Inver Hills/On Stage Live Theater Collaboration: The Courtroom

Students take part in sociology classroom discussion session and attend play at Jungle Theater

Inver Hills Community College is collaborating with On Stage: Creating a Community Dialogue Around Live Theater, a theater outreach and audience development program fiscally sponsored by Springboard for the Arts. In mid-June, students in the SOC 1127 Social Inequalities: Race, Class, & Gender course taught by Sadie Pendaz-Foster, PhD, sociology faculty, participated in a Zoom classroom discussion session focused on the play, The Courtroom: A Reenactment of One Woman’s Deportation Proceedings.

Sadie explained that attending the play and taking part in the discussion session make up one option of her course’s Culture and Social Construction Project assignment.

“The content of the play relates themes of gender, race, migration, and most especially overlap with the convergent themes of the justice system and the place/ability of people of Asian descent to experience the ‘American Dream,'” she said. “Furthermore, this assignment option helps us understand how the physical reality, enactment, and experience of attending an in-person play—and the material ‘things’ that make-up that environment—also serve as sites to challenge the perpetuating of social injustice, i.e., nonmaterial culture. Other themes that are explored in the play are identity and family, which are also relevant for our coursework, especially in Asian American Dreams.”

Lucas Erickson, On Stage project manager, reported that On Stage is partnering with Jungle Theater on The Courtroom production.

“Jungle Theater is producing the play,” Lucas said. “Half the performances are at their theater in Uptown and half are in a courtroom at Hamline University. On Stage brings actors to college classrooms and community settings around the Twin Cities. Local actors and students read scenes from a play in current local production followed by a lively discussion of the themes, tying in current events and personal values and narratives while stimulating critical thinking. Subsequently attending the full play is encouraged.”

Lucas added that the purpose of the program is to enhance in-class learning, make local theater relevant to younger and nontraditional audiences, and to lay the groundwork for building future theater attendances. Discussions cover relevant social, political and cultural topics that come up in Twin Cities plays including gender and racial violence and inequity, LGBTQ+ discrimination, cultural diaspora and alienation and aging.

Faculty perspective: Sadie Pendaz-Foster, PhD

Sadie Pendaz-Foster, PhD

Last year, I actually went to see Twelve Angry Men after the play was used by my colleague, Wayne Whitmore, in teaching SOC 1127 Social Inequalities. I love theater and was looking for a way to incorporate this programming, but the timing and content wasn’t a great fit previously.

This summer when Lucas reached out, I found that the content of the play and the assignment I already had in place for SOC 1127 made a fit perfect as an option for considering how material and nonmaterial culture recreate social inequalities. I added it in as an option for that assignment. Since the play is also about families, I decided to give it as an extra credit option for SOC 1130 this summer as well.

After attending the discussion on Thursday, I realized that the discussion of how courtroom efficiency can create inequality also relates to our reading of Crook County in SOC 1127.  I’m going to see the play on June 23 and plan to add play content and reflections to the lessons on Crook County, which start on Friday, July 7.

More about The Courtroom classroom discussion session…

Scene from The Courtroom • SOURCE: Jungle Theater

The first thing the presenters did to introduce the play and promote the idea of younger people going to live theater was to ask us to consider what comes to mind with certain words associated with the play:

  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Citizenship
  • Deportation—the presenters also followed up by asking if there are people who should be deported
  • Justice

The presenters then asked the question of whether or not we’ve ever been in situations where a language or communications barrier made it difficult to perceive things. Students shared some examples. I thought a lot about my son, who has Down syndrome and is not very intelligible to different audiences and the things he does to try to get us to understand him.

An example was the other day he asked me to make brownies, but I couldn’t understand him and kept saying something else. After a couple tries, he said that “cake in a box thing,” and I got it. I didn’t share this with the group because I wanted to keep the focus on students’ answers, but it was interesting for me to think about that in the context of a different discussion, but with something I see almost every day.

One of the presenters at the end of this sharing portion talked about how language is very complex. There was also a brief discussion of how sometimes translators in courts can see something is hurting a person’s case, but they just have to translate it directly anyway. This made me think about connections between this play and a book our class is reading, Crook County, which is about the way that courts work to maximize efficiency and just “keep things going” (among other things) reproduces in equality.

The presenters described a little bit of the plot of the play, which is based on a true story of someone who accidentally voted as a noncitizen and told the truth when asked that in a citizenship hearing (a person who does this can never be a U.S. citizen and is deported). The play uses real transcripts from the hearings on this.

The presenters then asked the group what we valued about our U.S. citizenship, and they also asked us to answer 10 questions from the U.S. citizenship test, which was very interesting. They also asked some students to read part of the play.

Sadie Pendaz-Foster, PhD
Sociology Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

Learn more about Sadie by reading Faculty Spotlight: Sadie Pendaz-Foster on Inver Hills News.

Student perspective: Sophia Prairie

Sophia Prairie
Age: 18
Hometown: Rosemount, Minnesota
Current residence: Rosemount, Minnesota
High school and year graduated: Rosemount Class of 2023
Major and degree earning at Inver Hills: Sociology Transfer Pathway A.A.
Extracurricular activities and clubs at Inver Hills: Phi Theta Kappa, Active Minds
Inver Hills planned graduation date: Spring 2024
Education plans after Inver Hills: Either study abroad from a university here in the States or apply overseas and finish her bachelor’s
Career plans: Like to work in education as either a professor or academic advisor

Three words that describe you as a college student:

Sophia Prairie Q & A

What do you like best about your Social Inequalities class?

Since the semester just started, we haven’t gotten into a lot of course material, but I am loving our main book for the course, Privilege, Power, and Difference. I have had a lot of eye-opening moments or reactions due to some ideas and concepts being talked about.

Have you ever struggled to communicate in a different language abroad or in the U.S.?

Right before my freshman year of high school, my family and I moved to the bottom of Texas. This was my first time being fully surrounded by Spanish speakers everywhere I went. Lots of jokes and conversations were being spoken in Spanish, so I felt like the odd one out.

Another experience is more recent since I have moved back to Minnesota. I currently teach swimming lessons to children anywhere from the ages of 3–13. Anyone is allowed to enroll at my work even if they do not speak English. I have had on many occurrences children who speak no English or minimal English. This does not discourage me since I am aware that I can also demonstrate for them to understand. However, I do try to ask their parents or guardians how to say specific words so that I can make them feel welcomed and safe in my class.

Is it always best to tell the truth? Why/why not?

One of my values when looking for friendships or relationships is honesty. It feels absolutely terrible when I know someone I value has just lied to me. However, I do believe other people are more sensitive than others, and may appreciate a white lie so they can feel better about those given situations.

Is there a difference between an error and a mistake? If yes, what is the difference?

An error sounds like something that was done intentionally while a mistake sounds like a mishap that occurs on accident.

Have you ever made an honest mistake? If yes, were you forgiven or not? Was it justice?

One time I met my friend’s friend group at a restaurant after their hockey game. I knew that this one specific girl was dating one of these two boys whose names are insanely similar. I asked my friend which boy she was dating. Long story short, I had accidentally followed the wrong guy on social media because my friend was unaware at the time which boy her friend was dating. I then went up to her at school and apologized verbally. Fast forward, I heard her talking about me behind my back after our lunch got out.

Although it was an honest mistake, she still does not forgive me and continues to have hateful feelings towards me even though I never attempted to get with her boyfriend.

Do you believe the U.S. judicial system works equally for everyone?

Absolutely not. I have watched my brother fight for his kids time and time again through the system with loads of evidence, but as a man in a woman state, he has not gotten the justice he deserves.

What does it mean to be a U.S. citizen?

When I think of being a U.S. citizen, I often just picture someone who was born here or someone who has gone through the process of becoming a legal citizen. I think our country has a lot of pride in itself, and that we are allowed to have our voices heard.

Do feel a sense of pride in being an American? Why/why not?

I am grateful to be from America and have the freedom that I do, but I do not have pride in being an American. I feel like other countries have a better way of functioning than us, especially since we continue to fail at being the land of freedom.

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


Student perspective: Audra Mackowiak

Audra Mackowiak
Age: 37
Hometown: Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Current residence: Roseville, Minnesota
High school and year graduated: Chippewa Falls Class of 2004
Major and degree earning at Inver Hills: Nursing A.S.
Inver Hills planned graduation date: December 2023
Education plans after Inver Hills: None as of right now
Career plans: Hopes to work as an RN in end-of-life, surgical, or emergency care
Other degrees, diplomas, and/or certificates: B.A. in English, U of M Twin Cities, 2008

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What do you like best about your Social Inequalities class?

So far, I am very much enjoying our instructor, Sadie Pendaz-Foster. Although the class is asynchronous and online, Sadie is engaging and well-organized, two things that I very much gravitate towards and appreciate.

What have you learned in the class that you did not already know?

While I am aware of their existence, I am hoping to have my eyes opened more on just how social inequalities have been baked into the American experience—in ways I have had the privilege of overlooking.

Have you ever struggled to communicate in a different language abroad or in the U.S.?

In 2008, I began working as a patient transporter in a large hospital here in Minnesota. I worked there for several years and interacted with hundreds of people from all walks of life. Oftentimes, I would be tasked with bringing a patient to an appointment that did not speak English. Sometimes, there would be an interpreter or a family member to help translate, and sometimes only myself.

The times when it was only myself and the non-English speaking patient, I would try as best I could to communicate in simple words or signing things like “cold” by shivering or “thirsty” by miming drinking.

There were times when my charades did the job, and there were times when the language barrier was too much. In those times, I felt ashamed that I could not communicate on a basic level with this person that was depending on me.

Have you ever seen someone struggling to communicate in English when it was not their first language? If yes, were you compelled to help or not? Why/why not?

I will again defer to my experience working in the hospital. I saw this situation happen at times and certainly felt compelled to help.

Is it always best to tell the truth? Why/why not?

I was taught to always tell the truth, that “the truth shall set you free,” but I do believe there is more nuance to this question than a simple “yes” or “no.” I can only speak for myself, but at times I will withhold the entire truth to preserve the feelings or impact on my children.

A real world example of when I withheld the truth was when we came across a sick baby bird near our house while out on walk. It was clearly all alone and in need of help, so we took it to a wildlife rehabilitation center nearby and hoped for the best. My kids were so proud that they’d helped save the baby bird that when I got an update that it had died, I just didn’t have the heart to tell them.

I don’t know if that was the “right” thing to do or not, because children certainly need to understand that death is a reality of living, but I chose to not tell them the truth in this particular situation.

Is there a difference between an error and a mistake? If yes, what is the difference?

I don’t believe so.

Have you ever made an honest mistake? If yes, were you forgiven or not? Was it justice?

Yes, of course I have made an honest mistake. I have made plenty in my life! I have been forgiven by the person or party I committed said honest mistake against. According to, justice is defined as “the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness.” I don’t know if my situation warranted the title of justice? This is a hard question for me to answer.

Do you believe the U.S. judicial system works equally for everyone?

Absolutely not.

What does it mean to be a U.S. citizen?

To be a U.S. citizen means that either you have been born in the United States or have taken a citizenship test to earn the title of U.S. citizen, if foreign-born.

Do you feel a sense of pride in being an American? Why/why not?

I do feel a sense of pride in being an American. I believe we have so many freedoms, comparably, to many other countries around the world, and it is not lost on me how many opportunities we have as Americans. I do think the lens in which I see and experience the world influences my answer, and I do recognize that not all Americans have the same opportunities as I. I think this Social Inequalities class will further open my eyes to certain injustices in the U.S., however, I still hold space for pride and gratitude at being an American citizen.

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


More about SOC 1127: Social Inequalities: Race, Class, & Gender

Course Outline
Credits: 3
MNTC Goal Areas: 05, 07

Describes and analyzes selected inequality relationships in the United States. Topic areas will include economic inequality-poverty; ethnic inequality-racism; and gender inequality-sexism. This course is open to all students and meets the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) 8710.3200, Subp. 3, Standard 12a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j.

SOURCE: Jungle Theater

WHAT: The Courtroom: A Reenactment of One Woman’s Deportation Proceedings

Transcripts arranged by Arian Moayed
Directed by James Rodríguez

WHEN: June 3 – July 2, 2023

Jungle location tickets (June 20 – July 2)

Arranged by Tony nominee Arian Moayed, The Courtroom tells the real-life story of an immigrant from the Philippines who faced deportation after inadvertently registering to vote while applying for a drivers license.

The show’s immersive run will be divided between a courtroom at Hamline University and the Jungle. Both settings will highlight the play’s distinctive mode of storytelling that intentionally sits on the line between reality and theatricality.

WHERE: Jungle Theater

2951 Lyndale Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408

More about On Stage

On Stage educators, Jane Froiland, Clay Man Soo, Warren Bowles, work on lesson plan for in-class discussions about Jungle Theater’s The Courtroom

Since its launch the fall of 2016, On Stage has partnered with 14 theater companies in the Twin Cities, covering 29 plays. Of these plays that On Stage has promoted/discussed in classrooms, more than 7,000 students have been exposed to new theater and new theater venues, and more than 28 percent of these students paid to see the show that we were promoting/discussing. On Stage continues to focus on partnering with more small/mid-sized theaters that don’t have the resources for their own outreach efforts.

Each year, On Stage partners with five theaters on five plays that cover five different topics (two plays in spring semester, two in the fall, and one during summer session). For The Courtroom, OnStage is facilitating nine discussion sessions with more than 150 students and community members.


Learn more about Sociology at Inver Hills by contacting:

Inver Hills Community College
Virtual Visit

Learn more about On Stage theater outreach college classroom discussions by contacting:

Lucas Erickson
Project Manager
On Stage: Creating a Community Dialogue Around Live Theater

More about Sociology at Inver Hills…

Sociology at Inver Hills offers courses that cover a multitude of sociological topics, including deviance, social inequality, family, gender identities, the environment, religion, and genocide. Courses form the basis for the Sociology Transfer Pathway A.A. and provide coursework for the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) in Goal Areas 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

Society isn’t always high or polite.

According to the American Sociological Association (ASA), sociology is the study of society. As a student in our Sociology program, you will explore sociological concepts from every angle. You’ll learn how sociologists analyze relationships, family, religion, gender, sexuality, class, race, deviance, inequality, education, economics, government, genocide, and the environment. You’ll be busy.

Sociology goes everywhere.

Looking to learn how crime, culture, media, politics, group identity, and just about anything works? Sociology isn’t shy about going anywhere people go. Discovering new human realities is the heart’s-blood of this social science. You’ll investigate humankind with your eyes wide open.

Takes more than pillars to make a society.

Sociology never stands still. That’s because human behavior is always adapting and evolving. As a sociology student, you’ll roll from analyzing brief contacts between anonymous individuals to researching social processes on a global scale. Shifting horizons and mercurial change are the meat and potatoes of sociology.

Skill up for your future.

Pick any career path and you’ll find employers seeking people with transferable skills. Studying sociology gives you a full complement of in-demand skills focused on analysis, research, writing and presenting, problem-solving, leadership, statistical reasoning, cultural awareness, interpersonal relationships, critical thinking, creativity, and more. You’ll have the dexterity and competence to meet any moment.

Study any discipline.

Sociology can examine the inner mechanisms of virtually any discipline in any field, including the performing arts, visual arts, history, language and literature, the law, philosophy, theology, other social sciences such as anthropology and economics, biology, physics, education, engineering—the list goes on. You’ll have the flexibility to delve into sociological issues in the area that most sparks your interest.

Don’t worry, there’s a scientific method to our madness.

As a sociology major you will learn how to state your question, propose your theory, and then construct a rigorous lab or field experiment to grill your hypothesis. Point being, you’ll learn how to use your findings and new understanding to create evidence-based strategies that can tackle problems and make a real difference in people’s lives.

Specialties are our specialty.

Need to find your ideal niche? Lucky for you, sociology is a field with nearly more specialties than apples have varieties. You’ve got analytical, applied, behavioral, collective, comparative, cultural, historical, medical, military, policy, structural, theoretical, and many more. Find out which one resonates the most with you.

Sociology at Inver Hills can be your stairway to success.

Our Transfer Pathway A.A. gives you the credits you need to transfer with junior-year status to a sociology baccalaureate program at a Minnesota State university. Your education at Inver Hills will transport you toward your academic future and career calling.

Transfer Pathway A.A. in Sociology: 60 credits

This Transfer Pathway A.A. degree program offers you the powerful opportunity to complete an associate degree and transfer with junior-year status to a designated sociology baccalaureate program at one of seven Minnesota State universities.

As a student in this Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree program, you will complete the Sociology curriculum (10 credits), additional general education coursework (30 credits), health and physical Education courses (2 credits), and general electives (18 credits) to bring your credit total to 60.

Program Planning Guide

With this transfer pathway, you’ll be equipped to transfer with junior-year status to a designated sociology baccalaureate program at one of seven Minnesota State universities.:

Bemidji State University: Sociology B.A.
Metropolitan State University: Social Science B.A.
Minnesota State University Mankato:
>Applied Sociology B.A.
>Applied Sociology B.S.
Minnesota State University Moorhead: Sociology B.A.
Southwest Minnesota State University: Sociology B.A.
St. Cloud State University:
>Sociology B.A.
Sociology B.A. (Concentration in Critical Applied Sociology)
Winona State University: Sociology B.A.


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