Expectations re: Sojourn Theatre and CPCP Summer Institutes 2018, Part 1

By expectations, I mean where I’m coming from, the questions I carry into the space, and what I hope to learn. (I can’t fit all of these into the title and expect it to look aesthetically pleasing.) Part 1 introduces the two organizations, how I’ve come to know them, and what the objectives of the two workshops are.

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From the 16th to the 25th of June 2018, I’ll be in Chicago participating in Sojourn Theatre and the Center for Performance and Civic Practice’s respective summer institutes. Before I proceed any further, I suppose a brief introduction of the two organizations are in order.

Sojourn Theatre is an ensemble theatre founded in 1999. Much of their work involves working closely with a community, usually through a community partner, and artistically exploring and dialoguing about community issues, often of a civic nature, i.e., poverty, together. An example of their work is How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes. The link leads to a description and a reflection on the work they’ve done in Cleveland.

For The Center for Performance and Civic Practice, here’s a direct quote from their website:

The Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP) is a national resource for artists and communities working together to build civic health, equity and capacity.

In other words, they help facilitate and support partnerships between artists and communities.

When word about their summer institutes were released early this year, I unhesitatingly signed up (and not just because of the discount). I’ve admired Sojourn Theatre for awhile now. I learned of them through a book written by their artistic director, Michael Rohd. His book Theatre for Community Conflict and Dialogue: The Hope Is Vital Training Manual is an invaluable resource for people who work with communities; I’ve always looked to it for ideas when workshop planning since I’ve acquired it a couple of years back.

I learned about the CPCP more recently. In retrospect, I should have learned about it the same time I looked up Michael Rohd because he’s also part of it. But anyway, last year, during my first semester, while writing a proposal for my qualitative research class1, I stumbled upon the term called creative placemaking. While the meaning of the term itself has been in practice for a long time, the term itself hasn’t become as established until only recently. I read this white paper in one sitting and every atom in my body was going, “This! This! This! This is what we want to do!” While reading more about creative placemaking, I learned about the CPCP.

From what I understand, almost the same people, i.e., Michael Rohd, will be handling the two institutes, but their objectives are different.

In their write-up for the workshop, Sojourn Theatre states:

We create gatherings that act like shows, processes that move like art, engagement that listens like relationship, and workshops that feel like discovery. Join Sojourn Theatre artistic director Michael Rohd alongside Sojourn ensemble members for three days of play, ideas, strategies and dialogue. Including explorations of movement and improvisation, facilitation and dramaturgy, generative activity and group practice, we will explore how to make work collaboratively that starts, grows, iterates and becomes.

This workshop is to learn Sojourn Theatre’s approach to theatre-making.

The CPCP, on the other hand, writes:

…join CPCP Director Michael Rohd alongside CPCP Managing Director Soneela Nankani for this three day workshop looking at: how to develop creative strategies focused on problem-solving, coalition building and inclusive visioning; how to build individual and/or organizational capacity for cross-sector partnerships; how to invite, listen and incorporate community voices by designing public engagement tactics and project decision-making with values of equity and justice at the core; how to build further local interest, awareness and capacity for this type of work.

This workshop is more about creative placemaking.

Expect Part 2 in a couple of days!

  1. In a world where my Japanese was more fluent, where I’ve already established a relationship with this particular organization, where this wasn’t loaded with ethical conundrums, i.e., Laura is an outsider, this might have been my dissertation. I wanted to learn how theatre can contribute to the rural revitalization efforts happening in Onomichi, Hiroshima.