This is our second forum production.
Forum theatre was developed by South American dramatist Augusto Boal, who originally called it Theatre of the Oppressed.
Theater of the Oppressed is an arsenal of theater techniques and games that seeks to motivate people, restore true dialogue, and create space for participants to rehearse taking action. It begins with the idea that everyone has the capacity to act in the “theater” of their own lives; everybody is at once an actor and a spectator. We are “spect-actors!” — a term which Boal coined.
Boal points out that when we are simply passive audience members, we transfer our desire to take action onto the characters we identify with, and then find that desire satiated as the conflict resolves itself on stage, in films or in the news. Catharsis substitutes for action.
Boal, following Brecht, calls this bourgeois theater, which functions to reproduce elite visions of the world and pacify spectators. He says bourgeois theater is “finished” theater; the bourgeoisie already know what the world is like and so simply present it onstage.
In contrast to bourgeois theater, “the people” do not yet know what their world will be like Their “authentic” theater is therefore unfinished, and can provide space to rehearse different possible outcomes. As Boal says: “One knows how these experiments will begin but not how they will end, because the spectator is freed from his chains, finally acts, and becomes a protagonist.