Theater, Healing & Creative Resistance
I am a community-based artist working at the fault-lines of social power, structural violence, intergenerational trauma, cultural belonging and memory. I am committed to making the arts accessible and relevant for the people most impacted by systemic oppression. Intersection for the Arts sponsors much of my work.
I use my role as an educator and grassroots organizer to explore systemic injustice, communal conflict, historical trauma, and meanings of self. As the director of Embodying Change (PFCC), a collective of popular educators in the tradition of Paolo Freire, I host learning laboratories for Theater of the Oppressed and use T.O. to guide Participatory Action Research.
Surviving through Story
Beginning with personal narrative, I train youth, incarcerated people, and community members in physical storytelling to move from literal to abstract, and from the world as we know it to what we imagine. We find freedom and joy in the process of deconstructing and envisioning, and the results are self-revelatory, cathartic, visionary.
I use theater to teach empathy, and then create space for participants to flex our empathy muscle and get stronger in our ability to listen and love. It is a circular process: learn, practice, heal, re-learn, practice, heal. By listening to someone else, we recognize that they have more in common with us than we may have originally thought. In holding their vulnerability, we may be able to forgive them for their faults, and thus forgive ourselves. My curriculum aligns with the principles of victim-offender dialogue and related healing and accountability practices. The content is both introspective and analytical, an opportunity to look within and at society at large. We examine power, identity, and ultimately, the connection we have with ourselves, the people we have harmed, and those who have harmed us. See here for a film by Nicole Gervacio on my approach, supported by the California Arts Council and California Shakespeare Theater.
Inspired by Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, the largest human displacement in human history, this is an exploratory and artistic space for people in the South Asian diaspora. We ask: how did we become South Asian? In what ways do casteism, Hindu nationalism, language politics, racial profiling, Islamophobia, and inter-religious tension define our social position? What political flashpoints across the subcontinent undercut our ability to be in solidarity with each other? We situate ourselves in legacies of inter-communal conflict and begin to heal these wounds and make meaning of painful fractures in our collective past.
"I am not a person who enjoys performing in front of others. With that being said, Tatiana created an environment that made me feel supported by my peers which compelled me to put myself out there." - Komoia Johnson, Program Manager (RJ) at Oakland Unified School District