International peace activist and actor Hector Aristizabal, who was arrested and suffered torture in 1982 at the hands of U.S.-backed forces in his native Colombia, will put on a workshop and give a performance at the First Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday, Feb. 27.

International peace activist and actor Hector Aristizabal, who was arrested and suffered torture in 1982 at the hands of U.S.-backed forces in his native Colombia, will put on a workshop and give a performance at the First Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday, Feb. 27.

Aristizabal, born in the barrios of Medellin "when it was the most dangerous city in the world," according to his ImaginAction website, will perform at 7 p.m. The workshop will begin at 2 p.m. Space for the latter is limited.

The suggestion donation for the show is $15. For the workshop, it is $35.

Aristizabal came to the attention of First Unitarian Universalist Church members last year when he was at Ohio State University. The Rev. Mark Belletini, senior minister, and several other UU members attended either the activist's performance or workshop, according to director of religious education Joilinda Stephens.

"It was a profound experience," Stephens said. "He's very in-your-face about what happened to him. In a way he's also very matter of fact about it, but he doesn't pull any punches."

During his workshops, Aristizabal uses techniques from what is called the Theater of the Oppressed, an approach usually credited to Brazilian theatrical director Augusto Boal.

"In an effort to transform theater from the 'monologue' of traditional performance into a 'dialogue' between audience and stage, Boal experimented with many kinds of interactive theater," according to one website devoted to the subject.

"I didn't know what to expect when I heard the phrase Theater of the Oppressed," Rev. Belletini said in a statement. "What I found was a theatrical piece that riveted me to my seat within seconds, and kept me attuned and focused to the very end. This is dramatization, yes, but of authentic human experience, without either bombast or easy blame. This could just as well be called Theater of the Wise, by those of us who were present that good evening."

"He kind of takes you to the core in terms of the things you have passion for in terms of justice and peace," Stephens said.

"It's very powerful," she added. "It's something very moving without being something you can't tolerate."

During his solo performances, Aristizabal reenacts his own torture. "He drags his audience, cringing and resisting, into his experience," Stephens wrote in announcing the man's local appearance. "Then he leads the entire audience in processing the experience, transmuting it, even, into accessing their own inner strengths and core drive to effect change."

Fleeing death threats and the violence that was then engulfing Colombia, Aristizabal came to the United States in 1989.

"In exile, Hector struggled to overcome his rage and desire for vengeance and to channel these energies instead into constructive social action," according to the ImaginAction website. " As an activist, he uses theatrical performance as part of the movement to end torture and to change US policy in Latin America."

Reservations are required for the Feb. 27 workshop and may be made by calling 614-975-1085.

First Unitarian Universalist Church is located at 93 W. Weisheimer Road.