The Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed

ISBN 9781138291027
Published February 12, 2019 by Routledge
462 Pages

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Book Description

This dynamic book offers a comprehensive companion to the theory and practice of Theatre of the Oppressed. Developed by Brazilian director and theorist Augusto Boal, these theatrical forms invite people to mobilize their knowledge and rehearse struggles against oppression.

Featuring a diverse array of voices (many of them as yet unheard in the academic world), the book hosts dialogues on the following questions, among others:

  • Why and how did Theatre of the Oppressed develop?

  • What are the differences between the 1970s (when Theatre of the Oppressed began) and today?

  • How has Theatre of the Oppressed been shaped by local and global shifts of the last 40-plus years?

  • Why has Theatre of the Oppressed spread or "multiplied" across so many geographic, national, and cultural borders?

  • How has Theatre of the Oppressed been shaped by globalization, "development," and neoliberalism?

  • What are the stakes, challenges, and possibilities of Theatre of the Oppressed today?

  • How can Theatre of the Oppressed balance practical analysis of what is with ambitious insistence on what could be?

  • How can Theatre of the Oppressed hope, but concretely?

Broad in scope yet rich in detail, The Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed contains practical and critical content relevant to artists, activists, teachers, students, and researchers.

Table of Contents


Abbreviation List

Editor and Contributor Biographies


Introduction: Theatre of the Oppressed and its Time(s)

Kelly Howe, Julian Boal, and José Soeiro



New York and After: Gassner, Realism, and the "Method"

Frances Babbage

Teatro de Arena, Brazil, Boal: Between Farces and Allegories

Priscila Matsunaga

Augusto Boal and the Nuestra América (Our America) Theatre

Douglas Estevam

Agitprop and Theatre of the Oppressed

Iná Camargo Costa

Epic Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed: Brecht and, Modestly, [Boal]

Jorge Louraço Figueira

Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal: Praxis, Poetry, and Utopia

Paolo Vittoria

Critical Frames

Theatre of the Oppressed as a Dialectical Game?

José Soeiro and Julian Boal

Constraints and Possibilities in the Flesh: The Body in Theatre of the Oppressed

Kelly Howe

Contradictions of Theatre of the Oppressed

Sergio de Carvalho

Identities, Otherness, and Emancipation in Theatre of the Oppressed

Julian Boal and José Soeiro


Three Examples of Tangled Systems of Oppression

Capitalism and Environmental Destruction

Michael Löwy

Racism, Colonialism, Imperialism

James McMaster

Patriarchy and Heteronormativity

Kelly Howe

From Roots to Branches

Games: Demechanization and Serious Fun

An interview with Cora Fairstein, Birgit Fritz, and Roberto Mazzini

Newspaper Theatre: The Oldest Branch of TO in the Post-Print Present

Sabrina Speranza

Image Theatre: A Liberatory Practice for "Making Thought Visible"

Alexander Santiago-Jirau and S. Leigh Thompson

Invisible Theatre: From Origins to Current Uses

Rafael Villas Bôas

Forum Theatre: A Dramaturgy of Collective Questioning

An interview with Inês Barbosa, Vanesa Camarda, and Paul Dwyer

The Rainbow of Desire: Boal and Doubt

Adrian Jackson

Legislative Theatre: Can Theatre Reinvent Politics?

José Soeiro

Aesthetics of the Oppressed: Self-Criticism and Re-Foundation of Theatre of the Oppressed

Bárbara Santos


Changing Landscapes in Late Capitalism

Neoliberalism and the Alternative of the Common

Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval

Indignant Democracy: Problems of Legitimization in Neoliberal Capitalism

Juan Carlos Monedero

Art and the Wreckage

Marildo Menegat

Critical Reflections on the Early Multiplication of Theatre of the Oppressed

The Difficult Exile in Argentina, or The "Sabbatical Year" of Boal

An interview with Cecilia Thumim Boal

Dialectics of Theatre of the Oppressed During Augusto Boal’s Portuguese Exile

Paulo Bio Toledo

The Beginnings of Theatre of the Oppressed in France

Jean-François Martel

Theatre of the Oppressed, Not Theatre for the Oppressed:

Origins of Jana Sanskriti and Evolutions of TO in India

An interview with Sanjoy Ganguly

Early Conferences in the US: PTO and its Roots in the Academy

Douglas Paterson

Theatre of the Oppressed in Senegal: TO "Proposed That We Dare Ourselves to Dream"

An interview with Mamadou Diol


Theatre of the Oppressed in Neoliberal Times: From Che Guevara to the Uber Driver

Julian Boal


Workshops: The Modularization of TO Pedagogy

An interview with Sruti Bala

Gatherings: Between Market Pressure and "Critical Generosity"

An interview with Aleksandar Bancic, Ezequiel Basualdo, and Amarílis Felizes

Political Organizations: La Dignidad--Theatre and Politics in Movement

Escuela de Teatro Político

Schools: Theatre of the Oppressed with Youth

Charles N. Adams, Jr.

NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations): Challenges and Limitations

Geo Britto

Therapy: Theatre of the Oppressed and/as Therapeutic Praxis

An interview with Brent Blair, Iwan Brioc, and Mady Schutzman

Community: Notion and Feeling, Goal and Strategy

A dialogue with Chen Alon, Sonja Arsham Kuftinec, and Jan Cohen-Cruz

Academia: Theatre of the Oppressed in Colleges and Universities

An interview with Charles N. Adams, Jr., Dani Snyder-Young, and Alessandro Tolomelli

Practices in Context

Jana Sanskriti: Continuous Presence, Aesthetical Rigor, and Political and Social Movement

Sanjoy Ganguly

Féminisme-Enjeux: Challenges and Paradoxes of a Feminist Theatre of the Oppressed Company

Gwenaelle Ferré

Peles Negras, Máscaras Negras (Black Skins, Black Masks): Maria 28, Racism, and Domestic Work

chullage and raquel

MSTB (Roofless Movement of Bahia): An Experience of Theatre and Struggle

Fernanda Moscoso de Jesus Sousa, Leila Kissia D’Andreamatteo, Nivaldo Souza Ferreira, and Theo da Rocha Barreto

Forn de teatre Pa'tothom: A Space for Projects, Training, and Social Struggle

Jordi Forcadas

GTO Montevideo: A Theatre Within a Campaign

Sabrina Speranza

National Egyptian Project for Theatre of the Oppressed and the Arab Network of Theatre of the Oppressed

Nora Amin

Theatre of the Oppressed NYC: Radical Partnerships On the Ground in New York City

Katy Rubin



Message by Augusto Boal, World Theatre Day, 2009


List of Selected Key Terms


View More



Kelly Howe is a teacher/writer/activist based at Loyola University Chicago. She served twice as president of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO) and co-organized three of its conferences. She also co-edited Theatre of the Oppressed in Actions with Julian Boal and Scot McElvany.

Julian Boal is a well-known Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner who has realized workshops in more than 25 countries around the world. He recently completed his PhD, entitled "On Old Forms in New Times: Theatre of the Oppressed Today, Between a 'Rehearsal of Revolution' and Interactive Training for the Victims".

José Soeiro is a Portuguese sociologist, political activist, and researcher. He is currently a Member of Parliament. He was responsible for "Estudantes por Empréstimo," the first Legislative Theatre project in Portugal, and is one of the organizers of Óprima!—a Gathering of Theatre of the Oppressed and Activism.