1st Edition

Into Abolitionist Theatre A Guidebook for Liberatory Theatre-making

Edited By Rivka Eckert Copyright 2024
    344 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    344 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Seeking to transform community-based theatre-making, this book explores the transformative potential of abolitionist theatre, as theatre artists and teachers collaborate with marginalized communities to challenge systems of oppression and inspire profound societal change.

    Focusing on the idea of bringing people together to demand collective care and community-led practice, this collection works to define theatre’s role in the goals of abolition. Abolitionist theatre-making is a theatre that is connected to the practice of decolonization, intersectional feminism, climate justice, social justice, and liberation struggles. Exploring these ideas and offering a direct exploration of the questions that theatre artists and teachers should ask themselves when evaluating the abolitionist impact of their work, the volume provides accessible and practical tools for theatre-makers with perspectives from working practitioners throughout. Through real-life stories and experiences shared by theatre practitioners, the book provides a rich and diverse tapestry of examples that highlight the ways in which community-based theatre can contribute to transformational change. Readers will benefit from practical frameworks, thought-provoking perspectives, and thoughtfully crafted insights that inspire them to reimagine their own theatre practices and empower them to create theatre that challenges and dismantles oppressive systems while uplifting marginalized voices.

    Ideal for undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in utilizing theatre-making for social change, this book offers new and practical insights into how the path to abolition might be laid and theatre’s key role in it. This book will also be of great interest to theatre artists and activist practitioners who are involved in community-based theatre projects with marginalized populations.


    Rivka Eckert

    SECTION I: Prison Industrial Complex/Capitalism

    1. Interlude 1

    2. Holding Ourselves Accountable and Holding Out for the Horizon: Facilitating the Arts in Prisons

    Julie Rada

    3.Redefining Stereotypes: Abolitionist Theatre and Correctional Officers

    Rivka Eckert

    4. Staging Student Resistance: A Case Study in Campus Abolitionist Theatre

    Misty Saribal

    5. Amplifying Undocumented Stories: On Resisting the “Crimmigration” Regime at Albany Park Theater Project

    Devika Ranjan

    6. Reflections on Section I

    SECTION II: No Reforms

    7. Interlude 2

    8. Radical Values in Reflection: Navigating Arts and Abolition with Incarcerated Youth

    Julie Rada and Maya Osterman-Van Grack

    9. Abolition in Prisons and Teacher Education through Theatre of the Oppressed: A Conversation between Practitioners and Participants

    Rachael Rhoades and Lori Pitts

    10. Disrupting Hierarchies: Theatre for Social Change as Rehearsal for Liberation in Secondary Education

    Aubrey Helene Neumann

    11. Reflection on Section II

    Section III: Building Community

    12. Interlude 3

    13. The Takers’ Tower Will Fall: Epic Lessons in Co-Creation

    Mariana Green and Alyssa Vera Ramos

    14. Impact: A Conversation among Katherine Nigh, Robert Villanueva, and Brandon de Santiago

    Katherine Nigh

    15. Creating a Supernova

    Elizabeth Hawes

    16. The Power of Difference: Solidarity on the Path

    Sarah K. Chalmers

    17. Reflections on Section III

    Section IV: Interconnection/Future Dreaming

    18. Interlude 4

    19. Spiritual Gifts for Changing Times/Paradigms

    Tyrell Blacquemoss

    20. Gaining Freedom and Healing Through Theatre

    Lynn Baker-Nauman, MA, LMFT, RDT and Spoon Jackson

    21. A Play Is a Vehicle to Incite: An Interview with Playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza

    Nicholas Fesette

    22. A Queer Jail-Time: Disclosure Art and Transformative Justice in Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail

    Joey Martinez

    23. Reflection on Section IV


    Rivka Eckert is an Assistant Professor in the Theatre and Dance Department at SUNY Potsdam, USA. Eckert is a community cultural development theatre-maker using performing arts as a means of cross-cultural communication. She has taught Theatre and English in prisons, high schools, and middle schools and worked with the Peace Corps in Samoa and Liberia.