Theater Of The Oppressed Workshops
Theater is a channel for knowledge; it is the art of looking at our selves and can be a means of transforming society. Brazilian theater activist, Augusto Boal, created Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) in the 1960's out of a belief that "we can make this world a place where we can be happy in rather than just a vast market place in which we sell our goods and our souls". In Theater of the Oppressed there are no spectators. The fourth wall of traditional theater is abolished and spectators become 'spect-actors'. The spect-actors are the participants in the creation of the drama - it is their conflict, their worlds, and their life experiences that we wish to address.
By giving the participants power in the creation of the action, they are being transformed and prepared to participate in the theater of life. Using the various techniques and activities outlined in the Theater of the Oppressed doctrine, spect-actors uncover the root causes of problems and what internal and external factors block them from effective action. They are able to "see" their problem, "analyze" it and "act" to change the situation.
Cop in the Head exercise
Who Can Benefit From Theater Of The Oppressed?
Anyone can! Community organizations, social and activist organizations, schools, universities, places of worship, international development and aid organizations, and cultural institutions can all benefit from the Theater of the Oppressed. The workshops are able to give a voice to those who feel voiceless; at risk groups who have been discouraged from participation in the social system can learn liberating tools for activating and awakening dormant parts of themselves. The techniques are a great way to create theater and art that is moving and meaningful, informed and inspirational.
Selected Project: Codepink Delegation To Iraq
Kayhan with children from a squatter's camp in Baghdad
I spent two weeks in Baghdad, Iraq in February 2004 with a delegation of
women organized by CodePink. We were looking into the status of women and
children under the occupation. It just so happened that I was invited to
stay in Baghdad, after the rest of the delegation went back to the states,
in order to use theater work with Happy Families and Childhood's Voices:
two Iraqi community organizations teaching and healing children through the
Selected Project: Invisible Theater Action In Harlem
A technique out of the Theater of the Oppressed arsenal, invisible theater sets up a rehearsed scenario and plays it out in a public area, as if it were happening in real life. It is meant to catalyze discussion and dialogue on a certain issue. A group of workshop participants from the Riverside Church created a scene to enact on the streets of Harlem. We chose to address the meaning of place and name in Harlem, focusing on the names of the avenues, dedicated to notable African Americans. We had two characters from a made up organization called "The Public Coalition for Improvements and Renovations" stand on street corners and ask for people to sign a petition changing the street signs, such as Fredrick Douglass Boulevard and Malcolm X Boulevard, to the numbered avenues seen throughout the city, such as 8th Avenue and 6th Avenue. Included in the action were supporters of the petition, those who were against it, and what are called "agent provocateurs": characters whose job it is to simply ask questions and engage onlookers in dialogue. It was a very heated afternoon and many emotions flared, what we saw were people's true feelings on what Harlem means, why they live there and how they feel about the community.
Watch the video clip of what went on.
Kayhan with Augusto Boal in NYC
Sample Of Past Clients:
- The Riverside Church
- International Rescue Committee
- New York City Mayor's Office
- Communities of Faith for Housing
- Barnard College
- The New School Graduate Program in International Affairs
- Suffolk Law School
- City University of New York
- Ice Hockey in Harlem
- Dwa Fanm
- The Point
- Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media
- South Asian Youth Action
- Boston Social Forum - Active Arts Youth Conference
- World Tribunal on Iraq
- Theaters Against War (THAW)
- ... and in Iraq for Childhood's Voices