Theatre of The Oppressed
Book: Theatre of The Oppressed
Written by: Augusto Boal (Spanish)
English Translation: Charles A. and Maria-Odilia Leal McBride and Emily Fryer
Published by: Pluto Press, 1974, 2008
Originally published in 1974, ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ by Augusto Boal, is a quest to unravel the fundamental relationship between an actor and an audience. It seeks to decipher if this relationship is an equal and active one, or is it a situation that encourages passivity and division. Central to Forum Theatre, as devised by Boal the subjectivity of the ‘spect-actor’ attempts to bring the spectator into an active role in the drama, to comment on the social situations being presented and come up with solutions for them.
Boal, himself a Brazilian writer and activist, challenges the fundamental premise of Western theatre, as defined by works of Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hegel and Brecht. After a thorough scrutiny of fundamental terms associated with theatre like imitation, tragedy and justice, he propounds a new form of drama bridging the gap between theatre and politics.
“Brecht proposes a poetics in which the spectator delegates power to the character who thus acts in his place but the spectator reserves the right to think for himself, often in opposition to the character….But the poetics of the oppressed focuses on the action itself: the spectator delegates no power to the character (or actor) either to act or to think in his place; on the contrary, he himself assumes the protagonic role, changes the dramatic action, tries out solutions, discusses plans for change – in short, trains himself for real action. In this case, perhaps the theatre is not revolutionary in itself, but it is surely a rehearsal for the revolution. The liberated spectator, as a whole person, launches into action. No matter that the action is fictional; what matters is that it is action!” (Page 97-98)74- Boal - Theatreof the oppressed