Augusto Boal (1931-2009)
Theater of the Oppressed
Pushed by a strong belief in the human capacity to make change within themselves and their surroundings, Brazilian writer and director Augusto Boal developed the Theatre of the Oppressed. Boal believed that theatre had the ability to transform society through the active interaction between both spectator and actor. Theatre of the Oppressed is a theatrical framework that uses variety of techniques that encourages dialogue, self discovery, critical thinking, and empowerment through audience participation. The audience is asked to take an active role in the performance and to examine the ways they can change what they are seeing.
The techniques that are used in The Theatre of the Oppressed are designed to confront complex and difficult issues related to social isolation, oppression, and marginalization. Boal used techniques such as Invisible theatre, Image theatre, Rainbow of Desire and Forum Theatre. Bol believed that through that through the Theatre of the Oppressed people would develop a better understanding of themselves and the world around them.
The primary technique we use is Forum Theatre. In Forum theatre an audience is shown a short play that involves an uncomfortable situation with an unpleasant or oppressive ending. The play is then re-enacted and the audience now has the ability to trade places with the protagonist. The power now lies in the hands of the spectator and therefore has the ability to change the outcome or direction of the play.
The aims of the Theatre of the Oppressed is to empower individuals to make social and political change. Theatre of the Oppressed has been a catalyst in grass roots activism and is a theatre forum used widely around the world; it continues to push individuals to be more than just spectators in their daily lives.