Workshops, Lectures, Trainings

Cultural Code-Switching

Codeswitching is something we all do, whether we are conscious of it, or not. But what is codeswitching and why does it matter? The term originally derives from linguistics (specifically to refer to mixing languages in conversation), but this presentation invites us to look at code-switching more broadly. Participants are asked to consider codeswitching as a cultural phenomenon while reflecting on personal experiences. To build your cultural dexterity requires conscious effort to become aware of how you engage with others and how we all modify our behavior according to cultural codes. This awareness helps empower participants to examine the climate within their own community settings (school/workplace/etc.), and further determine how to work towards being inclusive of a diverse array of backgrounds and perspectives. 

 Afropuff Lederhosen - Experience The Difference Humor Makes

This workshop is designed around Ms. Roberts' satirical lecture project, Afropuff Lederhosen: What Happens When You Take a Black Baby and Raise it to be German, followed by tips and examples regarding the incorporation of humor into difficult discussions. With a focus on combining theory with personal, subjective and humorous storytelling, this workshop provides tips and examples designed to take conversations to the next level. Also covered is a clever breakdown of themes raised in the piece and an introduction to Critical Race Theory through personal narrative (institutionalization of knowledge and racial systems; creation of race; Eurocentric beauty standards;self-affirming identity; etc.). This workshop includes handouts and detailed activities aimed at promoting conversation and dialogue focused on our personal relationship to difference and otherness, and a reading list for further study detailing sources as they relate to the topics raised in the workshop.

 Afropuff Lederhosen is also available as a keynote lecture  which encourages the audience to re-think racial and social norms. Ripe with humor and true stories, this lecture makes race personal and promotes reflection and further discussion among audience members. The lecture also covers a brief introduction to Critical Race Theory and touches upon the themes mentioned in the workshop description listed above. 

How I Found Out I Was Black

In order to create a difference head-space in which to approach the topic of identity construction, this workshop begins with a live delivery of Mr. Roberts' performance piece, How I Found Out I Was Black. Discussion-based small group activities designed to stimulate personal reflection on participant’s own relationship to racial and ethnic difference follow performance. The conversation is then expanded to include consideration of the other forms of difference and “othering” which we encounter in our daily lives. This workshop includes handouts which help guide the activities and provide a framework for participants to return to on own their time. Also included is a reading list for further study detailing sources as they relate to the topics raised in the workshop.


Identity Theatrics Workshop

What does it mean to be the ‘other’ or to mark someone as such? How do we all create the ‘other’ in our everyday choices and what power lies in recognizing our own ‘other-ness’? This workshop explores these questions in relation to privilege while asking participants to consider re-scripting their commitment to present cultural narratives about identity. Utilizing a vast array of theater techniques, Vanessa invites participants to play with these concepts in order to gain a larger vision of the significance of the “us vs. them” dynamic in the work of identity construction. This workshop guides participants into a deeper understanding of the personal investment required for truly transformational change when working towards social justice and provides an introduction to key vocabulary and themes.


Power of Performance - Fusing Art and Activism

Creating and sustaining community is a nuanced endeavor, one often facilitated by a genuine sense of connection among its members, be it to a common cause or a shared affiliation. But how do we build genuine relationships which strengthen communities and engender transformative social change? In addition to a brief introduction to various forms of arts-based social justice activism, this workshop also includes instruction and engagement in a variety of theatrical exercises and activities which demonstrate the applicability of theatrical techniques in social justice projects. Participants will leave with a new set of tools intended to assist their efforts within their own communities, and a clearer understanding of how "who" you are matters when it comes to building community. (Space for movement required for this session.)