OMAHA – A unique performing arts conference is coming to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) campus this week as the 20th Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference opens on Thursday, June 26.
With a focus on challenging oppression by promoting critical thinking and social justice through liberatory theatre and popular education, the Pedagogy and Theater of the Opressed Conference shares stories of voices that otherwise may not be heard.
To launch the conference, there will be a performance of Legislative Theatre on June 26 at 7 p.m. in the UNO Black Box Theatre, which is located in the Weber Fine Arts Building. Legislative Theater is a practice where, through using theatrical techniques, concrete social change can be created.
Scenes will be performed between the guests and audience, focusing on current issues in education. Audience members can volunteer to intervene in a scene, take the place of the person experiencing oppression, and show a different strategy to oppose the situation. Once a scene is explored, the audience is asked to write up legislation to address the difficulty represented. The audience will then debate and vote on whether to pass the resolution, creating a dynamic and compelling dialogue about the current state of the educational system.
This event is free and open to the public.
In its anniversary year, the conference is being held in Omaha for the first time since 1998. This year’s theme is “Review, Reflect, Reimagine: Where We Have Been?; Where Are We; and Where Are We Are Going (and How).”
The event runs through June 29 and will take place in the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center.
Friday, June 27, will mark the beginning of conference workshops, dialogues, performances and featured events. There will be upwards of 80 presentations during the seven breakout sessions on topics including privilege, community-based writing, and Native American culture.
Guest presenters include Jesse Hagopian, leader of a group of Seattle public school teachers demanding mandated testing be dismantled; Shelia Rocha, a UNO alum and teacher at Ogllala Lakota College in South Dakota; and Miguel Guitierrez, a UNO alum who is currently teaching Latino Studies at Cal State University – Dominguez Hills.
Friday evening will feature spoken word poetry performances by Omaha’s own Wordsmiths, Louder Than a Bomb and Finding a Voice. The performances will start at 5 p.m. in the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center.
Saturday, June 28 will feature more breakout presentations with a special presentation at 10:45 by Gloria Ladson Billings, an accomplished author and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The conference concludes on Sunday, June 29 after a lunchtime reflection on the conference.
The Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference first began in 1995 under the leadership of UNO Professor of Theatre Doug Patterson, Ph.D., based on the works and theories of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal. The conference was held in Omaha from 1995 through 1998 before it began being hosted in other cities as a way to provide access for more people to attend.
This year’s conference is supported by several UNO organizations including the UNO College of Education; UNO College of Arts and Sciences; UNO College of Public Affairs and Community Service; UNO College of Information Science and Technology; UNO College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media; the UNO Service Learning Academy; the UNO Office of Student Affairs; and UNO Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Those with questions about the conference should contact chairperson Doug Patterson at email@example.com.
Media inquiries should be directed to Charley Reed, UNO media relations coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.