Theatre of the Oppressed: A Rehearsal for Revolution
Theatre of the Oppressed is a theoretical framework and set of techniques developed by Brazilian director, artist and activist Augusto Boal.
Recognizing that humans have a unique ability to take action in the world while simultaneously observing themselves in action, Boal believed that the human was a self-contained theatre, actor and spectator in one. Because we can observe ourselves in action, we can amend, adjust and alter our actions to have different impact and to change our world.
Theatre of the Oppressed engages people in discovery, critical reflection and dialogue and the process of liberation! Through Theatre of the Oppressed we can better understand ourselves, our communities and our world. There are several series of techniques, tools and expressions of Theatre of the Oppressed. Below are some The Forum Project uses regularly.
Game playing is the core of Theatre of the Oppressed. An extensive arsenal of well crafted and expertly facilitated games allows participants to stretch the limits of their imaginations, demechanize habitual behaviors and deconstruct and analyze societal structures of power and oppression. Plus, game playing is fun and builds community!
In Image Theatre participants explore issues of oppression by using nonverbal expression and sculpting their own and other participants’ bodies into static physical images that can depict anything concrete or abstract, such as a feeling, issue, or moment.
If you don’t DO anything different,
there won’t BE anything different!
Forum Theatre is a performance that functions to transform from spectator (one who watches) to a spect-actor (one who watches and takes action). A short scene by Forum actors presents an issue of oppression and represents the world as it is–the anti-model. Audience members are then encouraged to stop the play and take the stage to address the oppression, attempting to change the outcome through action. The show engages Forum actors and audience members in fun, entertaining and enlightening community dialogue.
Legislative Theatre is an extension of Boal’s Forum Theatre techniques and functions to determine the need for, create, and enact laws. Beyond community building and issue awareness,z Legislative Theatre uses theatrical techniques to create concrete and specific socio-political impact.
Rainbow of Desire uses Image and Forum techniques to investigate internalized oppression. This highly therapeutic series of techniques asks participants to explore how external oppression causes us to oppress ourselves and helps to identify greater social issues and identify opportunities and even action for change.
Article written by S. Leigh Thompson