Augusto Boal

This page links to the following chapter in Actor Training edited by Alison Hodge

Augusto Boal and the Theatre of the Oppressed

Frances Babbage

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Related institutions and websites:

Website of the International Theatre of the Oppressed Organisation, a network that aims to connect practitioners from all over the world in order to share techniques, experience and resources, and thus strengthen Theatre of the Oppressed as a movement. Especially useful is its ‘Yellow Pages’ section, which allows users to click on an interactive world map to find contact details for Theatre of the Oppressed practitioners around the globe.

The CTO-Rio was founded by Boal in the 1990s, when he served as Vereador, or Legislator, for Rio’s City Council. The group’s original aim was to ensure through its activities in the community (e.g. Forum Theatre projects) that Boal operated in his official capacity as effective, democratic representative of the people’s desires and needs. CTO-Rio today is a major disseminator of Theatre of the Oppressed practices, with numerous highly experienced facilitators who were also close colleagues of Boal’s (e.g. Barbara Santos and Geo Britto). The site is a rich resource, giving details of related companies, projects, training programmes, festivals and more. Text in Portuguese.

Website of the New York-based Theatre of the Oppressed Laboratory, founded in 1990. TOPLAB is a forum for dissemination of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques, the majority of its members having trained or collaborated with Boal. The group regularly advertises workshops and training programmes.

Website managed by Doug Paterson, Professor of Theatre at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. Paterson is a practitioner and academic and the site gives a useful overview of Boal’s career and methods as well as details of workshops/training offered by Paterson himself and links to related groups and activities.

Pedagogy of Theatre of the Oppressed is a network linking activists, educators, artists and community organizers. The network was started by Doug Paterson (see and hosts an annual conference as well as producing newsletters and offering a range of resources.

Theatre companies:

There are a great many companies all over the world whose work draws on Theatre of the Oppressed techniques: see the Yellow Pages of the Theatre of the Oppressed website for a list that is extensive, but still by no means comprehensive. However, some companies are especially prolific and also offer training in the methods used. For instance:

Cardboard Citizens is a London-based theatre company whose actors are homeless or who have experienced homelessness. The group was founded in the 1990s by Adrian Jackson, who is also the translator of many of Boal’s books. As well as regularly presenting and touring plays – often structured as Forum Theatre – the company offers annual training programmes in Theatre of the Oppressed techniques.

Jana Sanskriti, based in Kolkata, started in the 1980s as a leftist propaganda theatre group, but after an encounter with Boal transformed its methods to focus increasingly on ‘democratised’ participatory practices. The group, led by Sanjoy Ganguly, comprises leading exponents of Theatre of the Oppressed in India and regularly run workshops and other events. Its website is an excellent resource with many articles accessible online, as well as details of films and other publications.

Headlines Theatre is based in Vancouver. The company’s work is termed by it Theatre for Living, but is derived from Theatre of the Oppressed methods and remains closely based upon these principles. The artistic director is David Diamond, author of Theatre for Living: the art and science of community-based dialogue (Trafford, 2008). Headlines sells DVDs of many of its past projects, especially useful since these typically show Forum Theatre in action, i.e. with the interventions of audience members.

Stage Left is based in Calgary. Founded originally in 2003 by Michele Decottignies as a community and professional arts company dedicated to the promotion of social justice, the group also became a designated Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed in 2005. Stage Left’s work is broad, but includes particular emphasis on disability arts, and it provides regular training programmes in this field, as well as in Theatre of the Oppressed methods.

Formaat is a Dutch company, founded in 1999, that practise several forms of participatory theatre. The group offers regular training courses and master classes in the four key aspects of its work, which it characterises as Participation, Awareness, Empowerment and Dialogue.

The Atelier-Théâtre Burkinabè, or ATB, is a company and network based in Burkina Faso. Founded in 1978 by Prosper Komparoré, the ATB consists largely of volunteer actors who produce several shows each year examining topical local issues; a typical event incorporates village participation on a large scale.

Audio-visual material:

Augusto Boal

Participants in a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop presented by Augusto Boal at Riverside Church in New York City, 13 May 2008.

Interview with Augusto Boal for the daily TV/radio programme Democracy Now, conducted in 2007 and broadcast for the first time shortly after Boal’s death in May 2009. In English. Approx 18 minutes (in 2 parts).

Augusto Boal lecturing on Theatre of the Oppressed. Vienna, April 2008. Introduction in German, lecture in English. Approx 90 minutes (in 9 parts).

Trailer for Ronaldo Morelos’s documentary about Boal, which includes footage of Boal addressing the citizens of Rio. The documentary is based on five months in 1994 when Morelos observed Boal’s work as Vereador on the Council and the activities of the CTO-Rio. The full DVD (53 minutes, in English) is available from

Theatre of the Oppressed and Forum Theatre

Members of Jana Sanskriti interviewed at Queens University (Canada). Posted 16 March 2009. In English. 5 minutes.

Clips of performance from the Festival of Theatre of the Oppressed, Lahore. Posted 28 May 2009.

Clip of CTO-Rio performing at the Muktadhara Festival in Kolkata, 2006. Posted 18 October 2007. 3 minutes 33 seconds.

Theatre of the Oppressed in Kolkata, 2006. Posted 30 September 2007. 5 minutes 26 seconds.

Video of Forum Theatre Workshop in Argoncilhe, March 2007, on the theme ‘Local power influences on community life’. Posted 11 April 2007. Portuguese with English subtitles. 6 minutes 19 seconds.

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