Augusto Boal: Theater of the Oppressed Workshops

Bill Koehnlein nyms1 at
Thu Apr 6 00:46:34 MDT 1995

The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory
122 West 27 Street, 10 floor
New York, New York 10001-6281
(212) 924-1858
(212) 741-4563 (fax)
nyms1 at (e-mail)
toplab at (e-mail)


The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory,
a member of the Institute for Popular Education
at The Brecht Forum, presents

Theater of the Oppressed workshops
conducted by Augusto Boal
May 18 23, 1995


*** Workshop I: Forum Theater

-at Hunter College, Department of Dance, Thomas Hunter
Hall, Seventh floor studio, Lexington Avenue between 68th
and 69th Streets, Manhattan

-Thursday, May 18 (5 10 pm), Friday, May 19 (5 10 pm),
Saturday, May 20 (12 4 pm); Saturday, May 20 (7 9 pm;
public performance at ACTWU Local 169-C, 33 West 14
Street, Manhattan)

-Tuition: $250

Designed for use in schools, community centers, trade
unions, and solidarity and grassroots organizations.
Participants will be asked to tell a story containing a
political or social problem of difficult solution. A skit
depicting that problem will be improvised and presented.
The original solutions proposed by the protagonist must
contain at least one political or social error. When the
skit is over, the audience discusses the proposed
solution, and then the scene is performed once more. But
now, any audience member, in order to affect a better
solution, can stop the action at any time and replace the
protagonist. The aim of the forum is not to find an ideal
solution, but to invent new ways of confronting
oppression. The techniques learned in this workshop will
be publicly presented in performance on the final day.


*** Workshop II: Cop-in-the-Head

-at Hunter College, Department of Dance, Thomas Hunter
Hall, seventh floor studio, Lexington Avenue between 68th
and 69th Streets, Manhattan

-Sunday, May 21 (12 5 pm), Monday, May 22 (5 10 pm),
Tuesday, May 23 (5 10 pm)

-Tuition: $250

While most often associated with applications in therapy,
education, and conflict resolution, this workshop will be
of value to anyone wishing to develop keener awareness
and skills necessary for transforming personal and social
reality. The workshop offers a selection of exercises,
games, and problem-solving techniques from the Image
Theater repertory that are used to recognize and confront
internalized forms of oppression. We will explore
relations of power and group solutions to concrete,
individual problems through living body imagery. We begin
with someone recounting a personal experience of
oppression. Next, with the participation of others,
instead of investigating the singularities of this
particular case, we gradually go from the particular to
the general. In the end, the group, and not the original
story-teller, has become the protagonist of the session.
Specific techniques include analytical image,
kaleidoscopic image, screen image, image and
counter-image, image of the antagonists, cop-in-the-head,
and the rainbow of desire.


Tuition and registration: Limited enrollment. All
applications must be received by Monday, May 15, along
with full payment. If you decide to drop out of the
workshop before the first day of the workshop (May 15 or
21 respectively), your tuition will be refunded minus a
$50 administrative fee. If you drop out on or after the
first day of the workshop, or fail to show up, no tuition
refunds can be given. To register, please make checks or
money orders payable to *The Brecht Forum/Theater of the
Oppressed Laboratory*, and send to 122 West 27 Street, 10
floor, New York, New York 10001. Please include the
following information: full home address and both daytime
and evening phone numbers; organizational or academic
affiliation, if any; and a brief statement explaining
what are your interests in the Theater of the Oppressed
and what you hope to get out of the workshop. ***In
addition, please indicate that you have read the terms
regarding tuition payments and refunds and agree to the
conditions stipulated above.***


The Theater of the Oppressed is a form of popular theater
of, by, and for people engaged in the struggle for
liberation. Founded in Brazil in the early 1970s by
director and activist Augusto Boal, it is a participatory
theater that challenges spectacle theater. Based on the
conviction that "artistic creativity is inherent to all
human beings," the Theater of the Oppressed emphasizes
non-elitist forms of audience participation designed to
transfer to communities the means of production in the
theater. In Boal's view, theater is a language to be
spoken, not a discourse to be listened to--a language
accessible to everyone. In the Theater of the Oppressed,
there are no spectators, only "spect-actors." Games and
techniques are generated as interactive structures that
allow audience members to physically intervene in
open-ended dramatic action. This anti-consumerist
aesthetic is rooted in a concept of theater as
"rehearsal" for social change.

One of the fundamental principles of the Theater of the
Oppressed is that ordinary people can and do create
history. To Boal, one of the basic tasks of theater is to
equip the spect-actor to "apply those actions s/he has
practiced in the theater to real life." This notion of
people's theater developed out of Boal's work in the
Brazilian popular culture movement of the 1950s and
1960s, as well as with peasant and worker audiences
throughout Latin America. It is today widely recognized
as an important component of popular education.

For detailed information about Augusto Boal and the
Theater of the Oppressed, see the collection of essays in
the Fall 1990 (volume 34, number 3) issue of _TDR, The
Drama Review._

Augusto Boal is a political activist and major innovator
of post-Brechtian theater. He served as Artistic Director
of the Arena Theater in Sao Paulo from 1956 to 1971. In
the 1970s, he came under attack by the Brazilian
government, resulting in his imprisonment, torture, and
subsequent exile. Boal has lectured, conducted workshops,
and mounted productions throughout North and South
America, Europe, and Africa, and has written a number of
books, including _Theater of the Oppressed_, _Games for
Actors and Non-Actors_, and _The Rainbow of Desire_. An
activist in the Brazilian Workers' Party (PT), he
presently resides in Rio de Janeiro. In 1992, he was
elected to the City Council of Rio de Janeiro as a PT
Deputy, a post he still holds.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and
the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program at
Hunter College, CUNY. We wish to thank the Department of
Dance at Hunter College for the use of its studio, and
the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union
(ACTWU) Local 169-C for the use of its auditorium. The
Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory is a member of the
Institute for Popular Education at The Brecht Forum. For
more information, please write to the Theater of the
Oppressed Laboratory, The Brecht Forum, 122 West 27
Street, 10 floor, New York, New York 10001 or call (212)
924-1858; fax (212) 741-4563; or e-mail
<nyms1 at> or <toplab at>.

This program is supported in part by the North Star Fund.


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