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A Conversation with Jody Drezner Alperin

Updated: Oct 22, 2018

Jody is one of the hosts of the NYC Physical Disobedience book release party. She is a teaching artist, theater director, and co-founder Off The Page, an arts education company in New York City that "connects students to the past and helps them take action in the present to change the future." She teaches residencies in schools, leads professional development for teachers, and guest lectures in colleges and universities nationwide. She is a fierce advocate for public education, an active member of NYC Opt Out (helping students opt out of standardized testing), and she sits on the steering committee for Get Organized BK, an activist organization in Brooklyn, NY. As if that weren't enough, you can regularly find her protesting and getting arrested for civil disobedience in Washington D.C. because... #badass.

If you could have any three, living women over for dinner, who would they be and why?

This is hard! I would love to have Nikole Hannah-Jones to hear about her work investigating segregation in public schools and talk about what it would take to really integrate them. I have a huge fan girl crush on Toshi Reagon. I'm not sure I could actually speak if I had her to dinner, but maybe she would be kind enough to do the talking or playing music and I would just stare in awe. I've followed Amy Klobuchar on Twitter for awhile and was so impressed with her during the Kavanaugh hearings. It would be amazing to talk to her about politics and being one of a few female senators during these times.

What are a few things that currently infuriate you?

I mean, a few? I feel so full of rage a lot of the time these days, it's hard to pick a few. I'm enraged by systems that we continue to perpetuate that oppress whole sections of our population. I feel like that is the underlying issue for most of the things that infuriate me. Also, that I am still getting mosquito bites in October! That can definitely send me off!

And a few that inspire you?

I am heartened by people doing the on-the-ground work of building new systems and dismantling old ones. So many of them have been doing it for so long. I'm also inspired by the people who have realized that they need to be doing the work as well, and have rolled up there sleeves to do so.

Also, I feel incredibly lucky to get to work with kids. They inspire me, no matter how terrible the rest of the world is. Doing theatre with kids means you get to see young people being brave--really, really, brave. And vulnerable, and committed, and funny! Which is truly the best antidote to the rage I carry with me.

When anger or frustration builds, do you feel it in your body? If so, how or where?

My neck and shoulders! All the stress goes straight there and makes them hard as rock.

How do you relieve those symptoms? What are your fail-safe, behavioral release valves?

I have a foam roller that I use and breathe through as I focus it on the tight areas. Thank goodness for an amazing massage therapist who I don't see nearly enough, but when I do, is a miracle worker.

What kind of exercise, alternative therapy, or play have you always wanted to try but never got around to it?

I think I could totally get in to roller derby!

Describe something beautiful (or beautifully disobedient) that you saw recently.

I am a sucker for people making art during these times. We saw the Dorrance Dance Company perform over the summer. I've never seen anyone use tap dance the way they did. They told full stories of love, and heartbreak, and rage. People gave them standing ovations in the middle of the show! My kids tease me because I will cry so easily at art, and they are totally right. But I do truly think it is beautiful that people continue to make art that speaks to their own experiences—and then try to connect that to a shared experience—and then put it out in the world for people to see or judge or love.

Click here to: ORDER THE BOOK or HOST A PARTY!

Jody walking out of jail in D.C. after being arrested for protesting Kavanaugh.

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