An NYC Theater Takes on Social Justice

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

By Andrea Orlando

Community Director

The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

Hear what Executive Director Meggan Gomez had to say about her work at Theatre of the Oppressed NYC in this November, 2019 interview recorded for the CreativePlace podcast. Gomez talks about how the organization's unique theatrical process helps communities become more just, and how her journey began when she quit acting school to follow her calling. The road took her from Allentown, PA, to Bogotá, Colombia, Albuquerque, NM, Italy and back to the East Coast. 

Gomez caught the political theater bug in college when she read the book, "Theatre of the Oppressed" by Brazilian theater practitioner Augusto Boal, who was influenced by the educator Paulo Freire in the 1970's. She left college after making the dramatic announcement of her intent to leave during a performance.

"I fundamentally knew that I was a theater maker, and I was trying really hard to be a theater maker in an acting program, and that didn't really fit."

Gomez holds a dual citizenship in Colombia and the United States and later took a gap year to do some soul searching and reconnect with her grandparents in Bogotá, and while she was there she attended a conference of The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics where she met Michael Jon Garcés of Cornerstone Theater in Los Angeles. Gomez credits Garcés with introducing her to political theater in practice.

"That was my first experience with finding a theater company that was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing."

Through her contacts at Cornerstone she later began a five-year stint at Working Classroom in Albuquerque, where she taught the Theatre-of-the-Oppressed method, as well as clowning, devising, script work, improvisation and other theater skills to high school students.

The conversation was recorded after she and I co-presented at the Actors Connection in NYC in November of 2019. Scroll down to listen.

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