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What is the Illumination Project?

The Illumination Project (IP) is Portland Community College’s innovative, nationally lauded student leadership and social justice theater program. The IP is designed to address issues of equity and inclusion and to foster a climate of belonging, compassion, and respect for all people in the PCC community.

The Illumination Project’s interactive community performances are devised so that large sections of the campus participate in problem-solving around issues that traditionally have made education more difficult for students of color, women students, poor/working class students, immigrant and LGBTQ+ students.

The plays produced by the IP are generated from situations the Student Educators have experienced in their own lives. Interactive theater, with its capacity to engage diverse learning styles and members of a community, is an ideal way to develop competencies in the principles of intercultural communication, systemic racism and social oppression and support culturally responsive practices.

Interactive Theater

The Illumination Project uses a style of theater known as Theater of the Oppressed. Developed by Brazilian theater activist, Augusto Boal, Theater of the Oppressed is used to promote community-centered problem solving. The plays are performed once without interruption, then performed again, allowing audience members to participate and change the scene to have a different outcome. (Note: while performing remotely the audience interaction will be more limited but still an integral part of our production)

The Play is the Thing

Each year the Student Educators write six distinct plays addressing issues such as racism, immigration, classism, domestic and sexual violence, heterosexism, and religious oppression. The play topics focus on how these issues impact students’ educational experiences and brainstorm solutions for taking action against social oppression. The Illumination Project focuses on two topics each year – one topic for winter term performances and a different topic for spring term performances.

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

What students are saying

"I have grown so much in the Illumination Project. It has given me an emotionally safe place to learn more about oppression – and be creative – while I am learning to educate others about oppression in order to create positive change.

In this class learning is hands-on with a variety of learning experiences. It is an excellent introduction into college for many. This class has given me actual tools I can take out into the world."

– April Burris, Student Educator