Lara Messersmith-Glavin's Reviews > Games for Actors and Non-Actors

Games for Actors and Non-Actors by Augusto Boal
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's review
Feb 03, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: arty-art-art, politics, pedagogy
Read from January 29 to February 03, 2010

I was introduced to the work of Augusto Boal by a woman whom I admire greatly. She is a gardener, a writer, an activist, and a performer. She spent time in Brazil studying Theatre of the Oppressed techniques with landless workers there, and now has brought the techniques and skills she learned there back to the States, where she conducts workshops in the practice, among other things.

As an ESOL and writing teacher, I don't always make room in my syllabi for my political work. Many would suggest that I should leave those things at home; the classroom is for skills and content. However, the more I reflect on my convictions and beliefs, the more I come to consider radical practice a fundamental part of what I do, what I should do, what I aspire to do. I have recently been running up against this notion of "practice" - is it really "practice" when it is a way of life? It seems to me that practice, then, is something deeper. It becomes more like a "way," when we think of a "way" as a "Tao." It is one of the paths one can walk - either we walk that path, or we walk another, but we do not pick and choose when to be on it and when to get off, depending on the hat we wear. We simply stay on the path.

In any case, I think that radical practice - a radical path - for a teacher in my position means truly considering my students - in my case, students often considered "at-risk": immigrants, refugees, single parents, first-generation college students, minorities, individuals recently released from prison, workers without jobs - as humans, as valued, reflective, intelligent individuals with interests and a great capacity to teach and learn from one another. It means recognizing their various challenges, and celebrating and supporting their strengths. It also means trying new things.

The techniques outlined in Games for Actors and Non-Actors transformed my understanding of how to relate to a group of people. I have tried several of the games in my classes, and have had nothing but outstanding positive results, ranging from puzzled introspection leading to insight, to shrieking delight and the mad joy of freedom that comes from doing some that feels both very new and very, very natural. I am grateful for the constant reminder that, as a teacher, I must always continue to learn.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Pawlak Interesting reflection on what it means to be on a chosen path.
Your are an extraordinary and committed teacher who continues to
learn and grow. It sounds like the "Acting for Non-Actors" would be so interesting and meaningful for that particular population of students. A fresh new approach. It sounds like they loved it!

message 2: by Brian (new)

Brian This is the kind of review that does so much for us--gives us a clear sense of the book, connects it with the reader and reviewer, and (in this particular case) leads us to contemplate how those observations might inspire and inform our own tao/path/practice. And as a more personal aside, I felt like there is the beginning of (or potential for the possibility of) your dissertation proposal in this excellent and articulate review.

message 3: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly LeVelle I am intrigued as well. I've added this to my "books to find at the library" list. I so enjoyed being your TA at the Division campus a few years ago. Watching you teach and interact with students altered my teaching. I still try to implement your compassion, feeling, and demanding expectations in my classrooms. You set your students up to succeed, and I can see from this description how carefully you do this.

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