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Posted on June 30th, 2023 in Announcements, Community Engagement, Creative Activity, Events, Faculty, Students by Carrie E. Foote
Emilio G. Robles
Emilio G. Robles, IUPUI Applied Theater, Film and Television Program.
When Emilio G. Robles, Assistant Professor in Applied Theatre and Teaching Artist in the School of Liberal Arts, heard that the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed National Board was considering bringing its annual conference to Indianapolis, he immediately contacted local affiliates and board members to share what IUPUI (and Indianapolis) could uniquely offer with potential audience, premiere conference facilities and its new interdisciplinary Applied Theatre, Film, and Television Major on campus.

The unique Applied Theatre Concentration follows similar social dialogue, methodology, and pedagogy that stems from Augusto Boal and Paul Freire’s teachings and artistic practice, which compose the basis for PTO and the heart of this conference. Applied Theatre praxis and its focus on using theatre-based techniques as tools to discover, learn, and explore issues of concern to communities to provoke and shape social change has infused theater curriculum on the IUPUI campus.

This year’s PTO conference theme –No Body Alone–investigated “our bodies as systems impacted by larger systems of control: the body as receptor, transmitter, creator, and collaborator.” The conference itself, included a series of workshops, presentations, panels, and round table discussions directed at topics of oppression that seek to divide the individual from their body and our bodies from the collective power they contain when united in action, when the body alone can feel tiny and disempowered.

This international conference brought local educators, artists, community organizers, and activists together with their colleagues and collaborators worldwide.

Robles’ dedication and efforts ensured the scope of this conference impacted and engaged IUPUI partnerships, SLA, Communication Studies and ATFT Program in multiple ways. Partner artists and theatre organizations to the Applied Theatre Concentration, served as volunteers and conference participants. React Theatre, where Robles has built a strong relationship and had his students do immersive experiences, performed a devised youth piece as part of a plenary session on the opioid crisis. Present and past IUPUI theatre- affiliated students attended sessions and volunteered. His Spring T265 Fundamentals of Applied Theatre course cohort, also aided in promotion and supporting conference efforts as part of their curriculum. Kelsey Binion, a Spring 2023 PhD graduate in Communication Studies, presented a critical dialogue on the intersection of arts-based interventions dealing with issues of women’s infertility, using performance and applied theatre technique. Colleagues in SLA’s Department of Africana Studies (Dr. Ronda c. Henry and Dr. Regina Turner) presented research and shared experiences and narratives about “other-mothering practices” in academic spaces to support the success of black and traditionally marginalized students.

Robles’ own creative performance acumen was also showcased (and lauded) at a pre-conference event held at The Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis as a character in a piece of “Forum-Theatre” tackling the issues of “making a living wage”, which was facilitated by Brazilian heavy-hitter Julian Boal.

Robles shared the significance of this monumental event, “It was a glorious opportunity that Indianapolis had in hosting this conference and for IUPUI to be a centralized ‘hub’ in June to engage in conversations that will allow us to unpack a lot of experiences and circumstances to find solutions to complex social problems in an empathetic way and learn more about this phenomenal theatre-based work.”
Conference Poster