PDF | On Jan 1, , Mecca Antonia Burns and others published Theatre of the Oppressed. Theater of the Oppressed is a non-traditional theater style used to prompt dialogue and promote community- centered problem solving. ○ It is designed to . Theatre of the Oppressed is published by Theatre Communications Group, Inc., people. But, obviously, the Aristotelian theater is not the only form of theater.
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This paper aims to clarify the original project of Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed, which is a set of dramatic techniques whose purpose is to bring to light. Theatre of the OppressedBoal 00 pre i3/7/08 I>86A redelocidi.gaooks. comRevolution, Democracy, Socialism. enhancing cultural awareness through cultural production theatre. Theatre of the Oppressed. Enhancing cultural awareness and empowerment in multicultural.
Audience members are allowed to interrupt the show and intervene by standing up from their seat to suggest solutions to the actors who will immediately improvise it. As a co-dramaturge, the spectator helps re-write the play while actors still play their part. When it comes to Forum Theatre, Boal will allow the spectators to come up on stage and to perform as characters, by substituting themselves for the actors in order to find a way out of the current situation.
With these few examples, three elements become obvious. First, Boal uses theatre to make both the oppressive situation and mechanisms of domination visible. Secondly, the performance is not enough by itself. Drama, here, is aimed to let people try to change representation of their own situation, by acting on stage in the first instance and then by implementing in real life what has been attempted within the safety of the fictional space.
Thirdly, Boal conceives theatre as a method so that people can perform by themselves the techniques he created, without needing professional actors to act instead of them. These elements are the bedrock of the Theatre of the Oppressed.
Third step: This poetics, which is a drama treaty, does not precede the practice. On the contrary, throughout his life Boal always built drama theory on previous experiments. First, it's important to highlight that this poetics is quite original in that it is a poetics of spectators. However, the real target of his criticism is not the spectator himself, but what he's the spectator of. Boal asks the spectators to be suspicious of the kind of theatre or images they are watching.
From there, we can infer that through this, the real targets of Boal's attack are the producers of these aesthetic representations. On this specific point, Boal is close to Paulo Freire's intellectual stance which is to consider the future as a problem to solve and not as something inevitable, regarding which there is nothing to be done and which leaves us in a helpless spectator's position. But he's also close to Brecht, who wrote in a text about dialectical theatre, that theatre should show people so that the public can transform them and not just interpret them.
That's the point: Based on these elements, Boal draws an analogy between the spectators and the oppressed.
According to him, both are in receiving postures facing a world governed by the oppressors and facing the theatrical representations of this world as the only possible one: We can recognize here the hegemonic process as defined by Gramsci and taken up by Raymond Williams who wrote in Resources of Hope Verso, that The essential dominance of a particular class in society is maintained not only, although if necessary, by power, and not only, although always, by property.
It is maintained also and inevitably by a lived culture: The very core of the Poetics of the Oppressed is that theatre should be performed by the people, by the oppressed themselves and not by professional actors claiming to stand on the stage for them.
This is why this poetics has been conceived as a method to help non-actors to use drama techniques for themselves as political tools or weapons in their liberation struggles.
His second book, Games for Actors and Non-actors Routledge, is mostly a collection of games and exercises. In his theoretical work, Boal often refers to Paulo Freire's awareness and critical consciousness-raising, but also to Socratic maieutics.
The Socratic Method is indeed at the core of some techniques such as Forum Theatre but also in workshops. This function is embodied by the Joker who is a mediating figure between the stage and the audience during Forum Theatre but also the intermediary between the method and the oppressed. He's the one who guides non- actors in their journey through the appropriation of theatre techniques. A spect-actor is someone who used to be a witness of the world's affairs and who has become, through the practice of theatre, a protagonist.
This poetics is developed as a method and a praxis. For example, Peruvian workers in the early seventies used Forum Theatre to rehearse different political strategies to fight for better working conditions — they tried to break the engine, to blow up the factory, to go on strike and finally, to create a union. That's why Boal always said that if Theatre of the Oppressed wasn't a revolution by itself, it could be a rehearsal of the revolution.
First, because the main interest lies in the acting experience and not the spectating one. At the core of these two theatrical practices is the actor.
The essential is to act, not to sit and watch other people acting. Also and for the same reason, both don't necessarily implement public performance, because the biggest part is the process, not the finished work. Even if Theatre of the Oppressed's Marxist background is less obvious, yet it asserts itself as a rehearsal for concrete political actions. The military coup in Argentina forced Boal to flee to Europe. Each will have his own interpretation of "revolution", and to demonstrate such idea provides a clearer understanding of their intention in definition when shown rather than told.
Wardrip-Fruin, For instance, one can "embrace" another in many ways in a tight, harassing manner or a loose soft manner , however the word has the same definition of clasping another person in the arms. Riverside Church , May 13, While practicing in South America earlier in his career, Boal would apply "simultaneous dramaturgy ". In this process, the actors or audience members could stop a performance, often a short scene in which a character was being oppressed in some way for example, a typically chauvinist man mistreating a woman or a factory owner mistreating an employee.
In early forms of "simultaneous dramaturgy", the audience could propose any solution, by calling out suggestions to the actors who would improvise the changes on stage. Forum Theatre was essentially born from "simultaneous dramaturgy". The concept of the "spect-actor" became a dominant force within and shaped Boal's theatre work, gradually helping it shift into what he called Forum Theatre due to the acting's taking on the character of a public discussion or series of proposals, only in dramatic format.
The audience were now encouraged to not only imagine change but to actually practise that change, by coming on stage as "spect-actors" to replace the protagonist and act out an intervention to "break the oppression".
Thus, Boal's current manifestation of Forum theatre is as follows: the actors either professional actors or non professionals drawn from oppressed communities perform a play with a scripted core, in which an oppression relevant to the audience is played out. After reaching the scripted conclusion, in which the oppressed character s fail to overturn their oppression, the actors begin the production again, although often in a condensed form.
At any point during this second performance, any spect-actor may call out "stop! If and when the oppression has been overthrown by the spect-actors, the production changes again: the spect-actors now have the opportunity to replace the oppressors, and find new ways of challenging the oppressed character.
In this way a more realistic depiction of the oppression can be made by the audience, who are often victims of the oppression. The whole process is designed to be dialectic , coming to a conclusion through the consideration of opposing arguments, rather than didactic , in which the moral argument is one-sided and pushed from the actors with no chance of reply or counter-argument.
Boal clarifies that this practice is not intended to show the correct path, but rather to discover all possible paths which may be further examined.
The theatre itself is not revolutionary; but it offers a chance to rehearse for revolution. The spectators learn much from the enactment even though the acting is fiction, because the fiction simulates real-life situations, problems, and solutions. It stimulates the practice of resistance to oppression in reality, and offers a "safe space" for practicing making change. When faced in reality with a similar situation they've rehearsed in theatre, participants who have experienced Forum Theatre ideally will desire to be proactive, and will have the courage to break oppressive situations in real life, since they feel much more prepared and confident in resolving the conflict.
Another way of thinking about it is that rehearsing the actions helps spectactors to develop their own courage and makes them desire action for change in real life. The practice of this form creates an uneasy sense of incompleteness that seeks fulfillment through real action.
Wardrip-Fruin,  Main article: Invisible theatre Invisible theatre is a form of theatrical performance that is enacted in a place where people would not normally expect to see one—for example in the street or in a shopping centre. The performers attempt to disguise the fact that it is a performance from those who observe and who may choose to participate in it, encouraging the spectators or rather, unknowing spect-actors to view it as a real event.
Newspaper theatre[ edit ] A system of techniques devised to give the audience a way to transform daily news articles or any non-dramatic pieces to theatrical scene.
The strategies are as follows Wardrip-Fruin, :  Simple Reading: news item read, detached from the context of the newspaper which makes it false or controversial. Crossed Reading: two news item are read in alternating form, complementing or contrasting each other in a new dimension. Complementary Reading: information generally omitted by the ruling class are added to the news. Rhythmical Reading: article is read to a rhythm musical , so it acts as a critical "filter" of the news, revealing the true content initially concealed in the newspaper.
Parallel Action: actors mimic the actions as the news is being read. One hears the news and watches its visual complement. Improvisation: news is improvised on stage to exploit all its variants and possibilities.
Historical: data recurred from historical moments, events in other countries, or in social systems are added to the news. Dithyrambs were religious processions taking place in the fields , but there was, as there is today, a royal box, a kind of judging platform in front of which the Chorus would perform for the authorities with still more religious fervour.
The play began modestly. Then he jumped out of the Chorus and answered them.
Exploring medical humanities through theatre of the oppressed
In the midst of his fit he began to say whatever came into his head. He was raving like a bacchant. He spoke about the city, about politics, men and laws. A simple Chorus member had dared to answer back. And before the Head of State. It could be done! And yet nobody had thought of it before. They had all been dutifully speaking in chorus: no one had realised that freedom was possible. Furiously Thespis addressed the Chorus with all his might. The Chorus sang in verse; he responded in prose.
While the Chorus sang the accepted morality — religion — Thespis proclaimed his own ideas, adorned with his own words chosen on the spur of the moment as he thought fit.
And fine words they were. This was puzzling: just what was going on? In the Chorus, everyone sings and dances in chorus, as they should. The popular lawmaker must do his duty. Such a lovely Chorus, truthful, tuneful, orderly. Then you have to start telling barefaced lies! Without realising it, Thespis had created the Protagonist, the Proto, the First, the one who stands alone, the one who rebels, thinks and acts for himself — without mimesis, without mimicry, without imitating anyone.
Finding out who he was, opening up new paths, revealing the possible, Thespis was becoming a person who hurled himself into the unknown.
He makes mistakes, but takes the consequences — as you sow, so shall you reap. What he really meant was theatre, fiction, possibility, image or even, perhaps, representation of the real. These freethinking notions are extremely dangerous. Fire burns. Prometheus set a bad example. He showed them that what belonged to the gods can be used by mortals.
The Theatre of the Oppressed in Practice Today
He played with fire and he burned his fingers. Prometheus ended up chained to a rock, his liver pecked out by vultures. Because it starts with fire. But where does it end?
Men are greedy, they always want more. What matters is that you demonstrated that things could be said. You showed them it was possible to speak out. You showed the people that each can think with his own head, choose his own words. I know that they can, but it must not be generally known. But Thespis was stubborn, he was obstinate. Even with his back against the wall, he still wanted to continue being Protagonist.
He wanted to go on living as a Protagonist, even if the Chorus kept to the text, singing the same song in the same key. Nobody enjoys that. The audience at this memorable first night — not counting the usual handful of moaners — loved the idea. They wanted more. Improvisation is life. Now what? He had told his truth, which was one of the possible truths.
So what do we do? He pulled a face. So, now what? So that no one would be lying and they could all tell their truth, Thespis, a creative man, had another marvellous idea. Once in costume, the Character was no longer Thespis: it was the Other.
Actor and Character, previously one and the same, were now separated and made into two: Man and Mask. Even if it was just an appearance, this appearance was. By the by, it is proven here that Theatre and Hypocrisy emerged from the same matrix on the same day.
This division of the one into two, this dichotomy between Actor and Character, has since been one of the most captivating themes of Theatre — and of psychology. Thespis had his creative way, but was forced to concede one important point. In the next season, he returned to look for his private Maecenas, protector of the arts.
Plays were just as expensive to put on then as they are today: someone has to pay the production costs. You are a true artist, a creator, a genius. The idea of inventing the Protagonist, who says whatever he wants, whatever comes into his head, is marvellous. Hearty congratulations! The worst was yet to come. Our names are linked. Every artist must be free. And Greek Theatre, whatever historians may say, was subject to censorship.
It was censored by Maecenas and those like him who, with their early tax incentives, would only pay for plays they approved of, and it was also censored by the priests of Dionysus. In the Acropolis in Athens you can still see the marble seat of the priest of Dionysus. There it stands, imposing and alone. The censor was right there in the front row.
Now there were two protagonists, one able to agree with or contradict the other. Sophocles, another nobleman, invented the Tritagonist. Tragic poets now had three actors at their disposal, three hypocrites wearing masks. Each actor playing more than one part could increase the number of characters — he would not be recognised when he changed his Mask and altered his voice. Hypocrisy was established once and for all. In this impossible divorce, the separation between Actor and Character, Thespis was both, as all good actors are.
This was intricate Hypocrisy: the actor pretended to be what he was not and was what he pretended to be. It was all going too far: the Chorus continued to sing the Official History. But, with the invention of Dialogue, ideas were juxtaposed, and nothing guaranteed that the ideas supported by the authorities would prevail.
Dialogue is always dangerous, because it creates discontinuity between one thought and another, between two opinions, or two possibilities — and between them infinity installs itself; so that all opinions are possible, all thoughts permitted. When Two have ceased to exist and only the Sole Absolute Thought remains, creation becomes impossible. Dialogue is Democracy.
We are a pale reflection, a dim shadow of what we should be. The theatre is even worse. It is the merest shadow of this shadow, most pallid pallidity, a sink of corruption. Down with Theatre! In my view, the Protagonist can make all the mistakes he wants, even if the audience delights in his errors and shares his pleasures. In other words, it was the Prosthesis of Desire.
Frequently bought together
The Protagonist, who had divorced himself from the actor, now married the overpowered Spectator, that is to say, he married the Prosthesis installed within the Spectator. Let them enjoy the mistake, sin as much as they like … in fiction.
After a dazzling opening, everything falls apart in the middle of the Greek Tragedy. So the tragedy will have two parts, before and after the Peripeteia. First the pleasure, then the pain. But what about the audience? What do they get? What happens in the end? Sock it to them, Catharsis!
They think with his head, they feel with his heart. Like it? It means to recreate the essence of what is created. In this way the tragedy goes deep into the hearts of the audience and modifies any of their actions which are socially unacceptable.
Year after year, century after century, this remained the Official History of Tragedy, and it was a fetter on the explosive Thespian tradition.
In the interest of truth, I must add two things. First, obviously not all Greek Tragedians, nor did they always, follow The Poetics. On the other hand, it existed as a model, something to aim for. He was well educated, used to reading between the lines and spotting nuances. As for poor old me, I come from Penha, a working-class area in the north of Rio de Janeiro, where we call a spade a spade.
So I have to be more direct, more objective. I have to tell the brutal truth! So: down with Empathia. Instead, up with Verfremdungseffekt! And what is this thing, this exotic term? Verfremdungseffekt means to watch from a distance, without involving oneself, as one who observes, thinks and draws his or her own conclusions.
The actor is no longer hidden behind the Mask; he emerges and reveals himself beside it, openly contradicts it, and enters into conflict with it. The duality, which formerly had been cemented in the challenge between Protagonist and Chorus, now became a challenge between Actor and Character. The stage belongs to the characters and the actors.
Even when the dramatist is critical of what the Character does, when he denounces him, it is the Dramatist or the Actor who criticises, not the audience. By way of songs, narration, and distancing, the dramatist reveals things and in so doing reveals himself.
He exposes his thoughts. But the stage remains his private property, his space, his territory. The spectator, who sits stock-still, is encouraged to think in a way which is presented as being the right way of thinking, the Truth.
It is the dramatist who tells this Truth, who points the way: he is affirming, not asking. We are a long way from Socratic dialogue and close to the Democratic Centralism of some political parties.
As we know, to speak is to take power: whenever we become the speaker we are empowered. Even in Brecht, it is the dramatist, not the citizen, who chooses the word. It is true that at one time Brecht tried more participative forms of theatre. He foresaw the future mobilisation of the audience. In some of his poems he foresaw the possible use of the theatre by audiences turned actors. But in his great dramas, the wall between stage and audience did not come down. As for me, I am amicus Verfremdungseffekt.
But one can go further, I think. Sed magis amica Theatrum Opressi. It is an enormous advance not to let oneself be invaded by the characters. Should actors and characters go on dominating the stage, their domain, while I sit still in the audience? I think not. I think we could go much further: we need to invade! It needs to invade the stage and transform the images that are shown there.
The action of transforming is, in itself, transforming. The members of the audience must become the Character: possess him, take his place — not obey him, but guide him, show him the path they think right. In this way the Spectator becoming Spect-Actor is democratically opposed to the other members of the audience, free to invade the scene and appropriate the power of the actor. With their hearts and minds the audience must rehearse battle plans — ways of freeing themselves from all oppressions.
The Unruly Protagonist separated himself from the Chorus. He rebelled. The Mask hid the Actor behind the Character. Realistic theatre melded the two together again, dissolving the Actor, who was subjected to the empathetic command of the Character.
Brecht proposed to separate Actor and Character once again, so that the Spectator could contemplate them both at the same time and wonder: me or him?
But Brecht eventually accepted the marriage of the Poet through the Actor and the Spectator, who continued to supervise, in the same way as husbands once did to wives in old-fashioned marriages. The Poet wears the trousers and says what goes.
The Spectator is still cast as an old-fashioned wife. I want him to occupy his own Space and offer solutions. By taking possession of the stage, the Spect-Actor is consciously performing a responsible act. The stage is a representation of the reality, a fiction. But the Spect-Actor is not fictional.
He exists in the scene and outside of it, in a dual reality. By taking possession of the stage in the fiction of the theatre he acts: not just in the fiction, but also in his social reality.
Exploring theatre of the oppressed in family therapy clinical work and supervision
By transforming fiction, he is transformed into himself. This invasion is a symbolic trespass. It symbolises all the acts of trespass we have to commit in order to free ourselves from what oppresses us.
To free ourselves is to trespass, and to transform. It is through a creation of the new that that which has not yet existed begins to exist. To free yourself is to trespass. To trespass is to exist. To free ourselves is to exist. To free yourself is to exist. Those who try to separate theatre from politics try to lead us into error — and this is a political attitude. In this book I also offer some proof that the theatre is a weapon. A very efficient weapon. For this reason one must fight for it.
For this reason the ruling classes strive to take permanent hold of the theatre and utilise it as a tool for domination. But the theatre can also be a weapon for liberation.
For that, it is necessary to create appropriate theatrical forms. Change is imperative. This work tries to show some of the fundamental changes and how the people have responded to them. It was a celebration in which all could participate freely.
Then came the aristocracy and established divisions: some persons will go to the stage and only they will be able to act; the rest will remain seated, receptive, passive — these will be the spectators, the masses, the people. And in order that the spectacle may efficiently reflect the dominant ideology, the aristocracy established another division: some actors will be protagonists aristocrats and the rest will be the chorus — symbolising, in one way or another, the mass.
But now he is an object of social forces, not of the values of the superstructures. Social being determines thought, and not vice versa. What was lacking to complete the cycle was what is happening at present in Latin America — the destruction of the barriers created by the ruling classes.
First, the barrier between actors and spectators is destroyed: all must act, all must be protagonists in the necessary transformations of society. Thus we arrive at the poetics of the oppressed, the conquest of the means of theatrical production. The externals of its presentation to the masses were democratic, but its content, the heroic sagas with their tragi-heroic outlook on life, was aristocratic …. It unquestionably propagates the standards of the great-hearted individual, the uncommon distinguished man it owed its origin to the separation of the choir-leader from the choir, which turned collective performance of songs into dramatic dialogue.
The tragedians are in fact state bursars and state purveyors — the state pays them for the plays that are performed, but naturally does not allow pieces to be performed that would run counter to its policy or the interests of the governing classes. The tragedies are frankly tendentious and do not pretend to be otherwise. Arnold Hauser, The Social History of Art1 Introduction The argument about the relations between theatre and politics is as old as theatre and … as politics.
Since Aristotle, and in fact since long before, the same themes and arguments that are still brandished were already set forth. Should art educate, inform, organise, influence, incite to action, or should it simply be an object of pleasure? As we see, each one has his opinion. Is this possible? Is the relation of art to the spectator something that can be diversely interpreted, or, on the contrary, does it rigorously obey certain laws that make art either a purely contemplative phenomenon or a deeply political one?
Let us consider the case of Aristotle, for example, for whom poetry and politics are completely different disciplines, which must be studied separately because they each have their own laws and serve different purposes and aims. To arrive at these conclusions, Aristotle utilises in his Poetics certain concepts that are scarcely explained in his other works. Words that we know in their current connotation change their meaning completely if they are understood through the Nicomachaean Ethics or the Magna Moralia.
Theatre of the Oppressed
Aristotle declares the independence of poetry lyric, epic, and dramatic in relation to politics. This system is, to this day, fully utilised not only in conventional theatre, but in the TV soap operas and in Western films as well: movies, theatre, and television united, through a common basis in Aristotelian poetics, for repression of the people. But, obviously, the Aristotelian theatre is not the only form of theatre.
Art Imitates Nature The first difficulty that we face in order to understand correctly the workings of tragedy according to Aristotle stems from the very definition which that philosopher gives of art.The Character as Subject or the Character as Object? In the last analysis, reality for Aristotle is not a copy of ideas, though indeed it tends to perfection.
Because on the second attempt it will not be the same waters that are running, nor will it be exactly the same person who tries it, because he will be older, even if by only a few seconds.
The same is true of the moral virtues. Marguerite falls in love. And Greek Theatre, whatever historians may say, was subject to censorship. It is important to note that Aristotle clearly objected to the happy end, but we should note, too, that the coercive character of his whole system is the true essence of his political Poetics; therefore, in changing a characteristic as important as the composition of the ethos of the character, the structural mechanism of the end of the work is inevitably changed also, in order to maintain the purgative effect.
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