or acted in or directed. Would I be able to be as brave as Khalezin and Koliada or the other members of their company?

A Colored Conundrum
Essay

A Colored Conundrum

30 June 2014

Director Guillermo Aviles-Rodriguez discusses his thoughts about the identity affinity groups at the 2014 TCG Conference, questioning how safe is a segregated space?

A Common Cry of Curs
Essay

A Common Cry of Curs

Shakespeare Through the Lens of a Military Veteran

27 June 2014

Although written in the early 1600s in England and set in ancient Rome, Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" elucidates the difficulty of reintegration back into society for our veterans who've served multiple tours in heavy combat.

Friday Phone Call # 66
Podcast

Friday Phone Call # 66

playwright Tracey Scott Wilson

27 June 2014

Listen to weekly podcasts hosted by David Dower as he interviews theatre artists from around the country to highlight #newplay bright spots. This week: Tracey Scott Wilson.