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Augusto Boal and Theatre of the Oppressed

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What are some of the ways in which the Brazilian-born theatre director, theorist and politician Augusto Boal and his seminal work in "Theatre of the Oppressed" influenced the ways that we practice and conceptualise theatre and drama today? How can theatre and politics combine to become an effective force in society?

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Politics and art merged in the work of Augusto Boal, the Theatre of the Oppressed, Forum Theatre and the work of the Centre for Theatre of Oppressed in Rio de Janeiro, particularly when Boal was an elected municipal legislator in the early 1990s.

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Augusto Boal is one of the most influential figures in theatre in the late 20th century. Augusto Boal wrote "Theatre of the Oppressed" in 1974. In it he tells of, among other things, the work he had been doing in previous years with the Operación Alfabetización Integral (ALFIN) literacy programmes in Peru. The method employed by ALFIN was derived from Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In "Theatre of the Oppressed" Boal also tells of what was then a developing practice that has since spawned such techniques as Image Theatre, Forum Theatre, Invisible Theatre, Rainbow of Desire, Legislative Theatre and a number of Centres of Theatre of the Oppressed in several countries. Theatre of the Oppressed is a way of using theatre.

Augusto Boal is a cultural activist. From his days as Artistic Director of the Arena Theatre of São Paulo in Brazil, he became deeply concerned about the role of theatre in society. He also became aware of the dangers of using theatre as a tool to question the status quo, particularly in 1960s Brazil which was ruled by a military junta. Eventually he was forced to leave Brazil in 1971, after the murder of two of his colleagues, his three-month detention and torture by ...

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