The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) was founded in 1990 and is the oldest organization in the United States dedicated to and offering ongoing training in the techniques of the Theater of the Oppressed. Since its inception, TOPLAB has presented annual (and sometimes twice yearly) master workshops led by Augusto Boal, the founder of the Theater of the Oppressed, as well as monthly TO workshops presented by our core group of facilitators, all at the Brecht Forum. For the last several years Julian Boal has co-facilitated the NYC workshops with his father and we are honored to have him as a facilitator.
TOPLAB is a multiracial/multiethnic collective of ten women facilitators/trainers, based mostly in New York, but also from Boston, Toronto, Maine and Brazil, who are active as cultural workers, educators, organizers and health care professionals, as well as theater artists, and who have trained and worked extensively with Augusto Boal. While recognizing that Theater of the Oppressed has many applications and social functions the TOPLAB collective chooses to stay close to TO's political roots and use the techniques and methods as organizing tools to affect radical social change and help bring about social justice, peace and empowerment of people who have historically been oppressed and disempowered, and affected by prejudice and discrimination--people whose voices have too often been silenced.
Since its founding, both TOPLAB as a unit and its members individually have presented over a thousand workshops in New York and throughout North America, as well as around the world, for community organizers, labor, solidarity and human rights activists, health and human services professionals, educators, and theater and cultural workers, among many others. Working closely with the Brecht Forum, "a place and institution for people who are working for social justice, equality and a new culture that puts human needs first" the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory and the Brecht Forum bring people together across social and cultural boundaries and artistic and academic disciplines to promote critical analysis, creative thinking, collaborative projects and networking in an independent community-level environment.
In addition to facilitating training workshops, TOPLAB members have worked in various street theater projects around the themes of globalization, neoliberalism and international solidarity, and to protest United States aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and its members and associates are involved in a wide range of progressive and radical political and cultural groups and movements.