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Irondale Partners With NYPD For Workshops


Irondale Partners With NYPD For Workshops

Irondale, Brooklyn's leading theatrical think-tank theater ensemble, in partnership with the New York Police Department, have selected the participants of the 8th cycle of To Protect, Serve, and Understand and begun the 10-week, 40-hour workshop rooted in social change, activism, and humanity. Following the 40-hour workshop series, the combined group of officers and community members will present an original performanceDecember 13-14, telling their own stories as well as the stories of others, through improvisations and monologues to foster understanding and change.

In a current political climate that fosters hate, and with an administration devoid of empathy, the rise of community and police tensions is not only palpable but has been deadly to both parties in recent years. With the scrutiny of modern policing and the rise of activist groups that champion racial equality, To Protect, Serve, and Understand is a one-of-a-kind workshop that is changing the way we look at one another in a real way. Starting with a dinner and discussion, followed by group theater games and actor-training techniques, the workshop teaches participants a unique approach to problem-solving and offers real-life communication skills in a creative non-judgmental atmosphere.

"How do we restore empathy in our country in these dark times?" considers Greiss, the creator of the program. "We need to start at the community level and take all that we have learned from our theater training to help people communicate more effectively and listen more intently," he continues. "As we have seen repeatedly, when there is a miscommunication on the streets between an officer and a civilian, somebody's life and safety are put into question, and it simply must stop."

To Protect, Serve, and Understand employs rehearsal room and facilitation techniques that Irondale created with its permanent artistic ensemble over the last 38 years. It has led to the production of the company's main-stage theatrical works, youth programming and a STEAM curriculum to train young scientists. To date, 47 police officers and 47 civilians have participated in To Protect, Serve, and Understand in seven series of workshops. Performances have seen audiences at capacity, with more than 2,000 community members attending the open forum. The conversations continue with an official Protect, Serve, and Understand podcast, featuring alumni from various workshop groups. The podcast is available on iTunes at

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