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Theatre of the Oppressed

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,214 ratings  ·  36 reviews
"Boal and his work are marvelous examples of the post-modern situation-its problems and its opportunities. Twice exiled, Boal is 'at home' now wherever he finds himself to be. He makes a skeptical, comic, inquisitive and finally optimistic theatre involving spectators and performers in the search for community and integrity. This is a good book to be used even more than to ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 1st 1993 by Theatre Communications Group (first published January 1st 1977)
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Brian There's Paolo Freire's 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed', right?…moreThere's Paolo Freire's 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed', right?(less)

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Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
6 stars. Super highly recommended if you are of the type that likes to do things differently. If you just like to roll with the roles and chill and float with the times you will not like some of the simple suggestions this book makes about changing the status quo which the world is currently frozen in. In a nutshell it’s by a South American dude who suggests the use of theatre to start a revolution. He basically surmises that theatre has typically and conventionally been created by the bourgeois ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recognizing that humans have a unique ability to take action in the world while simultaneously observing themselves in action, Boal believed that the human was a self-contained theatre, actor and spectator in one. Because we can observe ourselves in action, we can amend, adjust and alter our actions to have different impact and to change our world.

Theatre of the Oppressed engages people in discovery, critical reflection and dialogue and the process of liberation! Through Theatre of the Oppressed
Reviewing the comments here on Good Reads, one clearly gets the impression that although first published in 1979, Boal's book on a radical dramaturgy remains very much essential reading today. I'd like to add some of my own reflections to those noted here. First, as others have stated, Boal begins with a lengthy treatise on classical theatre as a form of social organization. Here he interrogates Aristotle's poetics. Boal offers a most useful corrective to the standard reading of catharsis. Typic ...more
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A man after my own heart. A book that explores the true power of the theatre and its ability to free people and change and challenge power systems.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: phd-studies
A lot of excitement going into this book based upon he author's reputation and he pedigree of his progenitor (Freire still being a big theorist in most academic circles, yet being so encircled, much of his Pedagogy of the Oppressed has been problematized). Boal's theatre remains its entertaining values with its own pedantic purpose. Establishing a chain of theory from Artistotle, Machiavelli, Hegel and Brecht, the people are increasingly under the thumb of the state hat puts on the show (patrons ...more
Desera Favors
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Yooooo my mind is blown for many reasons, although I was sick at my stomach of all the references to European perspectives subject of theatre. Reading on I learned and fully understood why those references were so important. I won't give away the details but I urge any one who is conerned with the conditions of the impoverished people in their communities and want change to read this book! We in the artistic community have power to influence great change and I was more encouraged to continue us ...more
Jul 27, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in social action, or theater, or teaching.
Shelves: education
a tricky, wordy, sort of confusing read, but chock full (chalk full? chockful? what does chock mean really? anyway it's full) of intriguing theory on the oppressor and the oppressed, how to use theater as a rehersal for revolution, and why we should be concerned with oppression at all. ...more
Karen Jean Martinson
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: research
A nice re-read of Boal in preparation for writing about my work with TNT.
Elena Astilleros
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book floored me. Taking readers through the historic roots of theater, Boal highlights the uses and limitations of the stage, explaining Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hegel and Brecht.
Studied this book while a community organizer, and the theory allowed me to set an organizing context where we could push past the day to day constraints we were living in and reimagine a new theater for our lives.
Julian Munds
I can't say this is a very good piece. The claim that it is as important as Artaud or Grotowski is spurious. It's a disjointed book that brings up some fascinating perspectives on how narratives are coercive but its way of correcting that is like most movements in the theatre somewhere between the Polish school and crazy yelling on the street corner. Neat perspective but an unfinished book. ...more
David Hanna
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant and pointed investigation of theater, its social function, and a vision of how theater can be revolutionary. In times when creators are looking for how they can help foster change, this ought to be a primary source. Boal’s vision of the purpose of theater is so incisive, it begs to be explorers. I can’t wait to own this book and dissect it for a long time to come.
Ariel Barbosa
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Tara Fredenburg
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Revolutionary look at theatre (literally). And that's that on that. ...more
Seth Kruger
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
radicalised me
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Boal's philosophical readings get a little sloppy at times here, but the central insight guiding the book is a powerful one. Picking up on Freire's idea that an authoritarian communication/education structure will counteract even a radical choice of content, Boal attempts to envision a non-authoritarian theater.

At its best, Boal's answer radically reimagines "theater" as instead a sort of "theater workshop," in which all learn the skills necessary to participate. This sort of theater may not be
Phil Huckelberry
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
In effect there are two parts to this book: a section that deals with political theory as it is intertwined with the evolution of the theatre, and then a section dealing with the work Boal and others did in developing inclusive, interactive approaches to theatre.

As someone with a degree in political science, who has not taken a theatre class, has not been in any kind of production of anything in over 22 years, etc., I have to confess that the theoretical sections were much more relevant to me th
May 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm not one for philosophy, and while i'm not the biggest fan of things that America does, I kind of get annoyed when revolutionary writers slag off America and just drop these blanket statements on it. I think i'm still processing what I read and need to form my opinion of it. But from reading this, i guess i don't really like revolutionary writing (because i'm American?) or maybe because the writing feels/is dated to me. It's probably more that. Then once the author finally gets into what peop ...more
Amanda Grace
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: improv-is-dumb
Boal writes with the confidence of a man who has dedicated his life to the understanding and subversion of theatrical form, and since I've not yet taken Theatre History I, I'm left to trust in the professor who recommended Theatre of the Oppressed that Boal is, in fact, a master of theatrical theory. I had never before known or indeed imagined the concepts he covers in this volume, such as the rise and fall of the bourgeoisie and their movement from Aristotelian to Machiavellian poetics to the ...more
I would give this 3.5 stars, but goodreads doesn't have a half star option. What I like about Baol's book is the interesting and illuminating examination of Aristotle's Poetics as a political text. His argument about Aristotelian theatre being fundamentally coercive is an intriguing one, though I think Baol puts too much emphasis on Aristotle as a prescriptive text, rather than a descriptive one. The counter-argument to this is, of course, that the Poetics has been read throughout Western histor ...more
This book finally went to its friends in the could-not-finish group. I have to say I struggled through and got almost to the end but just could not read even one more line of this. I went that far because many directors I respect refer to Boal's work here as enlightening and unique. I did not see any of this. Up until his explanation on the difference between his theory and Brecht's epic theatre I could swear it is the same thing dressed in the red flag of his revolution. I actually still think ...more
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
what more can an idealist educator ask for than a clear blue-print for synthesizing Freirian theory with action, practically applying Freire's philosophy in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, to facilitate innovative exercises that raise both a student and educator's consciousness about their state of oppression while actively working to topple it through action. ...more
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Highest possible recommendation to those who live/teach theatre. Get it and learn it and use it. Awesome interactive theatre that can be used as a problem solving tool, a method of conflict resolution, and much more. It's a game-changer. ...more
Sep 26, 2009 rated it liked it
The theory behind Theatre of the Oppressed - fascinating look at the artform of theatre and it's effect upon us. It can get a little thick at times when talking about different theorists or major playwrights. ...more
Jun 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference
It's the only book of its kind in existence if West Coast U.S.A. library catalogs are indication. I will eventually get around to purchasing this book but it's more theory than practice so other books are more essential to my work. ...more
David Gross
I lost interest half-way through. It started promisingly with a discussion of how Aristotle's theory of the theater related to his ethics & politics, but by the time he got to Hegel my eyes glazed over. ...more
Aug 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
not a book to read just for fun!
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
back in grad school, this book (and his others), really awakened my political consciousness. Boal became my teacher and guru for over 10 years.
Jun 14, 2012 added it
what a man, what a life - what a book?
Sidiney Rodrigues
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Are you oppressed? By the others? By you? By your Friends? What kind oppressed are you live?
Nov 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enlightening book indeed. However I did find it way more perplexed than it should have been.
I'm not sure whether that was due to the translation, but it was unecessary.
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Augusto Boal was a Brazilian theatre director, writer and politician. He was the founder of Theatre of the Oppressed, a theatrical form originally used in radical popular education movements.

His books are very influential. With 22 published works, translated to more than 20 languages, his views are studied in Theatre schools all over the world.

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