Theater is a channel for knowledge; it is the art of looking at our selves and can be a means of transforming society. Brazilian theater activist, Augusto Boal, created Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) in the 1960's out of a belief that "we can make this world a place where we can be happy in rather than just a vast market place in which we sell our goods and our souls". In Theater of the Oppressed there are no spectators. The fourth wall of traditional theater is abolished and spectators become 'spect-actors'. The spect-actors are the participants in the creation of the drama - it is their conflict, their worlds, and their life experiences that we wish to address.

By giving the participants power in the creation of the action, they are being transformed and prepared to participate in the theater of life. Using the various techniques and activities outlined in the Theater of the Oppressed doctrine, spect-actors uncover the root causes of problems and what internal and external factors block them from effective action. They are able to "see" their problem, "analyze" it and "act" to change the situation.

How does it work?

Theater of the Oppressed tools are shared in a workshop format where participants actively engage in the exercises and activities as  a way to understand how they work. 

Workshops can be applied directly to an issue a group is exploring.  For example, I worked with a group of residents and community organizers to use various Image Theater techniques to uncover how gentrification plays out in daily life and help them find new perspectives on how they can effectively challenge it.  

Workshops can be a way to build community and air stories that haven't been shared in public.  I worked with a group of immigrant women organizers to share stories of sexism and male domination they faced in their organizing work.  The workshop was just the start of their process and helped to build a shared understanding of how sexism played out in their context.

Workshops can be a way to build the path ahead. Using Theater of the Oppressed tools, I worked with a group of survivors of violence to imagine a world without violence against women.  This radical visioning served as a way to complicate and tease out the multiple issues that are packed into the phrase "violence against women." The workshop served as a way to build creative strategy to address the issue from the bottom up and include all stakeholders.

I partner with groups, organizations, institutions that struggle against social injustice and community problems, helping them to incorporate theater into their ongoing efforts. I provide training and support in Theater of the Oppressed techniques and collaborations on theater-based community building projects. I work with organizations to design, longer term, theater and narrative-based projects in line with the organization's goals.


Kayhan with Augusto Boal in NYC

Kayhan with Augusto Boal in NYC

The Riverside Church
Women in Islam
Barnard College
The New School Graduate Program in International Affairs
Suffolk Law School
National Parks Service
La Fuente
Global Action Project

United States Institute of Peace
BBC Media Action
Brotherhood and Sister Sol
Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media
South Asian Youth Action
Boston Social Forum - Active Arts Youth Conference
World Tribunal on Iraq
Theaters Against War (THAW)
Queers for Economic Justice