“To know and to transform…that’s the goal.”
- Augusto Boal
WHAT IS IT?
Theatre of the Oppressed is participatory theater that anyone can do with no prior experience in the arts. It taps into our collective imagination, fosters contemplation and cooperative forms of interaction, and is designed to help people purposefully engage with the oppression they experience in their daily lives with the goal of finding realistic and creative solutions.
T.O. is about dialogue, discovery and community. It’s about brainstorming creative yet realistic solutions to the problems we face. This is not theatre in any traditional sense. It’s also not therapy though it can be therapeutic. It’s a rehearsal for life, a safe space where we can invite critical thinking, discuss structures of oppression and privilege while investigating why we do what we do.
Perhaps most importantly, Theatre of the Oppressed is fun, something that anyone can do with no prior experience in the arts. It was developed by Brazilian visionary Augusto Boal (student of Paulo Freire, author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed) in the 1960s and is now used all over the world for social and political activism, personal empowerment and conflict resolution. In the workshop we build trust through various games and exercises, then using stories from participants’ lives, we create scenes and invite participants to jump into a role and change the script. The hope of these practices is to create more just and desirable outcomes that we can learn from and try out in our lives “offstage”.
Please contact me if you’re interested in hiring my co-facilitator Sarah Shourd and I (sarahshourd.com) to facilitate a workshop for your organization, conference, school or any other group of 8-35 people. This methodology is adaptable and as a facilitator I’m open to your ideas. I’ve studied Theatre of the Oppressed for many years (with Jiwon Kim and Sarah Shourd), and used it in my curriculum as a meditation and mindfulness teacher in Alameda County Juvenile Justice Facilities and have facilitated workshops all over my home state of California. Let us know what you need, in dignity, james-amutabi.