Community Engagement

Artistic Director, Marcella Trowbridge, 
is a Certified Death Doula
as well as a Justice of the Peace.
Theater may seem far from these practices, but being a Community Ritual Keeper
is the vision of the artist as spiritual and cultural warrior.

Bodies, Curiosity & Four Walls:
A Theater Workshop with Toto Kisaku

Congolese Theater Artist Toto Kisaku will teach a day-long workshop for theater students, teachers and theater professionals. 

'Our challenge is to develop our internal fitness, our psychological reality...We will concentrate on what we need in order to build new communities. These communities are beyond the limits of religion, skin color, language, social class, privileges, cultures or knowledge.”

The workshop will challenge participants to develop skills in a 'common language': the language of gestures, facial expressions, actions and reactions. 

'We often forget the concept of 'the whole'; the acceptance of the other. By locking ourselves inside a room of four walls we deprive ourselves of learning about the world. Those who are outside are also isolated from those who are inside. We need to find ways of opening the doors and windows, of allowing one another free passage through communication. It is through an artistic language in a theatrical approach we can accomplish this.” 

Mr. Kisaku was born in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is an award-winning playwright, actor, director and producer who studied drama at the National Institute of Arts. After establishing the K-Mu Theater in 2003, he spent the next 12 years traveling the world producing and participating in plays. His work has a focus on social justice. In 2015, the Congolese government kidnapped and prepared to kill him because of the content of one of his plays. This past summer, his play, Requiem for an Electric Chair, which told the story of his imprisonment, was presented at the New Haven Arts and Ideas Festival. 


Open to people ages 16 and up.

This free workshop is limited to 15 participants. 

This event is part of the Immigrant Artist series funded by a grant from the Middletown Commission on the Arts. Russell Library is partnering with ARTFARM and Oddfellows Playhouse in order to present this workshop.  

Where Are We Now? collaborators Anitra Brooks and Marcella Trowbridge.

Some rehearsal photos , taken 4/2/17 by Kisha McWilliams Michael:



"Where Are We Now" is a multi-year initiative supported, in part, by the 111 Sunnyside Charitable Trust; Shoreline Arts Alliance in partnership with the Connecticut Office of the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts; Community Foundation of Middlesex County/Arts Fund, Elizabeth Swaim Middletown Fund; Puffin Foundation; Oddfellows Playhouse; and the Middlesex County Chapter of the NAACP.


Where Are We Now?: Race, Pride, Class and Inequity



Some background on the Project…

ARTFARM’s cultivates high quality theater with a commitment to simple living, environmental sustainability and social justice. This project, Where Are We Now?: Race, Pride, Class and Inequity feels urgent. Connecticut is like much of America - there is inequity based on race and ethnicity. People of color of all economic backgrounds often feel unfairly treated by government, employers, police, landlords, etc., and recent incidents have built up anger and resentment nationally and locally. A healing dialog must include all layers of society together, giving voice to individuals of all backgrounds while engaging government and community leaders. The ARTFARM Community Ensemble is using theater to address the challenges we face in our communities. Where Are We Now? is extending the Ensemble’s reach, engaging a broader community around race and inequity through interviews, dialog, listening sessions, workshops, written stories, a public share & a moderated panel. The Ensemble and community engagements will address not only the symptoms, but the causes of inequity in our community, with the goal of creating understanding, empathy and ally-ship. Key in the process will be engaging Community Leaders directly with those who feel disempowered in a public forum moderated by the NAACP.

To organize locally around race issues, we need to be resourceful, fearless, humble and scrappy, engaging a diversity of individuals in multiple settings. We will host community workshops, listening sessions, and interviews to document and process stories through writing, photo, audio and video recording. We will use non-traditional settings -- churches, homes, board rooms & street corners -- as well as theaters. These will culminate in a public forum in April – inviting government and community leaders – featuring a showcase of original, issue-based work by the Community Ensemble paired with a moderated Community Panel Discussion. It feels necessary to ensure that myriad voices and ideas can be represented -- from the stories of grandmothers in the “projects” to people of color in the business community. We will engage skilled artists, including a hip-hop composer to craft music for/with the Ensemble, anti-racism/diversity trainers, and community organizers to help shape the dialog.


ARTFARM has been hosting FREE on your feet, Theater-based workshops co-facilitated by Marcella Trowbridge & Anitra Brooks.

This is part of an effort to connect in the community to talk about what people have experienced, people’s feelings, worries, hopes and ideas around race, identity and change. These workshops, in addition to interviews and one on one conversations, plus Guerrilla StoryShare Books placed in community spaces, will be part of a material-collecting process working towards a sharing of a broad spectrum of stories with the public on April 7th, 2017.  On April 7th, 2017, ARTFARM’s Community Ensemble will share stories as a work-in-progress in the theater at Oddfellows Playhouse This will be followed by a moderated panel discussion.         

Come Play. Come Be Heard. We all need to be At the Table.        

Where Are We Now/Community Ensemble is possible thanks to support from the 111 Sunnyside Charitable Trust; Shoreline Arts Alliance, in partnership with the CT Office of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts; Community Foundation of Middlesex County; Oddfellows Playhouse; Middlesex County NAACP; and the Puffin Foundation.