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Abstract: A Continued Theatre of the Oppressed

There have been calls within the Theatre of the Oppressed community for a development of a poetics of the oppressor, a form of Theatre of the Oppressor; as an extension and reimagining of Theatre of the Oppressed (Chinyowa 2014, Harrison &Weinblatt 2011) Such calls centre on three main points: a less binary framing of oppressor-oppressed, developing allyship from the oppressor who is in a resourced position to make material structural changes, and finally as a call towards an increased dialogue through inclusion. Theatre of the Oppressed has a close relationship with social change, struggle[1] and liberation; a theatre of the oppressor thus brings with it questions about the oppressor’s role within social and political dialogue and change. Despite the contextual sifts from the global north to the global south that saw the development of rainbow of desire (1995); Augusto Boal continued to reiterate a theatre of the oppressed. The centering of the oppressed, as lived experience, within Theatre of the Oppressed is one that imbues the poetics with its radical liberatory purpose. “The poetics of the oppressed is essentially the poetics of liberation” writes Boal (2000, p.155). Liberation Philosopher Ignacio Ellacuría argues that for philosophy to continue to be liberationalist it must not only prioritize but be driven by the marginalized (2013). What might such an understanding of liberation mean in relation to a theatre of the oppressor? In a theatre of the oppressor, are the oppressed still the priority and driving force? This piece argues for a continued centering of the oppressed as imperative continuation of a poetics of liberation. The text shares initial considerations when thinking about a theatre of the oppressor; looking at the potential pitfalls and risks. This piece looks to question what is being called for and who is ultimately being served by a theatre of the oppressor?

[1] “When you discover the potential to struggle, that’s an important discovery” Boal asserts (Morelos, 1995).

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