About Us (EN)


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THE THEATER

Located in a former furniture-shop-turned-theater, the Theater of the Oppressed organizes training courses and workshops, artistic research labs, rehearsals, and creations.

Since 1998, the company, lead by Rui Frati has continued to develop their own work, while also hosting and co-producing with other theatre, dance, and music companies. 

The company’s programming promotes contemporary drama and newly emerging troupes, while remaining focused on established directors and texts, as well as theater for young audiences.

Each season of the year is marked by a special event:

  • September/October: Spotlight on New Works (Pleins Feux sur la jeune création)
  • January: Blank Slate (Carte Blanche) – One new collective of artists is welcomed each year to present performances, lectures, etc. of their choosing
  • June: MigrActions – Collaborative festival between the entire company and visiting artists, aiming to foster interaction between the arts and people of all generations

 

The Theater of the Oppressed

 

“To be a citizen is not to live in society, but to change it!”

Augusto Boal, director & creator of the Theater of the Oppressed

► Method ◄

The methods of the Theatre of the Oppressed were developed by Augusto Boal in Latin America in the 1970’s. His goal was to draw visibility to social and political conflicts by giving a voice to marginalized groups who were facing oppression under totalitarian regimes of the time.

The main technique used is called ‘forum theater’: focusing on a current issue, the company of actors creates and performs a scene with a negative outcome.

The audience, through prompting from the director, is then invited to reflect on how best to resolve the onstage conflict. Audience members become ‘spectActors’ and join the scene through confrontation and interaction with the other characters, thereby inspiring new ideas, alternatives, and a willingness to change the situation.

By working together, the actors and audience find new solutions for the conflicts portrayed on stage. 

 

► Venue ◄

Situated in a former furniture-shop-turned-theater, the Theater of the Oppressed organizes training sessions and workshops, artistic research labs, rehearsals, and creations.

Since 1998, the company has been led by Rui Frati in ongoing training and development, while simultaneously welcoming and co-producing with other companies working in theater, music, and dance.

The company’s programming promotes contemporary drama and newly emerging troupes, while remaining focused on established directors and texts, as well as theater for young audiences.

 

► Company ◄

Each year, the stage professionals, eager to uphold their place as both artists and citizens, create and present each year a play of a contemporary author. They focus specially on performances combining theater and music.

Other projects include « forum theaters », workshops, and training courses in different environments: prisons, schools and universities, community centers, local authorities, businesses, etc. These interventions allow the company to build and retain a new audience by making theatre more accessible for more people. 

Though it is based primarily in France, the company has also travelled to countries including Italy, Brazil, Palestine, Burundi, Iran, Taiwan, Morocco, Romania, Portugal, Chile, Mexico, Spain and Germany for both performances and workshops.

 

“To approach social and human conflicts through theater… to prompt a discussion, to think and understand together on stage, that is our commitment!”

Rui Frati, Artistic Director of Theater of the Oppressed

 

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Forum Theater

Forum Theater is the main theatrical technique used by the company of the Theater of the Oppressed.

Created by Augusto Boal during his time in Brazil, as well as during his time in exile in Europe and particularly in France,‘forum theater’ is based on two beliefs:

  • The belief that theater can and should be a tool to change the world
  • The belief that to be human is to possess the language of theater

The role of the director in the scene, or “joker”

Fundamental as the facilitator of interactions between the audience and the stage, the director or “joker” encourages debate with the audience and coordinates the audience interventions into the scene and the reactions of the actors. During the show, he/she guides the discussion as far as possible, and helps the audience to develop their points of view and clarify their intentions.

An example of an intervention in a ‘forum theater’ setting on the theme of “violence against women”. Documentary by Martin Veber: Three Blows Against Domestic Violence (FR)

 

 Download the mission statement of the Theatre of the Oppressed (FR)

 

Forum theatre is a form of interactive theatre which allows debate to emerge through the lens of theatrical play.

Initially, the actors perform several short scenes which reflect situations in daily life that are conflicted or obstructed in some way.

The scenes are then performed again, as many times as necessary, as members of the audience replace an onstage character (or create a new character) in order to achieve a more satisfactory outcome.

In facing the actors and confronting the initial scene, the spect-Actor must attempt to create new alternatives for the difficult situations at hand.

The scene is placed under the responsibility of the audience. This avoids the imposition of a message or attempts to find a ‘right’ answer. Instead, by experimenting together onstage, solutions become possible.

► Duration

One Forum Theater session lasts from one and a half to two hours. Fifteen minutes for the presentation of the prepared scenes, and between one hour and fifteen minutes to one hour and 45 minutes for debate and theatrical exchange.

► Scenic Space

Forum Theater can be played in any type of room. The room should have good acoustics, otherwise the performers will require microphones and amplification equipment. There is no need for special lighting.

► Scenery/Props

No specific set is necessary for a forum theater performance, as long as the audience is able to project themselves into the space. The actors only require table and chairs, and two or three props depending on the sketch.

 

Why Theater of the Oppressed?

  • Established in Paris in 1979 by Augusto Boal (creator of the method) himself
  • Currently led by Rui Frati, the company has more than 38 years of international experience
  • First group in the world created especially to work with the theater of the oppressed method
  • We have taught Boal’s method to the majority of the other actors who perform forum theater in France or in Europe
  • Our troupe is comprised of professional actors with many years of experience, not amateurs or students
  • Our professional actors are paid according to the law (French collective convention)
  • Our actors are experts in forum theater, as well as all techniques of Augusto Boal’s method
  • In our work, we have encountered nearly every type of social and political issue (and in all environments: work, family, friends, school, university, associations…). 
  • We have worked with diverse audiences, ages 8 to 99
  • We have worked for years with all types of organizations: nursery schools, primary schools, middle schools, high schools, universities, associations, businesses, hospitals, prisons, community centers, cultural centers, city councils, festivals…
  • We customize our shows (at no additional cost) to fit the specific needs of each social project/organization
  • We create as many forum theater performances as we do contemporary theater productions
  • We have our own space which allows us to remain permanently visible and accessible. We host a variety of performances and workshops, through which people and organizations who wish to learn about and/or develop projects with us have the opportunity to easily meet us

Being a citizen, citizen-government relations, public services, social insecurity, integration of foreigners, treatment of undocumented immigrants, social housing neighborhoods, neighborhood relations, gender equality, homophobia, secularism, discrimination (in the city, at work, etc.), racism, discriminatory behavior, justice, crime, family and domestic violence, sexual violence, violence against women, violence in the workplace, workplace conflicts, violence and antisocial behavior, parenting, school life, school violence, education, role of parents in education, internet addiction, youth issues, child protection, living together, suffering at work, burn-out, suicide prevention, management, globalization, north-south relations, sustainable development, public transportation, recycling, energy, health, bad nutrition habits, sexuality, unplanned pregnancy, STDs, AIDs prevention, addiction, smoking, self-esteem, disability, living with chronic illness, elder abuse, elderly fall prevention, end-of-life care, human dignity, unemployment and job search, job interviews, personal and professional expression, climate change and global solidarity, sustainable development, harassment (school, work, home), fighting against radicalization… and many more 

 

We educate social workers, managers, students of all ages and all other members of the public in the methods of the theater of the oppressed, so that that they become skilled in interactive theater techniques (Image Theater, Rainbow of Desires, Forum Theater) in the professional world.

The distance that theater creates gives a sense of protection to the individual, allowing non-actors to express themselves with more freedom. This facilitates a better understanding of countless daily scenarios.

Using games, stories, improvisation and the scene creation, we work with participants to develop their capacity for mutual listening, concentration, imagination, reflection…

Based on the work a group does together, the workshops can end in the creation and presentation of a theatre forum, or simply help them reflect collectively on their specific issues and conflicts. 

 

► General Content of the Training Courses 

  • Exercises for group relaxation and cohesion
  • Introduction to the Image Theater technique

Through the creation and observation of living images (statues), this technique takes away the verbal aspects of everyday life, and consequently puts distance between us and things that can impede our ability to listen and judge, making it easier to explore conflicts calmly. It uses a facilitator/helper relationship, which helps to foster a better understanding of the person involved, as well as an more objective identification of their difficulties. 

  • Introduction to the Rainbow of Desire technique

This technique aims to explore and confront emotions by placing them at a distance and examining them through a character. It promotes self-expression and clarifies situations of conflict.

  • Introduction to the Forum Theater technique

A powerful tool for individual expression and collective reflection, this technique stages and explores conflicts theatrically. It challenges individuals points of view, and allows for collective development of conflict resolution. 

 

► Methods and Educational Resources

Theoretical concepts. Theater games and exercises. Practical workshops in small groups (image theater, rainbow of desire).

Scenes of various scenarios (forum theater)

 

► Practical Information

Audience: everyone. No need to have theatrical experience.

Instructors: 1 actor / director / trainer, specializing in Theater of the Oppressed techniques

Duration: from 10 – 35 hours with the same group (2 hours of work per session)

Possibility of performing a forum theater at the end of the workshop (for workshops of at least 20 hours)

# of Participants: 12-14 maximum per group

☎ Contact us

Alain Ramirez

theatreforum@theatredelopprime.com

Phone (France): +33 1 43 45 81 20