What is Theatre of the Oppressed?

What is Theatre of the Oppressed?

Theatre of the Oppressed was developed by Brazilian theatre-maker, theorist and activist Augusto Boal. It is a school of theatre that seeks to use theatre to better understand ourselves and the world around us – and, most importantly, how we might change that world, achieving social and political change through the arts.

Inspired by the vision of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire and his landmark work on education, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, TO invites critical thinking. As such, it acts as a tool for liberating and empowering people, where the oppressed speak, act and express their social will. TO techniques are used in classrooms, community settings, and so to address local issues through this approach that enables the people who face these issues to be the ones who try to find ways to resolve them.

At the basis of TO, are the aim of making visible the oppressive situation and mechanisms of domination, inviting spectators to firstly act on the stage and, afterwards, implementing in real life what has been attempted within the safety of the fictional space. The audience then become active “spect-actors”, invited on stage to explore solutions on the issues being addressed: subjects who used to be witnesses of the world’s affairs and who have become, through the practice of theatre, protagonists.

During the whole research A participatory arts project  focusing on Theatre of the Oppressed techniques will run throughout. Anyone in the local community including patients, carers, their relatives, and wider members of their local neighbourhood will be invited to participate.  Workshops will be delivered by Arts Partners IRC in Pakistan and Evam/Training Sideways in India with the support of CO-I Professor Paul Heritage and TO consultants Sanjoy Ganguly and Julian Boal.

Useful links and references:

Useful links and references:

Theatre of the Oppressed (Augusto Boal)

The Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed

Augusto Boal interview


Article on Theatre of the Oppressed and democracy

Laboratory on Theatre of the Oppressed

Jana Sanskriti – Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed

Cardboard Citizens