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In the latest essay in his series on Augusto Boal, Andrew Robinson examines the wide range of different techniques formulated or summarised by the Brazilian playwright for revolutionising drama and life. It is a school of theatre-making, which offers theatre as a tool for liberation and empowerment for people. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The Joker technique is used on the assumption that a classic work is never self-evidently great or relevant; its relevance is investigated through performance. Some activities involve “translating” between different forms of expression – for instance, expressing words as movements. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. For instance, in a Greek play, the Joker might explain the historical context to the audience, and why it is thought to be relevant today. Myths and urban legends are taken to be mystifications of a hidden truth which can be revealed. His techniques are also used in therapeutic settings to enhance personal and group development. In 1955 Boal staged productions of two of his own plays The Horse and the Saint and The House Across the Street. He is the co-author (with Athina Karatzogianni) of Power, Resistance and Conflict in the Contemporary World: Social Movements, Networks and Hierarchies (Routledge, 2009). Originally the technique was developed by Boal as a political tool for change (part of the Theatre of the Oppressed), but it’s often used in drama work. Myth Theatre retells myths or narratives to reveal hidden truths. Boal argues that newspaper theatre makes visible the use of fictive or fictional techniques in the production of news stories. Originally the technique was developed by Boal as a political tool for change (part of the Theatre of the Oppressed), but it’s often used in drama work. This quickly expands into demands that non-Swedish Europeans, drunk people, unemployed people, and so on (all played by actors) give up their seats. Monsters and bogeymen might turn out to be capitalists or landlords for example. Interview – stopping the action so a character can explain their actions, in a similar way to interviews after sports events. In this chapter, 1 outline a few of the major ideas that drove me to apply his work to youth theatre. The Joker system is used both in conventional plays and participatory methods as a way to disrupt fixed roles. Or they carry out an entire dialogue through visual images or movement. a pregnancy-themed event on Stockholm ferries, where a woman demanded the same treatment as a pregnant royal. Performance by So Many Words, a UK arts organisation working with young people with learning disabilities using some of Boal’s techniques (Image: So Many Words). For instance, an image of happiness might be modelled, to show reality without oppression. This is important to convey structural causality, rather than an incomprehensible world or fate. Spectators are encouraged to suggest and enact solutions to the problem in the scene. Examples which Boal was involved in include: Douglas Hundley suggests that Invisible Theatre is actually older than Boal. also sometimes used when performing classical or historical, Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, Power, Resistance and Conflict in the Contemporary World: Social Movements, Networks and Hierarchies, recently published a series of books on Homi Bhabha, Dedication of the performance to a person or event, Explanation – a break in narrative continuity to make sense of a character’s actions, Scenes, which are ways of connecting different parts of the play together (including their distinct styles), usually in verse. Analytical Theatre involves running through situations in which characters’ roles are represented by symbols (e.g. Most of Augusto Boal’s techniques were created after he realized the limitations of didactic politically motivated theatre in the poor areas where he worked. Image Theatre and Forum Theatre require skilled facilitators, called Jokers, to mediate between the actors and the spectators. The “Maniac” in Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist largely plays a Joker role. Some methods use the sculpting of bodies into particular images, or mirroring others’ bodies. Gassner introduced Boal to the techniques of both Bertolt Brecht and Konstantin Stanislavski, and encouraged Boal to form links with theatre groups like the Black Experimental Theatre. Boal also sees techniques as ways to get around resistances to theatre. Other games are used to get people using their bodies for self-expression, or to restructure participants’ ways of being. As created by Brazilian theatre visionary and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Augusto Boal (1931-2009), Theatre of the Oppressed (T.O.) The methodology of Theatre of the Oppressed is the remarkable invention, he would call it a discovery, of Augusto Boal, the Brazilian theatre-maker, theorist and activist who has been our guide and inspiration since we started. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Augusto-Boal. For instance, people’s “cookies” (see part 2) might expect a wedding to involve a bride and groom. In line with Brecht’s theory, the Joker system destroys the individual actor’s private ownership of a character. It is a way of making thoughts or conceptions visible, instead of expressing them in words (which can have multiple meanings). In some variants, they can then move around, altering the image, or someone else can mould it differently. He returned to Brazil in 1955. a performance about sexual harassment on the Paris Metro (Underground), which juxtaposed different responses to similar molestations of women and men. The Joker – named after the card of the same name (and not implying humour) – can substitute for actors for purposes such as explanation and disruption, or to do magical things that other actors cannot. Or news can be combined with other performances, such as miming an action or singing a song – for instance, singing the national anthem while reciting news of poverty. As well as time and space, the Joker can translate across genres or styles. And it is closely related to a style of protest which similarly uses mimicry and simulation to create real situations or media events – for example, the Yes Men, the Billionaires for Bush, and the Serpica Naro fashion show protest. The driving idea, as so often in Boal’s work, is that breaking an oppression in theatre will inspire someone to also break the oppression in reality. However, Boal prefers to say that the Joker is a “difficultator” – making things more complex, rather than easier (“facilitator” is related to “facile”). S/he has a magical ability to summon walls, armies, and so on, which characters accept as real. He has recently published a series of books on Homi Bhabha. Invisible Theatre refers to the performance of theatrical scenes in public places, without announcing them as theatre. Exhortation – explicitly encouraging action on the theme of the show. In one technique, two contradictory or symptomatically revealing stories are read alongside one another, such as gourmet meals with malnutrition. Boal grew up in Rio de Janeiro and earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1952. working-class versus upper-class families), and so on. What effect does this have on the rituals and structures of the role? Boal returned to Brazil in 1986 and established a Centre for the Theatre of the Oppressed in Rio de Janeiro as well as several community theatre companies. Boal was in c… Boal began his career with the Arena Theatre in São Paulo in 1956, and he was its artistic director until 1971, during which time he developed his theories. Approaches of this kind are widely used as part of a protest repertoire. Similar techniques found wide use in the 1970s and ’80s in such movements as feminist theatre, homosexual theatre, black theatre,… The protagonist seeks to either intensify subversion or shake off submission. They took cover whenever a plane flew over, showing the festivals’ connections to war. Social change incomprehensible world or fate main functions in a similar augusto boal techniques disrupt. The approach succeeds images of the major ideas that drove me to apply work... 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