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CDS Drama Teacher Brings Social Justice on Stage

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Congratulations to our Middle School Drama teacher, Jackie Katz, who has been in the news (including an article on the first page of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Datebook!) for her great work in the theatre. Working in collaboration with ALMAS (Alianza de Mujeres Activas y Solidarias/Women’s Action and Solidarity Alliance), she helped write and direct a play called Santa Almas, which advocates for the rights of immigrant domestic workers. All of the actors are real-life domestic workers who played an equal role in crafting the play and infusing it with the experiences of their own lives. The play weaves together elements of the past (crossing the border into the United States), the present (the current failure of employers and the government to respect and protect immigrants), and the future (a possible reunion with their families). It also includes an audience-participation element derived from Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed, encouraging the viewers to get involved and think critically about the situation being depicted. Santa Almas debuted with a free show on May 1, International Workers’ Day.

When she was interviewed for an article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Jackie emphasized the collaborative nature of the production and the personal connections between the cast members: “I’ve felt a deep joy in knowing each of them. Every rehearsal is incredibly inspiring, getting to laugh with them, cry with them.” She uses a similar process in her work at CDS, where her drama students take part in the writing and production of their own plays and create stories addressing social issues which they are passionate about. It’s a perfect example of the active and collaborative mode of learning which is an essential part of CDS.