The Illumination Project 2019

By Joe Culhane|February 5, 2019News, Theater, Top Stories|

Illumination Project PCC 2019

Student Educators of the Illumination Project rehearsing in the Performance Art Center ~ photo by Joe Culhane

Have you ever heard of the Illumination Project? It’s okay if you haven’t. But I’m glad you’re reading this now so you can learn what it’s all about and ideally come be a part of this impactful theatrical learning experience.

The Illumination Project is base on the interactive social justice theatre pioneered by Augusto Boal, a Brazilian theater activist who developed Theater of The Oppressed. PCC used Boal’s methods to improve PCC’s culture for 15 years.

When I found out about this program last year I was compelled to apply and was pleased to be accepted into the program. It has been a personal goal to learn as much as I can about systems of oppression and institutionalized racism. This class has genuinely illuminated these topics for me in tremendously meaningful ways.

In just a few days our first performances will be happening, and it would be so great to see you at one of them. I’ll be in eight of the plays and as one of the only white males in the class, you can perhaps imagine that I’ve been cast as the oppressor in essentially all my roles. That has been a very humbling and extremely challenging experience.

The rewards have already been valuable. I am learning each day how to be a better ally and accomplice in the work that is needed to dismantle systems of oppression. By attending one of these plays, you can engage and interact in a way that will leave you with new tools to disrupt oppressive acts in your life as well.



“I am learning each day how to be a better ally and accomplice in the work that is needed to dismantle systems of oppression.



My fellow student educators and I have all shared a sentence or two about what the Illumination Project means to us, it is shared in our programs that are handed out during the performances. It is nice to read about all the different ways this program has impacted peoples lives. They all agreed they would like to share their perspectives with you.

Alex: The Illumination Project is a way of building communities and learning about social justice issues …and it’s fun.

Dante: I’m passionate about social justice because I want to work and get along with everyone who is participating to make change.

Eri: The Illumination Project is the work of maybe changing the hopeless to maybe hopeful. Each person we encounter, if we touch their heart and open their eyes to what is really going on, it will be rewarding.

Fatin: I have had a great experience in the US, but that is not always the case. Programs like the IP are doing a great job educating the community, making it a more integrated and inclusive environment for all.

Faviola: Throughout my life the exposure I got to social issues always came filtered, as I became grown up I was able to see and understand a lot about the injustices in this world. There can’t be peace when there is a place for oppression.

J.R: I have seen too many people severely damaged by a broken system.

Joe: I am passionate about social justice work because dismantling systems of oppressions is of the upmost importance to me! I believe the Illumination Project is a helpful way for me to learn and contribute in a collaborative way towards this cause.

Krystin: I’ve been fighting against injustice since I was in the 7th grade, and I love how the IP creates a community of change makers.

Lulu: The Illumination Project is equipping me with tools and words to an oppression I was forced to sit with in silence for so long.

Marina: The Illumination Project is a great place to share your opinion and an even greater place to hear other people’s stories.

Nanou: I believe that the work of the IP is important because it allows us to see things differently and be aware of what’s going on in the U.S. regarding racism. I am really excited to be in this program and learn new stuff every day.

Robin: Getting people to listen to each other, not make judgements based on stereotypes, or what we are pounded with in the media. To make all people seen as human beings sharing one planet connection.

Unique: The IP lets people learn more about social justice and allows a safe space for people to share. We understand each other and perform to share our knowledge and help our community one step at a time. Exploring new and in depth ways our society can improve is a part of the project.

Yuman: To show that people are not alone in their experiences and what they choose to do about it matters.

Here’s more information about the Illumnation Project. This information (and more) is posted at PCC’s Illumination page.

The Illumination Project (IP) is Portland Community College’s innovative student leadership and education program designed to foster a climate of equality, compassion, justice, and respect for all people in the PCC academic community and the community-at-large.

The Illumination Project uses interactive social justice theater as a venue for Student Educators and audience members to join together to rehearse ways of solving problems. Interactive theater, with its capacity to engage diverse learning styles and members of a community, is an ideal way to challenge racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression. In performances audience members enter a scene and dynamically change its outcome.

In this way, the Illumination Project challenges the viewpoints of both the audience and the actors/Student Educators in a performance.


The Illumination Project is a program of the Sylvania Women’s Resource Center and finds additional support from the Sylvania Campus President’s Office, Multicultural Center, Sociology and Theater Departments.

Current Topic and Events
Winter 2019, the Illumination Project will focus on Racism. Our goal is to create a campus community that values people of all backgrounds. Our plays focus on the challenges faced by people of color, immigrants and people of differing sexual orientations and gender identities. These plays will reflect the desire for all individuals to be respected and included in our academic and greater community.

The Illumination Project is service-learning
The Illumination Project is one of PCC’s many excellent Service-Learning activities. Service-Learning helps promote both intellectual and civic engagement by linking the work students do in the classroom to real-world problems and real-world needs; without compromising academic rigor or discipline-specific objectives, service-learning gives students concrete reasons for doing their personal best. Learn more about Service-Learning in the Illumination project »

The Illumination Project is civic engagement
Illumination Project’s strong focus on developing students’ civic capacities, their sense of social responsibility, and their commitment to public action makes it Portland Community College’s premier civic engagement project. According to Michael Delli Carpini, Director, Public Policy, The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Civic engagement is individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.” Learn more about civic engagement »



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