Friday, March 17, 2017

Effective collaboration starts with something very simple: listening. Michael Rohd, Artistic Director of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice and the Sojourn Theatre, will speak about his experiences collaborating with arts councils, service organizations, artists, community agencies, and local governments around the country to make space and context for meaningful, arts-based partnership practice at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 5, in UI Art Building West, Room 240. His talk, "Devising Civic Practice: Listening is the New Revolution," is part of the Creative Matters lecture series sponsored by the UI Office of Research and Economic Development in collaboration with the UI Arts Advancement Committee.

Participatory performance

Rohd’s unique approach to community arts is most recently conceptualized through the Sojourn Theatre’s project How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes, a participatory performance model for community engagement staged in Chicago, Louisiana, Washington, DC, and other locations. The project 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.

“Michael's work in theatre has centered on creating powerful work rooted in civic engagement,” said Adjunct Professor Kristy Hartsgrove Mooers, UI Theatre Arts Department. “The techniques he has developed with the Center for Civic Performance and Practice help to amplify marginalized voices while connecting different parts of communities to create concrete social change. His training program has been formative for me, and the techniques he teaches have broad applications within the artistic community and beyond.”

Theatre as a tool for community building

Rohd is also a professor at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and Art, where he and other faculty collaborators are launching a think tank/action space called The Ensemble Lab. In 2015, he received an Otto Rene Castillo award for Political Theater and The Robert Gard Foundation Award for Excellence. He is author of the widely translated book Theatre for Community, Conflict, and Dialogue, used around the world in theater-for-community settings and teaching institutions.

During Rohd’s visit to the University of Iowa, he will lead a half-day workshop for faculty, staff, students, and community members, in partnership with the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, Division of Performing Arts, United Action for Youth, Riverside Theatre, and Hancher Auditorium. This workshop is currently full.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. To RSVP visit

About Creative Matters

The Creative Matters lecture series seeks to demonstrate that creativity is not only at the core of all research and discovery, but is also central to our human experience. The lineup of invited speakers includes artists, thinkers, builders, and doers who challenge conventional thinking about creativity, science, and artistic expression, borrowing from a range of influences and disciplines in their work. The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover.