The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) presents
Forum Theater for Movement Building and Creating Community
a three-day workshop facilitated by Marie-Claire Picher and others TBA
Friday, February 15, 2013 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm;
Saturday, February 16 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm; and
Sunday, February 17 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
at The Brecht Forum
451 West Street (West Side Highway at Bank Street, one block north of West Eleventh Street)
New York City
This extended workshop focuses on exercises, games, and improvised scene work of Forum Theater, one of the forms in the Theater of the Oppressed repertory developed by Brazilian director, popular educator and Workers Party activist Augusto Boal (1931-2009). Boal's interactive approach to theatrical expression emphasizes physical dialogues, non-verbal imagery, consensus-building and problem solving processes, and techniques for developing awareness of both external and internalized forms of oppression.
An innovative approach to public forums and dialogue, Forum Theater is rooted in the Brazilian popular education and culture movements of the 1950s and 1960s and is especially useful as an organizing tool in movements seeking to affect social justice and radical social transformation. It is also a very useful tool for mobilizing people, teaching them the skills to self-organize, and for building social movements and creating a viable sense of egalitarian and democratic community.
In Forum Theater, workshop participants (the "actors") are asked to tell a story about oppression, taken from daily life and based on their real experiences of oppression, and where there was no
resolution to the oppressive circumstance or condition. A skit presenting that problem is improvised and presented to an audience. The original solution attempted by the protagonist (the person who was the object of the oppressive behavior or circumstance) must contain at least one social or political pitfall that either contributed to the failure to eliminate the oppressive behavior or condition, or allowed it to continue to be perpetuated.
When the skit is over, the audience discusses the attempted solution as it was presented in the skit, and then the scene is performed once more. But now, audience members are urged to intervene by stopping the action, coming on stage to replace the protagonist, and enacting their own ideas about how to end the condition of oppression. Thus, instead of remaining passive, the people in the audience become active "spect-actors" who now create alternative solutions and control the
dramatic action. The aim of the forum is not to find an ideal solution, but to invent new ways of confronting oppression. This workshop will look at the larger class structure that exists in
capitalist society and the systemic causes of exploitation and oppression which are related to class, and try to understand how people and communities internalize the ideology of capital–and how
they can take the first steps to creating self-organized caring communities as alternatives to the dominant system.
Marie-Claire Picher is a co-founder (1990) of the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory and has worked and collaborated closely with Augusto Boal until his death in 2009. One of the most experienced Theater of the Oppressed practitioners in North America, she has presented thousands of hours of TO facilitation training in New York and throughout the United States, as well as in Chiapas, Tabasco, Mexico City, Guatemala and Cuba.
Tuition–sliding scale: $135-$195
Register online at