Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sojourn Theatre

Sojourn Theatre, founded in 1999, is an award-winning ensemble theatre company comprised of 15 artists who live in 8 cities and make performance together around the nation. 

- 1992: Michael Rohd begins doing "Hope is Vital" work
- 1999: Sojourn forms, focus on documentary theatre
- 2001 - receives grant from Animating Democracy to team up with city planners in Lima, OH
- 2003 - 2005: Focus more on site-based work, spectacle, and workshops as part of performance practice (community research)
- 2008-09: Process becomes performance, models of display are opportunities (On The Table)
- Current: Focus on longer-term investigation and investment

Sojourn Theatre is a program of Center for Performance and Civic Practice.  Its mission is “to design bold opportunities for participation and unforgettable experience, with rigor and striking physicality.”
Sojourn collaborates towards a vision of healthy communities and functional democracy.

Sojourn acts as a laboratory for exploring arts-based community-engaged practice across the United States by:
  • Developing new models of artistic practice, creation, production, distribution and replication/adaptation;
  • Activating the Sojourn Theatre ensemble as leaders, makers, educators and ambassadors;
  • Building projects that increase the visibility of this field of work in arts and non-arts sectors.




Project Core Question: Where will we live? & Who are we responsible for?

In the course of the 75-minute performance, audience/participants talked to their neighbors, master-planned cities from scratch, and delineated their own priorities through a series of critical questions too often left to a city’s planners, rather than its residents.

With its unusual theatrical approach to amplifying civic dialogue, BUILT engaged local residents, including those from areas geographically or socioeconomically underrepresented in city planning decisions, and provoked them to think about how their communities are planned, and how they might take more active roles in that process. BUILT also generated strong interest and enthusiasm among professionals from Portland’s city planning agency, who incorporated some of the strategies that the game proposed to have the public engaged in discussions about land use and resources.
Video from performance at TBA at PICA in 2008: (see 4:15, for instance)


Sojourn Theatre’s How to End Poverty in 90 minutes (with 199 people you may or may not know) is a devised, community specific participatory theatre event that explores issues of poverty and democracy by allocating $1000 from the box office at every performance to a local organization that fights poverty. The audience decides where the money goes.


A city-wide process blending engagement, performance, installation, participatory research, cross-sector partnerships, online activity and in-home encounters.
Project Core Question: How do we create a more connected Milwaukee inclusive of all residents as they age?

-  "Artistic housecalls:" The Arts At Home/IoM Team worked on the pilot project from 2012-2014. We created partnerships and built systems to bring meaningful engagement to elders living alone. Artists offered "artistic housecalls" and built on/with the creativity of the elders to make radio segments, performances and art installations. See our report and the collaborations page for stories of all our incredible encounters!
- Crossings: Street performances to create a city that sees & stops for pedestrians.

-  Exhibit/performance/installation at Milwaukee City Hall


A blog entry about how this collaboration formed:


CPCP defines Civic Practice as arts-based partnership work that is developed in service to the needs of a partner organization or agency that does not have an arts-centered mission.  Artists engage in this work with regularity, but the work isn’t always visible- not within larger community conversations, and not within artistic disciplines themselves. There isn’t a shared vocabulary, and artists and communities can end up working in isolation, often without access to networks of support and opportunities to develop their own practice.  

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