Friday, August 6, 2021

TOPIC 5: Exploring Poverty through Elements of Theater

Guests on Friday, August 6

Erica Richardson, Assistant Professor of English, Baruch College
Deepa Purohit, Artist, Playwright and Founder of Finding Your Authentic Voice.
Karl O’Brian Williams, Deputy Chair/Theatre Arts Coordinator, Department of Speech, Communications, and Theatre Arts at BMCC and Artistic Director, Braata Productions
Moderator: Sangeeta Bishop

Schedule (in outline)
Friday, August 6 — 9am – 2pm

9:009:10Greetings and check-in with Faculty Fellows
9:1010:10Presentation by Erica Richardson
10:1010:20Short break
10:2011:20Presentation by Deepa Purohit
11:2011:30Short break
11:3012:30Presentation/workshop with Karl O’Brian Williams
12:301:00Lunch Break
1:002:00Discussion of the day’s activities with the three guests and all participants.


The last topic of our Institute will look at the various ways playwrights, and performers give critical expression to poverty and social identity. On Friday Erica Richardson will discuss the Harlem Renaissance in relation to African American Drama. Deepa Purohit will discuss the intersectionality of poverty with the concepts of class, caste (as defined in the Indian subcontinent) and gender – from both the historical point of view and immigration in the U.S. Karl O’Brian Williams will lead a workshop on dramatizing learning and discuss strategies for helping students reinforce their learning through low stakes dramatic writing and role-play. On Tuesday, facilitated by Institute co-directors Bishop and Palit, we will share our lesson plans and curricular ideas in progress and we will reflect on how this work relates to the multi-year project, “Voices and Experiences of Poverty – A New Interdisciplinary Humanities Curriculum.”

Key Questions

  • How did Harlem Renaissance theater educate and influence its various audiences?
  • What makes an expression “authentic”?
  • How do specific plays open us up to thinking about the intersectionality and distinctions among and between caste/class/poverty + wealth.
  • The translator’s point of view: What is it and how does it impact the translation and, in turn, the reading of a text?
  • What is it like to “be” another person (rich, poor) and imagine a life quite different from one’s own through theater?
  • How can CUNY students be empowered to think critically by engaging in/with theater?
  • Why would the “alienation effect” in art be important for fighting Poverty?

Topic 5 –  Required Readings and Resources

Required readings will be available on our website and @ the “Required Readings Folder.”


Topic 5 – Additional Readings and Resources Folder

Click the above link to go to the Institute Folder for Additional Readings and navigate to Topic 5 for an evolving list of readings and resources.




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