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Augusto Boal and Theatre of the Oppressed

Augusto Boal and Theatre of the Oppressed

Augusto Boal (1931-2009) was a theater director, scholar, teacher, political representative and statesman in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, international speaker and the creator of the Theatre of the Oppressed. Born in 1931 in Rio de Janeiro, Boal was formally trained in chemical engineering and attended Columbia University in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1962 he was invited to work with Arena Theatre in São Paulo, Brazil where he remained until 1971 when he was arrested, tortured, and exiled. His years directing and writing plays for Arena Theatre helped him to start slowly developing his own methodology, which continued in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Portugal, and France following his exile from Brazil. That methodology would later culminate in the Theatre of the Oppressed.

The Theatre of the Oppressed is a participatory theater that fosters democratic and cooperative forms of interaction among participants. It is a ‘rehearsal theater’ practiced by ‘spect-actors’ (not spectators) who have the opportunity to both act and observe, engendering processes of dialogue and critical thinking. In the Theatre of the Oppressed, the theatrical act is experienced as a conscious intervention, as a rehearsal for social action rooted in a collective analysis of shared problems. The methodology can be divided into several techniques used by Augusto Boal: Image Theatre, Newspaper Theatre, Invisible Theatre, Forum Theatre, Rainbow of Desire, and Legislative Theatre.

Instituto Augusto Boal Website