Active Bystander training

Active Bystander workshops teach participants how to respond constructively when they witness others being verbally demeaned or threatened. True Story Theater has offered Active Bystander workshops since 2007.  We have served a wide variety of groups, including civic organizations, places of worship, human rights commissions, businesses, activist groups, schools and universities.

Here’s a list of whom we have worked with.

About the workshops

Our Active Bystander workshops are generally 2 hours long for 15-75 participants. We offer three different topics that each offer an enlivening introduction to taking constructive action:


  • ​EVERYDAY BIGOTRY: ​ways to respond when someone you know personally (e.g., a co-worker, family member, neighbor) says or does something bigoted, whether intentionally or unintentionally
  • PUBLIC HARASSMENT: ​ways to respond hen you witness someone you do not know being the target of verbal abuse or prejudice (e.g., on the subway)

(2) DIALOGUE SKILLS WORKSHOP: how to engage effectively with people you know personally (e.g., co-workers, friends, family members) to move past defensiveness into greater awareness and accountability

(3) EXPLORING IDENTITY WORKSHOP:  how to move past our obliviousness to understand how others experience their social identity, including how this informs effective active bystander work.

​In all three workshops, participants learn new skills in the whole group, working on different real-life scenarios, and then practice these skills ​in dyads and in small groups.

Participants take away a substantial 20-page packet of specific tips and resources. ​ Ongoing practice is highly encouraged, whether with peers through your own organization ​or in follow-up workshop(s) with True Story.


True Story Training also collaborates with True Story Theater to offer performances about being an active bystander. Audience members share experiences of being effective and ineffective as bystanders. The performers compassionately replay what they heard using music, movement, metaphor and dialogue. Audience members often cry, laugh, bond, and feel more motivated to step forward as active bystanders.

Performances amplify the effectiveness of workshops, and can be open to the general public.


“I feel both empowered and equipped to confidently use my voice as an ally.  I’m ready to do this work in a way I wasn’t before.” 
-Dana Hall School participant

​”I learned how to support the person being targeted in public, ​and how to name ​the harm doer’s emotion​s​ and try to shift their response in a nondisciplinary​, useful​ way​.​
-Sherborn UU Racial Immigration Team participant