The Centre for Community Dialogue and Change was founded in 2011 by Radha Ramaswamy who has been, in a working life of 40 years, an English teacher, theatre researcher, dramaturg, an educational consultant to NGOs, and finally, a Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner and trainer. Radha has over 25 years of experience teaching English in Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Cambridge. Her lifelong interest in theatre, especially as it relates to its audience, led to her doctoral work on "Aspects of Performance in Contemporary Indian Drama in English” from the University of Bengaluru in 2004.
As a teacher, Radha encouraged her students to think beyond the classroom. While in Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, she initiated and led several programmes such as the Writing Group, and the Drama Club. She collaborated with the Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA), a Bengaluru-based, child rights centred NGO, to design outreach projects for her students.
Prompted by a strong desire for more broad-based experience in pedagogy, Radha gave up her job as Head of the Department of English at Mount Carmel College, and joined the Mahindra United World College of India at Pune, where, besides teaching English, she founded the Department of Theatre Arts and functioned as the Head of Aesthetics. The school's Community Interaction programmes helped Radha further develop and sharpen her own ideas for integrating development work into educational programmes. The next two years found her working with the Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA) and other NGOs, engaging in educational research and training.
Her experience in education, interest in theatre and passion for social justice work came together when she decided to train herself in Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, a tool for community education. Radha trained with Marc Weinblatt at the Mandala Center for Change in June 2010. Subsequently, she invited him to conduct workshops in India in January-February 2011, and shortly thereafter, launched the Centre for Community Dialogue and Change, an organization committed to the promotion of Theatre of the Oppressed in education. Since founding CCDC, Radha has worked with diverse communities of people such as students, educators, women's groups, activists, senior citizens, medical students, medical teachers and others.
Radha has conducted workshops in various cities in India, Nepal and the United States. CCDC's work with medical students and faculty - exploring the application of Theatre of the Oppressed in the field of Health Humanities - is pioneering and has the potential to become a significant area of study for TO practitioners. While all Theatre of the Oppressed work addresses mental well being, Radha has led several Forum Theatre projects, in collaboration with national and international institutions working in mental health, that specifically addressed mental health issues. Regular voluntary work with senior citizens has also been an important part of her work, with forum performances on topics such as elder abuse, dementia and retirement blues. Radha conducts annual 6-day Theatre of the Oppressed facilitator trainings in Bangalore, and elsewhere on invitation.
In November 2014, Radha organised Diversity Dialogues, a 5-day National TO conference. This conference featured talks and participation by TO practitioners as well as artists, writers,educators and activists working on core issues of education and social justice. The second edition of Diversity Dialogues was held in 2017.
In December-January 2016-17, Radha invited David Diamond from Theatre for Living (TfL), Canada to conduct 3 workshops under the aegis of CCDC in Bangalore.
Radha's main thrust remains the development of a TO-based curriculum for mainstream schools and colleges in India.