Livestreaming a Conversation: Open Channels and the Caribbean Roots of Theatre for Social Change

Imagining America and Open Channels present Open Channels & The Caribbean Roots of Theater for Social Change livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at on Saturday 15 October 2022 at 11:30 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1:30 p.m. CDT (CDMX, UTC -5) / 2:30 p.m. EDT (Havana, UTC -4).

This is a hybrid exchange between Imagining America and Open Channels, an online learning community of theater artists, researchers and enthusiasts from across the Caribbean. Participants in New Orleans will interact with each other and a panel of theater artist-researchers in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Barbados. Together, we will explore the dialectical possibilities for “re-ritualizing” theater and “re-theatricalizing” everyday life in the 21st century.


  • Tomas Montoya, Canoa
  • Isabel Carolina Caballero, Tulane University (Host)
  • Helen Ceballos, Plataforma Eje (Panelist)
  • Michelle Hinkson, University of the West Indies (Panelist)
  • Jose Emilio Bencosme, Teatro Lluvia, Dominican Republic (Artist)
  • Kelly S. White, EVOLVE Diaspora, New Orleans (Facilitator)


  • Welcome and Blessing (3 minutes)
  • Opening Comments (12 minutes)
  • Roundtable (30 minutes)
  • Watch Video: Excerpt of Teatro Lluvia’s “Somos Mujeres” (3)
  • Panelists each respond for 2-3 minutes (12)
  • Q&A with IA (15)
  • BREAK (5)
  • Somatic Learning: Embodied Activities Inspired by the Artist’s Work (30 minutes)
  • Q&A with IA and online panelists (15)
  • Closing Thoughts (10 minutes)
  • Tour/Presentation on La Canoya/Metatranca/Open Channels 2023 (30 minutes)

Open Channels is a multi-lingual, multi-generational, multi-racial, multi-national learning community founded in January 2020, a few short weeks before the Pandemic. Envisioned originally as a one-time online workshop as part of the annual Festival del Fuego in Santiago de Cuba in July, it has evolved into an ongoing source for knowledge, networking and curricula focused on the historical and contemporary roots of theater for social change in the Caribbean. Organizational partners include: HowlRound, Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University, Estudio Teatral Macubá, and their Taller de Teatro Popular: Rumbos del Teatro Caribeño.

New Orleans is a deeply Caribbean city, a “Sankofa City” both in the sense of its strong West African influences and its meaning as a cultural place for the rest of the world: “Look back, in order to live forward.” It is no accident that Open Channels‘ founding and operational headquarters is here.

Open Channels was forged out of collective exhaustion, grief, and anger, as a way for members to keep ourselves connected to each other and the world around us under unbearable circumstances. We not only identify with the IA notion of “peering through the portal of the global pandemic,” we believe we have managed to manifest it by using online communications to do something we previously thought was impossible.

In our session, we will provide participants an opportunity to engage in a hybrid live-online collective ritual of repair, renewal, and release. We will provide a tangible example of a new way of being together that does not transcend or erase differences of language, culture, race and hemisphere, but allows all of us to see more clearly the many ties that bind us together as theater artists, activists and educators.