Monday, May 4, 2009

RIP Augusto Boal

"Oppression is a relationship in which there is only monologue. Not dialogue."

Brazilian theater director, playwright, and activist Augusto Boal has died of respiratory failure at the age of 78.

Boal was best known for his work in establishing the "Theatre of the Oppressed," an approach to public performance intended to draw spectators in to the action. In becoming active members of the live theatre, the public, the nominal "oppressed," have the chance to participate in and transform the conditions of their everyday lives.

Boal wrote:
TO (Theatre of the Oppressed) was used by peasants and workers; later, by teachers and students; now, also by artists, social workers, psychotherapists, NGOs... At first, in small, almost clandestine places. Now in the streets, schools, churches, trade-unions, regular theatres, prisons...

Theatre of the Oppressed is the Game of Dialogue: we play and learn together. All kinds of Games must have Discipline - clear rules that we must follow. At the same time, Games have absolute need of creativity and Freedom. TO is the perfect synthesis between the antithetic Discipline and Freedom. Without Discipline, there is no Social Life; without Freedom, there is no Life.

The Discipline of our Game is our belief that we that we must re-establish the right of everyone to exist in dignity. We believe that all of us are more, and much better, than what we think we are. We believe in solidarity.

The world got Augusto Boal for 78 years, and all it had to do was work to confront injustice and oppression. What a bargain.

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