The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB)
–a member of The Institute for Popular Education at the Brecht Forum–
–founded in 1990–
451 West Street
New York, New York 10014
(212) 924-1858

A major memorial tribute and celebration of the life of Augusto Boal will
take place at a future date to be announced. In the meantime, what better
way to honor Augusto Boal than by carrying on the work to which he had
dedicated his entire life? And who better than Julian Boal to carry on
that work? Please come to this special Evening of Theater of the Oppressed
with Julian Boal on Monday, May 25, 2009 at 7:00 pm at The Riverside
Church in New York City.

The Brecht Forum,
The Education Ministry of The Riverside Church,
The Mission and Social Justice Commission of The Riverside Church,
Theatre of the Oppressed at The Riverside Church, and
The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB)


An Evening of Theater of the Oppressed with Julian Boal

in a Performance/Demonstration of Forum Theater (a Theater of the
Oppressed technique)

with assistance of members of his Intensive Master Workshop at the Brecht

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 7:00 pm

at the Assembly Hall of The Riverside Church
91 Claremont Avenue at West 120 Street (one block west of Broadway)
New York City

(Subway: IRT Broadway/Seventh Avenue local #1 to 116 Street; walk north on
Broadway to 120 Street, turn left, walk one block to Claremont. Bus: M-4,
M-5 or M-104 to 120 Street or 122 Street.)

Forum Theater, one of the techniques in the Theater of the Oppressed
repertory, is an innovative approach to public forums, and is rooted in
the Brazilian popular education and culture movements of the 1950s and
1960s. It is designed for use in schools, community centers, trade unions,
and political, solidarity and grassroots organizations. It is especially
useful as an organizing tool in social justice movements. Workshop
participants (the actors) are asked to tell a story, taken from daily
life, containing a political or social problem of difficult solution. A
skit presenting that problem is improvised and presented. The original
solution proposed by the protagonist must contain at least one social or
political error which leaves the problem unresolved. When the skit is
over, the audience discusses the proposed solution, 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 actors, and enacting their
own ideas. Thus, instead of remaining passive, the audience becomes 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. In Brazil and other
parts of Latin America, as well as in India and Africa, Forum Theater has
been used with peasant and worker "audiences" as training in labor and
community organizing and participatory democracy.

If you've been wondering what Theater of the Oppressed is all about now is
the time to find out!

Julian Boal lives in Paris and Rio de Janeiro and has worked as an
independent workshop facilitator of Theater of the Oppressed for many
years. In addition to his own work as a TO trainer he collaborated
extensively with his father, Augusto Boal, and has presented numerous
workshops in France and Brazil, and throughout the world, including
Switzerland, Bosnia, Italy, Spain and the United States. He has also done
a considerable amount of work in India with the famed theater company Jana
Sanskriti, and was the initiator of that troupe's annual tours to Europe.
For the past several years Julian Boal has co-facilitated annual workshops
for the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) at the Brecht Forum
in New York. He is the artistic director of the Groupe du Thibtre de
l'Opprimi (GTO) in Paris and is one of the driving forces behind the
International Theatre of the Oppressed Organization (ITO). He is the
author of Images of a Popular Theater, as well as many articles, and is
the translator of the French edition of Augusto Boal's The Rainbow of
Desire and the editor of the new French edition of Games for Actors and
Non-Actors, also by Augusto Boal.

Contribution–sliding scale: $10/$15/$25
(free for Brecht Forum subscribers and Riverside Church congregants)
Reserve online at

"We must emphasize: What Brecht does not want is that the spectators
continue to leave their brains with their hats upon entering the
theater, as do bourgeois spectators."     –Augusto Boal

The Theater of the Oppressed

The Theater of the Oppressed, established in the early 1970s by Brazilian
director and Workers' Party (PT) activist Augusto Boal, is a form of
popular theater, of, by, and for people engaged in the struggle for
liberation. More specifically, it is a rehearsal theater designed for
people who want to learn ways of fighting back against oppression in their
daily lives. In the Theater of the Oppressed, oppression is defined, in
part, as a power dynamic based on monologue rather than dialogue; a
relation of domination and command that prohibits the oppressed from being
who they are and from exercising their basic human rights. Accordingly,
the Theater of the Oppressed is a participatory theater that fosters
democratic and cooperative forms of interaction among participants.
Theater is emphasized not as a spectacle but rather as a language designed
to: 1) analyze and discuss problems of oppression and power; and 2)
explore group solutions to these problems. This language is accessible to

Bridging the separation between actor (the one who acts) and spectator
(the one who observes but is not permitted to intervene in the theatrical
situation), the Theater of the Oppressed is practiced by "spect-actors"
who have the opportunity to both act and observe, and who engage in
self-empowering processes of dialogue that help foster critical thinking.
The theatrical act is thus experienced as conscious intervention, as a
rehearsal for social action rooted in a collective analysis of shared
problems of oppression. This particular type of interactive theater is
rooted in the pedagogical and political principles specific to the popular
education method developed by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire: 1) to see
the situation lived by the participants; 2) to analyze the root causes of
the situation; and 3) to act to change the situation following the
precepts of social justice.