July 29 – August 3

THEATER OF PLACE: Creating Work from Documentary Materials, Story Circles & Other Community Listening Techniques


Learn skills to work with communities to create compelling theatre that sets the stage for community dialogue and positive change. In the workshop we will actively explore the elements that give this work its power and legitimacy: AGENCY, ARTISTRY, AUTHENTICITY, AUDACITY, ACCURACY and ADVOCACY. We will work on developing interview skills—how to gather story and an understanding of the legality and ethics of working with human subjects. The workshop will draw on the work of Jo Carson, Stropnicky’s long-time creative partner, as well as other practitioners of this kind of work, and will culminate with a showing.




After studying in the Professional Actors Training Program at Carnegie-Mellon University, where he worked with Jewel Gerard Stropnicky explores “Theatre of Place” through Ensemble, Documentary and Community Performance. A multi-faceted theatre artist (director, writer and actor), he graduated from Northwestern, studied with Alvina Krause, and in 1978 co-founded Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE), where he worked for the next 34 years. In Appalachia, the Deep South and Pennsylvania, he has used local story to create original large-scale, site-specific performances in communities facing crisis, transition, or change. These events access the transformative power of the theatre form, bringing health, changing lives, offering communities both validation and challenge.

For this work, as well as for his role in co-founding the national Network of Ensemble Theaters, Jerry was honored as a United States Artists Fellow in 2010. The USA program was created by the Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential and Rasmusen Foundations to identify and support “America’s greatest living artists.”


Stropnicky  has  acted in hundreds of roles and directed more than sixty productions, written and/or directed twenty “Theatre of Place” projects. He has worked with communities in crisis, trauma or transition in the deep South, Appalachia and Pennsylvania. Each project begins with the community needing to frame its story. Diverse casts have included coal miners, shrimpers, dairy farmers, gas field workers, recovering addicts, church choirs and more in large-scale, site-specific original work that challenges, validates and open doors to new understanding. FLOOD STORIES, TOO. approached community catharsis in a region’s experience and recovery from a record-breaking natural disaster. TIOGA CHANGES looks at how a rural Pennsylvania community deals with enormous outside forces with the “fracking” of the Marcellus Shale. HEADWATERS: DIDJA HEAR? explores, among other stories, what happened when a group of high school students in a rural conservative corner of Georgia grew tired of bullying and formed a Gay-Straight Alliance Club in their high school. The arrival of Westboro, and their signs of hate were just part of the story.



Workshops are geared for participants of all levels of experience, whose ages have run from 18-85.

Workshops will meet from 10 am – 4 pm, Monday through Saturday, in Studio II of Webster Hall on the Amherst College campus in Amherst, MA.

Driving Instructions to Amherst College

Amherst College campus map.

Workshops cost $399. There is a $50 discount for registration by May 15.

NOTE: Contact us to apply for limited pool of financial aid, or for discounts for ATHE, NET (Network of Ensemble Theaters) members or staff/artists from TCG member theatres.

Optional room and board are available on the Amherst College campus for an additional fee.
Workshop housing is $217, for a single with a shared bath in an Amherst College dorm. Studios, theatre, dining commons and dorms are all within walking distance. A meal ticket for the Dining Commons (healthy food, much of it local) is $185.

Email us, if you are interested in alternative housing. There are a number of hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts in the area.


TO REGISTER: Click Workshop-Regstration-form-13 to download the registration form in MS-WORD or Workshop-Regstration-form-13.pdf to download it as a PDF. Fill it out and mail it with your deposit to:

The Ko Festival of Performance
498 South Gulf Road
Belchertown, MA 01007

OR, if you go to our “Buy Tickets” page you can pay by credit card or PayPal.

Questions? For further information email us or call (413) 427-6147.