The Routledge Companion To Theatre Of The Oppressed 1138291021, 9781138291027

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The Routledge Companion To Theatre Of The Oppressed
 1138291021,  9781138291027

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Table of contents :
Introduction. Theatre of the Oppressed and its time(s) / Kelly Howe, Julian Boal, and José Soeiro
Part I. Roots. Genealogies. New York and after: Gassner, realism, and the "method" / Frances Babbage
Teatro de Arena, Brazil, Boal: between farces and allegories / Priscila Matsunaga
Augusto Boal and the Nuestra América (our America) theatre / Douglas Estevam
Agitprop and Theatre of the Oppressed / Iná Camargo Costa
Epic theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed: Brecht and, modestly, [Boal] / Jorge Louraço Figueira
Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal: praxis, poetry, and utopia / Paolo Vittoria
Critical Frames. Theatre of the Oppressed as a dialectical game? / José Soeiro and Julian Boal
Constraints and possibilities in the flesh: the body in Theatre of the Oppressed / Kelly Howe
Contradictions of Theatre of the Oppressed / Sergio de Carvalho
Identities, otherness, and emancipation in Theatre of the Oppressed / Julian Boal and José Soeiro
Oppression. Three examples of tangled systems of oppression. Capitalism and environmental destruction / Michael Löwy
Racism, colonialism, imperialism / James McMaster
Patriarchy and Heteronormativity / Kelly Howe
From roots to branches. Games: demechanization and serious fun / An interview with Cora Fairstein, Birgit Fritz, and Roberto Mazzini
Newspaper theatre: the oldest branch of TO in the post-print present / Sabrina Speranza
Image theatre: a liberatory practice for "making thought visible" / Alexander Santiago-Jirau and S. Leigh Thompson
Invisible theatre: from origins to current uses / Rafael Villas Bôas
Forum theatre: a dramaturgy of collective questioning / an interview with Inês Barbosa, Vanesa Camarda, and Paul Dwyer
The rainbow of desire: Boal and doubt / Adrian Jackson --
Legislative theatre: can theatre reinvent politics? / José Soeiro
Aesthetics of the oppressed: self-criticism and re-foundation of Theatre of the Oppressed / Bárbara Santos
Part II. Ground shifts. Changing landscapes in late capitalism
Neoliberalism and the alternative of the common / Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval
Indignant democracy: problems of legitimization in neoliberal capitalism / Juan Carlos Monedero
Art and the wreckage / Marildo Menegat
Critical Reflections on the Early Multiplication of Theatre of the Oppressed
The difficult exile in Argentina, or the "sabbatical year" of Boal / An interview with Cecilia Thumim Boal
Dialectics of Theatre of the Oppressed During Augusto Boal’s Portuguese exile / Paulo Bio Toledo
The beginnings of Theatre of the Oppressed in France / Jean-François Martel
Theatre of the Oppressed, not theatre for the oppressed: Origins of Jana Sanskriti and evolutions of TO in India / An interview with Sanjoy Ganguly
Early conferences in the US: PTO and its roots in the academy / Douglas Paterson
Theatre of the Oppressed in Senegal: TO "proposed that we dare ourselves to dream" / An interview with Mamadou Diol
Part III. Contemporary practice
Theatre of the Oppressed in neoliberal times: From Che Guevara to the Uber driver / Julian Boal
Spaces
Workshops: the modularization of TO pedagogy / An interview with Sruti Bala
Gatherings: between market pressure and "critical generosity" / An interview with Aleksandar Bančić, Ezequiel Basualdo, and Amarílis Felizes
Political organizations: La Dignidad--theatre and oolitics in movement / Escuela de Teatro Político / Schools: Theatre of the Oppressed with youth / Charles N. Adams, Jr.
NGOs (non-governmental organizations): challenges and limitations / Geo Britto
Therapy: Theatre of the Oppressed and/as therapeutic praxis
An interview with Brent Blair, Iwan Brioc, and Mady Schutzman
Community: notion and feeling, goal and strategy / A dialogue with Chen Alon, Sonja Arsham Kuftinec, and Jan Cohen-Cruz
Academia: Theatre of the Oppressed in colleges and universities / An interview with Charles N. Adams, Jr., Dani Snyder-Young, and Alessandro Tolomelli
Practices in Context
Jana Sanskriti: continuous presence, aesthetical rigor, and political and social movement / Sanjoy Ganguly
Féminisme-Enjeux: challenges and paradoxes of a feminist Theatre of the Oppressed company / Gwenaelle Ferré
Peles Negras, Máscaras Negras (Black Skins, Black Masks): Maria 28, racism, and domestic work / chullage and raquel
MSTB (Roofless Movement of Bahia): an experience of theatre and struggle / Fernanda Moscoso de Jesus Sousa, Leila Kissia D’Andreamatteo, Nivaldo Souza Ferreira, and Theo da Rocha Barreto
Forn de teatre Pa'tothom: a space for projects, training, and social struggle / Jordi Forcadas
GTO Montevideo: a theatre within a campaign / Sabrina Speranza
National Egyptian project for Theatre of the Oppressed and the Arab Network of Theatre of the Oppressed / Nora Amin
Theatre of the Oppressed NYC: radical partnerships on the ground in New York City / Katy Rubin

Citation preview

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THE ROUTLEDGE COMPANION TO THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED

This dynamic book offers a comprehensive companion to the theory and practice of Theatre of the Oppressed. Developed by Brazilian director and theorist Augusto Boal, these theatrical forms invite people to mobilize their knowledge and rehearse struggles against oppression. Featuring a diverse array of voices (many of them as yet unheard in the academic world), the book hosts dialogues on the following questions, among others: • • • • • • • •

Why and how did Theatre of the Oppressed develop? What are the differences between the 1970s (when Theatre of the Oppressed began) and today? How has Theatre of the Oppressed been shaped by local and global shifts of the last 40-​plus  years? Why has Theatre of the Oppressed spread or “multiplied” across so many geographic, national, and cultural borders? How has Theatre of the Oppressed been shaped by globalization, “development,” and neoliberalism? What are the stakes, challenges, and possibilities of  Theatre of the Oppressed today? How can Theatre of the Oppressed balance practical analysis of what is with ambitious insistence on what could be? How can Theatre of the Oppressed hope, but concretely?

Broad in scope yet rich in detail, The Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed contains practical and critical content relevant to artists, activists, teachers, students, and researchers. Kelly Howe is a teacher/​writer/​activist based at Loyola University Chicago. She served twice as president of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO) and co-​organized three of its conferences. She also co-​edited Theatre of the Oppressed in Actions with Julian Boal and Scot McElvany. Julian Boal is a well-​known Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner who has realized workshops in more than 25 countries around the world. He recently completed his PhD, entitled “On Old Forms in New Times: Theatre of the Oppressed Today, Between a ‘Rehearsal of Revolution’ and Interactive Training for the Victims.”

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José Soeiro is a Portuguese sociologist, political activist, and researcher. He is currently a Member of Parliament. He was responsible for “Estudantes por Empréstimo,” the first Legislative Theatre project in Portugal, and is one of the organizers of Óprima!—​a Gathering of Theatre of the Oppressed and Activism.

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ROUTLEDGE THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE COMPANIONS

The Routledge Companion to Michael Chekhov Edited by Marie Christine Autant Mathieu and Yana Meerzon The Routledge Companion to Jacques Lecoq Edited by Mark Evans and Rick Kemp The Routledge Companion to Scenography Edited by Arnold Aronson The Routledge Companion to Adaptation Edited by Dennis Cutchins, Katja Krebs and Eckart Voigts The Routledge Companion to Butoh Performance Edited by Bruce Baird and Rosemary Candelario The Routledge Companion to Theatre, Performance and Cognitive Science Edited by Rick Kemp and Bruce McConachie The Routledge Companion to African American Theatre and Performance Edited by Kathy A. Perkins, Sandra L. Richards, Renée Alexander Craft, and Thomas F. DeFrantz The Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed Edited by Kelly Howe, Julian Boal, and José Soeiro The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics Edited by Peter Eckersall and Helena Grehan For more information about this series, please visit:  www.routledge.com/​handbooks/​products/​ SCAR30

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THE ROUTLEDGE COMPANION TO THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED

Edited by Kelly Howe, Julian Boal, and José Soeiro

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First published 2019 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2019 selection and editorial matter, Kelly Howe, Julian Boal, and José Soeiro; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Kelly Howe, Julian Boal, and José Soeiro to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-​in-​Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-​in-​Publication Data Names: Howe, Kelly (College teacher), editor. | Boal, Julian, 1975– editor. | Soeiro, José, editor. Title: The Routledge companion to Theatre of the Oppressed / [Kelly Howe, Julian Boal, José Soeiro, editors]. Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York : Routledge, 2019. | Includes index. Identifiers: LCCN 2018033054 | ISBN 9781138291027 (hardback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781315265704 (ebook) | ISBN 9781351967969 (epub3) | ISBN 9781351967952 (mobipocket unencrypted) Subjects: LCSH: Theater and society. | Theater–Political aspects. | Theater–Philosophy. | Boal, Augusto–Criticism and interpretation. | Theatrical producers and directors–Interviews. Classification: LCC PN2049 .R68 2019 | DDC 792.01–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018033054 ISBN: 978-​1-​138-​29102-​7  (hbk) ISBN: 978-​1-​315-​26570-​4  (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Newgen Publishing UK

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To Augusto Boal, who surely started in theatre a revolution that hopefully will not be contained by the stage.

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CONTENTS

Editor and contributor biographies  Acknowledgments  List of abbreviations 

xiv xxv xxvi

Introduction: Theatre of the Oppressed and its time(s)  Kelly Howe, Julian Boal, and José Soeiro PART I

1

Roots 

13

Genealogies 

14

1 New York and after: Gassner, realism, and the “method”  Frances Babbage

15

2 Arena Theatre, Brazil, Boal: between farces and allegories  Priscila Matsunaga

22

3 Augusto Boal and the Nuestra América theatre  Douglas Estevam

33

4 Agitprop and Theatre of the Oppressed  Iná Camargo Costa

42

5 Epic Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed: “Brecht and, modestly, [Boal]!”  Jorge Louraço Figueira ix

51

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Contents

6 Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal: praxis, poetry, and utopia  Paolo Vittoria Critical frames 

58 66

7 Theatre of the Oppressed as a dialectical game?  José Soeiro and Julian Boal 8 Constraints and possibilities in the flesh: the body in Theatre of the Oppressed  Kelly Howe 9 Contradictions of Theatre of the Oppressed  Sérgio de Carvalho 10 Identities, otherness, and emancipation in Theatre of the Oppressed  Julian Boal and José Soeiro Oppression 

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76 86 94 104

Three Examples of Tangled Systems of Oppression

11 Capitalism and environmental destruction  Michael Löwy

105

12 Racism, colonialism, imperialism  James McMaster

116

13 Patriarchy, cisnormativity, heteronormativity  Kelly Howe

129

From roots to branches 

142

14 Games: demechanization and serious fun  An interview with Cora Fairstein, Birgit Fritz, and Roberto Mazzini

143

15 Newspaper Theatre: the oldest branch of TO in the post-​print present  150 Sabrina Speranza 16 Image Theatre: a liberatory practice for “making thought visible”  Alexander Santiago-​Jirau and S. Leigh Thompson

156

17 Invisible Theatre: from origins to current uses  Rafael Villas  Bôas

162

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Contents

18 Forum Theatre: a dramaturgy of collective questioning  An interview with Inês Barbosa,Vanesa Camarda, and Paul Dwyer

168

19 The Rainbow of Desire: Boal and doubt  Adrian Jackson

180

20 Legislative Theatre: can theatre reinvent politics?  José Soeiro

187

21 Aesthetics of the Oppressed: self-​criticism and re-​foundation of Theatre of the Oppressed  Bárbara Santos PART II

195

Ground shifts 

201

Changing landscapes in late capitalism 

202

22 Neoliberalism and the alternative of the common  Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval

203

23 Indignant democracy: problems of legitimization in neoliberal capitalism  211 Juan Carlos Monedero 24 Art and the wreckage  Marildo Menegat

225

Critical reflections on the early multiplication of Theatre of the Oppressed  248 25 The tough exile in Argentina, or the “sabbatical year” of Boal  An interview with Cecilia Thumim Boal 26 The Dialectics of Theatre of the Oppressed during Augusto Boal’s Portuguese exile  Paulo Bio Toledo 27 The beginnings of Theatre of the Oppressed in France  Jean-​François  Martel 28 Theatre of the Oppressed, not Theatre for the Oppressed: origins of Jana Sanskriti and evolutions of  TO in India  An interview with Sanjoy Ganguly

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249

255 261

270

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Contents

29 Early conferences in the US: PTO and its roots in the academy  Douglas Paterson 30 Theatre of the Oppressed in Senegal: TO “proposed that we dare ourselves to dream”  An interview with Mamadou Diol PART III

277

282

Contemporary practice 

287

31 Theatre of the Oppressed in neoliberal times: from Che Guevara to the Uber driver  Julian Boal

289

Spaces 

303

32 Workshops: the modularization of TO pedagogy  An interview with Sruti Bala

304

33 Gatherings: between market pressure and “critical generosity”  An interview with Aleksandar Bančić, Ezequiel Basualdo, and Amarílis Felizes

309

34 Political organizations: La Dignidad—​theatre and politics in movement  316 La Escuela de Teatro Político del Movimiento Popular La Dignidad 35 Schools: Theatre of the Oppressed with youth  Charles N. Adams, Jr.

322

36 NGOs: challenges and limitations  Geo Britto

330

37 Therapy: Theatre of the Oppressed and/​as therapeutic praxis  An interview with Brent Blair, Iwan Brioc, and Mady Schutzman

336

38 Community: notion and feeling, goal and strategy  A dialogue with Chen Alon, Sonja Arsham Kuftinec, and Jan Cohen-​Cruz

348

39 Academia: Theatre of the Oppressed in colleges and universities  An interview with Charles N. Adams, Jr., Dani Snyder-​Young, and Alessandro Tolomelli

360

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Contents

Practices in context 

370

40 Jana Sanskriti: continuous presence, aesthetical rigor, and political and social movement  Sanjoy Ganguly

371

41 Féminisme-​Enjeux: challenges and paradoxes of a feminist Theatre of the Oppressed company  Gwenaëlle Ferré

375

42 Peles Negras, Máscaras Negras (Black Skins, Black Masks): Maria 28, racism, and domestic work  chullage and raquel

381

43 MSTB (Roofless Movement of Bahia): an experience of theatre and struggle  Fernanda Moscoso de Jesus Sousa, Leila Kissia D’Andreamatteo, Nivaldo Souza Ferreira, and Theo da Rocha Barreto

388

44 Forn de teatre Pa’tothom: a space for projects, training, and social struggle  395 Jordi Forcadas 45 GTO Montevideo: a theatre within a campaign  Sabrina Speranza

401

46 The Egyptian National Project for Theatre of the Oppressed and its Arab network  Nora Amin

409

47 Theatre of the Oppressed NYC: radical partnerships on the ground in New York City  Katy Rubin

414

Epilogue: message by Augusto Boal for World Theatre Day 2009  Appendix: selected terms  Index 

420 422 425

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EDITOR AND CONTRIBUTOR BIOGRAPHIES

Editors Kelly Howe is an assistant professor of theatre at Loyola University Chicago. For Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO), she served as president for two terms and co-​organized three conferences. Howe co-​edited Theatre of the Oppressed in Actions with Julian Boal and Scot McElvany. Her writing also appears in Theatre Topics, Theatre Journal, Text and Performance Quarterly, Theatre Survey, Comparative Drama, etc. She remains on PTO’s board, co-​organizes the collective Theatre of the Oppressed and Activism in Chicago, and organized an ATHE conference. Previously she was faculty coordinator of the LGBTQIA Ally program and of Gender and Women’s Studies at North Central College. Julian Boal is a well-​ known Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner who has realized workshops in more than 25 countries. He recently completed his PhD with a thesis entitled “On Old Forms in New Times: Theatre of the Oppressed Today, Between a ‘Rehearsal of Revolution’ and Interactive Training for the Victims.” He has collaborated with a number of social movements such as Jana Sanskriti, the Landless movement from Brazil, the Roofless movement of Bahia, among others, in activities related to Theatre of the Oppressed. He is a founding member of the Popular Theatre School, which has as its students only activists from a diverse range of political organizations, all interested in the use of theatre to build up popular protagonism. José Soeiro is a Portuguese sociologist, political activist, researcher, and practitioner of Theatre  of the Oppressed. He is currently a Member of Parliament. He has worked with TO since 2002 in various contexts. He was responsible for Estudantes por Empréstimo, the first Legislative Theatre project in Portugal, between 2009 and 2011. He is one of the organizers of Óprima!—​a Gathering of  Theatre of the Oppressed and Activism. He holds a PhD in Sociology, with a thesis entitled “The Formation of the Precariat:  Work, Precariousness and Social Mobilization in Portugal.” He has published, among other texts, A Falácia do Empreendedorismo (with Adriano Campos; Lisboa: Bertrand, 2016).

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Editor and contributor biographies

Contributors (in alphabetical order) Charles N.  Adams, Jr. earned his PhD in Theatre Historiography from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in drama and theatre for young audiences from the University of Texas at Austin. He has worked with young people and TO since 1995 in schools, community centers, camps, parks, and other locations. He also works through modalities such as Theatre in Education (TIE), applied theatre, and popular education. Adams teaches as an adjunct at the University of Minnesota and Augsburg University, where he incorporates TO into all his courses as a means of active learning and as a subject of study. Chen Alon, PhD, is a theatre activist whose dissertation at Tel Aviv University focused on a polarized model of Theatre of the Oppressed with Israelis and Palestinians. As a Major (res.) he co-​founded “Courage to Refuse,” a movement of officers and combatant soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories, an action for which he was sentenced to prison. Alon also co-​founded “Combatants for Peace,” a movement of Palestinian and Israeli combatants who have abandoned the way of violence and struggle together non-​violently against the occupation, alongside the reconciliation and dialogue process to which they are also committed. Nora Amin, of Egypt, is a writer, performer, choreographer, translator, theatre director, and educator. She founded Lamusica Independent Theatre Group (2000), where she directed 37 theatre and dance productions, and Our Stories (2008), an initiative to present personal stories in popular cafes. She also founded The Egyptian National Project for Theatre of the Oppressed (2011) and its Arab network (2012) in Morocco, Lebanon, and Sudan. Fellow of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2003–​2004), S. Fischer guest professor at FU/​Berlin (2004–​2005), the Akademie der Kunste (Cologne, 2015), the International Center for Interweaving Performance Cultures (2015–​2016),Valeska-​Gert guest professor of dance at FU/​Berlin (2018). Sonja Arsham Kuftinec is Professor of  Theatre at the University of Minnesota. She has published widely on community-​ based theatre, including Staging America:  Cornerstone and Community-​Based Theater (SIU Press, 2003). In Theatre, Facilitation and Nation Formation in the Balkans and Middle East (Palgrave, 2009) she analyzes, in part, how Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed has been adapted within a conflict context. Current research focuses on infused pedagogy and organizational culture at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, arts literacy, and creative engagements with memory loss. Frances Babbage is Professor in Theatre and Performance at the University of Sheffield, UK. She is the author of Augusto Boal (Routledge Performance Practitioners, 2004)  and editor of Working Without Boal:  Digressions and Developments in the Theatre of the Oppressed (Contemporary Theatre Review, 1995). She has also worked as a deviser-​facilitator, using methods derived from Boal’s practice. A  further strand of her research explores adaptation and theatricality, with publications including Re-​Visioning Myth:  Modern and Contemporary Drama by Women (Manchester University Press, 2011)  and, most recently, Adaptation in Contemporary Theatre: Performing Literature (Bloomsbury Methuen, 2018). Sruti Bala is Associate Professor in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. She has been involved in Theatre of the Oppressed as a volunteer, facilitator, organizer, and researcher since 2000, and this involvement forms a part of her broader

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Editor and contributor biographies

interest in cultural action, performance theory, pedagogy, feminism, and postcolonial thought-​ practices. Recent publications include The Gestures of Participatory Art (Manchester University Press, 2018); International Performance Research Pedagogies, co-​ed. H.  Korsberg, M.  Gluhovic, K. Röttger (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), and The Global Trajectories of Queerness: Rethinking Same-​ Sex Politics in the Global South, co-​edited with A. Tellis (Brill, 2015). Aleksandar Bančić works as a drama teacher in the Istrian National Theatre in Pula, Croatia. He is the Artistic Director of the Pula Forum—​Theatre of the Oppressed Festival, the annual gathering of  TO practitioners established in 2008. He is a member of the Croatian Centre for Drama Education. Throughout his career, he has directed many plays for children, youth, and adults. He has led TO workshops in Croatia and abroad and participated in national and international projects (with Amnesty International Croatia, UNICEF, etc.). One of the biggest of those projects is TOgether, a network of European TO practitioners that led to the creation of Hotel EUROpa, a traveling Forum Theatre play about the economic crisis. He translated Boal’s Aesthetics of the Oppressed into Croatian, and, with his colleague Valter Roša, he translated Dario Fo’s Mistero Buffo. Inês Barbosa holds a master’s degree in Associativism and Sociocultural Animation, with a Specialization in Performance Art, and a PhD in the Sociology of Education. She is a joker of Theatre of the Oppressed, founder of the group Theatre of the Oppressed Braga and of the association Krizo—​Education, Art and Citizenship, which has been in existence since 2012. She is part of several groups, and her work has focused mainly on gender equality, LGBT rights, and precariousness. She dynamizes and regularly organizes debates, meetings, and workshops in various contexts (schools, universities, institutions, festivals), nationally and internationally. She also develops artistic projects—​video-​installation and performance—​and has been involved in arts programs to combat failure and drop out from school and education systems. She is currently engaged in scholarship in an action-​research project with the Roma community. Ezequiel Basualdo was born in Buenos Aires. He trained in different disciplines:  agricultural, engineering, social, pedagogical, and theatrical. He joined the TO group ActuarnosOtros, which, along with others, began ReLATO—​Red Latinoamericana del Teatro del Oprimido (Latin American Theatre of the Oppressed Network). Since 2008, he has lived in the Province of Jujuy, where he began the Movimiento del Teatro del Oprimido—​MTO Jujuy, which organized the First Latin American Theatre of the Oppressed Encuentro. In Tilcara, he trained as a Community Operator in the Prevention of Social Risks, and from that position he participates in collective, social, and artistic spaces. MTO Tilcara is an offshoot of MTO Jujuy and is a member of the Red de Grupos de Teatro Independiente (Network of Independent Theatre Groups) de la Quebrada de Humahuaca. Paulo Bio Toledo holds a PhD in Performing Arts from the University of São Paulo (Universidade de São Paulo—​USP). He is a researcher at the Laboratory of Research in Theatre and Society (Laboratório de Investigação em Teatro e Sociedade—​LITS) and theatre critic for the newspaper Folha de São Paulo. Brent Blair is an Associate Professor of Theatre Practice at the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts. He is a Linklater-​designated voice instructor and a former Fulbright Scholar in the Igbo traditional theatre of West Africa. He founded the Applied Theatre Arts focus at the School of Dramatic Arts and is the founding director of the Center for Theatre xvi

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Editor and contributor biographies

of the Oppressed and Applied Theatre Arts in Los Angeles, based on the works and training methods of Augusto Boal. He has formed numerous collaborative and curricular programs that partner with community members using theatre as a vehicle for education, therapy, and social change. Blair teaches courses in Voice, Theatre for Youth, Theatre and Therapy, Theatre in Education, and Theatre in the Community. Iwan Brioc is Artistic Director of Theatr Cynefin, based in Wales, UK. Theatr Cynefin pioneered Sensory Labyrinth Theatre, an applied form of Enrique Vargas’ Sensory Poetics. He is also Director of Research and Practice for The Republic of the Imagination, which is an international network of Context Oriented Arts practitioners (CoArts). CoArts is an applied methodology that invites us to take the risk of falling awake to the miracle of being alive. He has also been an independent TO trainer for many years, specializing in Legislative Theatre and Rainbow of Desire. Geo Britto is a long-time member of Center for Theater of the Oppressed-Rio; he joined the team in 1990. He is Artistic Director of the School for Popular Theatre (Escola de Teatro Popular). Britto has coordinated and participated in myriad TO projects in favelas, prisons, mental health institutions, schools, universities, and cultural centers: TO in Maré (2013–2016), TO in Mental Health (2005–2010), Cultural Center “Ponto de Cultura” (2005–2008), and TO in Prisons (2003–2007). He has led lectures, workshops, and performances in Palestine, Bolivia, Mozambique, Egypt, India, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, Germany, the UK, Canada, and the US. He holds a Master’s in Contemporary Arts Studies from Universidade Federal Fluminense. Vanesa Camarda began studying theatre in Argentina in 2000 and discovered Theatre of the Oppressed at Forn de Teatre Pa’tothom in Barcelona. She later gave workshops with Jana Sanskriti and CTO Rio, among others. With the Asociación El Grito she developed an annual project giving TO workshops in neighborhoods in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Since 2011 she has militated with Migrapiés (Grupo de Migración y convivencia de Lavapiés—​Migration and Coexistence Group of Lavapiés) and in other immigrant collectives. Co-​founder of CCIC La Tortuga, where in 2016 the Escuela de teatro de los y las Oprimidas de Madrid (Madrid Theatre of the Oppressed School) was born. She is part of GTO La Trinchera and of Kellys Atrincheradas. Iná Camargo Costa is Free Teacher in Literary Theory and Comparative Literature at the University of São Paulo. She has a master’s degree and a PhD in Philosophy. Her books include Nem uma lágrima: teatro épico em perspectiva dialética (Expressão Popular/​Nankin, 2012); A luta dos grupos teatrais de São Paulo por políticas públicas para a cultura (with Dorberto Carvalho; 2008); Panorama do Rio Vermelho (Nanquim, 2000); Sinta o drama (Vozes, 1998); and A hora do teatro épico no Brasil (Graal, 1996). Sérgio de Carvalho is a playwright, director, and essayist. He is director of Companhia do Latão, a theatrical group that since 1997 has developed research in epic-​dialectic theatre. Among his many plays are The Name of the Subject (1998), The Comedy of Work (2000), Opera of the Living (2010), and The Bread and the Stone (2016). He edited the Vintém and Traulito culture magazines. His books include Introduction to Dialectic Theater (Expressão Popular, 2009), Companhia do Latão 7 plays (Cosac Naify, 2008), and Ópera dos Vivos (Outras Expressões, 2014). He was awarded as a director by the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba for the creation of The Caucasian Chalk xvii

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Editor and contributor biographies

Circle by Brecht in 2008. He has held conferences in countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Portugal, Greece, and Germany. He has a degree in journalism and was a chronicler and critic in several newspapers. He holds a master’s degree in Performing Arts (1995) and a doctorate in Brazilian Literature (2003). He is Professor in the area of ​​dramaturgy at the University of São Paulo. chullage and raquel are members of “Black Skins, Black Masks,” a Theatre of the Oppressed group founded in 2014, in Seixal, Portugal. They are currently developing a “Forum Theatre of darkening” regarding the condition of black domestic workers in Portugal. chullage also has three edited albums (Rapresálias 2001; Rapensar 2004; Rapressão 2012) as a rapper. He was a founding member of the association Khapaz and takes part in Plataforma Gueto, a platform in the fight against racism and black genocide. Jan Cohen-​Cruz is Director of Field Research for A Blade of Grass, which supports socially engaged artists. She edited Radical Street Performance; co-​edited, with Mady Schutzman, Playing Boal:  Theatre, Therapy, Activism and A Boal Companion; and wrote Local Acts:  Community-​ Based Performance in the US, Engaging Performance: Theatre as Call and Response, and Remapping Performance:  Common Ground, Uncommon Partners. Cohen-​Cruz taught in NYU Drama and directed Imagining America:  Artists and Scholars in Public Life. She received the 2012 Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s Award for Leadership in Community-​Based Theatre and Civic Engagement. She recently launched a food truck with her family in rural Pennsylvania. Pierre Dardot, a philosopher and researcher attached to the Sophiapol laboratory, University of Paris Nanterre, conducted for several years research on Hegel and Marx. Dardot has published, with Christian Laval, Sauver Marx? (La Découverte, 2007), La nouvelle raison du monde (La Découverte, 2009), Marx, prénom: Karl (Gallimard, 2012), Commun (La Découverte, 2014), Ce cauchemar qui n’en finit pas (La Découverte, 2016), and L’ombre d’Octobre (Lux, 2017). Mamadou Diol is an administrator and member of the Forum Theatre group Kàddu Yaraax, a structure created in November 1994 to support community mobilization against all social oppressions, such as pollution of the Hann Bay, which is the area of ​​residence of the group. The main activity of Kàddu Yaraax remains Forum Theatre, with frequent and regular performances throughout Senegal.Trainers regularly animate Forum Theatre workshops for troupes in various cities. Currently, he is the coordinator of the Senegalese Forum Theatre Festival, which has confirmed for nine years the prominence of  TO as an interactive tool in communities in service activities for development. Paul Dwyer is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Sydney. He has published widely on applied theatre, in particular the work of Augusto Boal, and is currently completing a monograph on discourse and performance in restorative justice conferencing. Paul is also a performance maker with extensive professional experience in documentary theatre, including The Bougainville Photoplay Project, which toured throughout Australia and won a Melbourne Green Room Award, and Beautiful One Day, a collaboration with Ilbijerri Theatre, Belvoir St Theatre, version 1.0, and members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Palm Island.

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La Escuela de Teatro Político del Movimiento Popular La Dignidad was born in 2015 as a space for artistic training in which aesthetic and political tools are offered through the study, implementation, and multiplication of techniques developed from what they consider a revolutionary theatre. The majority of these subjects are taught in a space recuperated by workers but are also sustained in the scenic praxis of the neighborhood square—​for the whole community—​from the community itself. In harmony with the bases of popular education, these approaches are developed by teachers, but are also left open to group discussion with students, collectively nurturing the project, which constantly requires pedagogical, artistic, and political work, as well as work in autonomous ​management. Douglas Estevam is a graduate in Theatrical Direction and History. He trained with, among others, Augusto Boal and Jean Ferlev (Odin Teatrt). He was a member of Brazilian theatre company Companhia do Latão between 1999 and 2003. Between 2002 and 2008, he coordinated the group Filhos da Mãe…Terra (Landless Movement). As an actor, he has also worked in France and Germany. He coordinated training and theatrical productions in France, Germany, Venezuela, and Croatia. Since 2004, he has been a member of the Theatre Front of the Landless Workers’ Movement in Brazil, of which he is the national coordinator. He is a co-​organizer of the books Agitprop: Political Culture (Expressão Popular, 2006) and Lunatchárski: Revolution, Art and Culture. Amarílis Felizes is a Portuguese economist who works and researches on cultural policies. During her work for her degrees in economics and in theatre, she directed several school theatre groups, and she took part, with José Soeiro and others, in Students for Loan, a Legislative Theatre project. Afterwards, she joined in the organization of ​Óprima!—a Gathering of Theatre of the Oppressed and Activism. She also has participated in several TO workshops by such facilitators as Sanjoy and Sima Ganguly, Muriel Naessens, Julian Boal, Rafael Villas Bôas, Bárbara Santos, Iwan Brioc, and Olivar Bendelak. Felizes studied Brecht and his Dialectic Theatre with the specialists Sérgio de Carvalho and Laura Brauer in São Paulo. Gwenaëlle Ferré has been conducting workshops of Theatre of the Oppressed for several years and is a joker in a Forum Theatre play about gender. Currently health projects coordinator in a community health center in the suburbs of Paris, she works on inequalities of access to health in poor neighborhoods. Also a lecturer at the University Paris XIII with students in preparation for the state diploma for social workers and with various training organizations, she has developed tools to train young people, students, and professionals on gender issues, especially sexualities and gender-​based violence. In addition, Gwenaëlle Ferré is a feminist activist. Jordi Forcadas holds a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Direction. He is founder and Artistic Director—​as well as a joker and actor—​of Forn de teatre Pa’tothom in Barcelona, Spain. Forcadas was one of the first to implement TO in Spain, and now he coordinates curricular activities for the purpose of providing people with a broader exposure through the social arts. He is responsible for many social projects with teens, women, and vulnerable groups. Forn de teatre Pa’tothom is a theatre organization that supports social movement that struggles for alternative options for society. The organization also develops workshops, training for Forum Theatre, community projects, performances, and training around social justice issues. Forcadas is also creating a theatre group focused on issues of economy, financial powers, and their dynamics.

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Birgit Fritz is a philologist of Spanish and English, a drama pedagogue (since 1994), Feldenkrais-​teacher and a drama and theatre therapist (2015–​2017). She has a PhD from the Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies of the University of Vienna, 2013. Her professional focus is transcultural theatre work, theatre as research, and theatre therapy. She is also the translator and editor of Augusto Boal’s autobiography Hamlet and the Baker’s Son (from Portuguese) and of Sanjoy Ganguly’s Jana Sanskriti:  Forum Theatre and Democracy in India (from English). She is a board member of the Jana Sanskriti International Research and Resource Institute, Kolkata, India. Her books include The Courage to Become: Augusto Boal’s Revolutionary Politics of the Body, translated by Lana Sendzimir and Ralph Yarrow (danzig & unfried,Vienna,  2017). Sanjoy Ganguly was active in Communist politics as a student. Disillusioned by the party’s centralist tendencies, he left it to search for a political culture of dialogue and democracy. He began working in the theatre in rural Bengal in the early 1980s. His encounter several years later with Augusto Boal and the Theatre of the Oppressed, coupled with his own commitment to the creation of a more just and equal society, led him to found Jana Sanskriti, an independent organization committed to the use of theatre to conscientize and empower the communities it serves. Jana Sanskriti is the largest organization of its kind in India. He is the author of Jana Sanskriti: Forum Theatre and Democracy in India and From Boal to Jana Sanskriti: Practice and Principles, both published by Routledge. Adrian Jackson is the Artistic Director of Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company he founded in 1992, working with homeless and marginalized people. He has directed, devised, or written over 50 productions for the company, ranging from small-​scale Forum Theatre pieces to large site-​specific productions, including Pericles and Timon of Athens co-​produced with the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Beggar’s Opera with English National Opera, and the award-​winning WW2 drama, Mincemeat. Most recently his production of Cathy was seen by over 12,000 people in theatres, prisons, and hostels across the UK. Having translated five books by Augusto Boal and collaborated with him many times over 20 years, he has taught the Theatre of the Oppressed widely across four continents. Christian Laval is Professor of Sociology at Paris-​Nanterre University. He studied in parallel the formation of utilitarian anthropology and the transformations of educational systems and the field of knowledge. He is the author of L’école n’est pas une entreprise (La Découverte, 2003)  and L’homme économique, Essai sur les racines du néolibéralisme (Nrf Essais, Gallimard, 2007). He is co-​author, with Pierre Dardot, of La nouvelle raison du monde, Essai sur la société néolibérale (La Découverte, 2009), Marx, Prénom: Karl (Nrf Essais, Gallimard, 2012), and Commun, Essai sur la révolution au XXIe siècle (La Découverte, 2013). He recently published a book on Foucault and Bourdieu’s analyses of neoliberalism (Foucault, Bourdieu et la question néolibérale, La Découverte, 2018). Jorge Louraço Figueira is a PhD candidate at the University of Coimbra, and he teaches at the School of Music and Performance Art (ESMAE), Porto. He has contributed to a number of publications, including Léxico de Pedagogia do Teatro (Perspectiva) and the journals Drama, Sinais de Cena, Camarim, Hemisférica, amongst others. He edited Verás que Tudo É Verdade, a book on Grupo Folias (São Paulo), and Livro dos Exílios Reais e Imaginários, on the theatre festival FITEI (Porto). A number of his plays have been published and taken to the stage, with his piece Êxodos having been nominated for the APCA Best Drama Prize (São Paulo). xx

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Michael Löwy was born in Brazil in 1938 and has lived in Paris since 1969. He is presently Emeritus Research Director at the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) and Lecturer at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. His books and articles have been translated into 29 languages. Among his main publications: Georg Lukacs: From Romanticism to Bolchevism (Verso, 1981); Romanticism Against the Current of Modernity (with Robert Sayre) (Duke University Press, 2001); The Theory of Revolution in the Young Marx (Brill Academic Publishers, 2003); Fire Alarm: Reading Walter Benjamin’s ‘On the concept of history’ (London,Verso, 2005); Franz Kafka, Subversive Dreamer (Ann Arbor, Michigan University Press, 2016). Jean-​François Martel is President of the French Theatre of the Oppressed Network. As an activist teacher and trade unionist, Martel met Augusto Boal and his company in 1980. Straight away Martel started to train with them, took part in their workshops and collaborative events, and set up the group “En Vie –​T.O.” He helped to bring together the group “CTO-​A. Boal” in Paris and was a member until 1998. Following that, he established a professional company in Lille, “T’OP—​Théàtre de l’Opprimé.” He now hands responsibility for that group to the jokers of the next generation. Along with others, he was an initiator of the foundation of the TO Network in France in 2013. Priscila Matsunaga holds a PhD in Literature Science from the post-​g raduate program in Literature Science, Faculty of Arts, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and was a post-​doctor of the arts and communication school of the São Paulo University. A  teacher at the post-​ graduate program of Literature Science, she develops research around contemporary theatre with special interest in critical-​dialectical theatre, and she advises projects of masters and PhDs. She also teaches Literary Theory and Fundamentals of Brazilian Literary Culture. Since 2011, she has developed activities of research, teaching, and “extension” (activities of the university that are supposed to have an outreach to the community as a whole) motivated by the personal archive of Augusto Boal. In 2015, she contributed to the edition of the Augusto Boal Catalogue: Acts of a Trajectory. Roberto Mazzini (born in Genova, Italy) started theatre in 1979, then encountered Theatre of the Oppressed in 1988. He founded the Giolli association and then in 2008 became a member of the Giolli cooperative. Both are used to make projects in different fields, with many different groups using a mix of approaches: Theatre of the Oppressed, Gandhian non-​violence, Freirian pedagogy of conscientization, and community development. He plans, coordinates, and leads various projects; in the last seven years, he has worked particularly with prisoners in EU-​funded projects against racism. James McMaster is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at New  York University. His current research analyzes performances of care at the intersection of Asian Americanist critique, queer and feminist theory, new media studies, and theatre and performance studies. He has served as the Managing Editor for TDR: The Drama Review and is currently the Book Reviews Editor at Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, where he has also published. James is also the Co-​Political Chair of GAPIMNY, a New York City-​based organization dedicated to empowering queer and trans Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Marildo Menegat holds a degree in Philosophy (UFRJ—1992), a master’s degree in Philosophy (UFRJ—1995), and a PhD in Philosophy (UFRJ—2001). He is currently Associate Professor III at the Center for Public Policy Studies in Human Rights at the Federal University of Rio xxi

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de Janeiro (NEPP-DH). He has experience in the area of ​​Social and Political Philosophy and Critical Theory, working mainly on the following topics: criticism of the political economy of barbarism, militarization of daily life, and criticism of culture. Juan Carlos Monedero studied economics, political science, and sociology in Madrid. He is a Doctor of political science and is the director of the Department of Global Civil Society of the Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid. He did postgraduate studies at Heidelberg University (Germany) and Humboldt University (Berlin). He was a central speaker in the commemoration of the international day of democracy at the UN General Assembly in New York in the 28th regular session of the Council on Human Rights. He has published El gobierno de las palabras (FCE), Curso urgente de política para gente decente (Seix Barral), and La Transición contada a nuestros padres. He is a cofounder of the political party Podemos. MSTB (Movimento Sem Teto Bahia–​Roofless Movement Bahia represented in this volume by Fernanda Moscoso de Jesus Sousa, Leila Kissia D’Andreamatteo, Nivaldo Souza Ferreira, and Theo da Rocha Barreto) is a social movement that has historically been acting in the city of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, organizing the workers in the struggle for decent housing and better life conditions. Douglas Paterson is Professor Emeritus of Theatre at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Paterson has dedicated over 20  years to Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed methods, offering more than 200 TO workshops/​presentations in locations spanning the US, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Iraq, Liberia, India, Palestine, and Croatia. Paterson began the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO) Conference in 1995. In 2011, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education honored him with a lifetime achievement award for Leadership in Community-​ Based Theatre and Civic Engagement. Paterson continues to promote the work of Boal and Paulo Freire and is a peace and social/​economic justice activist in the Great Plains. Katy Rubin is founder and Executive Director of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, an organization that partners with communities facing discrimination to spark transformative action through theatre.TONYC has developed and presented over 250 Forum and Legislative Theatre processes since 2011, bringing together New  Yorkers experiencing injustice in the housing, criminal justice, health, and immigration systems, advocates and elected officials, and impacting legislation and institutional policy throughout NYC. Katy trained with Augusto Boal at the Center for Theatre of the Oppressed—​Rio de Janeiro, and later with Jana Sanskriti in India and Cardboard Citizens in London. She holds a BFA from the Boston University School of Theater and is an alum of Coro Leadership New York. Alexander Santiago-​Jirau is a theatre educator and administrator with extensive experience in popular education and theatre for social justice. Alex is Director of Education at New  York Theatre Workshop (NYTW), where he oversees all of NYTW’s Education Initiatives, including the Mind the Gap:  Intergenerational Theatre Workshop, student matinees, in-​ school teaching artist residencies, master classes, public programs, and administrative fellowships. He is also on the faculty of the Program in Educational Theatre at New York University Steinhardt, where he teaches courses in Theatre of the Oppressed. Alex holds a BS in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and an MA in Educational Theatre from New York University. xxii

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Bárbara Santos worked with Augusto Boal for two decades at CTO. She is Artistic Director of KURINGA and several groups in Germany and Brazil. One of the creators of the Madalena Laboratory, she is the main diffuser of this aesthetic investigation on the specificities of the oppressions faced by women. Bárbara is founder of Ma(g)dalena International Network, feminist theatre groups from Latin America, Europe, and Africa, and author of two books, Theatre of the Oppressed, Roots and Wings: A Theory of the Praxis (Portuguese, 2016; Spanish, 2017) and Aesthetic Paths—original approaches to Theatre of the Oppressed (Portuguese, 2018). Mady Schutzman is a writer, educator, and theatre artist. She is author of The Real Thing: Hysteria, Performance, and Advertising and co-​editor with Jan Cohen-​Cruz of Playing Boal and A Boal Companion. Her joker system play UPSET!—​a satirical comedy about the L.A. riots—​ received the 2006 community-​service Ovation Award. In 2013, Schutzman completed her first film, Dear Comrade, a performative documentary inspired by the cooperative, socialist colony Llano del Rio. Her most recent book is Radical Doubt: the Joker System, after Boal was published by (Routledge, 2019). Schutzman is Faculty Emerita at California Institute of the Arts. Dani Snyder-Young is a scholar/artist whose work focuses on theatre and social change, applied theatre, and contemporary US activist performance. Dani is the author of Theatre Of Good Intentions: Challenges and Hopes for Theatre and Social Change (2013, Palgrave Macmillan). She has published in Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre Research, Theatre Survey,Theatre Research International, Qualitative Inquiry,Youth Theatre Journal,Texas Theatre Journal, and the International Journal of Learning, and from 2013–2015 she regularly wrote popular press theatre criticism for HowlRound. Sabrina Speranza holds a master’s degree in Human Sciences—​Theory and History of the Theatre, and she is a teacher and actress. Her formative influences in Theatre of the Oppressed were CTO Rio and Jana Sanskriti. Since 2005, she has specialized in Theatre of the Oppressed with children and adolescents in contexts of social vulnerability (situations in the street, education centers, imprisonment, among others), which led her to develop her master’s thesis about the accomplishments of  TO with teenagers in prison. She was a founding member of GTO Montevideo (Group of  Theatre of the Oppressed Montevideo) until 2016. She directed that group in an adaptation of Augusto Boal’s Torquemada in 2015, the same year she appeared as a featured participant in a keynote dialogue at the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference in Chicago, USA. She has given workshops and presentations at conferences and gatherings in Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, and the US. She is currently a teacher in the Escuela Multidisciplinaria de Arte Dramático (EMAD) and is part of the coordinating team of Liminal Plataforma de Arte Político. S. Leigh Thompson is a non-binary trans, white, and Native queer with disabilities living in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Leigh has been a campaign strategist, social justice educator, federal lobbyist, and guerrilla arts manager and has worked for organizations such as the ACLU, GLSEN, and Race Forward. He holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and an MA from NYU focused on using Theatre of the Oppressed for political and social change. Currently Leigh is a freelance consultant supporting individuals and organizations as they work to dismantle systemic power, privilege, and oppression. Cecilia Thumim Boal is a psychoanalyst and actress. She was born in Buenos Aires. She worked in the 1960s as an actress, director, and screenwriter for television. In 1966, she was in xxiii

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the cast of Teatro Arena, from São Paulo, taking part in several shows in Brazil and other countries. In 1982, she finished her psychology studies at the Sorbonne (Paris VII). At present, she is the President of Augusto Boal Institute, created in 2010. Since then she has been dedicated to preserving and disseminating the work of Boal, republishing his books with Cosac Naify, supporting the performance of his plays, and also promoting seminars and meetings on theatre and dramaturgy. Alessandro Tolomelli, PhD, is Assistant Professor and Researcher of General and Social Pedagogy at the Department of Education—University of Bologna. He is Journal Manager of the international open access scientific review, RPD: Journal of Theories and Research in Education. His main fields of research are an empowerment approach applied to education, Theatre and Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and a community-based approach to school dropout prevention. He is founder of the Group Krila (Bologna), which has been active for more than ten years in the development of  Theatre of the Oppressed. For more information, visit: www.unibo.it/sitoweb/ alessandro.tolomelli/en. Rafael Villas Bôas is Professor of Education in the Field as part of the Planaltina Faculty (UNB—​University of Brasilia, Brazil) and also teaches in the Professional Master of Arts postgraduate program. He coordinates the research group and extension program Terra en Cena. He also coordinates the School of Political Theatre and Popular Video of the DF. He holds a degree in Journalism (2001), a master’s degree in Media (2004), a doctorate in Brazilian Literature (2009), and was a postdoctor in Performing Arts (2017). Paolo Vittoria currently teaches Social Pedagogy at Federico II University of Naples—​Italy (UNINA). From 2008 to 2017, he taught Philosophy of Education at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro—​Brazil (UFRJ). He holds a PhD in Educational Sciences (UNINA) and was a postdoctor in Educational Policies (Universidade Federal Fluminense of Rio de Janeiro—​UFF). He is a member of the UNESCO Chair in Education for Peace program and co-​director of the international journal Educazione Aperta. He is author of several essays, among them “Narrating Paulo Freire: Toward a Pedagogy of Dialogue,” published in Italian (2008), Romanian (2009), Spanish (2011), Portuguese (2014), English (2015), Turkish (2017), and forthcoming in Greek (2018).

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The three editors of The Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed wish to thank many people for their contributions, formal and informal, to the creation of this book. •







Ben Piggott, the editor who brought the volume to fruition, and Talia Rodgers, who helped us conceive it and assisted us in preparing the proposal.We are grateful to them, to those who responded to our proposal, and to all of the staff at Routledge, especially Laura Soppelsa and Kate Edwards, for their assistance. Ruth-Anne Hurst and Emily Boyd also collaborated very generously with us in the final stages of production and copyediting. The contributors, for their patience, graciousness, and insight on the winding path toward publication. To gather this many people from so many different places and experiences into one book took some time, and we are very grateful to each of you. The translators—​several of them volunteers—​for their rigorous work and their sincere commitment to honoring what was on the page in front of them. Especially deep gratitude for translation labor goes to Jean François Bissonnette, Marcos Fabris, Maria Manuel Rola, Marcos Soares, Ralph Yarrow, Mirta Zimmerman, and Martín Zimmerman. We would also like to thank all of the following people for reasons too varied to note all of them here: The team of the Alice Project of the Centre for Social Studies, Pilar Alvarez García, Cecilia Thumim Boal, Mirita S. Bock, Iwan Brioc, Jasmin Cardenas, Clare Croft, Joana Cruz, CTO-​Rio, the group of Estudantes por Empréstimo, Forn de teatre Pa’tothom, Sarah Gabel, Rebecca Hewett, Adele Horne, Ryan Howe, Instituto Augusto Boal, Mariana Gomes, Jana Sanskriti, Anna Joaquin, Bill Koehnlein, the Landless Movement cultural collective, Mark Lococo, Crystal Love, Carla Luis, Abby Mahone, Saša Miljević, Hugo Monteiro, Sarah Myers, Muriel Naessens, Olivier Neveux,Will O’Hare, the comrades of Óprima!, James Peck, Jorge Peña, Marie-​Claire Picher, Ann Shanahan, Renato Soeiro, Willa Taylor, TOgether International Theatre Company, and the staff at Multilingual Connections, Evanston, Illinois, and Mendword Translations, in Los Angeles, California.

All efforts were made to locate the rights holder of the cover image. If you are the creator of this image or have information about the creator of this image, please contact co-editor Kelly Howe at [email protected], as the co-editors wish to compensate the creator for its use in this context. xxv

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ABBREVIATIONS

The following abbreviations will sometimes appear in this volume, though the terms they represent are also often spelled out. This list is not exhaustive; other abbreviations may appear, typically defined in those cases within the specific text. TO: PO: IT: FT: RofD: LT: AB: CTO: GTO: PTO:

Theatre of the Oppressed Pedagogy of the Oppressed Image Theatre or Invisible Theatre (context clarifies across the book) Forum Theatre Rainbow of Desire Legislative Theatre Used in rare instances by contributors to refer to Augusto Boal Center of/​for Theatre of the Oppressed (in various places/​languages) Theatre of the Oppressed Group (as in, for example, Grupo de Teatro de Oprimido) Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. (US-​based organization)

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INTRODUCTION Theatre of the Oppressed and its time(s) Kelly Howe, Julian Boal, and José Soeiro

This book starts from the statement of a paradox: How did a form with an ambition to be the height of political theatre become increasingly popular over a span of time in which, arguably, revolutionary politics appear to have ebbed? As Brazilian director and theorist Augusto Boal, who developed Theatre of the Oppressed, famously put it, “Perhaps the theater [of the oppressed] is not revolutionary in itself; but have no doubts it is a rehearsal for the revolution.”1 How can we explain the success of Theatre of the Oppressed at a time when revolutionary horizons seem to have almost disappeared? Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) has often been defanged, transformed into merely a body of theatre techniques, largely disconnected from critical theory or political grasp. Neutralization of TO has not been achieved by covering up its politics, but—​on the contrary—​by celebrating nullified versions of it where all of its explosiveness has been evicted.We believe that, more than it is a set of techniques,TO is primarily a certain kind of attention to reality, a specific frame for political analysis and expression. Boal articulated TO with the belief that all people are artists. “Everyone can do theatre: even actors,”2 Boal said. One of the core interventions of his theory was a “spect-​actor” distinct from a spectator:  Boal argued for theatrical forms that refused what he believed were hierarchical divisions between audience and actor. He opposed divisions between those who listen and those who speak, those who watch and those who act. Such divisions were reproducing in the sphere of theatre the broader divisions of society, and Boal believed audiences could no longer accept being merely spectators of their lives. He asserted that spect-​actors, rather, had to go onstage as a step in the long march toward a collective protagonism. Through TO, people analyze oppressions, share knowledge with one another, and mobilize the knowledge they already have. Ideally, they collectively mobilize that knowledge to dismantle oppressive systems. At the risk of stating the obvious, the times in which Augusto Boal developed TO no longer exist. The practices and theories of TO arose in particular moments and places, for specific reasons, framed by specific struggles, events, power structures, and aesthetic traditions. TO was born in South America at a moment of self-​criticism by a Left defeated by a series of coups d’Etat, self-​criticism that was not intended to be a call for inaction but was driven by the project of a re-​foundation of a new Left, with new hypotheses and practices. TO was created to be a weapon in the struggles against dictatorships, a theatre system that could not bear any sign of

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Howe, Boal, and Soeiro

authoritarianism from governments, political parties (even the lefty ones), or theatre itself. TO is a theatrical praxis invented against authoritarian regimes and centralized parties; how does it evolve in a time when democratic governments themselves become more and more authoritarian? That’s why some of the categories Boal created in antagonism with the mode of domination that existed then—​and with the hegemonic practices of those who opposed it—​do not operate in the same way today. For example, the passive/​active division of the world can, in the conjuncture we live today, easily enhance a conservative vision in which the world is divided into assisted workers vs. risk-​loving entrepreneurs. This vision comforts a world shaped by a neoliberalism that constrains us through the imperative of always surpassing others and, above all, oneself. Passivity and activity do not oppose each other in the same ways now. We see every day people immensely active in their careers who are profoundly passive in front of the means of production as such (consider, for example, the Uber driver). One of the questions this book intends to explore is how TO survived the political and historical context that saw its birth. We hope to acknowledge the nuances of many factors and influences, to historicize some of TO’s origins and roots, and especially to consider how and where TO has (and has not) evolved in conjunction with evolutions and shifts that have occurred locally and globally in the last 40-​plus years. Like all political forms,TO is not timeless. We believe that TO’s survival across so many changes in political contexts has sometimes involved a depoliticization and technicization of TO itself, a fixation on the techniques more than political analysis and the specific struggles that analysis can serve. We also operate from the assumption that TO today manifests some troubling trends. How has TO changed since the 1970s, locally and globally? How has TO been shaped by globalization, “development,” and neoliberalism? What is at stake in TO now? For whom? What are the challenges facing TO today? What are its possibilities? How can we maintain a concrete material analysis of What Is even as we hope by embodying What If? How can TO hope, but concretely? These are just some of the questions of this book. As a companion, this book attempts a (necessarily incomplete) English-​language overview of  TO more than four decades into its existence. The practice and scholarship of  TO have now proliferated—​or “multiplied” in Boal’s parlance—​ around the world.  TO is engaged by a staggering array of people. We hope that, whatever one’s relationship to it—​that of activist, practitioner, scholar, student, etc.—​anyone will be able to find a point of entry into this book’s conversations. From scholarly articles to more personal essays to interviews to case study descriptions of practice, this collection intentionally strives to be welcoming for people with any level of familiarity with TO. Readers could turn to this companion for many reasons. They might seek reflections on specific “branches” of Boal’s Tree of  Theatre of the Oppressed: Newspaper Theatre, Image Theatre, Invisible Theatre, Forum Theatre, Rainbow of Desire, Legislative Theatre, Aesthetics of the Oppressed, etc.3 Or they might seek concrete practical examples of  TO techniques as they unfold in varied contexts. See, for examples, the sections here entitled “Spaces” and “Practices in context.” At the same time, readers could also come to the book for a critical understanding of many different social, political, theoretical, cultural, and economic contexts that shape—​and are hopefully sometimes shaped by—​TO. Many excellent books and articles have already been written about TO, in a wide range of languages. Even just taking into account English-​language scholarship, several valuable edited collections about TO have been published, including two companions published by Routledge itself: Playing Boal: Theatre, Therapy, Activism (1994) and A Boal Companion: Dialogues on Theatre and Cultural Politics (2005), both edited by Mady Schutzman and Jan Cohen-​Cruz, who graciously agreed to participate in this book, too. Additional edited collections have served as companions:  Youth and Theatre of the Oppressed, edited by Peter Duffy and Elinor Vettraino 2

3

Introduction

(Palgrave, 2010), and “Come Closer”: Critical Perspectives on Theatre of the Oppressed, edited by Toby Emert and Ellie Friedland (Peter Lang Publishing, 2011). Add to those single-​author texts like, for example, Sanjoy Ganguly’s Jana Sanskriti:  Forum Theatre and Democracy in India (2010) and Frances Babbage’s contribution to the Routledge Practitioners Series, Augusto Boal (2004)—​both by authors also featured here in this book—​and you still only scratch the surface of English-​language writing about TO. Many of this book’s contributors have also written about TO in languages other than English, helping to form the rich bodies of TO analysis with which many primarily English-​language readers are likely unfamiliar. Given these large bodies of work already written about TO, why, then, this new companion? Perhaps one obvious reason is that the latter of the two well-​known Routledge collections (A Boal Companion) is already more than a decade old. Much new TO work has happened since its publication, and some of our contributors belong to collectives that did not exist when previous companions were being curated. And as we have noted, the world of course keeps changing, too.That said, our reasons for editing this book push far beyond any notion that “it’s time” for a new collection.This book’s three co-​editors are practitioners and scholars who live in very different contexts: Chicago, USA (Kelly Howe), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Julian Boal), and Porto, Portugal (José Soeiro). As a result of our various experiences, we have met many people whose perspectives have not yet appeared in a volume like this one, whether for reasons of language or geography or because they are not affiliated with academic or theatrical institutions. This is another of the core reasons for the book: we wanted to respond as best we could to some historical imbalances of attention. The world of TO is much more diverse than its representation in existing academic works. Politically militant TO, for example, tends to remain less visible and legible on a larger scale because of the material conditions of how it works and its position in the wider theatre world. We have tried to fight against the invisibility of this sector of TO. We wanted to combat the historical loss of opportunities to document experiences that are often not acknowledged because they occur in spaces that are not the ones from which most people write. We also aimed to work against the invisibilization of TO that is not from the global north. Motivated by these priorities, we host here a wide array of voices, some thoroughly published, already with quite high profiles on the international TO “scene,” and some who have not yet been published much or at all. In this respect, we tilted toward criteria for selection that attempt to honor the spirit of TO. The knowledge produced about TO can take the forms of articles and edited books like this one, but it can also reach people through exhibitions, a video on YouTube, conference proceedings online, or gatherings and other forms in person. We must acknowledge this diversity of means and platforms of sharing and dissemination, and that books like this are only one of the many ways to learn about TO as it is practiced today. We also wanted to be sure to make space for reflection on (and knowledge from) practice itself. By its very nature, TO is a practical knowledge.With the range of formats in the book—​from essays to one-​on-​one and group interviews to a transcript of part of a session at an activist gathering—​we have attempted to facilitate a range of ways for people to share what they know. We also aim for this collection to make an important contribution to the analysis of the concrete spaces in which people learn about and share TO. While some excellent analysis has been written about many of the discursive, pedagogical, and vocational spaces in which TO happens (community, therapy, education, etc.), significantly less writing has been devoted to examining the implications of the physical, spatial contexts in which TO “spreads” from one practitioner to another: workshops, conferences, gatherings, specific “projects,” etc. For example, what are the possibilities and limitations of a “workshop” as a frame for TO practice? How might the notions 3

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Howe, Boal, and Soeiro

and politics of a project model raise pressing contradictions for TO? How does the reality that TO artists often circulate and learn through conferences affect the politics and migration patterns of  TO? This book sets out to analyze not only individual and group TO practice but also the systems of power in which TO practice itself circulates. Regarding translation, we pause for a moment on language.To publish a collection about TO in English has historically meant that the majority of contributors were from North America and, to a certain extent, Europe.Widening the range of possible languages in which contributors could submit was high on our list of priorities. Many of our contributors submitted their chapters in languages other than English, and then we had them translated—​several by volunteer translators, many by paid translators, a few collaboratively by us as editors.We want to acknowledge the labor of translation—​and to acknowledge a certain element of trust it required for contributors to submit their chapters and take the chance that we would be able to arrange sufficient translation. For all our desires, however, this collection still features many imbalances that are important to note. The first stage of editing took place in each contributor’s language of composition, so we focused on receiving chapters that could be composed initially in a language spoken or read well enough by at least two of the three co-​editors for us to have a first and second reader. As a result, we could receive chapters in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French. It is no doubt a striking irony that the linguistic oppressions caused by colonialism and imperialism meant that those four languages still allowed many people from many parts of the world to contribute. Even so, language of course restricted the book’s purview, and there were other limits as well. We tended toward contributors with whose work more than one of us were familiar. That reality turned the lens in certain directions more than others, too. Ultimately, however, we hope that we have honored our initial impulse to host here the most balanced group of contributors we could assemble.

Structure of the book This book is divided into three parts: “Roots,” “Ground shifts,” and “Contemporary practice.” Within each of those core parts, there are clusters of chapters organized around more specific ideas or questions.

Part I: Roots Genealogies Here in this first cluster of chapters, we call upon “root” as genealogy, but we summon other connotations as well. The chapters here examine various genealogies and cultural and artistic contexts that influenced, informed, and catalyzed the development of  TO. We hope that, through this and other sections, the book will emphasize TO as a materially and historically located set of practices and theories. We pay especially thorough attention to Latin American genealogies of  TO, but TO’s connections to other histories (of political theatre, for example) are explored, too. One trend of this section will be to follow Boal’s concrete experiences to see how he was influenced—​and sometimes how he influenced in return—​the historical moments through which he passed. One of the beginnings of Boal’s journey in theatre was in the US; much of what he learned there, and how, are subjects of Frances Babbage’s chapter. Meanwhile, contradicting the idea that TO was born out of a kind of epiphany, a narration often served by Boal himself, Priscila Matsunaga’s chapter shows the importance of the theatre Boal directed 4

5

Introduction

for over a decade—​the Arena Theatre—​for Brazilian political theatre. And with authoritarian governments rising all over South America, the need to organize the cultural front on a continental scale became urgent, a not-​as-​well-​known facet of Boal’s work that is the subject of the chapter by Douglas Estevam. The chapters in the second half of this cluster will deal more with traditions with which Boal was in dialogue, traditions that oriented his work. Agitprop theatre, explicated here by Iná Camargo Costa, appears as a model both to imitate and to surpass. The relationship of Boal’s theory and practice with Bertolt Brecht—​an obvious source of inspiration for the author of what has been considered the first Brazilian Epic play—​is the subject of the chapter by Jorge Louraço Figueira. Last but certainly not least, Paulo Freire, Boal’s “last father,” made an extremely important impact on Boal’s works; Paolo Vittoria traces some of the resemblances between these two Brazilian thinkers.

Critical frames This cluster of chapters—​in keeping with a slightly different conception of Roots—​discusses some of the premises of  TO:  The premise that the world is crossed by relations of conflict and contradiction—which can only be understood in their dialectical dimensions—​and that theatre always takes a side.The premise that oppression is inscribed and reproduced in the body, through the mechanization induced by social functions, which means that the work of liberation is above all one where the conditions that mechanize our bodies will have to be radically transformed. The premise that everyone can do theatre, but that, to take back the “means of theatrical production” for the people, it would be necessary to break with the existing theatrical devices, in a new poetics around the figure of the spect-​actor. The premise that emancipation is a self-​activity of the oppressed, as a social group who finds their own images of the world and their own ways to organize and fight for transformation. These basic premises of  TO will not, however, be presented in this section only by retelling the arguments invoked by Augusto Boal throughout his books. Instead, these chapters situate these starting hypotheses not only within multifarious traditions of critical thinking and theatrical forms committed to social transformation, but also within the conjunctures of politics and feelings in which the hypotheses were formulated. José Soeiro and Julian Boal discuss the specific way of looking at the world that is a dialectical perspective. They seek in Boal this way of inquiring about reality from the conflict and the flow of human action and its inherent contradictions—​an understanding of the world that seeks totality, not in essences but in the multiple mediations between the part and the whole. They present dialectics as at the core of the Subjunctive Poetics of  Theatre of the Oppressed, pointing out tensions within Boal’s dramaturgical proposal and impasses in actually-​existing TO. Kelly Howe presents Boal’s conceptualization and practice of the body, reflecting on TO’s exercises and games in dialogue with multiple contemporary theories of embodiment. She considers five overlapping conceptions of the body: the body as speech, the body as concrete material carved by external forces and relations, the body as a stranger to be met, the body made by doing, and the body as a way of knowing. She outlines not only TO’s attention to how our bodies have been scripted by oppressive structures and relations, but also its belief in the possibilities of change in the flesh and our bodies as agents of potential transformations. Sérgio de Carvalho attends to TO’s ability to mobilize contradictions, emphasizing the constant reinvention of Boal’s research. He analyzes “Poetics of the Oppressed” from the vantage point of the interaction between the critique of dramaturgy and an experimental practice aimed at changing the social function of theatre. Tracing the lines of continuity, for example, between 5

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Howe, Boal, and Soeiro

Boal and Brecht, Carvalho identifies how much the core of  TO has a critical antecedent in Epic Theatre. He also discusses what could be some non-​dialectical points in Boal’s argument and how, in the concrete practice of existent TO, some of the contradictions have been resolved in a simplistic manner, through fetishization of the techniques or the use of  TO as a set of techniques of aesthetic activism. At the end of this section on critical frames, Julian Boal and José Soeiro approach the nexus of identities, otherness, and emancipation in TO, retracing some debates on the premise that the oppressed are capable of understanding how systems operate and have an interest and a potential will to transform them. Analyzing how “emancipatory subjects” evolved during the last decades, they insist on considering politics of the oppressed as a cohabitation of alterities, as a mediation through which the internal antagonisms of the oppressed can be expressed and potentially solved, thus avoiding the pitfalls of essentialism and hyper-​individualism in the way we conceive liberation.

Oppression The third chapter cluster in the Roots section examines the political dimensions of oppression as a core term of this work. It might be surprising to some readers that the three chapters in this short section do not focus much at all on TO itself. That is intentional. In our experience, workshops and writing about TO tend to focus on the techniques and less on the oppressions people want to dismantle. We have also noticed that often gatherings in the field of TO assume that we all have a shared definition of oppression, one so shared that we need not speak it. Or in some contexts, people avoid the word oppression altogether. Oppressions thereby convert into “issues” or “themes”—​sanitized, diluted, or euphemized, with the notion of power sometimes fleeing the scene. At the same time, we know that there are many complicated reasons for this conversion, including the material realities in which TO often unfolds. Some practitioners recount spect-​actors themselves having strong reactions to the word “oppressed” and not wishing to hear it used in proximity to their own life experience, as though to hear the word would double down too much on the reality. Or some people feel like what they experience as privilege means that it would be presumptuous to claim the word “oppression” to describe their struggles. In still other cases, many people express the sensation of specific pressure to shift to more relatively (or at least seemingly) neutral words like “dialogue” or “interactive” for grant applications, for bosses, for governmental and non-​governmental organizations (NGOs), etc. In any case, we include this section not to assess or critique how people refer to their practice, but instead to reclaim and recuperate this word and its stakes for TO. Oppression is not something that is peripheral to societies. It is the central mechanism of social organization. It is the fundamental element of social life as we know it. Far too many times, oppression is reduced to “bad” behaviors of individuals, an unfair use of the power those individuals would have, leaving untouched the question of power itself. What is power? Why and how do societies not only allow it but need it? Oppression regulates the relations between different social groups to provide benefits to one group, to the detriment of the other. Perhaps it is important to note that those relations of oppression are of utmost importance to the definitions of the very social groups that they put into interaction. For instance, social classes do not exist by themselves and then enter into contact through class struggles. It is capitalism that creates the classes, which will end only with the end of capitalism itself. Each chapter here takes up at least two systems of oppression, introducing some core terms of analysis related to each, and in particular exploring the relationships between those systems. As systems constitute our societies, it is normal that systems of oppression overlap each other, 6

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Introduction

that they are sustained by and sustain other structures. The chapters here are presented under the assumption that oppressions cannot be fought without a solidarity that surpasses the griefs caused by our own. Michael Löwy introduces and contextualizes some of the vocabulary of anti-​ capitalist critique, elaborating concepts of Marxist theory and ecosocialism. Löwy underscores how capitalism is a far-beyond-urgent threat to the planet itself and all life on it. He extends his analysis with examples of Latin American indigenous struggles against capitalist destruction of the environment. In James McMaster’s chapter, the author writes toward intersections of racism, colonialism, and imperialism. McMaster organizes the chapter around three conceptual “pillars” (drawing inspiration from a similar frame articulated by indigenous feminist Andrea Smith): empire/​orientalism, settler colonialism, and anti-​blackness. Situating terms and struggles, McMaster highlights the structural dimensions of racism, colonialism, and imperialism, emphasizing that none of those are mere individual attitudes; racism, for example, is “the air that we breathe” and “the water in which we are submerged.” The section concludes with a chapter by Kelly Howe, one she frames as a cursory companion to some key terms of analysis at the intersection of patriarchy, cisnormativity, and heteronormativity. Howe identifies examples of complexities and possibilities that can arise in shared struggle within those oppressive systems. Ultimately, the chapter links the conceptual and the practical, posing some questions the author hopes some TO practitioners might find useful in the context of their own work. This section is, as much as anything else, a gesture toward a kind of analysis. After all, it almost goes without saying that there are many oppressive systems that could be examined in this section but are not. In this respect, we do not aim to “cover” all the oppressions that practitioners struggle against (not that such a coverage would be possible), but instead to explore merely a few of some of the most common (and commonly intertwined) systems of oppression we often witness TO engaging.With this section’s focus on intersections, the book aims to pose some examples of the analysis of oppressions not as isolated events and experiences (as can be a danger in TO) but as overlapping, contradictory, mutually constitutive constellations of power.

From roots to branches The final cluster of chapters in Part I offers clear, accessible descriptions of a variety of  TO techniques.The authors of these texts, however, were also invited to write a bit beyond description to explain why and how the use of that set of techniques is relevant, or not, today. Coming first here—​as well as at the beginning of all practical TO work—​are TO games, explored in a group interview with Cora Fairstein, Birgit Fritz, and Roberto Mazzini. A history of Newspaper Theatre, the first form of  TO ever developed, is presented by Sabrina Speranza, who also writes about possible uses of this technique in the era of social media. The present potentiality of Image Theatre, a technique first devised to make possible communication between people across language barriers, will be explored by Alexander Santiago-​Jirau and S. Leigh Thompson. Rafael Villas Bôas describes Invisible Theatre and its unsuspecting connections with tactics used in the German revolution and the Civil Rights Movement. The most well-​known technique of  TO, Forum Theatre, is the central concern of a group interview with Inês Barbosa, Vanesa Camarda, and Paul Dwyer. Adrian Jackson, the primary translator of Boal’s English-​language editions, plumbs the implications of the range of techniques known as Rainbow of Desire, asserting the political power of doubt and Rainbow’s capacity to explore it. Legislative Theatre is described by José Soeiro, who acquaints the reader with key history about Augusto Boal’s Legislative Theatre experiment in Rio de Janeiro, while also unfolding a more recent example of Legislative Theatre that Soeiro and collaborators enacted after he was elected as a member of Portuguese parliament. Bárbara Santos, a long-​time collaborator of Augusto Boal, offers insight 7

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Howe, Boal, and Soeiro

about how the Aesthetics of the Oppressed were conceived inside the Centre for the Theatre of the Oppressed—​Rio and how they are practiced in many places today.With this section of pivotal chapters, as we hope will be clear, we never aimed for writers simply to describe techniques with faithfulness to Boal’s own descriptions and then call it a day, so to speak. We always looked forward to additional reflection on how those techniques would necessarily require reinvention in various contexts and times.

Part II: Ground shifts The chapters in Part II examine a range of shifts in the past four-​plus decades, considering relationships between those changes and the spread and evolution of TO.

Changing landscapes in late capitalism As we have suggested, sometimes TO writings and gatherings analyze techniques and case studies far more than the systems in which they unfold.TO was developed as a concrete articulation of dramaturgical and political responses to problems and situations of a specific political conjuncture. We thought that considering the changing landscapes of contemporary capitalism in particular would be an interesting complement to the section on the early multiplication of TO that follows this one. What are some of the ways that capitalism was shifting and changing as TO was traveling around the world and rising to global prominence? We believe that we need to comprehend these changes, as well as how they might alter the reach of  TO’s starting hypotheses and devices. In this section, Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval analyze neoliberalism as a particular political rationality that plays with and through our freedom, in order to expand the reach of capitalism and market logic beyond the purely economic sphere. Competition is therefore reframed as the general form of all productive activities and the universal logic of all social relations. And neoliberalism is thus presented not as a villain threatening us from the outside, but as a mode of subjectivation that shapes us and makes us internalize the pressure of competition and performance improvement. As we have suggested earlier, in such a conjuncture, some categories used by Boal do not operate exactly the same way they did when they were created. For example, to oppose the division between “the active” and “the contemplative” is not necessarily antagonistic toward the system anymore, given that “action” and “individual performance” became, more than a motto of liberation, one of the modes of domination in the logic of neoliberal subjectivation. The political crisis of neoliberalism is interpreted as a problem of legitimization in Juan Carlos Monedero’s chapter. From his perspective, the moment that started with the financial crisis of 2007/​2008 marks the exhaustion of a political-​hegemonic formula in the Western world:  the “social and democratic state of law.” The discontentment with neoliberal politics sparked indignation and led to a wave of collective action that went from Tahrir Square in Egypt to Occupy Wall Street in the US. These mobilizations brought up a new narrative and were a response to social-​democratic paralysis. Focusing on the example of the Spanish 15M movement, Monedero argues that we are witnessing a new reinvention of politics, through the articulation of three different emancipatory traditions and tactics: revolution, reform, and rebellion. In a time marked by the search for new repertoires of collective action, new cultural references, and tendentially horizontal and fluid forms of organization capable of including the “unorganized civil society,” TO—​with its criticism of the specialization of theatre and politics

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Introduction

and of the separation between “actor” and “spectator”—​seems in accordance with the spirit of these mobilizations. The difficulties of representation are approached from another perspective by Marildo Menegat. In his opinion, we assist the collapse of capitalism, due to its internal contradictions. His hypothesis is that the productive activity that was capitalism’s base is being progressively eliminated by the development of the productive forces controlled by a regime of competition that induces a permanent technological revolution. According to this interpretation, the 1980s saw the most drastic change of bourgeois society, with the beginning of the Third Techno-​Scientific Revolution and the emergence of a mass of people superfluous to capital. This situation creates deep political impasses (namely around what could be the emancipatory subjectivities for political action) and an obsolescence of forms of representation of reality—​the artistic forms of expression from the past being utterly inaccurate for our times.Within the context of such a diagnosis, we wonder, what would TO rehearse?

Critical reflections on the early multiplication of Theatre of the Oppressed The next cluster of chapters invites its participants to grapple with how and why TO “multiplied” in various regions. Why did TO elicit passionate interest particularly quickly in certain parts of the world? How did the multiplication of TO differ across countries and continents? This section welcomes a combination of personal reflection and critical analysis. In our interview with Cecilia Thumim Boal, she talks about the Argentinian portion of Boal’s exile from Brazil and about how certain TO techniques, such as Invisible Theatre and direct actions, were a response to the growing repression of the Left. Meanwhile, a not so well-​known moment in the histories of TO, the period of Boal’s exile spent in Portugal, is described by Paulo Bio Toledo as pivotal, since it was in Portugal that Boal lost his last possibility of participating in a revolutionary process.The exile in France, where TO really started its worldwide diffusion in a moment in which the Left was gaining new features, is tackled here in the chapter by Jean-​François Martel. It is from France that TO spread to India, with the journey from workshops in the former all the way to the establishment of the Indian Federation of Theatre of the Oppressed (FOTO) in the latter. FOTO gathers Indian mass movements totaling hundreds of thousands of activists. Sanjoy Ganguly, founder of Jana Sanskriti, describes those early days of  TO in India. Douglas Paterson, whose long-​time planning of tours and conference appearances for Augusto Boal played a key role in the multiplication of  TO in the US, then discusses the origins of the US-​based organization Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO) and its complex relationship to the academy. Rounding out this section is an interview with Mamadou Diol, who discusses the work of his Forum Theatre group in Senegal, including a consideration of some of the contradictions in the relationships between TO political work in Senegal and NGOs (non-​governmental organizations), which have historically had a large impact on the development of TO on the African continent.

Part III: Contemporary practice As we turn toward contemporary practice, we pause on a chapter that forms a kind of bridge between Part II and Part III. Writing from the particular vantage point of someone who has witnessed a great deal of TO in many countries and situations, Julian Boal offers a possible explanation of why TO’s arsenal of games, exercises, and techniques can so easily be co-​opted today by practices and discourses quite opposite the ideals of TO—​including, for example, the use of TO for “human resources.” Even the spheres of business and employee management tap

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Howe, Boal, and Soeiro

TO for their own purposes. Boal speaks to that here, but he also examines in a broader way the shaping of our subjectivities by neoliberalism, which has as its central procedure the continuous testing of our abilities—​and which might now be revealing an unsuspected conservative potential of  TO, one especially visible in Forum Theatre.

Spaces Each of the chapters in the next cluster examines one particular “space” in which TO practice unfolds. These chapters explore a range of literal and discursive spaces, including workshops, projects, schools, therapy, academia, communities, gatherings, and political organizations. We have invited contributors to balance the general and the particular, giving an overview of the kinds of  TO that tend to happen in their assigned spaces while enhancing that summary with specific examples and critical questions. In what literal and discursive spaces does TO happen today, and for what purposes? How do those various spaces relate to one another? In some cases, we thought these questions would best be explored through an individual-​author chapter or a one-​on-​one interview; in other cases, we thought that the group interview format would best allow us to capture the space in question. Workshops are the most common pedagogical form used to “multiply” TO practices. In our interview with Sruti Bala that opens this section, she challenges notions of workshops as neutral containers and poses useful questions for analyzing them critically. We follow that entry with another interview, one of several group interviews in this section of the book. Aleksandar Bančić, Ezequiel Basualdo, and Amarílis Felizes discuss longer meetings or encounters planned around TO: festivals, gatherings, etc. For this piece, three people involved in the organizing of major gatherings reflect on how those spaces can enhance potentially emancipatory dynamics even inside a logic affected by the market. With the next chapter, collectively authored by La Escuela de Teatro Político del Movimiento Popular La Dignidad, we encounter an example of TO rooted within a much larger social movement, in this case La Dignidad in Argentina, which has also created a theatre school. Charles N. Adams, Jr. addresses schools in general as contexts for TO, thinking through the complexities of facilitating TO in a situation where your very presence in the institution is dependent on the permission of administrators who will often try to dictate content. His questions pair well with the following chapter by Geo Britto, who discusses possibilities and limitations of  TO projects with funding by NGOs. For the remaining offerings in this cluster, we share a trio of group interviews on spaces that are arguably sometimes as much discursive as they are physical: therapy/​therapeutic practices, community(ies), and academia. In their respective responses, Brent Blair, Iwan Brioc, and Mady Schutzman speak to a range of ways that the therapeutic potential of  TO can be harnessed toward psychological and social, systemic wellness; they also demonstrate many nuanced connections between the two, refusing binaries that have often surfaced in TO theory and practice. Meanwhile, Chen Alon, Sonja Arsham Kuftinec, and Jan Cohen-​Cruz take up relationships between TO and notions of community. Their richly layered group interview pushes far past what are perhaps the most common ideas of community: a feeling of belonging in a vague sense, a discrete group of people, or a physical location (a neighborhood, for example). Instead, they drive toward the stakes of community as practice—​a tactic, a strategy, or even a goal in itself. As this penultimate section comes to a close, next we turn to academia with Charles N. Adams, Jr., Dani Snyder-​Young, and Alessandro Tolomelli, who parse the causes of what might arguably be described as a fetishization of  TO within academia. They also explicate opportunities and ambivalences that can accompany the usage of  TO within such hierarchical institutions as contemporary colleges and universities. 10

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Introduction

Practices in context In this final cluster of chapters, representatives from specific TO groups introduce readers to their collectives and organizations.Why and how did their groups form? Why TO? How would they describe their particular approaches? The amazing work of Jana Sanskriti (People’s Culture), a mass movement that uses TO as its core practice to democratize politics in India, presented here by Sanjoy Ganguly, could simply not be absent from this cluster. Féminisme-​Enjeux (Feminism at Stage), a French TO company that deals exclusively with oppressions linked to patriarchy, will be summarized by Gwenaëlle Ferré.The collective Peles Negras, Máscaras Negras (Black Skins, Black Masks) offers an account of its rare form of work that combines popular education, activism, and Forum Theatre with a particular attention to how racism affects even (or perhaps especially) the senses of immigrant workers in Portugal. Members of Movimento Sem Teto da Bahia (Roofless Movement of Bahia) explain how TO has been a useful tool for political training, while also noting limitations they have witnessed and how they have tried to overcome them. Forn de teatre Pa’tothom (literally, the Oven of  Theatre for All, represented here by Jordi Forcadas) is a group that encompasses a drama school, an ensemble theatre, social projects, political actions, and so many more layers, and here they write about an assemblage of experiences in the very diverse neighborhood of El Raval in Barcelona. The difficulties of following a specific campaign—​in this case against the reduction of the age of incarceration in Uruguay—​are depicted by Sabrina Speranza in her chapter on Grupo de Teatro del Oprimido Montevideo (Group of  Theatre of the Oppressed Montevideo). The chapter by Nora Amin reflects on the details of trying to create a network of practitioners in Egypt—​and the challenges posed by the social and political changes after the Arab Spring. Finally, Katy Rubin’s practical, concrete chapter traces how the organization Theatre of the Oppressed NYC came to develop its processes (and values) for forming, growing, and sometimes ending partnerships with other organizations. The book’s epilogue features Augusto Boal himself, in a text he read at UNESCO when he was named world theatre ambassador by the International Theatre Institute in 2009—​the same year he passed away.4 His text, which has also been read in theatres all over the world, shows how Augusto Boal was faithful to his ideals until the end of his life.

Sharpening our tools It is likely becoming clear by now that one of the most important strands crossing many chapters in this book is the idea that TO is not eternal, that it is not a set of practices whose effectiveness would be proven only by their conformity with the techniques as they were established by Boal. A claim for the relevance of  TO cannot be constructed merely by citing the fact that it was created by a brilliant person capable of starting so many processes in so many different parts of the world. To give always the same aesthetic solutions to what are in fact varied political problems would lead us to become sectarian in the way Augusto Boal defines sectarianism: “What is a sectarian but a person—​of the left or right—​who has mechanised all their thoughts and responses?”5 The relevance of any work inspired by TO can only be verified when considered in relationship to the specific context in which it occurs. To try to put TO inside history, to analyze whether its potential remains as critical as it was at the time it was created, to work under the hypothesis that it might no longer be adaptable for the struggle toward emancipation—​this way of approaching TO does not constitute a call to abandon it as though it were a turned page in the history of political theatre, as so many chapters in this book prove that assumption wrong. Rather, it is a call to check on our arsenal, to see how sharp our tools 11

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are, and to sharpen them even more, as the times to come seem particularly somber. It is a call not to mechanize demechanization, not to simply repeat the techniques of Augusto Boal, but instead to be inspired by his very gesture. It is a call to incessantly reinvent ourselves as well as our means—​so that we can try never to give in to sectarianism, melancholy, or resignation—​and to be always ripe for the struggles yet to come.

Notes 1 Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, trans. Charles A. & Maria-​Odilia Leal McBride (New York: TCG, 1985), 155. 2 Augusto Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son: My Life in Theatre and Politics, trans. Adrian Jackson & Candida Blaker (London & New York: Routledge, 2001), 319–​320. 3 For those not so familiar with these groups of techniques, see this book’s Appendix, as well as the chapters in the section of this volume entitled From roots to branches. 4 UNESCO refers to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. 5 Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-​Actors, 2nd ed., trans. Adrian Jackson (London:  Routledge, 2003), 30.

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PART I

Roots

14

Genealogies

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1 NEW YORK AND AFTER Gassner, realism, and the “method” Frances Babbage

Augusto Boal’s Games for Actors and Non-​Actors (1992) carried a bold endorsement on its back cover:  for Richard Schechner, Boal had “achieved what Brecht only dreamt of and wrote about: making a useful theatre that is entertaining, fun, and instructive.”1 Where Bertolt Brecht sought a new kind of audience appropriate for the “scientific age,” profoundly involved yet skeptically alert, Boal took that impulse further by proposing a “spect-​actor” who would not just deconstruct the dramatic scene intellectually, but could remake it actively.2 His indebtedness to Brecht is plain; further, Boal’s reminder that Brecht “wanted the theatrical spectacle to be the beginning of action” implicitly upholds Schechner’s distinction.3 Yet an equally important, if less obvious, influence on Boal’s developing practice was the realist tradition associated with Konstantin Stanislavski. Boal undertook formal theatre training in New York, at a point when “serious” drama—​as opposed to Broadway musicals, then enjoying a “golden age”—​ predominantly meant psychological realism. Many of realism’s core tenets seem antithetical to the Theatre of the Oppressed: emphasis on subjective experience, rather than social image; empathic identification, rather than objective analysis; and above all, faithful representation of the world as it is, rather than a resistant staging which reveals that world as dynamic and changeable. Nonetheless, while Boal recognized the limitations of realism, he did not react against the version he encountered on the US stage. Indeed, he took inspiration from it: Boal’s early work at the Arena Theatre put principles of realist drama and rehearsal directly into practice. In his 2001 autobiography Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, he emphasized that studying Stanislavski had been a “cornerstone” of his career and would “always […] be [his] main point of reference as a director.”4 This affirmation should draw our attention to the ways in which even the activist, participatory, and concertedly “anti-​illusionist”  Theatre of the Oppressed system developed subsequently still bears traces of the realist model. The opportunity to go to New York arose for Boal as a fortuitous by-​product of his official studies in chemical engineering, the career path endorsed by his father and for which Boal was offered the enticement of an extra year of training abroad. He chose the US over Europe on discovering that he would be able to join a playwriting class taught by theatre critic and historian John Gassner, whose work he had read and admired.5 Enrolled at Columbia University, initially for 1953–​1954 but remaining for a further year, Boal took courses in modern drama, Shakespeare, and the Greeks, as well as more practically oriented tuition in directing and

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playwriting (and, somehow or other, fitting in chemistry lessons amongst all these). His teachers included Gassner, Theodore Apstein, Maurice Valency, and Norris Houghton, all men of the theatre as much as they were scholars of drama:  Apstein and Valency were playwrights and Houghton a producer and designer. Houghton was also a pioneer in the development of off-​ Broadway theatre, co-​founding the Phoenix Theatre with Edward Hambleton in 1953. The Phoenix opened shortly after Boal went to New York: he would have had the chance to watch The Seagull, staged in the first season, directed by Houghton himself and with Montgomery Clift as Treplev. Boal undertook to see as much theatre as possible while in the US, going several times a week, and he had the opportunity to see many great plays, actors, and directors, as well as plenty more run-​of-​the-​mill fare: Robert Anderson’s acclaimed realist dramas Tea and Sympathy (1953–​1955) and All Summer Long (1954); James Dean performing in The Immoralist (1954); and Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Elia Kazan (1955). Realism was not the only style on offer, however, even if it dominated the “serious” stage. There were crowd-​pleasing musicals, whether new (By the Beautiful Sea, 1954) or in revival (Showboat, 1954), and sparkling comedies, such as John Patrick’s novel adaptation The Teahouse of the August Moon (1953–​1956), or Anouilh’s Mademoiselle Colombe, playfully staged by Harold Clurman (1954). New York in the 1950s saw just one production of a Brecht play, but it was notable: an extraordinarily successful off-​Broadway mounting of The Threepenny Opera (1954), with Lotte Lenya as Pirate Jenny, which ran for 96 performances.6 All the while, his studies at Columbia gave Boal an informed understanding of theatre history and, with this, the often-​fraught relation between thematic content, aesthetic form, the mechanics of production, and the judgments of audiences. Simultaneously, under Gassner’s tutelage and alongside fellow amateurs at the Writers’ Group in Brooklyn, Boal was developing plays of his own: in the period, two of these (The Horse and the Saint and The House Across the Street) were produced, and a third (Martim Pescador, described drily by its author as a work of “poignant naturalism”) given a university award.7 Boal’s wide-​eyed, curious gaze on New York’s cultural scene, along with his acute sense of himself as a foreigner within it, brought him close to the state Gassner considered ideal for the trainee playwright: “if [the writer] learns to look into himself and around himself sharply and individually enough,” his tutor had argued in a 1951 essay, “he will be refreshed and strengthened not only for one particular bout of playwriting but for all subsequent bouts.”8 From Boal’s lively account of the New York period in Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, it is evident that the experience of place proved overwhelming as well as inspiring. Culturally disoriented, and forced at first into a solitary lifestyle at odds with his gregarious nature, Boal did not truly find his feet until a chance encounter with poet and activist Langston Hughes, with whom he had a mutual friend in Brazilian playwright Abdias Nascimento, drew him first to Harlem, and then inspired him to claim the role of volunteer reporter for the São Paulo daily paper the Correio Paulistano. As self-​styled “international journalist” he moved with greater confidence, meeting notable figures including teachers of acting Stella Adler and Harold Clurman, and stage and screen director Elia Kazan.9 Adler, Clurman, and Kazan were in different ways all proponents of the “intense, earnestly concentrated” mode of psychological realism that had risen in popularity to the point of dominating the [US] American stage.10 Through Gassner’s influence, Boal was able to observe rehearsals at the Actors Studio, the preeminent locus for training in this style. The experience made a profound impression on him: Since those Actors Studio sessions, I have had a fascination for actors who truly live their characters –​rather than those who pretend to.To see an actor transforming him/​ herself, giving life to his/​her dormant potentialities, is marvellous. It is the best way to understand the human being: seeing an actor create.11 16

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Boal was impressed by the extraordinary commitment he witnessed at the Studio, the actors’ efforts to bind self to role, and the revelatory, explosive performances that could result.Yet such methods had evident limitations:  whether one person or an entire cast were thus schooled, the determination to remain deeply “in character” and “authentic” brought with it qualities of self-​absorption, unpredictability, and inconsistency that were not always beneficial to the whole. The Actors Studio was co-​founded in 1947—​by Kazan, Cheryl Crawford, and Robert Lewis—​as a non-​profit school teaching Stanislavski-​inspired techniques which became known simply as “the Method.” By the 1950s, the Studio had not only established many stage careers but, for actors such as Marlon Brando, Eva-​Marie Saint, and Montgomery Clift, had led to Hollywood fame also. The Studio’s then-​director was Lee Strasberg, a man with the “aura of a prophet, a magician, a witch doctor, a psychoanalyst,” who, with Clurman, had set up the New York-​based Group Theatre (1931–​1941), of which both Kazan and Adler were members.12 While the Studio’s approach—​a refinement of that practiced by the Group—​had its roots in Stanislavski’s teaching, the Method was a narrow and even distorted version of this source. The Group’s practices had themselves rested on an incomplete understanding of Stanislavski’s principles, acquired in the 1920s at the American Laboratory Theatre (envisaged as the US counterpart of the Moscow Arts Theatre) set up by former MAT students Richard Boleslavsky and Maria Ouspenskaya.13 Strasberg and Clurman were fascinated by Russian acting theory, inspired by what they could discover not just about Stanislavski but Vsevelod Meyerhold and Yevgeny Vakhtangov, as well as by the MAT productions that had toured to the US in 1923.14 However, what took strongest hold for the Group was Stanislavski’s emphasis on the actor’s experience, memory, and emotion, which formed the bedrock of dramatic creativity.15 The Group referred closely to “Preparing for the Role,” an essay by Stanislavski’s pupil Vakhtangov that Strasberg had had translated, which urged the actor to “live your own temperament on the stage and not the supposed temperament of the character.You must proceed from yourself and not from a conceived image.”16 The actor’s inner life was indeed an important element for Stanslavski, but primarily in the early stages of his work: as Marvin Carlson notes, by 1930 the director’s thinking had changed significantly, leading him to place greater importance on study of the text, physical actions, and the “given circumstances” of characters.17 That shift of emphasis was not reflected in the work of the Group, nor at the Actors Studio. Indeed, their (mis)interpretation of Stanislavski appeared validated on release of An Actor Prepares (1936), which was first published in the US. Unbeknownst to Strasberg and his associates, although the book did reiterate the advice that “Always and for ever, when you are on the stage, you must play yourself” (emphasis in original), this US version missed out on many essays that Stanislavski had intended to include, making it less comprehensive and representative of his thinking than the (much longer) Soviet edition issued two years later.18 By the 1950s, the interior and affective basis of “the Method” was deeply entrenched. The Studio that Boal visited was an aspirational place for actors, even though its training was demanding and even painful: as Kazan recalls, Strasberg’s approach regularly included manipulating his pupils’ actual emotions—​anxiety, unhappiness, anger—​when he sensed they were merely “pretending.”19 However, the potent results of this training were not in doubt: regrettably, Boal arrived too late for Marlon Brando’s brooding, emotionally charged portrayal of Stanley in the Broadway premiere of A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), a performance that became a byword for Method acting (albeit Brando later rejected suggestions that his style had been formed through Strasberg’s coaching).20 Gassner had greatly admired both play and production, applauding Williams’ ability—​here, as in his earlier The Glass Menagerie—​to combine “the most stringent realism with symbolism” and “transmute the base metal of reality” into a substance significantly more poetic and expansive.21 But if such productions represented 17

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the US stage at its most innovative and exciting, by the early 1950s they had become all too rare. Gassner’s “Broadway in Review” columns, when Boal was in residence, describe a period of frustratingly “diminished vitality”; new plays repeatedly disappointed through insufficient authorial commitment and irresolute stage action. Gassner picks on Calder Willingham’s End As A Man (1953) to exemplify a broader problem: “the author was neither naïve nor critical. Consequently, he could present only a slice of life, and his play, which leaves us floundering in ‘life’, is therefore not quite art.”22 There were positive exceptions to this state of stagnation: for example, in the same issue Gassner praises Anderson’s Tea and Sympathy, about a boarding-​ school student “suspected” of homosexuality; the theatre critic for the Chicago Tribune concurred, considering it the first play of real interest “after so many months of nothing new to see that is worth talking about.”23 In a long essay titled “Forms of Modern Drama” (1955), Gassner examined in detail the evolution of realism from its emergence in the late nineteenth century as a powerfully destabilizing force, through to the contemporary moment, where it was likely to be considered “the placid, if not […] stodgy, method of presenting a situation and idea.”24 Against realism, with its inbuilt “antitheatrical bias,” Gassner traced a history of boldly “theatricalist” alternatives: symbolist drama, expressionism, surrealism. While these experiments had positively advanced theatrical production—​indeed, the sparse and poetic settings of symbolist plays had inspired the realist stage to shed excess clutter—​that expansion of formal possibilities had been accompanied, he argued, by a corresponding decline in dramatic vigour.25 In this essay, as in his production reviews, Gassner embraced inventive theatricalism of the kind that characterized the work of the Renaud-​Barrault company, who had toured to the US in 1952; however, he was quick to condemn its “indiscriminate” application, especially where “skittish,” or worse, “apologetic” stylization appeared to undermine serious dramatic purpose.26 But Gassner’s analysis went beyond dissecting the respective strengths and limits of realism and theatricalism. His argument, developed at length in Form and Idea in Modern Theatre (1956), was that the perceived aesthetic opposition was a false duality: the greatest modern playwrights—​Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, Gerhart Hauptmann, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller—​had revealed that those styles, while divergent, could be brought into productive complementarity; the challenge theatre faced was to heal that schism and realize a synthesis.27 When Boal left the US for Brazil in July 1955, he had thus had a thorough immersion in realist drama; simultaneously, Gassner’s teaching and Boal’s own experience as a theatregoer had exposed the deficiencies of this aesthetic as well as its powerful immediacy. Recommended by the critic Sábato Magaldi, Boal was offered a directorial position at José Renato’s Arena Theatre in São Paulo. In his first production, directing John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men (1956), Boal applied techniques he had observed in the Actors Studio; he asked the cast to read a daily chapter from An Actor Prepares, with the subsequent rehearsal attempting to put its teachings into practice.28 As an intimate theatre-​in-​the-​round, the Arena could have seemed unsuited to the illusionist style, and yet, Boal insisted, the small space directly supported a proximal, if not pictorial realism: “it was like an extension of the Actors Studio: close-​up theatre. The actors were centimetres from the audience.”29 In the rehearsal room, the cast practiced above all the technique of emotion memory, not to indulge in an “emotional orgy”—​which Boal understood had never been Stanislavski’s intention, and which helps distinguish his approach at Arena from the fullest excesses of the Method—​but seeking to build character portrayals that resonated truthfully with actors and audiences. Boal describes his early years at the Arena as a period of striving to connect more profoundly with the Brazilian audience. A  first phase of “imported” plays, among them Seán O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock (1957), gave way to a focus on drama by national authors that engaged 18

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with the immediate social context. The company had an overwhelming hit in this second phase with their 1958 production of Gianfrancesco Guarnieri’s They Don’t Wear Black-​Tie, a play dealing with issues of class conflict and solidarity that Guarnieri had written as a student three years earlier. Black-​Tie—​which ran for an astonishing 12 months—​broke new ground, as David George notes, by incorporating the “colloquial language of slum dwellers in a manner other than caricature or folklore”; for Boal, the production importantly allowed its audience “empathy through total identification, not just analogy as with foreign plays.”30 To foster more new drama of this kind, since it did not largely exist already, Boal established the Seminar of Dramaturgy, a playwriting workshop modelled along the lines of the Brooklyn Writers’ Group. Plays in the “social realist” mode that emerged through the Seminar included Oduvaldo Vianna Filho’s Chapetuba F.C. (1959), which addressed corruption in the world of small-​time football, and—​in a comic-​realist vein—​Edy Lima’s The Farce of the Perfect Wife (1959), a play set on the Uruguayan border and making heavy use of regional dialect, about a woman who paradoxically saves her husband’s “honor” by sleeping with all his friends.31 In the early 1960s, Arena mounted a series of Brazilian interpretations of classic plays, with productions of Brecht (Señora Carrar’s Rifles, directed by Renato), Molière, Lope de Vega and Machiavelli. This change of direction reflected a desire to throw off the sometimes-​ claustrophobic confines of realism, and the company found that the greater abstraction of such drama demanded a different approach in rehearsal: Boal notes that, rather than proceeding from the emotional and internal, the actors built characters “from the outside inward.” “We realised that the character emanates from the actor, and is not a figure who floats afar until reached in a moment of inspiration.”32 Thus, while Arena’s “third phase” sacrificed some of the local resonance that had distinguished earlier productions, it did establish a useful distance from the realist method/​Method; this in turn prepared the ground for the next phase, of protest musicals, which attempted a complex negotiation between empathy and critique. The shows developed in this fourth period—​notably, Arena Conta Zumbi (Arena Tells of Zumbi, 1965), Arena Conta Tiradentes (1967), and Arena Conta Bolívar (1971)—​ sought to address and resist Brazil’s increasingly repressive political climate, but needed to find a language in which that was possible: realistic representation of the regime’s crimes would attract instant censorship and likely imprisonment for the artists responsible. To circumvent this difficulty, Zumbi and later shows used episodes from Brazil’s history, retelling stories of past struggles to oppose despotism in the present. Songs and techniques of Brechtian distancing were heavily employed in the productions, yet still, perhaps unexpectedly, realist principles were introduced alongside these “defamiliarizing” elements. While the company’s approach varied across different Arena Conta… shows, the overarching structure consisted of a “protagonic” character, who could only perceive the world “realistically”; a “joker,” whose strategic function extended across the entire action and whose vision was unconstrained by realist conventions; two choruses, one of characters who supported the protagonist and the other of adversarial roles; finally, the orchestra, who provided music and sung narration. The dramaturgy was thus predominantly anti-​illusionist, but its impact and critique vitally depended on dynamic interaction with the “realistic” protagonist, played by a single actor who, Boal emphasized, “should make use of Stanislavskian interpretation in its most orthodox form.” The “fourth wall” would be strictly maintained for this figure; their inclusion within the whole aimed to “reconquer the empathy that is always lost every time a performance tends towards a high degree of abstraction.”33 It is salutary to be reminded of the value Boal placed on empathy, likewise on realist dramaturgy and the Stanislavskian method. Unmistakably, his seminal text Theatre of the Oppressed gathers special rhetorical power at those moments when empathy is denounced as a “terrible weapon” that fosters emotion to the detriment of analysis, and signals the “delegation 19

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of power” by spectators, who are then forced into a fundamentally passive position of ideological manipulation and abuse.34 This analysis and the compelling language in which it was framed combined to encourage a retrospective view of Boal as Brecht’s inheritor, with realistic dramaturgy, emotion memory, and empathic audience engagement taken as antithetical to the new forms of theatre he proposed. Certainly, the fully participatory techniques Boal established after he was driven into exile—​among them Image Theatre, Forum Theatre, and Rainbow of Desire—​travel very far from the realist model of play and production that shaped his early training.Yet it is not difficult to discern, even here, the traces of realism’s influence.The Theatre of the Oppressed, Boal frequently emphasized, necessarily begins with the individual and with direct experience, not with a “social theory” or representations of an entire class: only by attending to the personal—​by remembering, listening, feeling—​could that wider analysis be acquired. The steps detailed in Games for Actors and Non-​Actors pursue a process very close to that of Stanislavski, through exercises that develop not just muscular capacities, but the senses, memory, emotion, and imagination.35 Such methods generate discoveries that will form the basis of image and action; in turn, this constellation of the personal makes it possible to find connections and divergences, the wider dynamic of the social that structures, but does not generalize, human experience. In the Theatre of the Oppressed “studio,” participants do not revisit memories in order to improve their acting; whether in Image and Forum Theatre, or using the more overtly therapeutic structures of Rainbow of Desire, a person’s real rage or tears are not regarded as material to be mined in the name of art. In Boal’s theatre, by contrast with the US 1950s realist stage, what is ultimately sought is not an expression of “emotional truth,” but understanding and harnessing emotion’s energy; likewise, Theatre of the Oppressed does not aim for authentic representation of reality, but transformation of reality by its spect-​actors. It was this combination of emotion with understanding, critical distance, and the capacity for direct intervention that would—​argued Boal, once more citing Gassner—​produce “enlightenment.”36

Notes 1 Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-​Actors, trans. Adrian Jackson (London:  Routledge, 1992). Back cover. 2 Bertolt Brecht, Brecht on Theatre, trans. & ed. John Willett (London: Methuen, 1974), 77. 3 Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, trans. Charles McBride, Maria-​Odilia McBride, & Emily Fryer (London: Pluto Press, 2000), 106. 4 Augusto Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son: My Life in Theatre and Politics, trans. Adrian Jackson & Candida Blaker (London & New York: Routledge, 2001), 147; 144. 5 Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, 117. 6 J. Chris Westgate ed., Brecht, Broadway and United States Theatre (Newcastle:  Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), xv. 7 Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, 136. 8 John Gassner, “Creative Playwriting.” Educational Theatre Journal 3: 3 (October 1951), 203–​206 (204). 9 Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, 128. 10 John Gassner, “Broadway in Review.” Educational Theatre Journal 5: 1 (March 1953), 14–​19 (18). 11 Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, 129. 12 Elia Kazan, A Life (London, Sydney & Auckland: Pan Books, 1989), 61. 13 Ronald Willis, “The American Lab Theatre.” TDR 9: 1 (Autumn 1964), 112–​116 (112–​113). 14 Mark Fearnow, “Theatre Groups and their Playwrights,” eds. Don Wilmeth & Christopher Bigsby, The Cambridge History of American Theatre: Volume 2, 1870–​1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 343–​377 (361–​363). 15 Clurman was not as thoroughly wedded to “the Method” approach as Strasberg. He had trained under Jacques Copeau, a director described by Gassner as an “arch-​theatricalist”; it was Copeau’s influence rather than Stanislavski’s that Gassner detected in Clurman’s 1954 production of Mme Colombe. John Gassner, “Broadway in Review.” Educational Theatre Journal 6: 1 (March 1954), 27–​35 (27–​29).

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New York and after 16 Marvin Carlson, Theories of the Theatre (Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1984), 377. 17 Ibid., 379–​380. 18 Konstantin Stanislavski, An Actor Prepares, trans. Elizabeth Hapgood Reynolds (London:  Methuen, 1980), 177. Jean Benedetti, Stanislavsky: An Introduction (London: Methuen, 1982), 77–​78. 19 Elia Kazan, A Life (London, Sydney & Auckland:  Pan Books, 1989), 63–​64. Bruce McConachie, “Method Acting and the Cold War.” Theatre Survey 41: 1 (May 2000), 47–​68 (47–​48). 20 Foster Hirsch, “Actors and Acting,” eds. Wilmeth & Bigsby, The Cambridge History of American Theatre: Volume 2. 490–​513 (503). 21 John Gassner, “Tennessee Williams: Dramatist of Frustration.” The English Journal 37: 8 (October 1948), 387–​393  (391). 22 John Gassner, “Broadway in Review,” Educational Theatre Journal 5: 4 (December 1953), 349–​354 (351). 23 Ibid., 353–​354. John Chapman, Chicago Tribune, October 2, 1953. 24 John Gassner, “Forms of Modern Drama,” Comparative Literature 7: 2 (Spring 1955), 129–​143 (130). 25 Ibid., 136. 26 Ibid., 142–​143. Gassner, “Broadway in Review,” 14–​15. 27 John Gassner, Form and Idea in Modern Theatre (New York: Yale University Press, 1956). 28 Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, 144–​145. 29 Ibid., 143. 30 David George, The Modern Brazilian Stage (Austin: University of  Texas Press, 1992), 46. John French, “They Don’t Wear Black-​Tie: Intellectuals and Workers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1958–​1981,” International Labor and Working Class History, 59, 2001, 60–​80 (64). 31 For a detailed commentary on Brazilian playwrights nurtured through the Seminar, see Severino Albuquerque, “The Brazilian Theatre in the Twentieth Century,” eds. Roberto Gonzalez Echevarría & Enrique Pupo-​Walker, The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 269–​313. 32 Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, 165. 33 Ibid., 180–​181. 34 Ibid., 102–​104, 113–​115. 35 See especially Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-​Actors, 2nd ed., trans. Adrian Jackson (London & New York: Routledge, 2002), 29–​47. 36 Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, 102.

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2 ARENA THEATRE, BRAZIL, BOAL Between farces and allegories Priscila Matsunaga In this chapter,1 I report on a period of politicization for Brazilian theatre and of the formation of a new type of modern dramaturgy, staging, and training for actors, something which can be viewed not just as a cultural fact, a kind of aesthetic updating of the periphery, but something more like a work of political culture.2 In the first part, I briefly present the Arena Theatre of São Paulo (1953–​1972), a small collective comprised of university graduates, which became one of the main groups responsible for this development. I then lay out a critical commentary on Augusto Boal’s play Revolution in South America (1960–​1961), considered one of the first productions in Brazil to be influenced by the ideas of Bertolt Brecht. Then I return to some experiences of the Arena after the civil-​ military coup of 1964 in order to understand the text What Do You Think of the Art of the Left? from the program of the First Paulista Opinion Fair (1968). The two texts stand out for their historical importance:  the former, as mentioned, was the first play by a Brazilian author to show the influence of Bertolt Brecht and also employed an enduring technique, namely that of revue. The latter, a text of action, seeks a dialogue with artists confronted with the coup, who were trying to resist amidst the arbitrariness and violence of the military regime. The first text is fragmented—​from a scene in a factory to a fair, to a nightclub, to the police station, behind the scenes of an election—​which is compatible with a pseudo-​protagonist who in no way resembles an “autonomous” or “conscious” subject. What the play shows remains relevant to the confluence of art and politics: if we have very well typified enemies, how do we represent the workers’ struggle without attributing to them a self-​evident heroism? Therefore, within the Arena Theatre’s own work, Revolution in South America dialogues with They Don’t Wear Black-​Tie (1958), which is something of a jumping-​off point for a production interested in epic themes. It was in Black-​Tie that Brazilian theatre could witness the power of the dramatic form and, from its criticism, perceive its limits. In this play, the protagonist Tião decides, despite the activist trajectory of his father and girlfriend, not to join a strike. Augusto Boal reverses the political consciousness of the activist Otávio and makes José da Silva a loser. Though the collective does not appear on the scene in the 1958 play, Boal satirizes class alliances in Revolution, along with the negative portrayal of the Brazilian worker. In one way or another, whether by absence or farce, the Arena Theatre sought to address political and social issues. What Do You Think of the Art of the Left?, an aesthetic-​political program that sought to define the limits of theatre that aspired

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to be transformative, can be considered the “swan-​song” of the Arena Theatre. It was the last truly collective impulse, violated and censored by a dictatorship that seems, to this day, not to have disappeared.

Arena Theatre of São Paulo In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Brazil witnessed a great deal of debate and interest in changing Brazilian culture, with the participation of students, intellectuals, artists, and popular movements. Amongst other developments, Cinema Novo and modern political theatre emerged from this movement. Until that point, the Brazilian Theatre of Comedy (TBC) was considered its great modernizing agent with reference to the Rio–​São Paulo circuit.There were many controversies around the TBC and its bourgeois composition, which served to entertain an elite that wanted to see itself reflected on stage. Yet, in spite of its origin, TBC represented a culture the size of its possibilities, its radicalisms restricted by their formation: foreign directors modernizing the scene, with resources not yet used in Brazil, actors hired under an entrepreneurial model in a society known for precarious labor, and a repertoire of classical, contemporary, foreign, and Brazilian dramaturgical texts. The Arena Theatre of São Paulo, as the initiative of José Renato became known, began its activities in 1953, during a period of “decline” for the TBC, due to its high maintenance cost. The theatre used a format that, although already well known in popular circuses of the cities of the interior of Brazil, was hailed as a “new presentation technique” for professional theatre.3 Its debut was in the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo with the Stafford Dickens play This Night is Ours, which revealed the possibilities of embedding a popular practice in commercial theatre thanks to the low cost of production on the one hand and, on the other, a certain “intimacy” and “communication” between actors and public that came from its being staged in an arena and its dialogue with the expected “modernity.” In 1955, the group established itself in a fixed location in the center of São Paulo and became what we now know as one of the most important initiatives in the evolution of Brazilian theatre. Its work in training actors and playwrights was one of the major events in the politicization of the theatre, whose influence on Brazilian culture can be seen to this day. Many collaborations took place in the development of the Arena’s body of work; however, it was with the entrance of Boal in 1956, who came from a stay in the United States, and a merger with the Paulista Students’ Theatre (TPE), particularly Gianfrancesco Guarnieri and Oduvaldo Vianna Filho, that the group acquired its most featured faces. The first production under Boal’s direction was Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. According to Paula Chagas,4 it was through experimentation during the Of Mice and Men production that Boal initiated what became known as the Laboratory of Interpretation:  some exercises were developed by the director and actors, and others, mainly by Konstantin Stanislavski, were adapted and reworked for a “Brazilian interpretation.” In light of this desire to see the actor onstage without foreign mannerisms, a greater autonomy in relation to dramaturgy was sought by the Dramaturgy Seminar. According to one of the group’s actors, Nelson Xavier, the interest in participating in the Seminar, in which a playwright read a text of his own and was evaluated by the members, invariably with harsh criticism, was directly related to the political climate: strikes were breaking out, the countryside was being organized, the workers were organizing, the student class was very active. The country was alive. It was a society in which everyone was interested in making things better, in improving Brazil itself.5

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As the actor points out, while still using the historical and institutionalized names of the Laboratory of Interpretation and the Dramaturgy Seminar, what was taking place in these initial years of performance of the Arena Theatre was a search. A specific interest in Brazil and its struggle to overcome its inequalities went hand in hand with experimentation in new ways of doing theatre, including the audience’s role as a participant in the aesthetic phenomenon. It also involved the participation of the actors in developing the plays, field visits and presentations for trade unions, and studies and research into events as they were happening, as seen in Mutirão em novo sol. From the dramaturgy seminar, Revolution in South America was one of the main experiments and stands out in the historiography of Brazilian theatre for its strangeness. Its formal “unfinishedness,” as a “study of language” at a moment when such terminology was not even employed in schools of performing arts, went for a long time without proper analysis, which only came about with a study by Iná Camargo Costa, The Time of Epic Theatre in Brazil. There were many plays and activities, before and after the coup, which sought coherence in the repertoire and selection of interpretative processes that aimed to respond to immediate needs. It was constantly necessary to build a shared awareness with the public, which was amplified by the participation of students, so that the theatre became more than a place of beauty and contemplation. The activities of the Arena were suspended in 1970, after the production of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, by Brecht and directed by Boal. Within the limits of this chapter, this overview attempts to pose a question to those interested in Brazilian issues and the theatrical effort to represent them. The choice reflects the theme and the form: who was the audience who first viewed Revolution in South America? What were their interests? After 1964 and up to 1968, when censorship became harsher and the persecution, torture, and imprisonment more intensive, to what end and to whom did the author pose the question: What Do You Think of the Art of the Left?

The first farce Revolution in South America consists of two acts and 15 scenes. José da Silva is the character who acts as the connecting thread of the piece, with a similar dramaturgical treatment to the compadre (compère) used in revue in Brazil in the early twentieth century. Framed by a prologue describing the international conditions and political situation, the play deals with the mechanisms of manipulation used in an election by the ruling-​class characters, among other things. Contrary to the implication of the title, the dramatic development through the snapshot-​ scenes models the counter-​revolutionary movement: as an opening, in the first scene (factory, lunch time) Zequinha Tapioca and José da Silva talk about the possibility of revolution as they perceive that they are being exploited. Everything seems to be within reach—​both the revolution and the wage increase:

Zequinha:  It just won’t do: it’s all wrong! The only way to fix it is revolution! José da Silva:  How do you make a revolution? Zequinha: You get a revolver, a knife, a stick, anything! Go out on the street screaming that we want a raise. Then they’ll give it! José: That won’t work. Zequinha:  If all the people work together, it will! It has to! José: Then let’s do it! We’ll all go out on the street with knives, sticks and razors! Then we’ll shout:  we want a raise! We want a raise! We want a raise! (gets excited by the 24

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sight of food). Take another five: let me take another sniff! (pays. Takes a deep breath. The chewing movement leads to extreme excitement). And if she comes to scold me, I’ll say: Woman, I’m a revolutionary now! I fight with knives, sticks and razors! Let’s have a revolution! And whoever’s a man will follow me! And you can go to the kitchen and make me some beans with dessert rice! (beats clenched fist). I  want marmalade! Marmalade! (Enter wife. José now speaks softly and cautiously). Marmalade…6 Thus, at the beginning of the play, still within the context of the political situation given by the prologue (Cold War and Cuban Revolution), opting for the comical circus method that decomposes stable notions, the play expresses an acute realization about Brazilian social life, with an electoral process as its motif. Choruses and distancing methods are widely used, and the characters receive farcical treatment: social stereotypes, without dramatic or psychological development. At the end of the play, José da Silva, having fulfilled his trajectory of seeking a single goal, to feed himself—​which is why he sniffs Zequinha Tapioca’s lunch—​dies after voting and getting his first bite of marmalade, a dessert that popularly signifies shady dealings. Accompanied by many elements that aid in scenic composition, Revolution in South America is considered one of the principal Brazilian works of art in a period of great change.This period saw shifts in themes and theatrical forms—​and the desire for democracy and overcoming social inequality as a motivation for the denunciation of US imperialism and the negotiations that oriented public life. In the first work operating on Brechtian principles, the main character, according to the playwright, presents only negative qualities: Firstly, José da Silva is exploited, neglected and betrayed. Exploited by his guardian angel, neglected by his rulers, betrayed by his friend. Secondly, José does nothing but complain and meekly keep the faith in better days to come. I rejected making him the politicized worker, aware of his real problems and their solutions. José presents only negative aspects of the worker: all his effort is only directed at a better lunch and that’s enough for him.7 Revolution in South America, a kind of upside-​down remake of They Don’t Wear Black-​Tie by Gianfrancesco Guarnieri,8 staged by the Arena9 in 1958, is a dramaturgy born on the periphery of capitalism: José is a man who died/​But you are all still alive/​Here the Revolution ends/​There outside, life begins; and life is to understand/​Go away/​Go and live/​You can all forget the play/​Just remember what we say/​It’s a joke while you’re here/​But it’s for real when you’re out there/​There the rulers go/​Here nobody stays/​Just the man who died/​And the woman who says Amen.10 The purpose of the narrative is to connect the dots. The prologue to the play, as mentioned earlier, calls attention to the world that is on a knife’s edge: there is revolt in Algeria, Paraguay, Tibet, and Cuba. With the idea that Brazil is an island surrounded by imperialists, the narrator asks the viewer to leave the world “outside” during the time of the performance only to return at the end and ask that they go back to the real world. This suspension, which has a purpose of amusement in the same form as the business it denounces, from the perspective of the spectator in 1960, seemed a caricature with a socialist spirit, since this horizon was attainable. In his own way, 25

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Boal operated a dialectic of suspension, signaling a non-​overriding limit for artistic exposition, when critical reading is installed in the audience/​stage dialogue. In the first performance of the play, José da Silva was played by Flavio Migliaccio, an actor whose performance embodied, for the Arena cast, the Brazilian type. His death was no accident. For the revolutionary dialectic, that worker “should” die when he eats the marmalade. The play presented a kind of perception that dialogued with an enlightened audience that was interested in thinking about Brazilian issues. US imperialism and the political-​economic elite provided the characters to be satirized. José da Silva, who is a coin passed from hand to hand, was an anti-​hero defeated by a democratic sensibility. The play ridiculed the enemies and received acclaim from an audience at the corner of the socialist revolution. The play developed the “analysis of a character faced with a problem” (an issue for the psychological treatment of the dramatic character) along with an interest in constructing a panoramic vision incompatible with any variation of political realism (and therefore averse to the naturalistic habit). Finally, it “makes the spectator participate fully in the experience of the man of this century” (a political interest). Staged today, it would face the same extra-​aesthetic questions: the counter-​revolution still operates and is still liable to ridicule, which seems to be a powerful critical weapon. The other point, the problems of workers’ organization itself, just as it was omitted from Revolution in South America, is absent from the stages, as is necessary in reality. Moving forward, the issue of the difficulties of political organization in Boal’s work will reappear in another key—​no longer the factory worker in a play, but cultural workers themselves—​in What Do You Think of the Art of the Left?

Workers, people, and heroism The First Paulista Opinion Fair, according to Sérgio de Carvalho, is one of the most important events in the history of the country’s political theatre. I  have the impression that the Paulista Fair (…) [was] the last great attempt at representing an aesthetic, political and economic crisis that had been inflicted on the country’s cultural production from 1964 onward.11 The Paulista Opinion Fair was composed of six plays (The Leader, by Lauro César Muniz; Animalia, by Gianfrancesco Guarnieri; The Revenue, by Jorge Andrade; Green I Want You Green, by Plínio Marcos; O Sr. Doutor, by Bráulio Pedroso; and The Moon is Too Small and the Road is Dangerous, by Augusto Boal), with musical intermezzos—​featuring Ary Toledo, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Sérgio Ricardo, and Edu Lobo—​and contributions from various visual artists. It is important to emphasize that this is an attempt to represent the crisis, something that had been an interest of Boal’s since his first theatrical experiences at the Arena Theatre: first dealing with the permanent Brazilian crisis embodied by socio-​economic inequality, and later the crisis generated by the civil-​military coup of 1964.The difference lies in the diagnosis: He began this task first as playwright and director, as head of the Arena Theatre beginning in 1956, in partnership with José Renato, then as the group’s Artistic Director from 1960 and as a supervisor at the Dramaturgy Seminar. Boal sought to represent the contradictions generated by the various styles attempted within the Arena collective. He negotiated between the “naturalism” of They Don’t Wear Black-​Tie (1958) and Chapetuba Football Club (1959), the “farce” of Revolution in South America (1960), the “comedy” of José from the Cradle to the Grave—​made in partnership with the Workshop Theatre12 in 1961, along with such classics as The Mandrake and The Best Judge, the King—​and post-​coup musical experiments such as Opinion (1964), Arena Tells of Zumbi (1965), 26

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and Arena Tells of Tiradentes (1967). Boal sought to aesthetically model the Brazilian experience with his “bourgeois incompleteness,” which made him deny the dramatic standard of the “autonomous” individual, even in crisis, but how could he model the experience of the subject on the periphery of capitalism, especially the people? His interest in narrative forms, present in his own plays, indicates his organizational impulse in broader terms, as seen in What Do You Think of the Art of the Left?, which marks, then, another political moment, soliciting debate between groups and artists on the Left: The reactionaries always seek, on any pretext, to divide the left.The struggle that must be conducted against them is sometimes controlled by them, within the left itself. For this reason, we—​festive, serious or unsmiling—​must be on our guard. We who, in varying degrees, desire radical changes in art and society, must avoid the tactical differences between each artistic group turning into a global suicide strategy. What reactionaries want is to see the left transformed into a sack of cats; they want the left to defeat itself. We must all react against this: we have a duty to prevent it.13 After a presentation calling for the union of the Left, Boal claims a privileged position for the people, as the interlocutor of the theatrical dialogue, in an attempt to reiterate the experiences of the Arena itself and the Popular Culture Centers14—​despite their differences—​before the coup. The “characterization of the people” was one of the problems faced by the Arena, both in its theatrical modeling and its target audience.The question was linked in theoretical terms to the discussion of the “role of the hero” in post-​1964 plays, such as Arena Tells of Zumbi (1965) and Arena Tells of Tiradentes (1967), since they dealt with historical-​mythic figures from the world of Brazilian struggles.15 The debate between Boal and Anatol Rosenfeld, the essayist and literary critic who was responsible for the “theoretical” introduction of Brecht to Brazil, can be traced abundantly in bibliographical material. The playwright defends the hero, in this specific case Tiradentes, with Rosenfeld problematizing the mystifying demotion necessary for this character (the mythical hero) to gain prominence. As an aside, it is important to observe that other great critics, Decio de Almeida Prado and Sábato Malgadi, when comparing Zumbi and Tiradentes, saw important aesthetic advances for the Arena project in the latter play. The first part of the 1967 edition of Arena Tells of Tiradentes contains five articles by Augusto Boal: “Funeral Eulogy of Brazilian Theatre from the Perspective of the Arena,”“The Necessity of the Joker,” “The Goals of the Joker,” “The Structures of the Joker,” and “Tiradentes: Preliminary Questions—​Quixotes and Heroes.” In the last article, which discusses the program of the play, except for the addendum “Quixotes and Heroes,” Boal deals specifically with the play and the defense of the hero. For the playwright, the validity of a play must be considered mainly in relation to its target audience (…) the means employed do not matter, only the desired objectives. The main objective of Arena Tells of  Tiradentes is the analysis of a liberatory movement that, theoretically, could have been successful.16 However, Boal and Guarnieri do not simply analyze a movement. Of the spectators of the Arena in 1967, some sought information to understand the coup of 1964 and to come to a conclusion on their responsibility in the defeat, in addition to passing a judgement: “are we not all baptizing our daughters while Barbacenas and other viscounts put their soldiers on the street?”17 According to Claudia de Arruda Campos, 27

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here too a failed liberatory movement is taken and the reasons for failure are examined, but now taking care to demonstrate that it was perfectly avoidable. It works on the assumption that the Inconfidência Mineira, theoretically, could have been successful (…) That said, the frustration can only be attributed to issues of political-​ideological order. Two interdependent reasons are presented:  the composition of the allegedly revolutionary group and the lack of participation in the movement by the people. With such a view of the facts, the play distances itself from the unrestricted complacency present in Zumbi. The criticism in Tiradentes extends to the defeated.18 We may see that self-​criticism was not only done in Tiradentes. Entranced Earth, by Glauber Rocha, a film released in April of the same year, also dealt with the subject but in a more provocative tone that was also the aesthetic of another theatrical group, Teatro Oficína. The unmasking tone caused by the destruction of conventions and possible pacts between public and stage, if not violent (the destruction) like that of  Teatro Oficína, but didactic, with the explanation “that there are Brazilians of all kinds,” does not confront as it could the Brazilian problem. The conventions that are partially destroyed are aesthetical and not political. As Roberto Schwarz explains: The intention is to produce a critical image of the ruling classes, and another, more compelling, of the man who gives his life for the cause (…) The Brechtian method, in which intelligence plays a large role, is applied to the enemies of the revolutionary; to this is fitted the least intelligent method, that of enthusiasm. Politically, this formal impasse seems to me to correspond to an as yet incomplete moment for the critique of populism. What is the social composition, and composition of interests, of the popular movement? This is the question to which populism responds poorly. Because the composition of the masses is not homogeneous, it seems to them that it is better to unite them with enthusiasm than to separate them by the critical analysis of their interests. However, only through this criticism would the real themes of political theatre emerge: the alliances and problems of organization, which dislocate notions of sincerity and enthusiasm out of the field of bourgeois universalism. On the other hand, this does not mean that by approaching these subjects the theatre will improve. It may not even be possible to stage it.19 But isn’t it possible that Boal and Guarnieri, perhaps without being aware, tentatively expressed “the alliances and problems of organization” in Arena Tells of Tiradentes? The role would fall to secondary characters. Thus, the scene in Casa das Pilatas recalls, with a different composition, José da Silva from Revolution in South America. The organizational difficulties that are seen in secondary scenes and characters are, for the critic, one of the current interests in the plays of the Arena. Perhaps, among conditions such as censorship, this provided the impetus for Theatre of the Oppressed, which, instead of making a mimesis of the “people,” asks the “oppressed” to do so.The formal impasse emphasized by Schwarz would require the political critique of populism in order to be resolved, something that Brazilian theatre, in the complexity of its gradations, has not yet faced. Returning to the text What Do You Think of the Art of the Left?, Boal identifies three dominant tendencies in the theatre of the time and names them: Neo-​Realism; Always Standing, and Chacrinha and Dercy in white shoes (a reference to Tropicalism). Certainly, these tendencies were not the only ones, and so the first topic of What Do You Think of the Art of the Left? is

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the relationship between the repertoire of plays and the market, which seems to exempt these initiatives from the bourgeois concerns and to situate them as a student concern.20 The first question to be addressed, in Boal’s terms, is the resumption of the “people as interlocutor of the theatrical dialogue.” It was a phenomenon that was experienced in all its contradictions before the coup of 1964 and which was aborted by the persecution of the union leaders, politicians, and organized groups with the installation of the military in power. The instruction that the theatre should leave private spaces and go to circuses, squares, stadiums, and trucks projects a horizon for the plays that, as we shall see, would not materialize, given that the Fair itself would suffer great censorship. In the same year, even, the AI-​521 decree was passed, instituting ample powers for the President of the Republic to decree the recess of the National Congress, Legislative Assemblies, and Council Chambers. Apart from the activities of the Arena itself, with examples of neo-​realist and exhortative experiences, a kind of agitprop, Boal would focus his discussion on “Chacrinian-​Dercinesque-​ Neo-​Romantic”  Tropicalism, with representation in music and in its theatrical “correlate,” Teatro Oficína and its The King of the Candle (1967) with text by Oswald de Andrade from 1933.22 Among the details of theatrical Tropicalism, Boal identifies and criticizes one point: its lack of lucidity, a chaotic tendency that approached the Right, a movement that “fears definitions.” The artistic demand of Boal at the end of the text resumes the initial questioning: “enough to criticize the audiences on Saturday,” as a position against the bourgeois morality of the usual audience—​“we must now seek the people.” Teatro Oficína’s director, José Celso Martinez Correa, according to the program of the play, was interested in the freedom offered by Oswald de Andrade’s text, an audiovisual expression on par with Brazilian surrealism. In this scenic aspect, he pinpointed an interpretation of Brazil: mystifying a world where history is only an extension of the history of the powerful countries. And where there is no real action, modification of the matter of the world, only the dream world of the make-​believe has a place. The unification of everything formally will take place in the spectacle through the various metaphors present in the text, in the props, in the scenery, in the songs. Everything seeks to transmit this reality of much ado about nothing, where all the ways tried to overcome it until now have proven impracticable. Everything seeks to show the immense corpse that has been the non-​History of Brazil in these recent years, to which we all light our candle to bring, through our daily activity, new life.23 The allegorical modeling flirted with the feeling of defeat in 1964, which also operated in Cinema Novo. It was a moment in which, due to the awareness of the losses and of the hopes that were aroused at the beginning of the 1960s, the provocation of the spectator was designed by using distancing as an aggressive act. This proposal could not, contrary to what Boal supposed, “re-​encounter” the people. This proposal never went to the meeting with the people, being more at ease in the leisure spaces of weekends. This does not mean, however, that those artistic processes were not borne from the activity of artists at a time of intense ideological polarization, of attempts at survival, out of real interest in theatrical and cinematographic production. In the copy from Augusto Boal’s personal collection, the text What Do You Think of the Art of the Left? has a postscript, which gives notice of the necessity of organization of all political and aesthetic gradations:

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P.S. –​We distinguish, but the right does not; São Paulo, 5 June (URGENT) –​Elements of the Federal Censorship made 84 cuts in the text of the “Paulista Opinion Fair” consisting of 63 pages.The maritime police have twice surrounded the theatre to prevent the performance of the show. São Paulo, 18 July (URGENT) –​Unidentified elements have invaded and plundered the Galpão Theatre where the play “Roda Viva” by Chico Buarque de Hollanda has been performed, which is considered an offense against morals and private property. São Paulo, 4 August (URGENT) –​Interpreters of Plinio Marcos’ plays, Dois Perdidos numa noite suja and Navalha na carne, received death threats by anonymous letters left at the doors of their respective theatres. It was in this state of affairs that Theatre of the Oppressed experienced its first experiments, in Center 2 of the Arena Theatre, against a backdrop of beatings, censorship, disappearances, and depredation.

Our end of the century According to Roberto Schwarz in End of the Century, there was a national developmentalist imagination in the Brazil of the 1950s and 1960s that produced, among other readings, a conviction “according to which the firmness of anti-​imperialism depended on a modification of the correlation of forces between social classes within one’s own country.”24 To illustrate this conviction, the critic indicates the vigor of Glauber Rocha’s Cinema Novo and the “aesthetics of hunger” of  Third World-​ism as part of the “European-​civilized” world, in what could be the correlate of a dependency theory. The coup of 1964 ended the cultural dynamism that has brought about this interest in works made in Brazil, and, after briefly upholding the national developmentalist ideology, its cycle came to an end with “two oil shocks, the debt crisis and, above all, the new technological leaps and the globalization of the economy, which built up a wall and transformed the landscape.”25 According to Schwarz, following the argument of Roberto Kurz, one of the true issues and moments of our time is the disintegration of national illusions. When the total commercialization of culture—​and not just national culture—​is made visible by the fluctuation of advertising, and when it does not conceal any economic interest, what remains for the critique of art, and for the Left, too? Or for theatre with political pretensions? Do performances like those of the Arena Theatre still have impact? Are the people still an operator capable of articulating, even with conceptual imprecision, manifestations on the Right and the Left? On the ideological plane, it seems so, on the Left and Right. The magic words are trotted out every time a new measure is taken by the government, “in the name of the Brazilian people.” And to these, we add another, which has been going through debate: democracy, after we went through another coup, now also in the media, in 2016. It seems that other terms such as “class” or “worker” have fallen into disuse, although reality insists on demonstrating their vitality. In this chapter, I  highlighted some developments and texts to consider how the political, social, and economic context and the conditions of production, modified by the civil-​military coup in Brazil in 1964, and especially with Institutional Act No. 5 of 1968, imposed the end of the democratizing dimension of a process involving, among other spheres, the theatre.This period, despite all its ambiguities and contradictions, produced the most vigorous political culture in Brazilian history, in its propositional and less residual character. 30

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Notes 1 Editors’ note: This chapter was translated from Portuguese and edited by Multilingual Connections, a translation service in Evanston, Illinois, USA, commissioned by the editors of this volume. We have made additional English edits to clarify the author’s meaning, with permission of the translation service. 2 Érika Rocha and Sérgio de Carvalho, Trabalho de Cultura Política, for the first publication of Primeira Feira Paulista de Opinião (São Paulo: Editora Expressão Popular, 2016). 3 Joyce Teixeira Nunes Porto, Marisa Nunes (orgs), Teatro de Arena (São Paulo:  Centro Cultural São Paulo, 2007), 82 p. in PDF –​(Cadernos de pesquisa; v. 20). 4 Paula Chagas, Teoria e Prática do Seminário de Dramaturgia do Teatro de Arena, 1st ed. (São Paulo: Dobra editorial, 2015). 5 Statement given to the author, February 2014. 6 Augusto Boal, Revolução na America do Sul (São Paulo: Massao Ohno Editora, 1960). 7 Ibid., 7. 8 Gianfrancesco Guarnieri (1934–​2006), an actor, playwright, director, and author of one of the principal plays of Brazilian theatre, They Don’t Wear Black-​Tie (1958). Essentially, the play features workers involved in discussions about participating in a strike. However, the subject is always reported in the scenes, and the workers’ meetings themselves are not presented. This allowed the critics to perceive the limits of the dramatic form and the interpersonal conflicts that are contrasted with “epic” subjects, such as the strike. 9 The Arena Theatre transformed Brazilian theatre, encouraging the authorship of Brazilian playwrights. It was responsible for the development of great playwrights, besides being a space for scenic experimentation. 10 Boal, Revolução na America do Sul, 109. 11 Sérgio Carvalho, “Dramaturgia política da I  Feira de Opinião,” in Bucho Ruminante, Revista da Antropofágica no.1 (June 2014), www.antropofagica.com/​revista-​bucho-​ruminante. 12 The Workshop Theatre (Teatro Oficina), still active, began its work occupying the same territory as the Arena Theatre. After the coup of 1964, it adopted a posture considered avant-​garde next to the political theatre practiced by the Arena. 13 Mimeographed text. 14 The Popular Culture Centers were a focal point for bonding between artists and social movements. The best-​known CPC established its activities in the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1962, with former members of the Arena Theatre: Chico de Assis and Oduvaldo Vianna Filho. 15 When writing Arena Tells of Zumbi, the authors used, among other sources, the novel Ganga-​Zumba by João Felício dos Santos, which tells the story of Quilombo dos Palmares and its main leader, Zumbi. The reference to the leader of a territory of resistance during Brazilian slavery corresponded to the desire to scenically portray the struggle for freedom, as in Arena Tells of Tiradentes. In this work, the authors used extensive documentation on the “Inconfidência Mineira,” an ill-​fated colonial liberation attempt (1792), conducted by, among others, Joaquim José da Silva Xavier (Tiradentes). In addition to the historical issues, it is important to note that, during this period, due to the scenic experiments, Augusto Boal created the Joker System, a dramaturgic-​scenic method that responded to aesthetic, economic, and political needs. The function of the joker is summed up in the texts of the publication of Arena Tells of Tiradentes. 16 Augusto Boal and Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, Arena Conta Tiradentes (São Paulo: Sagarana, 1967) 45–46. 17 Ibid., 50. 18 Cláudia de Arruda Campos, Zumbi,Tiradentes (São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1988). 19 Roberto Schwarz, “Cultura e política, 1964–​1969,” in Que horas são: ensaios (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1987). 20 Editors’ Note: It was significant for these initiatives to be considered student concerns, as the student movement was at that time very active, the only movement that scared the dictatorship. 21 Institutional Act no. 5, of December 13, 1968, gave wide power to the presidency of the Republic, then occupied by the general Artur da Costa e Silva, to intervene in the legislative process, as well as states and municipalities. Political rights were suspended. 22 Oswald de Andrade’s play was staged by Teatro Oficína 30 years after its publication. At the time, the theatre groups refused to take it to the stage. Oswald de Andrade (1890–​1954) was one of the founders of the Anthropophagic Movement and Brazilian literary modernism. Tropicalism, an imprecise term that covers music, performance, cinema, and theatre, had in Caetano Veloso its main international exponent.

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Matsunaga 23 José Celso Martinez Corrêa, Primeiro ato: cadernos, depoimentos, entrevistas (1958–​1974), sel., org. e notas de Ana Helena Camargo de Staal (São Paulo: Ed. 34, p. 1998), 2–​29. 24 Roberto Schwarz, “Fim de século,” in Sequencias brasileiras: ensaios (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1999), 157. 25 Ibid., 158.

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3 AUGUSTO BOAL AND THE NUESTRA AMÉRICA THEATRE Douglas Estevam

The violence of military dictatorships and coups reached its highest levels in Latin America in 1974.1 A year before, an extremely violent coup had been carried out in Chile, where President Salvador Allende died with a rifle in hand at the Palacio de la Moneda. A  few months earlier, the military had closed the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, implementing the coup in Uruguay. In 1974, the death of Juan Perón would have great impact in Argentina, paving the way for another coup. Augusto Boal, who was exiled in Argentina, simultaneously worked on the organization, conception, and finalization of two books. The first of these, published later that same year, would become the classic Teatro do Oprimido (Theatre of the Oppressed). The second, Técnicas Latinoamericanas de Teatro Popular:  Una Revolución Copernicana al Revés (Latin American Techniques of Popular Theatre: A Reverse Copernican Revolution), published just a few months later in 1975, would, just like the first, serve to systematize the experiences that the theatrologist would call Latin American techniques of popular theatre, analyzing a set of continental experiences. The subtitle of the second work was taken from the title of one of the articles that makes up the book. In this article, Boal deals with the Latin American Theatre Festival of Manizales, held in Colombia. The importance of this festival, with which Boal associates an ongoing Copernican revolution in the theatrical production of the continent, stems from the fact that “it is a concrete fact that Manizales offered the first possibility of dialogue among Latin American groups.”2 The Colombian Festival, which first took place in 1968, was the beginning of an intense process of understanding and exchanging experiences, searching for new artistic and organizational forms, discussions, and joint works between theatre groups and artists from around the continent. This collaboration continued to consolidate and take form through several national and international meetings in different countries of the continent, reaching its peak in 1974 with the consolidation of the Frente de Trabalhadores da Cultura de Nuestra América (Cultural Workers’ Front of Our America). Augusto Boal was one of the builders of this complex process of continental coordination. Enrique Buenaventura, who was—​along with Augusto Boal—​one of the key players in the construction of the cooperation, also undertook the effort to systematize popular theatre experiences during those decades, and he listed the constituent elements of such theatre. According to him, the experience would have a “character of theatrical movement.”3 The issue of “dramaturgy” would be a central point, with the preparation of a national theme and form (including the “nationalization of the classics” phase). The aim was a “break from certain 33

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traditions,” both practical and theoretical, with a focus on the process of artistic production, the construction of a “new relationship with the public” under new conditions and spaces that would influence production and dramaturgy itself, and finally, the formation of “new poetics” adopting characteristics of the socio-​historical context.4 In his analyses and systematizations, Boal operates with similar categories, in consonance with aspects of theatrical production and reflection from that historical moment. The preoccupation with creating socio-​historical poetics is present throughout his works, and the initial title of Teatro do Oprimido was Poéticas Políticas (“Political Poetics”). The problematized, contradictory, and dialogical nature of the relationship with the people and the dialectic of the internal differentiations of the categories thereof are both addressed in the first part of Técnicas Latinoamericanas de Teatro Popular, which resumes a text also written in Brazil in 1970 entitled Categories of Popular Theatre. The work developed in the Arena Theatre and the search for a national dramaturgy was extended by the execution of the dramaturgy seminars there and the laboratory investigation into the interpretative field; these combined a pedagogical and procedural dimension of the work, generating organizational and collective movements, such as the Popular Culture Centers (Centros de Cultura Popular—​CPC). These are some of the formative moments of Boal’s journey before his exile, which were part of a common dynamic with local peculiarities shared by various Latin American groups. Drawing on the multiplicity of forms that constitute the production process of this new Latin American theatre, Boal articulates two aspects of the then-​current Copernican Revolution underway which would constitute a “continental project.”5 The center of this Revolution was the struggle against “cultural colonialism,” against mimicry, and against those who want to “be as good as Europeans.” The image refers to an inversion of the poles of the continent’s cultural relations. If, until then, we had been “satellites of metropolitan art,” we would now be the “center of our artistic universe.” The complex and contradictory festival of Manizales was the “battlefield between Latin American theatre and colonialist theatre,” an arena to combat cultural colonialism. But there would be no cultural liberation without popular liberation, which was the second aspect of the revolution. There is also a reversal in terms of artistic production. Until then, artists had occupied the center of the relationship with the public, but “now the opposite must hold true, and the spectator (the people), must be the center of the aesthetic phenomenon.” “Spectators must also be producers,” and “the true popular artist is the one who, besides knowing how to produce art, must know how to teach the people to produce it as well.” Boal summarized by saying that “what must be popularized is not the finished product but the means of production. In this sense, fortunately, the revolution is under way in many of our countries.”6 Boal formulated these notions in early 1973. One year previously, there was a semantic shift that would reflect much of the significance of the ongoing changes with the creation of the Cultural Workers’ Front. There was no longer talk of artists, but rather of cultural workers. The Front’s organizational process—​after passing through several countries and incorporating Chicanos from the USA, the rural theatre of Mexico, and works with indigenous groups in the Caribbean—​pointed toward another conception of art, artists, and the function of art itself, formulated from other social parameters and factors determined by the dynamics of the ongoing struggles on the continent.

1968: organizational movement The radical and critical theatrical production joining with a new organizational form from the festivals begun in 1968 was the result of the historical process which started with the triumph of 34

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the Cuban Revolution in 1959. A new impetus for continental integration emerged in January 1966, when a meeting with delegates from 82 countries, mostly from Latin America, Asia, and Africa, created the organization known as Tricontinental with the aim of fighting for liberation, national sovereignty, and the peoples’ right to self-​determination. It was in the magazine of the organization, Tricontinental, that Che Guevara’s text appeared with the famous slogan of creating two, three, or many Vietnams. Augusto Boal arrived in Cuba7 at the moment when the island was living under the continental influence of the so-​called “meditation of 68.” That year, in 1968, the first Latin American Festival of the Manizales Theatre, the Cultural Congress of Havana (with 450 artists, writers, scientists, and educators from 70 countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe), and the First International Theatre Festival of Havana were held. With the festivals, Latin American cultural integration was gaining ground with concrete initiatives to bring together independent and university theatre groups. A Standing Committee on International Festivals was created, of which the Cuban magazine Conjunto, from Casa de las Américas, would come to serve as a kind of central body. The “meditation of 68” began as a result of the First Theatre Seminar of Cuba, organized by theatre workers in late 1967. The seminar’s manifesto set the tone for the concept that would be in dispute at festivals beginning around that time. The document states that “art, people, and revolution are three values that not only can, but must, overlap with one another,” and then goes on to say that “theatre workers should simultaneously be people, artists, and revolutionaries.”8 In the declaration of principles of the seminar, it was declared that “our principle must be, above all, to create theatre in all corners of the country, regardless of whether or not it has theatre.” The issue of the relationship with the public is also present: “theatre is a dialectic and living form of communication that tries to establish the historical responsibility of the individual within society.” It is also stated that “it is not through populism that the theatre becomes popular,” advancing the notion that such a becoming happens through “neither paternalism before the mass audiences able to go to the theatre for the first time in their history, nor facilitating concessions … The creation of popular theatre is linked to the creation of a new public,” and it ends by stating that “the maximum expression of the usefulness of this instrument (the theatre) can be seen today in Vietnam, where, even under bombing, theatre is made.”9 In 1968, Vietnam inflicted significant losses on the United States. In Técnicas, Boal seeks to systematize the experiences of the continent; the symbolic reference of Vietnam is so great that he also inserts an article by a journalist about a presentation by a theatrical group of the National Liberation Front (NLF) of Vietnam, made before 6,000 people. The reflection that renewed theatrical thought in 1968, which spread through the various meetings taking place on the continent, was the result of an evaluation of the limits and contradictions of the historical and cultural process engendered from the end of the 1950s. Culturally, one of the most important initiatives of the Cuban Revolution was the creation of the Casa de las Américas in 1959, which played a decisive role in Latin American cultural integration. One of the concerns of Casa de las Américas was the creation of a new Latin American dramaturgy. To this end, in 1961 the Casa began to organize a series of Latin American festivals. These first meetings still did not have the format that would consolidate in 1968 as a place of collaboration and articulation, critical reflection, and exchanges of experiences between groups of different countries.With the aim of presenting the Latin American dramaturgy to the Cuban population, the selected pieces were assembled by the groups of the country itself. The award-​ winning play performed in 1964 was Quatro Quadras de Terra (Four Squares of Earth) by the Brazilian playwright Oduvaldo Vianna Filho, also known as Vianinha. Actor and playwright of the Arena group, his production is the result of the dramaturgy seminars organized by Boal. 35

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From an organizational perspective,Vianinha was one of the people responsible for the creation of the Popular Culture Center (CPC). In the emblematic year of 1968, the first moment of the “Copernican Revolution” spoken of by Boal also took place with the execution of the First Latin ​American Theatre Festival of the University of Manizales. The historical moment seemed to hint at a change in the position of artists, which was advancing in relation to the forms of aesthetic-​cultural intervention of the first phase of popular theatre that began in the late 1950s. Pablo Neruda, Miguel Angel Asturias, Atahualpa del Cioppo, the Uruguayan Warehouse, and Santiago Garcia from Colombia were all invited to the event, with the latter two playing an important role in the future of the Festival and in its political nature. Possible dialogues between the Arena Theatre of Boal and Galpão de Atahualpa would have taken place in 1961, when the Uruguayan group put on the play Eles Não Usam Black-​Tie (They Don’t Use Black-​Tie). Iná Camargo Costa notes that there may have been a “process of exchange” which the coup of 1964 would have interrupted.10

Exile and continental integration When Boal was forced to leave Brazil after being arrested and tortured, he became actively involved in the process of building theatrical cooperation between workers of Latin American culture. In 1971, Augusto Boal arrived in Argentina, where he would begin his Latin American exile. In September of that same year, he participated in the Latin American Theatre Festival of Manizales for the first time. Earlier that year, he had been kidnapped and tortured. A major international campaign was held for his release. Joanne Pottlitzer, Director of the Theatre of Latin America (TOLA), had organized international support. Arthur Miller, President of the International Organization to Support Directors and Writers, had promoted an international campaign. To denounce the arrest and repression of the dictatorship in April, the Arena Theatre traveled to Nancy, France, where they presented Arena Conta Zumbi and the experiences of Teatro Jornal (Newspaper Theatre). As a result of the great international pressure, Boal got his “freedom,” affirming that he would meet with the Arena Theatre. Between 1964 and 1968, the French festival at Nancy had become an important venue for Latin American groups to meet, discuss the political situation on the continent, and establish contacts between Latino groups. By providing a meeting place for the groups of the Latin American continent, which until 1968 did not have many channels for dialogue, Nancy was also one of the stages on which the Manizales Festival was being created. Also presented were the Teatro Jornal (Newspaper Theatre) and the Núcleo Theater Group, which trained in the Arena, and, when it returned to Brazil, went on to create the work Doce América, Latino-​América, a collage piece conceived from the meetings with Latino groups in France. While arrested, Boal rehearsed the Brazilian version of his play about Bolivar, known as Arena Conta Bolivar, and he also worked with the Teatro Jornal group. Teatro Jornal, Boal’s first form of response to the resurgence of the 1968 coup in Brazil, would also be the first concrete effort to socialize the means of theatrical production. The organizational dimension was part of the experience that unfolded in the formation of about 40 groups and different types of cells. The “creation of a new technique of popular theater,” in which the “people themselves performed theater rather than just receiving it as mere consumers” was seen as a “necessity” in light of the increasing fascist repression implanted by the coup of 1968, with military and police intervention in unions, schools, or colleges and also with spies among workers and students.This category of popular theatre was “the theater made by the people and for the people.”11 In January of 1971, shortly before his arrest in Brazil in February, Boal had visited Argentina and participated in the First Meeting of Latin American Theatre Directors, with representatives 36

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from seven countries. In this meeting, several goals were established to advance Latin American integration, such as the exchange of information on creative processes, the production of materials, and the creation of national centers of Latin American Theatre, of which the Arena Theatre would be one of the references.12 Boal began his participation in the Festival of Manizales as the meeting began to produce greater results, entering its fourth edition and advancing on the concerns and objectives proposed in the three previous meetings in its approach to the theme of Latin American reality and integration. There was a higher number of pieces from the continent, with ten Latin American authors and six pieces collectively created. Another significant change in this edition was the openness to greater participation from independent groups, thus distinguishing the Festival from university theatre groups characteristic of the first editions. The competitive character of the event was also eliminated, at Boal’s request of the other jurors. In order to better structure the debates, dialogues, and formulations that had been established, a colloquium was organized with five meetings on the theme of Latin American Expression, and a council was also established which was responsible for organizing the cycle of debates. In the final communiqué,13 the jurors reinforced the importance of Manizales for the “development and integration of Latin American theatre within the political process of liberating the continent” and recommended the use of Latin American texts. Assuring the cohesion between the experiences of the other festivals and meetings, the communiqué reinforced the decisions made at the First Meeting of Directors held earlier that year in Buenos Aires and highlighted the need to organize more workshops and seminars to ensure training at different levels. In this edition of the Festival, there were also cinema shows, Latin American paintings, and a seminar for directors, organized to provide categories to analyze the presented works. After four consecutive editions of the Colombian Festival it was suspended, and, in 1972, the following year, it did not take place at all. Resistance to the increasingly political and contested nature of the meeting barred its execution.

The Cultural Workers’ Front Following the proposals presented in Colombia, the meeting continued the process of integration between the groups which took place in 1972 in Ecuador, when the First Latin American Theatre Festival of Quito was held. It was at this meeting that the fundamental decision was made to create the Latin American Front of Culture Workers. Having abolished its competitive nature, a group serving as a “guiding jury” was formed for this Festival, composed of Augusto Boal, Atahualpa del Cioppo, and Enrique Buenaventura. The group had the function of criticizing the forums and meetings and organizing the seminars. The creation of the Front advanced the cohesion of theatrical production on the continent. As part of the program14—​ beginning with a reading of the political conjuncture in which they stood against the North American annexation of Latin countries into a state of dependent economic integration—​it was reaffirmed that “we need to unify all isolated manifestations to transform culture into a means of liberation of our peoples” and that there needed to be “iron-​clad solidarity in defense of the persecuted cultural workers.” Faced with fascism extending across the continent, it was not possible to remain “in a state of reciprocal ignorance, because this facilitates our enemies’ domination of our people.”There is just one solution, “the search for unity, mutual understanding, and an effort to act in a coordinated manner.” The Front was another organizational step advancing the search for a connection between the social praxis and the artistic praxis of the continent. It was not only meetings and mutual acknowledgment that took place at the festivals, but also the 37

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creation of a proper organizational structure that would seek to deepen the possibility of intervention of cultural production in the current social dynamics. In 1973, Boal went to Cuba again. This time, he served as a juror in the literary contest of Casa da Las Américas, which increasingly became a center of diffusion of the continent’s cultural production. Boal wrote the preface to Victor Torres’s award-​winning work Um Teatro Despenteado, a text which later became part of Boal’s Técnicas. On this occasion he met with Roberto Fernández Retamar, the director of Casa de las Américas. Boal knew the important work of the Cuban intellectual regarding the subject of Calibán, which Retamar had published in a Cuban magazine in 1971. This text would later become a fundamental reference for the debate on culture on the continent. At the suggestion of Retamar, Boal undertook an adaptation of Shakespeare’s text and made his version of The Tempest, which he finished in 1974, and then Boal planned to head to the United States. The meetings in Cuba indicated a broadening of the possibilities for joint collaboration. One of the jury members for the Casa de las Américas award was Ariel Dorfman, a cultural advisor to Fernando Flores, then Secretary General of the Allende government. Along with him, Boal planned to create groups of Invisible Theatre in Chile to combat economic sabotage, in collaboration with Oscar Castro, the Director of the Aleph Group. The coup in Chile, however, would prevent the project from taking place. Oscar Castro was arrested and taken to concentration camps, where he developed theatrical works.

The Nuestra América Theatre After two years of waiting, the Manizales gathering took place in Colombia once again in 1973. This was the fifth festival, and the First World Show (First Mostra Mundial) was organized as well. In this edition, approximately 4,000 people attended the festival. Although important new steps were taken in the process of integrating theatre production, with advances in the organization of the Cultural Workers’ Front, the implementation of new actions, and the execution of two additional meetings—​one in Caracas and the other in Puerto Rico—​signs of the end of a cycle had manifested. In 1973, a few months before the festival, the coup d’état took place in Uruguay, and shortly after its end the dictatorship in Chile was established. This festival was held in the context of a period of historical change. The Uruguayan group El Galpón, from Atahualpa, was unable to participate in the meeting due to the coup. Perón also died that same year, and the class struggle in Argentina entered a period of intense repression. From the point of view of the festival—​for the fifth edition—​the global nature implemented by the local authorities sought to minimize and dilute the critical and political dimension of the festival. It was in this conjuncture of project disputes and impasses that Boal wrote his article “Copernican Revolution,” which was prepared at the beginning of the year to subsidize the process of choosing the representative groups of Argentina and was later released in Colombia during the Festival. Torquemada, Augusto Boal’s play, was performed by the Mexican group CLETA-​UNAM. Boal’s work, due to its themes, was performed by various groups in several countries around the continent. In this edition of the festival in Colombia, a new meeting of the Latin American Cultural Workers’ Front was held and a second communiqué was issued with a call and the Front’s objectives. At an assembly during the meeting, a steering committee was approved for the Front, which would be in operation until the next meeting. Among those elected by the assembly, Augusto Boal appeared as the Representative of Brazil. Immediate objectives were established for the Front, advancing the organization thereof from the existing theatrical organizations in the countries and supporting the “creation of other similar cultural organizations” in other countries. The “foundation of the Front’s activities was communication between the various 38

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movements and theatrical and cultural groupings,” with the aim of breaking down barriers.This communication would be carried out through “newsletters from different countries and the organization of courses, meetings, tours, seminars.” The programmatic aspect that these pedagogical and publishing activities assumed in the process of continental coordination was clear. The “Front will establish a policy in relation to the various Latin American Festivals that begin to develop in several countries,”15 which was a point of great importance for maintaining the political orientation of the meetings.The document also calls out the worsening of the struggles in Chile and points to solidarity with workers, rural people, and the revolutionary government, as well as support for Uruguay, which had suffered a coup whose repression prevented the Galpón group from participating in the meeting. The group’s director, Atauhalpa del Cioppo, would also be appointed to the Front’s Management. During the festival, the groups also met in an important effort to synthesize the recent course of actions and to “seek an approximation to the concept of popular theatre,” listing points of similarity and approximation between practices, methods, and ways of working. A writing committee was organized that systematized the collective reflections in the “Document on Popular Theatre,”16 which was extremely important for highlighting the joint position of the groups. The first point of systematization pertained to popular theatre in the context of class struggles. According to the group evaluation, theatre was no longer an “aesthetic product, closed in on itself,” and had become a form of “raising awareness, unrest, and organization of the fight.” In order to achieve these things, it was proposed that there was a “need for political organizations (Parties) or mass organizations (trade unions, leagues of rural persons, neighborhood organizations, etc.) to join forces,” as well as to participate in strikes, land occupations, etc. The systematization of the different experiences indicated that “theatre ceased to be an isolated field of creation and had become a dynamic element involving political and social processes through theatre workers and, fundamentally, their works.” Just like the reflection made in Cuba in 1968, the groups gathered in Colombia thought of theatre workers as “activists or revolutionary militants.” Popular theatre is defined as “that which becomes part of revolutionary processes and participates in the class struggle” and contributes to the “transformation of society.” Without idealizing or concealing possible differences between theatre workers and the people, overcoming the dichotomy would happen through joint participation in the class struggle, in close and continuous relationship with the masses, to overcome “dogmatic or paternalistic attitudes that turn us into prophets” as well as the obstacles to “participation in the great revolutionary dialogue on the contradictions in hearts of the people.”17 The language of popular theatre is also analyzed, arguing that to work with a “revolutionary content we need new, revolutionary forms” without abstractions, specifying that it is “concrete circumstances which determine and shape our language.” Among the “new attitudes and proposals” formulated by the collective, the work appears with popular cultural forms, including native and indigenous cultures. Self-​criticism must be a constant attitude for the sake of adapting the work to reality. The “creation of groups formed by workers and residents who, through their own forms, give an account of their problems” is specified as an area of great importance for popular theatre. In this regard, “the role of the theatre worker would be of utmost importance as an incentive for the theatrical work itself, even outside their function as a member of the group.”18 The document articulates the central elements which would guide the actions of the groups in forging continental coordination and establish the parameters for the continental project being structured. The references of these formulations guided the design of the festivals, as well as the pedagogical and exchange process that took place around them, with debates, workshops, courses, and exchanges of experiences. 39

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In July, the Fifth Festival of the Chicano Theatre would be held, as well as the First Meeting of Latin American Theatre of Mexico City. More than 700 Latin American theatre workers participated. Boal was one of the participants, along with the other groups that had been building the process, such as Candelária,TEC, etc.Their reflections on this meeting are featured in the article “There are many forms of popular theater. I prefer them all.” Boal begins his article saying that “we have never talked so much about unity.” In fact, the First Latin American Meeting of Mexico was marked by a discord between groups who “came from very different compositions.”The Festival had been organized by TENAZ (National Theater of Aztlan), which brought together over a hundred Chicano theatre groups that had emerged from the rural theatre of Luis Valdez, a group created from the struggle of rural people and the creation of the UFWOC Union by César Chávez. The other articulation of Mexican theatre involved the CLETA, and they were more in tune with the political agenda of the groups and of the Front. One of the most polemical and controversial points of the meeting was the position of the groups linked to the Chicano theatre of Valdez, which were guided by a position searching for identities and roots, thus marking the festival with “ideological confusion.” Without idealizing production processes, forms, and thematic approaches, with the accumulation of criticism from previous festivals and criticism of populist forms and conceptions, Boal expresses these points in the debates, and his text lists some of the terms of the contradictions and impasses of the meeting. “Some argue that this idealization of the past fulfills a function. But it is appropriate to ask the question: can lies fulfill a revolutionary role?”, to which the playwright responds, “I don’t think so.”19 The Mexican festival would mark the turning point of the process: the anti-​colonial cultural program linked to organizational movements and revolutionary processes which began to be questioned in favor of a conception of “identity predominance.” Combined with the historical context, this would push the integration process to the limit. Still, in a last effort to maintain unity, Boal concludes his book by stating “that there are many ways of doing Latin American popular theatre. I prefer them all.”20 The important step was holding the Third Assembly of the Culture Workers’ Front, which was attended by the most advanced sector of the Chicano theatre movement, with the San Francisco Mime Troupe group representing Anglo-​ American theatre and Latin American groups. It was at this assembly that the decision was made to change the name of the Front to the Latin American Front of Workers of the Culture of Nuestra América (Our America), “considering the need to include non-​Latin American groups (noting the extraordinary contribution of Chicano, Indigenous, Black, and Anglo groups) which are in line with the objectives of the Front and who fight against a common enemy.”21 The change reinforced the slogan of “unity and organization,” the role of the Front in the formation of new organizations with different sectors of artistic practice, with popular centers of culture, groups, corporations, and federations of theatre, music, visual arts, etc. Boal repeatedly expressed his appreciation for the people, for real meetings, and for dialogue, always emphasizing that he had learned a lot from these productive and constructive encounters with people from different popular sectors and also with artists from various fields, such as musicians, visual artists, intellectuals, militants, and revolutionaries. His meetings in Latin America were part of his training. When it became impossible to remain on the continent, when the coups and dictatorships seemed to completely dominate the region and prevent the work of various groups that were collectively building the process of the continent’s cultural articulation, Boal left in exile again, this time to Europe. Later on, while organizing his formative experiences, he said that “at the beginning of my work in Europe, the Teatro do Oprimido was presented as a Latin American method” and that only “much later [the TO] separated itself from its geographical and cultural origins, mainly through the creation of a series of introspective 40

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techniques of ‘O arco-​íris do desejo’ (The Rainbow of Desire), which was fully elaborated in Europe.”22 The new historical moment marked the end of a certain theatrical project. Spaces of articulation had been shaped by the festivals, in which the struggle for continental independence (political, economic, social, and especially cultural) was proposed, but the socialization of the means of production and popular emancipation would become spectacles of fragmentation hegemonized by the emergence of isolated identities.

Notes 1 This chapter was translated from Portuguese by MendWord Translations, Los Angeles, California, with some adjustments by the editors as permitted by the translation service. 2 Augusto Boal, Técnicas Latinoamericanas de Teatro Popular: Una Revolución Copernicana al Revés, 2nd ed. (Corregidor: Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, 2014), 116. 3 Beatriz J. Rizk, El Nuevo Teatro Latinoamericano: Una Lectura Histórica (Minneapolis: Prisma Institute, 1987), 19. The historian Beatriz Rizk states that “Nuevo Teatro [‘New Theater,’ the term used by Buenaventura] is basically a form of popular theater,” thus reinforcing the affinity between these terms. Boal employs the category of popular theatre in his systematizations of the same period. 4 Ibid., 16 (Buenaventura, in Beatriz J. Rizk). 5 Cf. Marina Pianca, ElTeatro de Nuestra América: Un Proyecto Continental, 1959–​1989 (Minneapolis: Institute for the Study of Ideologies and Literature, 1990). 6 Boal, 120–​121. 7 We do not have much information about Boal’s first trip through Cuba. The discretion in reference to the episodes of that period is characteristic of the militants who went through the armed struggle and the ALN (National Liberation Action). According to his memoirs, we know that he stayed for a month on the island and that he came into contact with Cuban theatre production. See Augusto Boal, Hamlet e o Filho do Padeiro (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Record, 2000), 267. 8 Pianca, 151. 9 Ibid., 345–​346. 10 Iná Camargo Costa, A Hora do Teatro Épico no Brasil (Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1996), 73. 11 Boal,  43–​46. 12 Cf.“First Meeting of Latin American Stage Directors Organized by the Argentinian Actors Association.” Latin American Theatre Review 5: 1 (1971): 81–​85. 13 Cf. G. Luzuriaga, “El IV Festival de Manizales.” Latin American Theatre Review 5: 1 (1971), 4–​16. 14 The program is published in Pianca, 349. 15 Pianca, 351–​354. 16 Document published in Pianca, 335–​340. 17 Pianca, 335–​340. 18 Ibid. 19 Boal, 174. 20 Boal, 183. 21 Pianca, 355. 22 Augusto Boal, Jogos Para Atores e Não Atores, 14th ed., Na. E ampliada (Rio de Janeiro:  Civilização Brasileira, 1998), 4.

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4 AGITPROP AND THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED Iná Camargo Costa Translated from Portuguese by Marcos Fabris and Marcos Soares Introduction The history of agitprop as a weapon in modern class struggles is more than a century old, according to the perspective adopted here, as it originated when various organizations of European workers—​ socialists, anarchists, laborites, and, later on, their Latin American counterparts—​decided to introduce cultural activities into their repertoire of forms of intervention. Theatrical practices, due to their public traits, cover the largest number of worldwide references in this field. From the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, Augusto Boal set out to write one of the Latin American chapters of this history, in what would turn out to be a life-​long attempt to develop this line of work. Theatre of the Oppressed needs to be seen as a Latin American chapter of this history due to the conditions in which it was created and in which its theoretical formulations were first elaborated: From the moment of Boal’s exile in Argentina, where he published a book by the same title, the circumstances in which the proposal was developed—​especially in the form of Forum Theatre—​were created by the then-​current social and political struggles in Latin America, as Boal himself frequently emphasizes. In order to fully understand the family to which Theatre of the Oppressed belongs, we need to revisit the moment in which the most widely diffused forms of agitprop were created, developed, and experimented with, not neglecting a discussion of the word itself, which corresponds to the fusion between “agitation” and “propaganda.” The moment we are referring to is, of course, the October Revolution of 1917. Following the examples of the practices adopted by all the armies involved in the First World War, the Commander of the Red Army, Leon Trotsky, invited artists and professionals from different fields to look after the cultural life of the soldiers.Those who chose the theatre were responsible for the invention or reinvention of the forms of agitprop still known today. To refresh our memories, it might be worth recalling some of the forms of agitprop that eventually led to the chapter written by Augusto Boal.

Agitational Process (transliterated Russian: “Agitsud”) One of the main challenges of the Red Army was to prepare its own soldiers to initiate immediate trial processes of those soldiers whose faults seemed unacceptable by a revolutionary army. 42

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The relationships between soldiers and commanders in the Red Army, which were created in the heat of the struggle against the counter-​revolution, were from the outset based on a democratic process (without, however, falling into the trap of the demagogic democracy implicit in the election of officials); early on, it faced the need to submit offenders to trials conducted by the soldiers themselves, immediately following the accusation and dispensing with the bureaucracy involved in setting up a martial court (restricted to the High Command in ordinary armies). It might be worth reminding those unfamiliar with military issues that any army relies on a rigidly conceived system of rules defining acceptable conducts as well as infractions, the latter being subjected to various types of sanctions. The most serious cases of breach of hierarchy, discipline, or regulations are usually submitted to a trial conducted by a martial court. Likewise, the Red Army also saw the need to create regulations defining those acts that were opposed to the revolutionary cause, but innovated regarding the instances of dealing with acts of misdemeanor. In a text written on April 23, 1919, the Commander of the Red Army developed, amongst others, the following topics (not fully reproduced here): 1) A revolutionary sense of justice will be forged in the fire of struggle. This cannot be set out in advance in any code. The same actions possess different significance at different moments: the tribunal always remains an instrument defending the conquests and interests of the revolution under all its changing conditions. 2) Revolutionary and military justice does not wear the mask of equal rights for all (which do not nor could ever exist in a class society). Revolutionary justice openly proclaims itself a fighting weapon in the struggle of the working classes against, on the one hand, their bourgeois enemies, and, on the other, violators of discipline and solidarity in the ranks of the working class itself. Because our revolutionary justice has cast aside all the hypocrisy of the old justice, it has acquired immense educational importance. 3) It is necessary, moreover, that the tribunal shall itself clearly appreciate its own importance, and that it shall see its decision not just from the standpoint of punishing a particular action but also from that of a revolutionary class education. Of immense importance in this connection is the actual formulation of the sentence. Our tribunals, including the military ones, consist of workers and peasants, who, although, as a general rule, do their work very well and pass sentences which are fully in accordance with the interests of the revolution, are lacking in formal education and therefore phrase their sentences in an extremely imperfect, sometimes unfortunate way. It is therefore necessary that, when a court sentence is formulated, those who are composing it should have before their eyes not only the accused but also the broad masses of soldiers, workers, and peasants. A sentence must possess an agitational character: it must deter some while enhancing confidence and courage in the hearts of others. The same text also offers a very enlightening counterexample. A military court sentenced a deserter to a spell in prison until the complete defeat of the enemy army. This does not constitute an example of punishment, claims the Commander, but of a prize. Since a deserter’s purpose is to avoid danger, putting a deserter in prison until the end of the danger constitutes a direct incentive to desertion for all cowards and self-​seekers. And he still adds: in the case of exceptional circumstances which justify this outcome, these ought to be set forth with great precision in the formulation of the final sentence. A number of measures were taken to deal with the cultural shortcomings of the members of the Red Army, among which the most notable were: the organization of 3,800 schools to tackle the problem of illiteracy among the soldiers, including those on the fronts; the creation of 1,315 43

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clubs and 2,392 circulating libraries (until December of 1919). Moreover, among the various practical measures, some of the most praiseworthy were: the need to always employ simple language, in an attempt to establish clear and real interlocutions, above all avoiding metaphysical discussions, as the soldier needs military and cultural education. Finally, for the training of all the soldiers with a view to their participation in ad hoc trials, a number of theatre artists, amongst them Vsevelod Meyerhold and Sergei Eisenstein, created the form of the “Agitational Process.” The example given by the Commander is an elementary one: a soldier caught red-​handed selling his gun should be tried immediately and submitted to the penalties foreseen by the revolutionary codes, which covered a wide range from the simple provision of services for unity (demotion) to the summary execution of the culprit after the trial. The “Agitational Process” consists of the staging of a trial, in which the defendant, the prosecutor, the defender, and the judge are part of the cast, whereas the witnesses and the jury are guests from the audience. The starting point is an imaginary crime. The task of the promoter is to specify the offense, while the defender presents the arguments in favor of the defendant. From this point on, improvisation begins, including the participation of members of the audience who agree to act as witnesses. Beyond the training of the soldiers for taking part in ad hoc tribunals, the more general objective of the agitational process, inspired by the experience of 1905, when the Soviets played the role of judging small causes, is the training of the population as a whole for the participation in the construction of Soviet power, since the audience is invited to examine cases, analyze actions of a general interest, and make informed choices.

The Living Newspaper (“djeevaja gazeta”) Originally, this entailed reading aloud items of the news, given the high level of illiteracy. Later on, professional actors began to perform the act of reading. Finally, one reaches the form known worldwide, in which a complete edition of a newspaper is staged with all its sections, from the editorial to the literary chronicle. As its main objective is imparting information and promoting agitation, this was the most widely used form of agitprop during the civil war.

The agitational play (“agitki”) Short plays (ten to fifteen minutes) focusing on a single topic.The “characters” are social functions. The costumes are constituted by simple garments and stage props, such as hats and symbols (of countries, social classes, etc.). Generally, even stage props are dispensed with or reduced to, at most, benches, crates, or objects that can be easily moved. Due to its agility, this form lent itself basically to the discussion of issues that were the order of the day. It also served the purpose of illustrating proposals that were being debated in a union assembly, for example, or for divulging urgent issues in any place, including the street.

The Dialectical Play This illuminated, without reaching a final solution, private, professional, or political conflicts through the opposition between the old (capitalism) and the new (socialism). The connection between episodes is built by the internal logic of the situation, or of the argumentation, not necessarily in chronological order. The scene develops through anticipation and digression and the result is a montage. The characters’ contradictions are the focus, not their psychology. Presentations are followed by debates. 44

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Their objective is more openly didactic: they aim at training and deepening one’s ability to think dialectically by examining situations, conditioning elements, and contradictions.

The scene-​ification (“scenezations”) This consists of a type of reinvention of vaudeville (whose origins date back to at least the eighteenth century). The thematic axis is a historical event, such as the October Revolution itself. Other events dealt with at the time were the Parisian Commune, the French Revolution, and the World War. It is the origin of the documentary theatre created by Erwin Piscator, known in Germany as the “Red Revue,” as its materials were documents of every type (narratives, speeches, pieces of research) as well as pre-​existing fictional works. Collage (or montage, as later developed theoretically by Eisenstein in the field of film) is one of its most used techniques. During the revolutionary years, these scene-​ ifications were staged mainly in festive celebrations, such as the October Revolution, having, therefore, as its main objective the cultivation of memory. Perhaps the best-​known instance of this modality is the Storming of the Winter Palace, staged on October 7, 1920 by Ievreinov (a type of “general coordinator”), with 15,000 actors, including many of the people who had participated in the actual event, as well as 100,000 “spectators.”

Political and cultural struggles in Latin America A number of countries in Latin America, especially Argentina and Uruguay (to restrict ourselves to Brazil’s neighboring countries), witnessed the development of proposals of a political theatre whose roots were in the nineteenth century, but which also took inspiration from the news about the Soviet Revolution. Since the objective of this chapter is not to focus on this particular period, let us just limit ourselves to mentioning two Argentinian episodes: Leonidas Barletta’s “Teatro del Pueblo,” founded in Buenos Aires in 1930, and Osvaldo Dragún, who started writing for the theatre in the 1950s inspired by Bertolt Brecht. In Uruguay, the theatre “El Galpón,” still active in Montevideo, began its activities in the 1940s, inspired by the initiatives of their Argentinian colleagues. At the beginning of the 1960s, they developed a brief dialogue with the Teatro de Arena in São Paulo, which was promptly interrupted by the Brazilian dictatorship.

Augusto Boal: sources and experiments Even though the news of Boal’s stay in New  York in his formative years is widely known, Geo Britto’s unpublished research into the playwright’s contacts with the Leftist theatre in New York is still recent. Among its many findings, one finds ample documentation of Boal’s knowledge not only of the New York controversy involving Brecht’s oeuvre, but also of Erwin Piscator’s proposals for a political theatre (not to mention Boal’s contact with militant artists like Langston Hughes, whom he met personally). One of his first Brazilian experiments with agitprop forms takes place in the production of his text Revolution in South America in 1960 by the Teatro de Arena in São Paulo. Both the formal and staging perspectives have their roots in Epic Theatre (the name that Brecht’s generation adopted to refer to the German experiments). Immediately afterwards, the Teatro de Arena went on to produce an even more radical experiment. Having been informed of the confrontation between landowners and peasants in the state of São Paulo, which led to the incarceration of one of the peasant leaders, members of the Arena interviewed this leader. Based on the collected materials, they investigated the news in the local press and conducted some field research in 45

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order to write a play called Mutirão em Novo Sol (Cropping at Novo Sol), signed by a collective of authors. Nelson Xavier wrote its final version, under Augusto Boal’s supervision. The opening of the play took place in a peasants’ congress in Belo Horizonte. The experiment has its origins in the modality of the documentary theatre previously referred to, taking Piscator’s version as its model. Due to its collective authorship from its inception as well as its choice to tackle the most urgent of the questions regarding the country’s iniquitous economic and social situation—​that is, the extreme concentration of land ownership—​Mutirão em Novo Sol is among the most advanced dramaturgical works of Brazilian theatre. However, since it remained virtually unknown until 2016, it still is not part of any history of the local theatre: defeated as we were in 1964, our memory was promptly silenced by cannons and tanks. Not even Boal himself included this experiment in his analysis of the preceding history of the Theatre of the Oppressed. Augusto Boal actively participated in almost every single chapter of the experiments in agitprop after the military coup: he directed the Show Opinião (Opinion), a clear example of the modality of scene-​ification whose script was also written by a collective of authors; he produced Arena Canta Bahia (Arena Sings Bahia), closely following the model of the Show Opinião; he wrote with Gianfrancesco Guarnieri and directed Arena Conta Zumbi (Arena Tells of Zumbi ) and Arena Conta Tiradentes (Arena Tells of Tiradentes) for the Teatro de Arena in São Paulo, both instances of documentary theatre (or scene-​ification); he was also responsible for having developed with Cecília Boal and Heleny Guariba our version of the Living Newspaper. In the latter case, his memory already begins to establish links with agitprop, as he declared on a number of occasions that the seeds of Theatre of the Oppressed were in the Living Newspaper, developed at a moment in which the military dictatorship would not allow even the conventional press to print news about everyday political events. In his own words: “I think that the Living Newspaper was the first set of techniques later adopted by the Theatre of the Oppressed, which later branched out into various other strategies.” Finally (before his arrest and exile), he coordinated a veritable operation of theatrical guerrilla warfare known as Primeira feira paulista de opinião (The First Sao Paulo Opinion Fair). In his exile, he developed the experiments which later resulted in the elaboration of the book Theatre of the Oppressed, and in his return to Brazil in 1986. Living in Rio de Janeiro, he founded the Centre for the Theatre of the Oppressed, taking the last steps toward the development of techniques he had been experimenting with until the formulation of the Legislative Theatre, which clearly points to the experience of constitution of the Counsels: one can say that the last chapter of the Theatre of the Oppressed completes the most relevant cycle of agitprop, which consists in rehearsing the practical actions toward the proletarian revolution. But let us see each chapter of his trajectory separately.

Revolution in South America The recognition that Revolution in South America appropriated characteristics of agitprop happened relatively quickly. One of the scenes of the play shows the presence of imperialism in the daily lives of Brazilian workers, and for that reason it was incorporated into the repertoire of the groups of the Popular Culture Centers (CPC)—​our best-​known agencies of agitprop at the outset of the 1960s. This scene can be classified as an agitational play since it later on acquired a life of its own.

Mutirão em Novo Sol As previously stated, this was written by a collective of authors coordinated by Boal and later on was signed by Nelson Xavier. This play mobilizes some of the most relevant modalities of 46

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agitprop. It is an instance of documentary theatre (or scene-​ification), of the Living Newspaper, since it “reports” events that had actually happened and, above all, its opening took place among its most legitimate interlocutors: organized peasants fighting for agrarian reforms in a congress of the Peasants League (this being one of the reasons for the lack of interest in this play in the official histories of Brazilian theatre). This information comes from a still unpublished doctoral thesis (Political Theatre and the Agrarian Question, 1955–​1965) presented to the University of Brasília by Rafael Litvin Villas-​Boas in 2009. We are also indebted to Dr. Villas-​Boas for the book Mutirão em Novo Sol, edited by Expressão Popular in 2016.

Show Opinião After the military coup of 1964, a number of veterans of the CPC, forced into illegality following the burning of its headquarters, organized themselves in a group that counted on Boal’s collaboration in its first production, the Show Opinião. The show is a clear instance of a scene-​ification—​basically written by Oduvaldo Vianna Filho, Armando Costa, Ferreira Gullar, among others—​which takes as its starting point the experience of three artists involved with the culture industry at a time of counter-​revolution. In its final version, the Show Opinião presents on a formal level the testimony of different representatives of the Brazilian social experience: the migrant, the slum samba musician, and the middle-​class woman. It is therefore a legitimate example of documentary theatre. The three testimonies (basically the life story of each of the three artists on stage) develop through songs and various types of illustrations (exemplary cases in narrative form).The general themes consist of, for example, the local generalized musical alienation thanks to the good services rendered by the culture industry controlled by [US] American imperialism, including incredible parodies of third-​rate rock tunes. Or, yet, the reasons that lead destitute Brazilians to migrate from their original states toward the metropolises elected by capital. Or, still, the conditions of segregation in which black artists live in Rio de Janeiro. The testimonies cut across each other and the songs, which speak to the imagination of the whole country, tell much more than the spoken text, as the (market) success of the song “Carcará” (“Hawk”), interpreted by the singer Maria Bethânia, demonstrates. As the director of the experiment—​the emphasis is overdue since the reception of this spectacle adopted the vulgar meaning of the word “show” (concert) and “analyzes” it as such and not as a modality of Epic Theatre (the agitprop modality of scene-​ification)—​Augusto Boal said: My effort in this case was to convince the musicians Zé Keti, João do Vale and Nara Leão [later replaced by Maria Bethânia]—​who are singers, that they were not taking part in a concert, but in a theatrical experiment and that, therefore, they had to engage in a dialogue, be it through the songs or the testimonies.1 This goes to show that the director was aware of what he was doing, though under the circumstances in which the show was produced it was very difficult, if not impossible, to develop critically, from the perspective of the reception, a productive debate about the experiment.The result is that until today, in 2017, this spectacle is not properly analyzed, save for a few exceptions, due to the simple ignorance about its most elementary identity.

Arena Conta Zumbi and Arena Conta Tiradentes Augusto Boal’s next step was the development of the experiment started in the Show Opinião. First, we have Arena Canta Bahia in 1965, the show that introduced the young artists Caetano 47

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Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Maria Bethânia, and Gal Costa, among others, to the audience in São Paulo. Afterwards, with Guarnieri and Edu Lobo, Boal writes and directs Arena Conta Zumbi, an instance of documentary theatre combining historical research and the Living Newspaper, since press materials such as the speeches given by generals and their underlying assumptions were incorporated into the text, which is virtually incomprehensible if its techniques of collage and juxtaposition, features of the modality of scene-​ ification, are not properly identified. Afterwards, the same methods and techniques led to Arena Conta Tiradentes, which develops a debate about the role of the intellectual both from a historical perspective (the episode of the struggle against the Portuguese in Minas Gerais in the eighteenth century, smashed by the colonial forces) and from the standpoint of the present situation (the escalating violence of the dictatorship). Later on, Boal went on to write Arena Conta Bolivar, which remained unknown in Brazil for a long time owing to the official censorship.

Primeira Feira Paulista de Opinião Resuming in a more powerful key the process developed in Mutirão em Novo Sol, Augusto Boal engaged various theatre, musical, and visual arts professionals to put up in 1968 a collage spectacle protesting against the arbitrariness of the censorship and the violence of the dictatorship called Primeira Feira Paulista de Opinião, which in itself became an episode of the militant confrontations against the organized repressive forces. Apart from functioning as a coordinator, Boal also contributed to the collective effort by writing a play in the form of a collage using texts by Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and others, whose title was A Lua Muito Pequena e a Caminhada Perigosa (The Tiny Moon and the Dangerous Walk). Like Mutirão em Novo Sol, this experiment is still little known in Brazil. With the publication in 2016 of a volume containing all the texts, testimonies of the participants, and the reconstitution of its main episodes, one hopes this situation will change.

The Living Newspaper Historically this was the first form of agitprop and its main function was to notify participants and sympathizers, most of whom were illiterate, of the course of the revolution. As the troops were directly involved in the revolution, the Living Newspaper had a necessarily proactive and constructive nature. Revolutionary steps and measures were the content of these presentations of a live newspaper, but gradually its editions began to present editorials—​that is, analyses of events, resolutions, and proposals of intervention, which should be the object of debate. In the countries in which the revolution was defeated, such as Germany, or in which it was never initiated, such as the United Sates, this form was adopted with a change of direction: in these countries the Living Newspaper had the functions of reporting and criticizing the general living and working conditions as well as presenting an overview of the class struggle. It was certainly the [US] American development of that experiment that Boal first got to know. When the Teatro de Arena in São Paulo, under the leadership of Cecília Boal and Heleny Guariba, decided in 1971 to form its first core of Newspaper Theatre, Brazil was going through the bloodiest period of the dictatorship and even the newspapers that supported the state were under censorship. Augusto Boal elaborated a series of techniques of conducting a critical reading of the news, which he published in the book Técnicas Latinoamericanas de Teatro Popular (Latin American Techniques of Popular Theatre). At that moment, the task of democratizing the field of theatrical production and strengthening the function of the theatre as a recourse for exposing facts that the dictatorship wanted to silence—​such as arrests, torture, and murder—​was 48

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conceived in the clearest possible way. In other words, Boal had found the essence of agitprop actual practice: it consists of the multiplication of the groups practicing the theatre as a political weapon. In the Brazilian case, it became a weapon of militant clarification and defense.

Forum Theatre Following his arrest, Boal fled to Buenos Aires (more or less as a runaway fugitive rather than as a conventional exile), where he began to establish contact with various other countries, such as Peru, Mexico, and the United States, between 1971 and 1976. In his stay in Peru, he found in practice the form that he later called Forum Theatre, clearly a development of the dialectical play in which a situation of conflict (basic contradiction) is worked over by the people who are themselves involved in it and whose solution depends on the proposals and the participation, also on the stage, of the spectators—​whom Boal, for that reason, began to designate as spect-​actors. In viewing the themes generally developed in Forum Theatre (as well as in other techniques that began to be explored, such as Image and Invisible Theatre), it is also possible to establish its relationship with the agitational processes of the Red Army, as every form of oppression corresponds to some type of infraction of written laws, or, above all, of equalitarian principles in human relationships. Boal used to say that Forum Theatre was a kind of rehearsal for the revolution. One can say that Forum Theatre is an ingenuous combination between the agitational process and the dialectical play, in which a conflict without a resolution is staged. From this perspective, regardless of the knowledge that Boal might have had of these modalities of agitprop theatre, the mere combination of these two in order to produce a third one corresponds to his objective contribution for the advancement of the repertoire of those who, like himself, see the theatre as a weapon like any other for struggling on the cultural front. As this is the most widely known modality of Theatre of the Oppressed and its various techniques, it is not necessary to detain ourselves much longer in its details, a project that would take us too far.

Legislative Theatre For the reasons spelled out in his book Hamlet e o Filho do Padeiro (Hamlet and the Baker’s Son), Boal did not dare to return to Brazil before the so-​called process of democratization had been completed. Settled down in Rio de Janeiro in 1986, he soon envisaged an entirely logical development of Forum Theatre, creating a new, more complex system, the Legislative Theatre, which included not only all the former experiments of Theatre of the Oppressed but also aspects of parliamentary procedures. As each step of the process is minutely registered in the book Legislative Theatre, we will deal only with its essential aspects. Elected a city council member in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, our director decided to offer his services to the Labour Party, which in practice meant trying to stimulate the organized participation of the population in the debates over the city budget or even, in the absence of major hurdles, in the elaboration of laws. The basis for a more consistent development of the forum technique had been set, as organized groups of the oppressed population could not only voice their problems but also offer concrete legislative measures for sorting them out. As Boal himself would later say, the population would be able to learn how to legislate through the process of an actual popular consultation. All in all, the experiment was a rehearsal of Soviet practices since the city council member was actually offering his services to the communities that had elected him in the first place. 49

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In this case we can no longer talk of a political theatre, but of the theatre as politics, as a form to carry out political tasks, not only in the imagination, but also in actual practice. The empirical evidence can be gauged by the results: in four years as a city councilman, Boal managed to pass 13 laws whose origins lay in the procedures of Legislative Theatre. Moreover, as a theatrical experiment, the council sessions were actually “staged” so as to encourage participants to put forward their thoughts and suggestions. There is a clear link between Legislative Theatre and the agitational process. As we have seen, during and after the Civil War, the agitational process had the explicit role of training the soldiers of the Red Army as well as the population as a whole to participate in the councils (Soviets), which for a while also encompassed the function of a court of small causes. The Legislative Theatre, under specific circumstances, those of the promises of a thorough democratization in Brazil, in the hands of the oppressed population, became a technique of rehearsal in actual political practices so that one could envisage in practical terms the possibility of taking control of one’s own fate. Augusto Boal used to say that the revolution is an act of self-​defense on the part of mankind. Legislative Theatre, like the agitational process, is a rehearsal of the organization of the revolution through the establishment of councils.

Note 1 See Augusto Boal, Hamlet e o filho do padeiro (São Paulo: Cosacnaify, 2014), 258–260.

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5 EPIC THEATRE AND THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED “Brecht and, modestly, [Boal]!” Jorge Louraço Figueira A reading of Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, Augusto Boal’s autobiography, shows how Bertolt Brecht’s work and figure were present in the mind of the Brazilian author. For example, with respect to the minimal conditions to make theatre (two actors, supposedly), Boal comments, “I think it was Brecht who said that [all you needed was two actors], but if it was not, then I am saying it now!”1 The book is subtitled “Imagined Memories” in the original edition, and it lives up to its promise. Referring to Marido Magro, Mulher Chata [Thin Husband, Boring Wife], a play written in 1957, Boal reproduces the lines of his lover at the time, a “troublesome girlfriend” who refused to go to the premiere of the show: I’m going to stay home. In bed, with Brecht … rereading Brecht … In fact, you should start reading him. … He’s great! He died in Germany when you were rehearsing Steinbeck [Of Mice and Men]. I think he even died on the opening night.2 Brecht provided a standard which a theatre artist couldn’t help being compared with. Beyond Boal’s own readings of Brecht’s works and his invention of a fictional form of Brecht, there are many other possible images of Bertolt Brecht, of course—​probably one for each reader—​but also a more factual and objective one, available to all, whose works can be thoroughly compared to the actual practice of Boal to see whether or not they influenced Teatro de Arena, Theatre of the Oppressed, etc. That comparison goes beyond the scope of this chapter, which intends only to map Boal’s stated debt to the German author. The anecdotal coincidence of Brecht’s death with the beginning of Boal’s life as a director is told as a curiosity, and with greater chronological precision, at the beginning of another text, written in the late 1990s, entitled “Brecht and, Modestly, Me!”: “I began my career as a professional director in the same year, and almost the same month in which he died, in 1956.”3 In this brief testimony about the influence of the German author on his work, Boal talks about his first experience with Brechtian dramaturgy in the early 1960s, when he directed The Exception and the Rule with a group of the São Paulo ABC Metalworkers’ Union. And indeed Boal’s project may have been imagined as a kind of continuation of Brecht’s action, picking up precisely from the last speech of The Exception and The Rule, when the actors address the audience and say:

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So ends The story of a journey You have heard and you have seen You have seen what is common, what continually occurs But we ask you: Even if it’s not very strange, find it estranging even if it is usual, find it hard to explain What here is common should astonish you What here is rule, recognise as an abuse And where you have recognised an abuse Provide a remedy!4 It was with this play that Boal began “to think of the actors we are all, every day—​and in the theatricality of our lives.” The neologism, now known by all, originated from this reflection, would be “spect-​actor,” a synthesis of the spectator and the actor. The idea of an active spectator, “something beyond Brecht,”5 was already in Boal’s mind in the early 1960s, when he returned to São Paulo after a trip to northeast Brazil with the Movimento de Cultura Popular. The interruption of the performances by the public, in two special occasions—​one in Santo André, still in the 1960s, another in Chaclacayo, Peru, in 1973—​would give rise to Forum Theatre, as widely told by Boal. But that would only happen a long time later. In these early years of the 1960s, Brecht’s influence was immediately manifested in the text Revolution in South America (which José Renato directed at the Arena Theatre in 1960), a work that Boal described as having “Brecht’s influence visible with the naked eye,” and in Brecht’s Señora Carrar’s Rifles (also directed by Renato in 1962), a piece whose treatment of neutrality was, in Brazil, like a “premonition”: “Brecht was an aesthetic and moral reference,” says Boal.6 Revolution in South America was a trial of “open dramaturgy, outside Realism. Brecht had influenced us, but more in the sense of freeing ourselves from naturalism than any sense of imitating him:  the ‘alienation effect’, for us, already existed in the performance style of our clowns.”7 If Brecht’s procedures were followed closely, it was also because some of these procedures had similarities with the forms of popular theatre. When Boal writes in Hamlet and the Baker’s Son how he would have liked to work with the famous clown Piolim and some of the circus and Teatro de Revista [vaudeville] actors, he justifies himself by saying that they “had their own style,” immediately adding, to reinforce the argument, that “Brecht knew about this, his Verfremdungseffekt brings to mind circus clowns, serious people.”8 In a footnote to this sentence, the Brazilian playwright and director compares himself to the German one again: “Brecht wrote about the clown Karl Valentim, who much influenced him. My Valentim was Piolim!”9 The relationship with Brechtian theatre was made in the light of the previous relationship with popular theatre and vaudeville. As Iná Camargo Costa notes in A Hora do Teatro Épico no Brasil [The Hour of Epic Theatre in Brazil], the relationship between Brecht and Teatro de Revista had already been recorded by Luiz Francisco Rebello and Neyde Veneziano in aspects such as, for example, the fact that each scene is worthy by itself and not in its function of the others. She argues that “we can define the character José da Silva [of Revolution in South America] as a very well-​defined development of Artur Azevedo’s compères.”10 The main difference is that José da Silva is a worker, whereas in the Revistas of the turn of the century the compère was part of the ruling class, even when he was a countryman everyone laughed at. The character of Boal is impotent: he has no chance of being a protagonist, nor in the chosen theatrical form, which is a farce where laughter is achieved at his expense, nor in the political process, which concludes 52

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thanks to his sacrifice. As the author points out, “José da Silva is the spectator of the mechanisms of the Brazilian counterrevolution.”11 The chronic impotence of the characters in Boal, Guarnieri, and Vianinha’s plays (not to mention the rest of Luso-​Brazilian dramaturgy) may have left these authors unsatisfied with the portrayal of protagonists and led to the invention of this other type of theatrical figure that is the coringa [joker] and the process of “coringagem” [jokering] (whose autonomy is limited to the dimension of the stage), a distant relative of the figure of the compère, but still a relative. The Coringa System was defined in Arena Conta Zumbi in 1965, with Brecht’s works as a term of comparison: In Brecht’s distancing effect, the character was incarnated in a single actor: Helene Weigel was the only Mother Courage. In Zumbi, each character floated from actor to actor. At the strum of a guitar, actors and characters swapped partners.12 In Arena Conta Tiradentes, from 1967, however, the idea of protagonist and main actor returns, so that they do not deprive themselves of the resource of empathy between actor and audience. This return to a pre-​Brechtian resource is, according to Zanetti and others, “a formal backward movement.”13 Did Boal’s attempts at overcoming Brecht advance in retreat? Commenting on the well-​known Life of Galileo dialogue (from 1939) in which Andrea says, “Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero,” and Galileo replies, “No, Andrea: Unhappy is the land that needs a hero,” Boal wrote that, being an unhappy and poor country already, Brazil was doomed to need heroes, specifically ones like Tiradentes. This is how he ends Theatre of the Oppressed, in 1967, after discussing the likes of “brechtianism without Brecht.”14 It is one of the aspects in which Boal’s dramaturgy distinguishes itself from Brecht’s:  Boal’s supposedly needs positive heroes. Boal subscribed to some of Brecht’s words but subverted others. One thing is certain; the protagonist role began to be shared. More indirectly than the seed at the end of The Exception and the Rule, the notion that citizens were mere spectators and that heroes were needed for the revolution may have been another seed for a theatre that distributes roles and characters not only to actors, but also to viewers, and even shares the definition of these roles. If Brazilian heroes are mere spectators, and, since 1964, at least Brazilian actors had been largely deprived of artistic and/​or political capacity, with censorship established and military dictatorship increasingly more severe, perhaps Boal’s solution was to do theatre with the viewers, so the viewers would become protagonists. In addition, the Arena Theatre lived in constant financial difficulties, lacking a sufficient public or patronage to survive as a group; theatre shared the public’s attention with cinema, radio, and television, and spectators were also limited in their public actions. As a director, in 1967 Boal would still take on Brecht’s A Caucasian Chalk Circle, a play that premiered and was cancelled immediately, and, in 1971, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, staged according to the Joker System. For Teatro Oficina, Boal wrote (with Guarnieri) and directed (in 1965) the musical show Tempo de Guerra [Wartime], constructed with Brecht’s poems, with singers and musicians Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Tom Zé, and Maria Bethânia. Arturo Ui went well. The success of the show, for Boal, was due to the correspondence between the play and the situation: We were living the same moment, the same plots, the same intrigues, exactly: Arturo Ui lived among us, the snake’s egg had already grown with the bell in the tail. Everyone liked the play and the show: except the police. Fascism, rising in Brazil in 1971, during one of the bloodiest governments we have ever known, tightened the siege against 53

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intelligence, common sense, sensitivity, patriotism. As had happened with Nazism in Germany, while Brecht wrote the play.15 Coming out of the theatre one night after an Arturo Ui rehearsal, Boal was arrested, as he writes in a letter addressed to Marc Silberman of the International Brecht Society. In prison, Boal writes, it was faith in the motto “Be Brechtian!” that allowed him to maintain sanity in the face of torture. The exile marks Boal’s work production thereafter, as his appropriation of the Brechtian system does, too. Brecht’s poem about an old woman who returns food to the shelves gave rise to the first invisible play: When I was already in exile in Argentina, I once remembered a poem by Brecht that spoke of an old lady with hunger (…).The poem continued with the poet saying that she should not have done so; on the contrary, she should have put the food on the counter, revealed that she was hungry, and asked what she should do. Brecht proposed that she tell the truth and demand a response from society, represented there by the supermarket staff and her customers. This was what the poet Bertolt Brecht proposed: this is what we did. We created a piece that followed, in general terms, this same ideal plot.16 The poem Boal references is entitled The Shopper (1934): I am an old woman. When Germany had awoken Pension rates were cut. My children Gave me the pennies they could spare. But I could hardly buy anything now. So at first I went less often to the shops where I’d gone daily. But one day I thought it over, and then Daily once more I went to the baker’s, the greengrocer’s As an old customer. With care I picked my provisions Took no more than I used to, but no less either Put rolls beside the loaf and leeks beside the cabbage and only When they added up the bill did I sigh With my stiff fingers dug into my little purse And shaking my head confessed that I didn’t have enough To pay for those few things, and shaking my head I Left the shop, observed by all the customers. I said to myself: If all of us who have nothing No longer turn up where food is laid out They may think we don’t need anything But if we come and are unable to buy They’ll know how it is.17 In Theatre of the Oppressed, in the chapter on Brecht poetics written in 1973, Boal quotes extensively from the Brecht poem On Everyday Theatre (1929–​1933).The poem displays a model

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prototype for an Epic Theatre, identical to the one laid out in the essay “The Street Scene: A Basic Model for an Epic Theatre.” This is one of the texts where Brecht starts to develop the notion of the V-​effect.“The Street Scene” and On Everyday Theatre are models for demonstrations that stand for themselves, and not just for the events they tell. The specific perspective on the event is just as important as the event itself. As the poem makes clear as it unfolds, the question is both of technical ability and of social justice simultaneously.18 As Boal puts it himself,“rather than explaining at length … [it] is better to transcribe some verses” of the poem: (…) Take that man on the corner: he is showing how An accident took place. This very moment He is delivering the driver to the verdict of the crowd. The way he Sat behind the steering wheel, and now He imitates the man who was run over, apparently An old man. Of both he gives Only so much as to make the accident intelligible, and yet Enough to make you see them. But he shows neither As if the accident had been unavoidable. (…) Our demonstrator at the street corner Is no sleepwalker who must not be addressed. He is No high priest holding divine service. At any moment You can interrupt him; he will answer you Quite calmly and when you have spoken with him Go on with his performance. But you, do not say: that man Is not an artist. By setting up such a barrier Between yourselves and the world, you simply Expel yourselves from the world. If you thought him No artist he might think you Not human, and that Would be a worse reproach. Say rather: He is an artist because he is human.19 The feeling that the spectator is an actor, “the theatricality of our lives” described by Boal as having become clearer after the events of Santo André, is very close to Brecht’s work on “The Street Scene.” This poem is part of Brecht’s collection of didactic texts, which includes poems, plays, and essays. As their name implies, and despite misunderstandings, the didactic pieces were conceived more as exercises of dialectical interpretation, to be made and seen by theatre artists, than spectacles for ordinary spectators. A final example: Boal says that “Forum Theatre has similarities with Brecht’s The One Who Says Yes, the One Who Says No, which is a play with two endings.” Starting from this idea, but applying it to The Jewish Wife, a short play included in Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, Boal made the first experiences of Forum Theatre in France. These were severely criticized, by Bernard Dort, as anti-​Brechtian (as noted by Julian Boal in his currently unpublished doctoral thesis). For Augusto Boal, though, they were good: It was in that experience with Brecht that I began to think of developing, in non-​ actors, all the potentialities that we all possess. It was when I  began to think that,

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if all that an elephant does, all elephants do, why then would human beings be so specialized that some would be singers, other painters, other football or swimming champions, and the masses, the people, would have to be relegated to the condition of only spectators?!20 Where does the world change? Boal’s bricolage, which would lead to a larger system by the late 1970s in exile, has been adapting and reusing parts of the Brechtian system since the 1950s. Boal attempts to overcome the contradiction of making art in the name of the people but depending on the favors of the state (in turn dominated by a small slice of the population) or the favors of an audience that imagines itself to be middle-​class (however so small an audience that it constitutes itself, at best, as a ghost), apart from the popular classes. The attempt to overcome this impasse is made by bringing the spectator to the middle of the arena, using a series of tools developed by Brecht first and by Boal himself later. The last reference to Brecht in Hamlet and the Baker’s Son is a criticism: “In his great theatre, the wall between stage and audience did not come down.”21 In contrast, a statement to whom it may concern: “I, Augusto Boal, wish the Spectator to assume himself as Actor, invade Character and stage, occupy their Space and propose solutions.”22 Boal tries to find a way to change society, which will culminate in Legislative Theatre, and for the participation of more people in theatrical performance. More than the voter-​citizen or the spectator-​actor, Boal tries to create a citizen-​actor—​someone who participates—​and a republic-​stage—​a theatre to be made by all. Considering the sheer number of practitioners of Boal’s method, he hasn’t fallen that short.

Notes 1 Augusto Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son:  My Life in Theatre and Politics, trans. Adrian Jackson and Candida Blaker (London: Routledge, 2001), 146. 2 Ibid., 157. 3 Augusto Boal, “Brecht e, Modestamente, eu!” Instituto Augusto Boal (1999). Endereço eletrônico, https://​institutoaugustoboal.org/​2013/​06/​13/​brecht-​e-​modestamente-​eu (Accessed on March 25, 2018). 4 Bertolt Brecht, The Exception and the Rule, trans. Eric Bentley (New York: Grove Press, 1965), 143. 5 Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, 200. 6 Boal, Hamlet e o Filho de Padeiro: Memórias Imaginadas (São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2014), 200–​221. 7 Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, 185. [Editors’ Note: Bertolt Brecht’s notion of verfremdungseffekt is also sometimes written as A-​effect or alienation effect. Verfremdungseffekt seeks to make the familiar strange onstage, so that the spectator will be invited into a critical relationship with the action and its relevant contexts.] 8 Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, 168. 9 Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, 355. 10 Iná Camargo Costa, A Hora do Teatro Épico no Brasil (Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1996), 63. 11 Ibid., 65. 12 Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, 248–​249. 13 Anderson Zanetti, “De Nova Iorque ao Teatro de Arena de São Paulo: alguns encontros e desencontros de Augusto Boal com o teatro de Bertolt Brecht.” Pitágoras 500, 6: 2 (2016), 30–​40 (37). 14 Augusto Boal, Teatro do Oprimido e Outras Poéticas Políticas (São Paulo:  Cosac Naify, 2013 (1975)), 201–​205. 15 Boal, “Brecht e, Modestamente, eu!” 16 Ibid. 17 Bertolt Brecht, Bertolt Brecht’s Poems, 1913–​1916, eds. John Willett and Ralph Mannheim (Routledge: London, 1987), 225–​226.

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Epic Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed 18 Nicolas Whybrow, Street Scenes: Brecht, Benjamin and Berlin (Bristol: Intellect Books, 2005), 69–​73, 71–​72. 19 Brecht, Bertolt Brecht’s Poems, 176–​179. 20 Boal, “Brecht e, Modestamente, eu!” 21 Boal, Hamlet e o Filho de Padeiro, 361. 22 Ibid., 362.

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6 PAULO FREIRE AND AUGUSTO BOAL Praxis, poetry, and utopia Paolo Vittoria First words …1 In this chapter, I will be taking a deeper look at the connections between the thoughts and actions of the two great Brazilian activists and intellectuals: Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal. The first question that would arise in the possible dialogue between Boal and Freire is the transformative nature of knowledge. Social transformation requires a type of knowledge which is not simply and purely contemplative, but which instead provokes the practical experience of changing historical circumstances:  elements and conditions that can be identified in the philosophy of praxis. Praxis does not only refer to an activity, but rather a sort of reflexive practice for social transformation. In this sense, the word praxis transcends the word “practice” and implies the transformational intentionality of social action itself. This reflection leads us to a profound element related to the work and practice of Augusto Boal and Paulo Freire: the organization and articulation of actions—​theatrical in the case of Boal and educational in the case of Freire. Strategically, actions must be articulated, integrated, and organically conceived in order to be effective. In isolation, they would be the result of pure spontaneity. Purely spontaneous activities, without reflection, are not praxis. Praxis is a systematic, interrelated, reflexive, and organized set of actions and social relationships. Augusto Boal uses theatre, dreams, aesthetics, art, imagination, and expression in theatrical praxis:  we can define this as poetic praxis. Paulo Freire relies on relationships, utopia, social denunciation, and dialogue as part of educational practice: we can define this as utopian praxis.

Paulo Freire: from banking education to critical education In the political-​pedagogical field, Paulo Freire theorized and practiced a transformation of the educational relationship by overcoming the teacher–​student dichotomy and re-​thinking the learning process as a common path created from interaction. The educator is thus a “student of the student” and the student is the “teacher of the teacher.” Each one, through their actions, comes to learn from the other and from the experience of the relationship itself. Known worldwide for his most prominent work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (A Pedagogia do Oprimido), the Brazilian educator began his engagement with education in the field of promoting literacy to the popular classes historically excluded from access to education in northeastern 58

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Brazil, and particularly in Angicos, a small city in Rio Grande do Norte where he taught 300 urban and rural workers to read in 40 hours in 1962–​1963. For Freire, the teaching of literacy (and education in the broadest sense) represents a recovery of the importance of the word itself, namely as an instrument to overcome the culture of silence, which implies a different awareness of social structures. Therefore, in the literacy experiences guided by Paulo Freire, the words came from the everyday language of the community, from the interaction between educators and learners in the various cultural circles: productive words. It was a process which, in its simplicity and nature, assumed deep social implications by providing spaces for cultural creation while involving students in community research and promoting dialogue. The words emerged through what Freire called the search for the vocabulary universe: that is, a path of knowledge of the language of the community which was carried out through dialogues discussing issues related to work, society, family, and daily life in a broader sense. The search for the vocabulary universe was not executed using pre-​established forms or texts, but by means of a set of shared and communitarian actions through the interaction between the group of educators and the community. The immediate objective lay in the knowledge of the words/​expressions most used by the community involved in the literacy-​building process. During the “vocabulary universe” search phase, the group of educators experienced the daily life of the community, got to know their families, and visited their most important places. Freire insisted on the need for the words of the literacy program to come from the vocabulary universe of the groups seeking literacy because that would allow them to express their real way of speaking and their concerns, worries, complaints, and dreams—​and because such words were loaded with the existential and political experience of the community and not just the values brought forth by the educator. Unlike a unilateral education model, education based on dialogue and critique focuses on popular language, imagination, and culture, as well as existential and social issues and critical reflections thereupon. Unilateral education, which Freire polemically defines as banking education, implies the accumulating nature of contents which are stored and added up without any form of critical or dialogical reflection. In addition to praxis, organization, and the articulation of educational actions, Freire also proposes the following to surpass a model of education where: a ) b) c) d) e) f ) g)

the teacher teaches and the students are taught; the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing; the teacher thinks and the students are thought about; the teacher talks and the students listen—​meekly; the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined; the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students comply; the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher; h) the teacher chooses the program content, and the students (who were not consulted) adapt to it; i ) the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his or her own professional authority, which she and he set in opposition to the freedom of the students; j ) the teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects.2 From Freire’s perspective, traditional content is replaced by topics for discussion, and dialogue facilitates a critical process of social consciousness. This process of a dialectical relationship between teacher and student, the educator and the learner, modifies the classroom “setting” by 59

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dropping the relational barriers produced by a conservative model of teaching. Augusto Boal would also perform a similar process in the theatrical field by breaking the barriers between spectator and actor and causing the so-​called “fourth wall” to fall, thereby inviting spectators to participate in the process, to get on stage, to debate, and to break the culture of silence and subservience.

Praxis and utopia in the work of Paulo Freire In Freire’s pedagogy, we can identify elements of a dialectical philosophy, since he insists on a thesis-​antithesis-​synthesis responding to the reality of the oppressed, the oppressor, and the emancipatory revolutionary process. This dialectic is also present in the contradictory antithesis between banking education–​critical education, dialogue–​anti-​dialogue, naive consciousness–​ critical awareness, naive curiosity–​critical curiosity, reaching the essence of dialectics in the contradiction between subject and object. This dualism is historically rooted in the social reality of the processes of colonization and predation and in a dualistic school system in which these antitheses are concretely present: between oppressed and oppressors, between colonized and colonizers, between educators and learners, and between subjects and objects. Therefore, in my opinion, Freire cannot be considered an “idealist” in the abstract sense. Praxis is precisely the overcoming of the acritical teaching model that reaffirms social inequalities. If we take into account his political and philosophical inspirations (Paul Sartre’s existentialism, the post-​colonialism of Albert Memmi and Frantz Fanon, the political thinking of Antonio Gramsci, Amilcar Cabral, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Erich Fromm’s humanistic psychology, the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl, among others), we come to realize that the concept of “idealist” was used in a controversial manner in a general sense which would imply a naive dreamer, beautiful and abstract ideas, and idealistic thinking. In my opinion, Freire is a utopian, not in the common sense of the term (delusional) but, in fact, in an understanding of utopia as the concrete and hard practice of transforming reality. Utopia is a place that does not exist now but which can be created through our transformative power: creative place. It is in such creativity that the praxis of Augusto Boal can be seen as well. This is a very concrete form of creativity because it values the knowledge of experience through dialogue: in Freire’s pedagogy one begins with the specific reality of the student and of the community in order to then transcend said reality. This may seem unattainable and “idealistic” for abstract interpretations that do not depend on the process of change, in a context of “ideal” pedagogy separate from social struggles, but it is particularly practical with regard to concrete reality. Thus, the pedagogy of Freire and theatre of Boal are both linked to the principle of popular organization and struggle for social justice, common good, and social, human, and educational rights. This line of thinking, as previously mentioned, requires coordinated action and a certain methodological rigor to approach the object of knowledge.This methodological rigor makes Freire’s activity a type of praxis. According to Freire: “[…] innocent wisdom, commonsensical, lacking rigorous methods of approaching the object, […] should not […] be exempt from our consideration. Its necessary conquest happens through our respect for it and has in it its point of departure.”3 Utopian praxis is the pedagogy of action and reflection to create a reality that does not exist (yet) here and now, but which arises from the here and now and transcends it. In Freire’s work, utopian pedagogy is a praxis of denunciation and proclamation and moves through the continuous problematization of existential situations, dialogue, and the reflective dimension of human beings as well as our ability to analyze, think, and develop critical consciousness. 60

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The praxis of the quest comes from critical reflection on practice in order to expand the critical consciousness of cultural and political actions, creative forces, and the forces of movement in history. That is why Freire’s notion of “conscientização” (conscientization) would not have a real meaning without praxis. Praxis involves reciprocal action between subjects, not solitary action.The political construction of popular education needs the formation of responsible subjects and not passive spectators, as in the false democracy of the media. In this sense, praxis is the fermentation and growth of social movements opposing the principles of populism and the manipulation of democracy by oligarchies. It calls into question and problematizes the structures of hegemony in an attempt to transform their essence, which requires the dialogue that is denied by dogmatism.Thus, there is a continuing dialectic between action and reflection, between practice and theory, between experience and thinking, which transcends practice and theory, too.

Praxis of liberation and theatrical poetics in the work of Augusto Boal For the Argentinian philosopher Enrique Dussel, the “praxis of liberation” has two stages: the first consists of the critique and deconstruction of a particular situation, and the second is the struggle to emerge from this existing situation through the creation of a new reality.4 This strategy comes across very clearly in Pedagogy of the Oppressed: on the one hand, the book deals with the recognition of radical oppression in situations of dependency and colonization; on the other, it proposes dialogical-​revolutionary action as the means to overcome dependency. For both strategic stages, praxis requires a “pedagogy of the question,” a process of inquiring into existential situations.The question throws the existing reality and beliefs or conventions into crisis: it is a path leading to deep understanding. It is poetic action, challenging and reflective, which awakens consciousness about the actions and their creative and transformative possibilities. Just as in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, praxis is reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it, and through it we can acquire critical consciousness about our condition and enter the struggle for liberation. The creative and aesthetic movement makes a growing multiplicity of spaces and times available for novel creations, as in Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed (Teatro do Oprimido), for example. The Brazilian playwright transferred principles from Freire’s pedagogy to the field of political theatre. He experimented with action that goes beyond the standard arrangement of a group of actors who act and spectators who watch. In Boal’s experimental action, spaces open up in which the spectators metaphorically break the “fourth wall”—​in theatrical terms the symbolic barrier between stage and audience—​to participate and intervene directly in the action. The spectator’s feeling of identification with the actor is overturned by creative communication strategies. It is not mere catharsis (liberation through mimesis) but poetical praxis (liberation through action and reflection on the poetic action). The enhancement of aesthetic sensitivity is praxis because it arises out of intuition or sensitive thought, but it creates through elaboration on it. Reflective and sensitive actions come together in the creative act.Therefore, art, as an unconscious–​conscious practice of the body and of sensitivity, is a critical placement in history, and it too is praxis, poetic praxis.

The roots of Theatre of the Oppressed In order to explain the genesis and articulation of Theatre of the Oppressed, Augusto Boal used the metaphor of the tree, whose roots are politics, history, philosophy, and ethics. All of those, 61

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through the instruments of play—​words, imagery, and sounds—​and fed by multiplication and solidarity—​g ive life to the trunk, which consists of Forum Theatre and Image Theatre. From the trunk emerges the branches of Newspaper Theatre, Rainbow of Desire, Invisible Theatre, Legislative Theatre, and other forms that we still do not know, much like how a tree is a living being which continuously evolves. The roots give life to the tree, providing food and sustenance. In a concrete sense, ethics, philosophy, politics, and history are the life force of theatre. Ethics, according to Boal, closely resembles the reflexive process with which a choice matures. Each choice presupposes a disruption, and a choice in favor of the oppressed, for Boal, presupposes a break from the culture and a neutral society that does nothing other than affirm the existing privileges. Ethics is permanent social action consistent with this choice. Philosophy: How is this choice made? What are the instruments? What are the perspectives? What societies is it for? What powers does it challenge? Philosophy helps to pose questions and to do so with a love of knowledge that the question itself provokes. Far from the idea of a search for absolute truth, Boal’s philosophy stands as a deconstruction of the truth imposed by the ruling classes, which very often finds itself embedded within an ideological mask. According to Boal, philosophy tends to remove the mask and unveil the true essence of power. Politics: Generally, when we discuss politics with educators or students, a double perspective emerges. The first is an image of politics which lies outside of us, referring to “politicians” or “corrupt and selfish rulers” brought to power by the representative system. This is a type of politics that arouses much bitterness and often even denial. Another idea of politics is the sort which lives within us, the type of politics that should arise every time we connect socially and that should guide our decisions and manifest itself in the relations between subjects as well as the relationship between subjects and the community itself. It is the type of politics to which Aristotle alludes when he asserts that we are “political animals.” This second concept of politics is often debased, humiliated, and almost devoured by the first concept. In fact, there is currently a prevailing view of politics as something that moves from the outside to the inside, that is: the internalization of external factors often collected after being filtered by the means of mass “communication” and by the ideologies of their owners. For Boal, the trajectory is reversed and politics is born within us through the movement of theatre and then opens to the outside. But in addition to mere internalization, there is a process of immersion and externalization. As such, a deep and creative sense of politics is rediscovered. History: How can there be politics without history? In France, a group of history scholars (Braudel, Bloch, and Febvre), who came to be known as the Les Annales5 group, re-​discussed the idea of history by explaining that history is not merely the collection of past facts. To further clarify this concept, Bloch drew a distinction between the historian and the antiquarian: the antiquarian is a lover of the past. The historian is a lover of the present, and this love leads him to want to have an in-​depth understanding of the present through the past. Knowing the facts of history is not as important as having a historical consciousness, that is: having a deep comprehension of the present re-​evoked by history.

Theatre as a social action Social action aimed at the revolutionary transformation of society is the basis of Boal’s proposal which, from the beginning of his theatrical activities, was strongly influenced by the work of Bertolt Brecht (1898–​1956). The Brazilian and German playwrights share a common idea of theatre oriented toward an interpretation of the contradictions of social reality and which, at the same time, represent art and political science. 62

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As with Brecht, in Boal’s work the formative aspect of theatre becomes political. Political science can be a kind of art when it seeks to understand society without renouncing the aesthetics and poetics of research. The question that Boal and Brecht pose is not that of alienation in itself, but rather the collective effort to overcome it and therefore, necessarily, to understand it. Although strongly influenced by Brecht, Boal seeks a theatrical praxis which is not limited to just thinking about the scene but which also focuses its attention on the audience and the possibility for it to participate in such actions, suggest ideas, and to be involved. The profound revolution that this brings about is not exhausted on political content, but rather opens itself to the communicative strategies determining the political process. Brecht began to suggest the involvement of spectators on stage in the Lehrstücke, socio-​dramatic games in which participants had to experience the most common and primary oppressive structures. The Lehrstücke (literally, “educational works for learning”), created by Brecht with a group of writers in the 1920s and early 1930s under the regime of the Weimar Republic, proposed a sort of dramaturgy to engage spectators instead of leaving them in a condition of passivity. Brecht used these theatrical techniques to organize workers in small groups to reflect on certain key elements of oppression (the dynamics of financial transactions, insubordination, etc.). Boal radicalizes the spectator’s participation on the stage. This revolutionizes the spectator–​ actor relationship, just as Paulo Freire had done with the teacher–​student relationship, and constructs an open, circular, and dialogical relationship which thus has critical potential: a possibility that mass communication (which is not communication) does not allow. Boal transfers the tone of critical awareness of the Brechtian spectator to the spectator-​actor “onstage action” as proof of future change. He studies communication by observing, experimenting, and learning from imperfections and paradoxes, and he reinvents theatre in participatory terms. Though the experiences of Augusto Boal were inspired by the political theatre of Bertolt Brecht and Paulo Freire’s pedagogical discourse, we cannot forget his inspiration from Konstantin Sergeevič Stanislavski (1863–​1938), a Russian playwright who in 1898 founded the Moscow Art Theatre. Stanislavski’s theatrical method is often positioned as an affirmation of the identification between actor and character, that is, an assimilation of the actor into the emotion, drama, and consciousness of the character through a form of empathic research. It is true, but only to a certain extent, because in fact Stanislavski’s method goes well beyond assimilation. The actor, through the relationship with the character, conducts research on his own person and on the character itself. He does such research by getting in touch with other actors and leaving the room for improvisation. In the “physical action method” from the 1920s, Stanislavski analyzed technical possibilities to begin experiments studying the progression of characters through exercises of improvisation, games, and metaphors. The actor could represent the character by gradually entering his psychology through his paradoxes. An actor who wants to represent a drunk person, for example, should not necessarily mention his drunken state, but may instead represent his desire to hide the alteration and, therefore, the paradox. By lowering and altering his voice, he could seek to act out an ill-​fated attempt to walk straight or to appear sober. As such, the action is contrary to his actual state. Improvisation, therefore, does not imply total spontaneity on the part of the actor, but rather internal and social research through exercises, which—​developed in a logical, emotional, or creative way—​work on particular character aspects in concrete or imaginary situations without resorting to any ready psychological basis and instead discovering them in action.6 Boal may have learned from Stanislavski that the study and creation of a character is not limited to spontaneous emotion but emerges instead from verbal and non-​verbal psychophysical actions. Boal reinvents a form of theatre in which everyone can be an actor … all it takes is to provoke the artistic nature within each of us. We are all artists, spectators, and actors, or, as he 63

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loved to say, spect-​actors! The interaction between spectators and actors, with their infinite creative possibilities, becomes a concrete metaphor of the human and political relationship. A dialectical relationship refers to conditions in which each person learns from another. Boal experienced an action which overcame the scheme presupposed by a group of actors who recite lines and spectators who watch. Praxis gives meaning to action as a process of reflective transformation of reality. Boal, like Freire, created a pedagogy of praxis and used poetry as an instrument of praxis. Boal makes a use of art as a device of transformation to overcome the habit of distinguishing art from life and life from conscious transformation of society.

Final reflections: the legacy of reinvention The approach between Boal and Freire is evident in the words of Boal himself: Paulo Freire, a well-​known Brazilian pedagogue, explains the concept of transitivity in teaching: the teacher is not someone who “pours” notions into the student’s brain like a dump-​truck or a safe full of money-​information. A teacher is somebody who has mastery over a particular area of knowledge and passes it on to the student while simultaneously receiving other forms of knowledge which the student possesses. The professor learns with his students how his students learn from him: each person with their own diverse attributes and learning styles. Teaching is thus a transitive process, that is, one of democracy and dialogue. “I taught a rural person how to write the word ‘plow’ and he taught me how to handle one,” says an Argentinian professor. In conventional theater, the relationship is intransitive: it is always performed from the stage to the audience and everything—​emotions, moral ideas, etc.—​is conveyed in a single direction and never in reverse. Any noise, exclamation, coughing fit, or any other sign of life on the part of the spectator is going in the wrong direction, or is even dangerous! Silence is required so as not to destroy the scenic magic. In the Theater of the Oppressed, however, dialogue is the objective: interference is not only allowed, but it is provoked and spectators are questioned in the hope that they will provide answers. And in particular, answers without rhetoric.7 In this sense, from a theoretical and political point of view, Boal and Freire transcend the distinction between educator and learner, spectator and actor. They move beyond the confines of the classical theories of theatre and education, thus overcoming the dichotomy between sensible thought and rational thought. From a practical point of view, this means overcoming relational barriers through a participatory, critical, and creative social action that also overcomes the contradiction between the oppressed and the oppressor in the context of a process of emancipation. Only practice can determine how concretely possible this is during these times of individualism, violence, and isolation. Specifically poetic and utopian practices can and should be reinvented and not mechanically followed. In rigorously respecting the content from these two great thinkers, we must go beyond them. Paulo Freire said, “I do not want to be followed, I want to be reinvented”; Augusto Boal would not even have to specify his legacy of reinvention, as he continued to reinvent himself throughout his life, creating and recreating his own creations and recreations. In my opinion, these are two artists/​educators whose character of dialogue, participation, and social consciousness is evident. Our legacy is to reinvent them. But how? First of all, we can achieve this by having a thorough understanding of their work and pondering what it means. 64

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Yet we should also recognize the limitations of these works in our current times, not mechanically repeating methods and techniques, but reaping the profound ethical legacy of their political, educational, artistic thinking. Otherwise we would contradict their principles and the fact that they fought their whole lives against mechanical thinking—​in favor of dialectical, critical, and creative thinking capable of translating thought into action and action into creation.

Notes 1 This chapter was translated from Portuguese by MendWord Translations, Los Angeles, California, with some adjustments by the editors as permitted by the translation service. 2 Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 50th anniversary edition, trans. Myra Bergman Ramos (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), 59. 3 Ibid., 92. 4 Enrique Dussel, 20 Teses de Politica (Buenos Aires:  Clacso. Rio de Janeiro:  Expressão Popular, 2007), 115, 116. 5 This group of scholars, who came together around the Annales Journal, modified the concept of history and the historiography of linear event chronology through discussions which are not necessarily chronological but which are intended to understand the present. The scholars included Marc Bloch, Lucian Febvre, and Fernand Braudel. 6 Konstantin S. Stanislavskij, Il lavoro dell’attore sul personaggio, trans. it. (Roma-​Bari: Laterza, 1997). 7 Augusto Boal, Dal Desiderio Alla Legge. Manuale di Teatro Della Cittadinanza, trans. A. Vannucci (Molfetta: La Meridiana, 2002), 25.

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7 THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED AS A DIALECTICAL GAME? José Soeiro and Julian Boal

“Bad dramatists of all epochs,” Augusto Boal writes in Theatre of the Oppressed and Other Political Poetics, “do not understand the enormous importance of the transformations that occur in front of the spectator:  theatre is transformation and movement, not just a simple presentation of what exists. It’s about becoming and not being.”1 Years later, in another book, Boal insists on this way of understanding theatre as “conflict, contradiction, confrontation” and dramatic action as “the movement of this confrontation of forces.”2 Conflict, contradiction, confrontation, and movement are not concepts that appear by chance. They result, even prior to any conviction about theatre, from a specific way of looking at the world. And what way is that? For us, this is first and foremost a dialectical perspective.

Movement, contradiction, totality This chapter is not intended to address the history of dialectical thinking from its Greek etymological origin (in fact, Heraclitus is one of Boal’s references) to the meaning attributed to this term by Kant, Hegel, or Marx and Engels when they approach dialectics “with their feet planted on the ground” and not just in the world of ideas. Instead, we ask: to what are we referring when we speak about dialectics with regard to Boal? First of all, we are talking about a way of conceptualizing the world not from a representation of order and permanence, but rather of the permanent discontinuity of all that exists, that is, a way of looking at reality that recognizes therein the conflict (of interests, of representations, etc.) and therefore the notion of change as a process inherent to reality’s very existence. We are talking about a way of looking at what exists from a dynamic and changing perspective instead of just searching for harmony and continuity. It’s a way of understanding the world that rejects that the world—​or the human being—​is what it is. But why? Because, to paraphrase Paulo Freire, nothing is, everything is being, in a flow where human action influences what happens. Within this understanding of reality, the present itself can be questioned in the light of the future: that which is can be analyzed in the name of what is not yet, but which may come to be. The hypothesis of an association between the activation of the spectator and the possibility of imagining and experimenting with other potential images of the world is in fact underlying the whole proposal of a Poetics of the Oppressed, through which people would cease to be 67

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victims of finished representations of the world, so that they become the subjects of transformation. In Boal’s words about his experiences in Peru, All these experiences of popular theatre pursue the same goal: the liberation of the spectator, on whom the theatre has become accustomed to imposing finished visions of the world. And considering that those who do theatre, in general, are people directly or indirectly linked to the ruling classes, it is logical that these finished images are the images of the ruling class.3 The dialectical view apprehends the transforming reality (what is being and what may be …), thinking essentially about its contradictions.When we speak of contradiction in this context, we do not do so in terms of logic, according to which a contradiction would be a kind of logical error between two opposing theses which are mutually exclusive, but rather in terms of contradiction as the basic principle of the movement by which beings exist. That is, a movement which, instead of being continuous, passes through phases of opposition and rupture, and therefore of dialectical sublation.4 It is precisely this way of thinking about contradiction (between classes, means of production, and relations of production, between society and nature, individuals and their social functions, etc.) that constitutes the core of dialectical thought and which points to the mutability of the world. It is the presence of this dialectical mode in the theatre of Augusto Boal that we are interested in investigating. It is no coincidence that, when Marx defines his “dialectical method,” he presents it as a: scandal and horror for the bourgeoisie and its coryphaei, because with a positive understanding of the state of things there is simultaneously an understanding of their own negation, and understanding of their necessary overcoming, because it conceives all transformed forms in the flow of movement, and thus the transitory nature of reality.5 In fact, the dialectical way of thinking inquires about reality not in search of an essence, but rather as a relationship between forces in motion. In doing so, it understands knowledge as a concrete analysis of these forces and investigates reality from its contradictions, revealing the unstable character of what exists—​and not what seems fixed and finished, smooth and immutable. Thus, dialectical thinking takes the order of each moment not as a necessity, but as a contingency. In Theatre of the Oppressed, the present is no more than a possibility among others, and this makes it possible to define it as subjunctive or conjunctive6 theatre, that is, a theatre that expresses not certainty but desire, the uncertain, the hypothetical (“and if it were different …,” “when it happens …,” “which may change…”). Finally, we’re also talking about dialectics as a way of understanding reality that seeks totality. For the dialectical method, knowledge is totalizing because it explores the movement of contradictions and because it seeks the specific mediations that constitute the fabric of each totality. It is thus a matter of trying to get a view of all the problems and thinking about the parts and the whole in a relational and interdependent way. It is this awareness of wholeness that allows us to look at a particular subject not only in terms of their individual or psychological characteristics (a father who is affectionate or authoritarian, a boss who is sympathetic or cruel, etc.), but in terms of the role they play in the system of social relations at a more comprehensive level—​and which allows us to represent the individual in tension with their social function in a particular order, which in turn makes a certain exteriority or even imperativeness of said order more explicit. It is also this awareness of wholeness that impels us toward a patient work 68

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of identifying concrete contradictions and specific mediations so that the issues appearing on a given level never are detached from the issues appearing on another level—​which is, moreover, an immense political challenge and, therefore, also a dramaturgical one. It is also this principle of totalization—​in which totality is never a definitive conclusion, but a process of searching for various elements and their contradictions—​that allows us to understand things beyond their appearance and in the interrelationships they have with other things, by looking at what is new and the possibilities of transformation. Therefore, it would not be unreasonable to identify in Augusto Boal’s work this way of perceiving the world as unfinished, as constituted by the movement of its contradictions—​ which, also in the theatre, would have to be represented and depicted in their mediations and interrelationships. In fact, it seems to us that dialectics was an important thread from the beginning of Augusto Boal’s career until its end. From the desire to model a national culture through theatre to the invention of new tools so that theatre ceases to be a product of distraction and becomes a productive medium in the revolutionary sense, it is possible to identify such an approach and practice in Augusto Boal’s work. But it is also possible to make a dialectical critique of his theatre and the difficulties and contradictions that he faced in relation to each concrete conjuncture.

The Arena Theatre, from bourgeois drama to dialectical theatre The Arena Theatre was revolutionary in every sense of the word. From the beginning, the theatre founded by José Renato was distinguished by its willingness to present new playwrights and by its physical form in an actual arena, which required new forms of staging and performance different from those used until then in Brazil.The arrival of Augusto Boal in the group was decisive in making the little theatre with just over 120 seats become one of the most important in Brazil. The Arena Theatre … had to take a decisive attitude, which appeared with the arrival of Augusto Boal: the mobilization of the entire Arena Theatre to create the spectacle. It no longer had airtight distinctions between actor, director, lighting, etc. and the Arena became a team […] in the creative sense. All the actors of the Arena had access to the guidance and leadership of the theatre, including for commercial, intellectual, and advertising matters. Boal mobilized all the immense existing capacity […]7 This “mobilization” took place in various forms. The laboratory of interpretation where Stanislavski was consulted from dawn to dusk helped to refine the talent of actors who marked Boal’s era, such as Gianfrancesco Guarnieri. An exceptional actor, Guarnieri is also the author of They Do Not Wear Black-​Tie, a piece which was a watershed in the Brazilian theatre for presenting a strike as a theme and workers and favela residents as the protagonists. The class struggle runs through a family in which the father, an old Communist militant, confronts his son who, both because he was brought up in an elegant neighborhood and because he is about to marry his pregnant girlfriend, decides not to enlist in the strike and betrays his comrades in order to seek an individual solution to his problems.Though its content is expressly political, its dramatic form makes the general feel of the play one which is subjective and moral. Limiting the content to one’s home or backyard means that we can only hear about strikes and their protagonists as things taking place outside of our field of vision. 69

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If theatre is defined by that which is staged, any spectator will agree that a subject has more weight when it is staged and shown to the audience than when it is simply reported […]. All the important actions [in They Do Not Wear Black-​Tie] happened off the stage and were relegated to the status of reported events, and despite the subject matter the playwright decided to write a drama.8 On stage what we see are actions that do not have direct relation to the theme of the play (domestic chores, an engagement party, family conversations), where characters who are absolutely conscious of themselves and of the world in which they live make decisions by following motives which are ultimately based on their personal worldviews (individualistic or non-​individualistic), without these ever seeming to be crossed by social structures that would overdetermine them. In attempting to speak about the workers, the playwright—​by using the conflict of wills characteristic of the dramatic form—​ends up promoting the figure of the autonomous individual, provided with an unlimited free will and, therefore, closer to the figure of the entrepreneur than of a member of the proletarian class. The unexpected success of They Do Not Wear Black-​Tie both allowed for the survival of the Arena as well as the beginning of a new phase: the search for a national dramaturgy in sync with the problems of the present moment. This search was carried out, among others, in the famous seminar of dramaturgy where Boal’s Revolution in South America would be written; the latter play in some ways turns They Do Not Wear Black-​Tie on its head. If the nature of Black-​Tie is a bourgeois drama, in Revolution, scene by scene, we see a reinvention of narrative theatre that borrows from the circus, Newspaper Theatre, and, of course, Brecht’s dialectical theatre. Here the contradiction between space and action is used in a productive way:  a scene in which the young bourgeois revolutionaries gather in a brothel is a critique of a certain Left, more adept at partying than of serious organization. The plot does not unfold through an increasing order of intensity until the end, but rather each scene exists in and of itself and could be easily isolated from the others (as was the case in fact with a scene of an Imperial Guardian Angel that was used in the streets and squares by the Popular Culture Centers, which were the largest example of an agitprop movement that Brazil had known). The protagonist is the reverse of what might be expected in a bourgeois drama: unconscious of the processes in which he participates, a passive spectator of the counter-​revolution which he watches unfold, one who is motivated by a single desire: eating, which—​when satiated—​will cause his death. This character, “exploited by his guardian angel, neglected by his rulers, betrayed by his companion,”9 is stripped of all the attributes of dramatic characters: there is no free will here, as he exercises his decision-​making capacity as a materialization of his subjective morality in the world.The character, Zé da Silva, is essentially negative and, precisely because of this, operates in a world where there is no room for idealism. It was through this formal revolution that Augusto Boal was able to create a play where: no matter how central the role of class is […], the counterrevolution in progress is that of the protagonist. And, given that the protagonist is the adversary to be criticized, he was treated with the appropriate theatrical resources:  farce, satire, and explicit caricature.10 Though a sort of broken humor is maintained in many of his works, Augusto Boal never again treated his material so dialectically and never again wrote so deeply from the assumption that “[t]‌he negative already […] contains within itself its opposite.”11 The necessities of the struggle 70

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made him choose positive central characters with whom the audience could identify. His dispute with Anatol Rosenfeld is well-​known regarding the piece Arena Conta Tiradentes [Arena Tells of Tiradentes], where Boal writes in the preface, “Brecht sang: ‘Happy are those who do not have heroes.’ I agree with this. However, we aren’t a happy people. This is why we need heroes. We need Tiradentes.” It was as if Augusto Boal thought that it was necessary for spectators to see exemplary models in order to arouse in them the desire and courage necessary to take part in the struggle against dictatorships. The Joker System, which sought to be the synthesis of the opposition between Stanislavski and Brecht, ends up juxtaposing the poetics of these two men of theatre without really articulating them.12 On the one hand, we have the joker who uses all the formal features of theatre and narrates the scene intelligently. On the other hand, the protagonist—​confined to his Realism—​only manages to show an unbreakable will that fatally slips into a form of idealism where a heroic will goes beyond history and society. Will this juxtaposition not continue in the experiences of Theatre of the Oppressed and in Forum Theatre in particular?

Theatre of the Oppressed as a dialectical game? As we see in other chapters of this book, the development of Theatre of the Oppressed is itself a product of the problems with which reality was confronting Augusto Boal throughout his life. In this process, there is a sort of permanence as well as lines of continuity between Arena’s work and Boal’s later experiences, but there are also interruptions subject to the contexts (social, historical, geographical) in which these experiences took place. The basic premise of Theatre of the Oppressed is the evident expression of its dialectical core:  an examination that identifies society as being crossed by relations of oppression. This aspect, which some people try to caricature as a tributary of a “simplistic,” “dichotomous,” and even “outdated” conception of the world, is not only a founding aspect of the method but the exact opposite of this caricature. It is the dialectical vision that seeks to identify conflicts and different material interests at hand, which allows for a complex assessment of what’s real and the mediations thereof, far from morality and schematism, and above all, far from any essentialist views. In investigating reality from relations of oppression, it is power and its distribution that are in focus. Of course, the shift from oppressive relations, in a collective and historical sense, to relations of interaction between the oppressed and the oppressors is a focus of tension in Augusto Boal’s dramatic plays, particularly in Forum Theatre. It would seem, however, that in his work on Theatre of the Oppressed there was always the underlying concern for developing a theatrical object capable of accounting for the relationship between the part and the whole. At the same time, it is true that the dramaturgy of the forum has an individualist bias, a fact whose explanation can be found, at least partially, in the need felt by Augusto Boal to value the role of the individual (and, therefore, of heroes) in a political conjuncture in which, on the Left, the action of the subjects was dissolved in the paralyzing tutelage of tendentially bureaucratic political organizations and in search of compromises.13 Even so, there are several moments when Augusto Boal seems to want to persevere, in the manner contemplated in Theatre of the Oppressed, with a movement seeking totalization. The concrete situation represented in a forum is not just an individual situation. It is a “microcosm” in which, in principle, mediations are established with the whole.This microcosm, which constitutes the concreteness of the play’s story, “is embedded in the macrocosm of the whole society, whereby the whole society is called into question.”14 The question that remains is how to do so, since to assume that the representation of individual conflicts accounts for social 71

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structures because those structures inhabit the bodies of individuals (as Augusto Boal sometimes seems to suggest) would be a way of avoiding the representation of the whole set of specific mediations that are not reducible to individuals. Now, an anti-​model of Forum Theatre, in order to account for such mediations, should not in principle be the conflict of an individual, but rather the representation of a particular historical articulation of multiple determinations, a concrete situation that, presenting itself in the present and with its contradictions, is open to action and can therefore be transformed—​by the spectators on stage and by the citizens outside it. The fact that the forum starts from a concrete situation would not imply, in principle, that the problem was individualized or taken only in its particular aspects. In reality, a dialectical dramaturgy would seek to maximize the unity existing between the particular and the universal, insofar as the former exists throughout the latter. Thus, the exercise of totalization would start from a singular history or episode because this emphasis on the concrete character of a situation would be a way to avoid the tendency toward abstraction and a way to reject dogmatism, precisely because it starts with a concrete analysis of each concrete situation. The singularity of history would thus be worked out as a synthesis of multiple determinations. The problem, however, lies in knowing how to do it, both from the point of view of analysis and dramaturgical concreteness. How can we make what determines or conditions the situation visible in a Forum Theatre exercise? The historical condition of the situation in a certain way overflows it, but without that it cannot become fully intelligible. In reality, it’s easier to say something than to do something. And it is difficult, and not so frequent, for these dimensions to be satisfactorily articulated in Forum Theatre. This tension is also present on another scale: that of the individual and that of the actor’s work. In fact, historicity and totalization are not solved by the presence of social structures on stage in an allegorical or symbolic way without concrete mediations. The structures of oppression are not an abstraction: they have a concrete material aspect which is external and also works through the individuals and within the oppressed themselves, either in the form of an anticipation that holds us back (the fear of what I can lose if I fulfill my desires, the risks that I run if I make a determined struggle and try to achieve my will) or in the form of internalization of the structures of oppression (we conform to a determining role, we adopt the categories of thought of the oppressors, we naturalize common sense). And here, there is a dialectical sensibility on the part of Augusto Boal which manifests itself—​and that seems to be in continuity with the work developed at the Arena. This dialectical concern can be seen in the way Boal reflects—​in his books on Theatre of the Oppressed—​about the construction of the characters and their interpretation, as well as how he writes about the actor’s work. “The essence of theatricality,” he would insist, “is the conflict of wills. These wills must be subjective and objective at the same time. They should pursue goals that are also subjective and objective.”15 However, here dialectics appear with a tendentially idealistic character, based on will rather than on the materiality of concrete interests, which does not mean that in other passages Augusto Boal did not insist on a theatrical vision capable of showing not a “conflict of free wills,” but rather a “contradiction of social needs.”16 This question seems not to have been fully resolved in Boal’s work, with his later books moving toward an overvaluation of the individual element. The articulation between the subjective and the objective, the moral and the material—​accentuated in various rehearsal techniques and in some exercises of the Rainbow of Desire (which has often been characterized, not without any foundation but to a great extent unjustly, as a kind of psychologizing drift over individual oppressions)—​seems to us, however, to have dialectical potential, insofar as it regards the scale of the individual as being part of the contradictions of the social world. In fact, nonconformist action, which defies oppression, necessarily has to deal with this: the material contradictions 72

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between my interests, the contradictory multiplicity of my desires (I want and do not want, I like and do not like), the dialectics of my emotions, the way social conflicts exist within us and interact at the time of our choices. This same sensibility seems to be present in the considerations of Augusto Boal on the necessity of dialectical interpretation. “Each gesture must contain its negation; each sentence must presuppose the possibility of saying the opposite of what is said; each yes presupposes a no, etc.” Emotion itself is dialectical, Boal reinforces: No emotion is pure: we want and do not want, we love and we do not love, we have courage and we do not have courage. In order for the actor to live on stage he or she must discover the counter-​will of each of his wishes.17 It is not a question of obscuring the existence of a dominant will in conflict with the multiple mechanisms of oppression, nor is it necessary to put the material and social genesis of emotions in the background, but rather to account for the dialectics of the will of the oppressed and the various scales of the conflicts present in a concrete situation: the conflict of the oppressed with oppressors or agents of oppression, the conflict of the oppressed among themselves, and the conflict of the oppressed with themselves. It is worth reflecting, finally, about whether the very form of the forum favors the dialectical game or not. In support of the notion that it favors, several arguments could be made. First of all, there is an argument that Forum Theatre would be—​due to the structure that implies a certain mutability of history and the exercise of the forum it proposes—​an anti-​determinist manifesto, an invitation against fatalism, and a homage to the imponderable: the play presented is a thesis and its negation, waiting to be negated.The point is that negation does not always mean a positive dialectic sublation; it depends on the very field of possibilities located in each concrete conjuncture, and the negation of the problem does not always go in the direction of opposing the problem in its totality, surpassing it, but sometimes just solving the problem, finding solutions that reproduce it in another way (certain that it is a problem that is beyond the theatre, and that the theatre alone cannot solve it). It could also be said that the improvisation between actors and spectators who are involved on stage—​to change it—​is a potential concrete exercise in dialectics: the spectator intervenes to change what he sees, transforming the action while maintaining social conditions with what occurs and the social place where the character acts; the actor reacts to this proposal so that the spectator is forced to produce a new negation and so that, with each intervention, something new can be born. Now, this exercise works better the less the piece is smooth and flat, when the piece itself contains contradictions that may be the basis from which emerge new lines of conflict, new problems, emancipatory possibilities to explore and develop—​and not scripts to be confirmed by those who intervene in the scene. But of course, this is not always the case. Though the Arena Theatre sought to rehabilitate the hero as an exemplary model capable of eliciting the involvement of spectators in the struggle against military dictatorship, in Theatre of the Oppressed the hero’s need was somehow outsourced in Forum Theatre. The original play shows the negative in the form of a problem to be solved. But this resolution is given over and over again in simple, not to say simplistic, forms, with the intervention of a member of the public who acts a solution within the horizon of heroic-​spectacular expectation established by the play itself, and where totalization, pure and simple, disappears. The woman, a victim of domestic violence, leaves the house, slamming the door without being sure where she is going.The exploited character puts his finger in the boss’s face and tells him his truth without worrying whether he will be fired or not. A young black 73

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man shouts at the police officer who was frisking him until the cop puts his gun back into the holster without the man fearing being killed—​a murder more than likely in Brazil. It seems like we are doing a re-​reading, only this time stripped of any irony, of a passage of Revolution in South America where a leader who will betray his comrades explains how easy it is to make a revolution: Zequinha (very excited): Everything is ready now. I have all the plans here with me. It doesn’t take many people to start a revolution, since people will quickly join. To be a revolutionary, you just have to be hungry … and I was hungry. I was not hungry, José da Silva? […] I did not even know what dessert was.18 This revolution, so easy to do, actually understates what could in fact be a revolution. It also downplays what oppression is. And, because it lessens the analysis of the situation and its difficulties and contradictions, it undermines the transformative potential of the theatre itself, which becomes a caricature. In fact, if it is so easy to overcome oppression, if it may not be perhaps so overwhelming, perhaps it is not so oppressive, and in any case the mystery remains of knowing why the oppressed masses do not react. To be in the light, without contrasts, of total positivity, we only see solutions which are both easy and false, and we become blind to what could help us to understand concrete reality. Hence the question before us is what would a de facto negative Forum Theatre be, in the dialectical sense? A Forum Theatre where contradictions appeared with all their weight, where the characters would not be aware of the evils that torment them, and where this same consciousness would not be the entire emancipation? Where the alternatives presented would not be immediately applicable solutions, but investigations whereby we could deepen our understanding of a given reality? Perhaps it would be there that, paradoxically, we could actually see some hope by trying to resolve the almost unsolvable problem posed by Adorno of not letting ourselves be imbecilized by the power of others nor by our present impotence in emancipating ourselves de facto.19

Notes 1 This chapter was translated from Portuguese by MendWord Translations, a professional translation  service in Los Angeles, California, USA. Additional edits were made by this volume’s editors, with the permission of the translation service. For the quotation that begins this chapter, see  Augusto  Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed and Other Political Poetics (São Paulo: Cosacnaify, 2013[1975]), 51. 2 Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-​Actors (São Paulo: Brazilian Civilization, 2008). 3 Boal, Theatre,162. 4 “Dialectal overcoming,” to use Hegel’s terms, refers to a movement that simultaneously implies a denial of a reality, the preservation of something from that reality, and its elevation to something of a higher level. See Leando Konder, What is Dialectics (São Paulo: Brazilian, 1987), 26. 5 Karl Marx, “Second Edition Afterword,” in Book I of Das Kapital (São Paulo:  Boitempo, 2013 [1873]), 91. 6 Julian Boal, “A Subjunctive Theater,” in Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed and Other Political Poetics (São Paulo: Cosacnaify, 2013). 7 Oduvaldo Vianna Filho and Fernando Peixoto, Vianinha: Teatro, televisão e politica (São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1983), 92. 8 Iná Camargo Costa, The Hour of the Epic Theatre in Brazil (São Paulo: Graal, 1996), 36. 9 Quotations in italics are taken from the play’s program. 10 Iná Camargo Costa, 69. 11 An exception could be Augusto Boal’s play The Adventures of Uncle Scrooge.

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TO as a dialectical game? 12 The Joker System of dramaturgy is not to be confused with the joker in Forum Theatre, though there are some conceptual relationships between the two. See ‘Selected terms’ in the Appendx. 13 For a deeper understanding of this topic and a framework for Augusto Boal’s dramaturgical responses in the political history of the time—in particular relating them to his sympathy for Guevarism for the revolutionary voluntarism inherent therein—and Boal’s cooperation with the armed struggle, see Chapter 31 by Julian Boal in this book. 14 Boal, Games, 338. 15 Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia (Paris: Payot, 2003), 74. 16 In the words of Sérgio de Carvalho, Augusto Boal describes “a kind of dialectical structure internal to interpretation, on Hegelian bases: the character does not act only by a unitary will, he or she also has a counter-​will that hinders his or her actions. This friction between will and its opposite is not just a simple opposition: wanting versus ‘not wanting’.” Sérgio de Carvalho himself draws attention to the phrase we have quoted, noting that, in Theatre of the Oppressed and Other Political Poetics, “Boal realized that in most situations in life, individual will determines nothing; we are acting rather than agents, and one cannot be a subject of history,” adding that in his theatrical vision the “contradiction of social needs” is shown. “Marxism appeared in his work as a guide to formal research.” Sérgio de Carvalho, “Aspects of the Dialectics of the Theatre of the Oppressed,” in Revista Terceira Margem, Ano XVIII n. 30 (July–​December  2014). 17 Boal, Games, 77. 18 Augusto Boal, Revolução na America do Sul (São Paulo: Massao Ohno Editora, 1960), 38. 19 Adorno, Minima Moralia, 74.

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8 CONSTRAINTS AND POSSIBILITIES IN THE FLESH The body in Theatre of the Oppressed Kelly Howe Theatre of the Oppressed begins, literally, with bodies in relation in space.1 In the book’s foreword, Augusto Boal describes historical divisions between actor and spectator. “[S]‌ome persons will go to the stage and only they will be able to act; the rest will remain seated, receptive, passive—​ these will be the spectators, the masses, the people.”2 In other words, before Boal even talks about how power relations might shape what a spectator says or thinks, he zeroes in on where a body can or cannot move in a theatre—​and how those norms articulate power. Later in the book, he writes: We can begin by stating that the first word of the theatrical vocabulary is the human body, the main source of sound and movement. Therefore, to control the means of theatrical production, man must, first of all, control his own body, know his own body, in order to be capable of making it more expressive. Then he will be able to practice theatrical forms in which, by stages, he frees himself from his condition of spectator and takes on that of actor, in which he ceases to be an object and becomes a subject, is changed from witness into protagonist.3 TO attends to how relations of oppression discipline bodies—​and how individual bodies and arrangements of bodies in turn reveal much about those systems of power: “[I]‌t is necessary for each one to feel the ‘muscular alienation’ imposed on his body by his work.”4 One of TO’s core hypotheses is that theatre can analyze how society works inside and on the body. Our bodies adjust to the contours of the labor required of them under capital and other systems. The material and ideological worlds choreograph our bodies, their movement, and how they signify. Here I examine a range of notions of embodiment reflected in TO theory and practice. More specifically, I consider five overlapping conceptions of the body: 1) the body as speech (language, vocabulary, expression), 2)  the body as concrete material carved by external forces and relations (of power and history), 3) the body as a stranger to be met (having been disappeared by external forces), 4)  the body made by doing (with—​perhaps—​the possibility of unmaking and remaking), and 5) the body as a way of knowing (epistemology). It will quickly become clear how these categories are not discrete. Like bodies, they bleed. It can be difficult to perceive where one ends and another begins. 76

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The body as speech “We can shut our mouth but not our body: It will always be speaking,” writes Boal in Games for Actors and Non-​Actors.5 One of the central premises of TO is that the body, “emitter and receiver of messages,” communicates in its own language—​and is language itself.6 Many TO games, for example, center the body’s expressive abilities, “abandoning other, more common and habitual forms of expression.”7 In this respect, TO aims to address what Boal perceives as an imbalance: “In our culture we are used to expressing everything through words, leaving the enormous expressive capabilities of the body in an underdeveloped state.”8 As he says in Rainbow of Desire, “When we cannot use words our bodies become much more expressive.”9 While only some of its techniques avoid words, TO tends to be a praxis of the whole body; it very rarely happens through words alone. In Image Theatre, participants use their own bodies or the bodies of others to express ideas, emotions, and attitudes: “[I]‌n order to really understand a message, it is important to receive and send it in different languages. An image is one of those possible languages.”10 TO explores how images, like other forms of language, are “polysemic”; they mean in multiple ways: Images are surfaces: as any object reflects the light that strikes it, so all images reflect the memories, imaginations, emotions of each observer who looks at them. This means that all images are polysemic—​they can have many meanings and we should never reduce those meanings to the ‘correct’ one, or to the one the sculptor has ‘intended’—​we can only learn by the multiplicity of feelings, opinions, evocations of the participants.11 Boal acknowledges that body language is contextual and subject to interpretation. At the same time, Paul Dwyer cautions that TO can still sometimes seem to operate from a notion that “enactment is worth more than speech, as if bodies ‘speak more’, and more accurately, than mere words.”12 Our bodies can misunderstand and be misunderstood. Like mouths, they can lie—​to ourselves and to others. In TO, bodies are not only speech; they are expressive material. In Image Theatre, bodies often become clay to be sculpted: The participant is asked to express his opinion, but without speaking, using only the bodies of the participants and ‘sculpting’ with them a group of statues, in such a way that his opinions and feelings become evident. The participant is to use the bodies of the others as if he were a sculptor and the other were made of clay: he must determine the positions of each body down to the most minute details of their facial expressions.13 The notion of the body as clay can carry many elegant, evocative possibilities for communication, articulating experiences to which words (or consciousness itself) cannot attend. Such a practice can also vibrate with subject/​object tensions, particularly around the “use” of one body by another. Bodies can be clay, it’s true, but clay is stuff. Berenice Fisher, for example, describes how sculpting can generate complicated feelings in some participants who identify as women: Because women frequently experience violation of their physical boundaries by being touched, activities regarding touching cannot be regarded as gender neutral. Regardless of how safe a space may seem, women may still have strong feelings about having their bodies manipulated.14 77

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In a somewhat similar vein, I  have noticed in my own US context an increasing nervousness about sculpting, particularly when a workshop group ranges widely in terms of identity. Typically, I  witness more discomfort from sculptors, especially when their racial identity differs from the (presumed) racial identity of the human clay. Some participants appear aware of how histories of enslavement, minstrelsy, and other manifestations of racism can make one body “manipulating” the other—​even for seemingly benign, shared, or explicitly anti-​oppressive purposes—​ideologically and emotionally laden. Indeed, if your body has historically been an object, to have it manipulated by someone could feel less novel and more routine—​or, for some, something worse than routine. I regard these tensions not as reasons to avoid Image Theatre but instead as points of departure for analysis. They are also reasons to remind participants often that everything in TO is voluntary.15 One can end or recalibrate participation at any time. I tilt away from a paternalism that would avoid any practice that might surface tension or complexity.To analyze power is the point of TO. That cannot be done in a vacuum-​sealed environment. No space or practice is outside oppression.

The body as concrete material carved by external relations and forces Precisely because no space is outside oppression, our bodies are formed by everything they do and each environment they encounter. Boal pays particular attention to how our bodies are constructed by work. We do not make work; work makes us. Boal writes of TO: There is a great number of exercises designed with the objective of making each person aware of his own body, of his bodily possibilities, and of deformations suffered because of the type of work he performs. That is, it is necessary for each one to feel the ‘muscular alienation’ imposed on his body by work. A simple example will serve to clarify this point: compare the muscular structure of a typist with that of the night watchman of a factory. The first performs his or her work seated in a chair: from the waist down the body becomes, during working hours, a kind of pedestal, while arms and fingers are active. The watchman, on the other hand, must walk continually during his eight-​hour shift and consequently will develop muscular structures that facilitate walking. The bodies of both become alienated in accordance with their respective types of work.16 Boal evokes a different subject–​object tension here. Bodies become half person/​half thing in accordance with their labor. As Philip Auslander noted in the 1990s, Boal’s “analysis of this social deformation of the body is based directly upon Marx’s account of alienated labor.”17 Since the initial articulation of TO in the 1970s, continued technological advancement has only amplified the hybrid person/​thing worker: machines replacing people, with material consequences. Or muscle and sinew race under the threat: You know what could do that task faster than you? Or the alienation stretches across oceans or any imagined “end of shift”: Does the day end if you answer “customer service” calls from all over the world? If I sent you that e-​mail last night, why haven’t you answered yet? As the workplace and workday become increasingly nebulous for some people, the alienation Boal describes takes ever more varied forms. Are screens eyes? Are eyes screens?18 Body parts specialize and fuse with their functions under capital, splitting off from what might be read from the outside (or from the inside) as a whole, coherent person.

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Though Boal attends particularly to work as a force scripting the body, the body is of course disciplined by all the institutions it touches—​and that touch it. Another example is that of schooling, the oppressive dimensions of which are famously critiqued by one of Boal’s many influences, Paulo Freire, in his analysis of the “banking system” of education.19 Elyse Lamm Pineau notes how the disciplining functions of schools separate the brain from the rest of the body: “Steeped in the tradition of Cartesian dualism, students and teachers have effectively been schooled to forget their bodies when they enter the classroom in order that they might give themselves over more fully to the life of the mind.”20 Institutions fragment bodies in myriad ways, making them more malleable.TO analyzes with the hope of recuperating the body’s parts for the whole. As Auslander adds, Just as Marx sees the abolition of the division of labor as one of the essential steps in the transformation of capitalism into communism, so Boal proposes the ‘de-​specialization’ of the body as a necessary step toward the exploration of oppression through theatre.21 Our bodies are constructed not just by overtly recognizable structures of power—​work, school, etc.—​but also by feelings generated by forces less concrete but no less materially consequential. Across many fields and disciplines, a range of theories and vocabularies have proliferated as frames for conceptualizing how subtle forces write onto the body, mechanizing “common sense” or even “gut feeling” by masquerading as “the way it is.” Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu articulates the theory of “habitus, understood as a system of dispositions common to all products of the same conditionings.”22 Bourdieu specifies that habitus is also defined particularly by its inscription on the body. We act within contours whispered into our muscles, but largely without a sense of our scriptedness. Writing from within a critical pedagogy context, Pineau describes “enfleshment” as “the process through which a body acquires certain habits over an extended period of time.These habits become sedimented such that they appear to ourselves and to others as if they were natural rather than culturally constructed.”23 Or with Raymond Williams’ “structures of feeling, meanings and values as they are actively lived and felt,”24 we are reminded of the limitations of language to analyze precisely that which operates “at the very edge of semantic availability.”25 Once we have analyzed how ideology is working to the point that we can express it in language, we are already behind it in time; we are already out of step with the felt experience of its operation. Structures of feeling “do not have to await definition, classification, or rationalization before they exert palpable pressures and set effective limits on experience and action.”26 As TO attends closely to the body’s experience beyond spoken language, it is arguably particularly well-​situated to analyze the forces Bourdieu, Pineau, and Williams identify. Auslander notes that Bertolt Brecht and Augusto Boal share a sensitivity to how ideology and history work in the body (with the notion of gestus only one example of that attention in Brecht’s case): “For both Brecht and Boal, the material life of the body is expressive of oppression because the body itself, its actions and gestures, are determined by ideological relations.”27 The world—​largely writ—​writes on our flesh. TO hypothesizes that theatre can better sensitize us to its touch.

The body as a stranger to be met Because our bodies have been estranged from us—​by work, other institutions, and less concrete but still palpable structures—​TO hosts a process through which we meet (or re-​meet) those bodies. Perhaps most obvious are TO’s exercises aimed toward “[k]‌nowing the body: a series

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of exercises by which one gets to know one’s body, its limitations and its possibilities, its social distortions and its possibilities of rehabilitation.”28 Boal writes: The exercises of this first stage are designed to ‘undo’ the muscular structure of the participants. That is, to take them apart, to study and analyze them. Not to weaken or destroy them, but to raise them to the level of consciousness. So that each worker, each peasant understands, sees, and feels to what point his body is governed by his work.29 TO also examines how we have been alienated from our bodies through “social masks.” Describing the exercise “Making the Mask All-​Encompassing,” Boal writes: The mask super-​imposes itself on the human being, but under the mask life goes on. This exercise consists of making the mask invade the whole of the human being, to the point of eliminating all other signs of life. The ‘human’ component of the worker is not adequate for the mechanical work he has to achieve; thus the less human the worker, the more efficient he is and the more he turns into an automaton.The actor makes his body do the movement which the worker normally does, the mask gradually gains the upper hand, till the worker ‘dies’. For example, the seamstress who ends up sewing up her own body …30 Here we who participate would exaggerate the mask’s function, imagining it killing us quickly, with the possibility of reckoning with how it is killing us slowly. To estrange self from body altogether is a common function of oppression. As Lucia Bennett Leighton puts it,“Like trauma, oppression can drive a rift between the self and the body.”31 Race and racism, for example, have often operated precisely at the connection between body and self, mediating those relationships to suit the operations of power. As constructions with material consequences, technologies of race have often forced people of color into the impossible space of being simply bodies while split off from their bodies while inseparable from their bodies. Bennett Leighton summarizes bell hooks: Black scholar and activist bell hooks explores the ways in which oppression separates individuals from their bodies and identifies dominance as the source of the split between marginalized groups and their bodies. She further articulates that this separation from the body is the crux of oppression, stating that “white supremacy has divided us along the lines of bodies—​black and brown bodies exploited, oppressed, and dominated by white bodies.”32 Or, as Richard Dyer argues, in Western art and culture, whiteness has often been endowed with the ability to “rise above” the body: “White identity is founded on compelling paradoxes: a vividly corporeal cosmology that most values transcendence of the body; a notion of being at once a sort of race and the human race.”33 Whiteness makes white people not white but “just people.” In this formulation, people of color are inseparable from their bodies—​always their flesh—​but white people can float above theirs, universal subjects. With its techniques that call us to meet and re-​meet our bodies—​and to consider how far away we felt from them in the first place—​ TO potentially offers a framework through which we can understand how our relationships to our bodies have been constructed. 80

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The body made by doing/practice In TO, the body is part noun, part verb.To analyze how the body is made by doing, by practice—​ doing our work, for example—​can be a study of our constraints, but it can also be a study of our possibility:  a chance to move in the subjunctive mood, a chance to move as if:  “In the Theatre of the Oppressed, reality is conjugated in the Subjunctive Mood, in two tenses, the Past Imperfect—​‘what if I were doing that?’—​or the Future—​‘what if I were to do this?’ ”34 If we understand our bodies as shaped by doing, we might also find ways of living in our bodies differently. For Boal, an exercise: helps the doer to a better knowledge or recognition of his or her body, its muscles, its nerves, its relationship to other bodies, to gravity, to objects, to space, its dimensions, volumes, weight, speed, the interrelationship of these different forces, and so on. The goal of the exercise is a better awareness of the body and its mechanisms, its atrophies and hypertrophies, its capacities for recuperation, restructuring, reharmonisation.35 TO aims to reclaim possibility and to extend the body’s sense of its own capacity. Forum Theatre’s fundamental premise is subjunctive: “My conclusion is that Forum Theatre is always possible when alternatives exist. In the opposite case it becomes fatalist theatre.”36 We practice, we experiment, we try to figure out how to move differently and to sense the possibility of what might happen when we do. TO does not seek only to interpret how our bodies have been scripted or only to reacquaint us with those bodies. Forum Theatre tries “to change society rather than contenting ourselves with merely interpreting it.”37 Forum Theatre rehearses both possible actions and possible constraints on action, inviting our senses to feel the space between the two as we embody a range of ways to struggle. Many theorists have tried to write into this space between bodies as disciplined objects and bodies as agents of possibility. As just one example, consider Judith Butler’s analysis of gender as a “stylized repetition of acts”: “bodily gestures, movements, and enactments of various kinds constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self.”38 Gender is a verb. We do gender, but, as Butler suggests, that does not mean we are fully in control of how we do it: Gender performativity is not a matter of choosing which gender one will be today … It is a compulsory repetition of prior and subjectivating norms, ones which cannot be thrown off at will, but which work, animate, and constrain the gendered subject, and which are also the resources from which resistance, subversion, and displacement are to be forged.39 I pause here on these last ideas: resistance, subversion, displacement. While the realization that we enact gender does not simply mean that we can blithely choose to enact it differently, neither does it mean that we have no possibilities for agency. To understand the body as practiced, as made by doing, is to hover in the space between the concrete and the subjunctive.TO invites us to feel the contours of that space.

The body as a way of knowing “The body thinks,” says Augusto Boal.40 The thinking, knowing, researching body—​embodiment as epistemology—​is a core supposition of TO: [W]‌e each of us are, first and foremost, a body. We may be capable of constructing the most profound abstract ideas and devising the most extraordinary inventions, but it is 81

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only because we have, before all else, a body—​before we have a name, we inhabit a body! And we rarely think of our body as the fundamental source of all pleasures and all pains, of all knowledge and all research, of everything!41 Let’s pan in on “knowledge” and “research.” Boal foregrounds the body’s sensory capacities for teaching, learning, and discovery—​for knowledge creation. Of Games for Actors and Non-​Actors, he writes, “this book is concerned with physical movements and the relationship between people and people, and people and things, playing with such factors as distant, weight and volume.”42 In this respect, embodiment in TO holds perhaps unexpected echoes of Gertrude Stein’s theatre, which focuses less on telling stories and more on staging spatial landscapes that evoke the felt experiences of objects and people in relation.43 In Forum Theatre, for example, we can sometimes feel how some bodies might (or might not) have the capacity to set other bodies in motion. What happens when the cue ball makes contact with other balls on the pool table? What happens after that? And then? Here learning and knowing are holistic processes. Boal fights the presumed fragmentation of the body’s sensory capacities: [T]‌he five senses—​none exists separately, they too are all linked. Bodily activities are activities of the whole body.We breathe with our whole body, with our arms, our legs, our feet, etc., even though our respiratory apparatus takes a role in the process.We sing with our whole body, not just our vocal chords. We make love with our whole body, not just our genital organs. Chess is a highly intellectual, cerebral game. And yet good chess players also do physical training before a match.They know that the whole body thinks—​not just the brain.44 With this focus on sensory knowing, Boal frequently aims to recuperate lost (or stolen) forms of sensuality: “Our naked bodies are constantly touching the air, our clothes, other parts of our own bodies and the bodies of others, but we feel very little of what we are touching.”45 TO hopes to, among other things, reclaim joy and pleasure, to make a world where we are free to experience both. In TO, we know not only by looking and listening and talking; we know by moving and feeling and sensing. All of these different forms of knowledge are integral to the analysis of lived experience—​and to the analysis of oppression specifically.46 In one of my favorite exercises, “The Image of the Hour,” the facilitator calls out a range of times of day, and participants embody whatever they would be doing at those respective times.47 Condensing the clock, the exercise calls on our body’s accrued knowledge and experience to make economies of time more legible. And the body’s experience of time is of course not confined to the present. We also store past knowledge and play it out as part of what performance studies scholar Diana Taylor calls the repertoire (as opposed to the archive, which preserves more “official” histories legitimated by structures of power).48 History accrues on the body. “The remembered self is stored in the body’s structure, moving habits, and sensory-​ processing methods.”49 Sometimes the rest of the body even holds the past that escapes the mind’s grasp. I  remember, for instance, my late grandmother with Alzheimer’s sitting on a swing next to her boyfriend, taking his hand and rubbing it against her face: “Who is this man? How do I know him? I really like him.” Her senses knew him, but her conscious mind did not. In ways both beautiful and traumatic, to borrow the phrasing of a popular title, “the body keeps the score.”50

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“The body and the soul remember. The images do not fade!”51 So wrote Augusto Boal in his autobiography, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son, of his imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Brazilian dictatorship in 1971. It would be absurd to consider the implications of embodiment in TO without acknowledging that Boal endured two of the most palpable, materially concrete forms of bodily oppression one can experience. As my mind flashes to Boal’s descriptions, I am reminded of what can be at stake in bodily knowledge. If, for example, we adopt the language of my own government here in the US, Augusto Boal was not tortured; he experienced “enhanced interrogation.” Power narrates us into a distanced relationship with material reality and the tolls it exacts on flesh. TO calls us to close that distance. Augusto Boal evokes this call clearly in his description of the Newspaper Theatre technique “The Concretion of Abstraction”: This consists of making visible, sensible, through the use of analogy, symbols or any other equivalent, particular words or facts, which, through over-​use, have lost their capacity to give rise to the corresponding emotions in the reader or the spectator. This is a matter of discovering which live images are capable of making certain dead or worn-​out words real in a way they have not been. The concretion can take a direct form (the physical and concrete illustration of an action; physically showing the death of a miner stuck in a mine because of an explosion which was badly planned in order to save explosives; showing a graphic image of the lungs of a worker after thirty years of breathing the polluted air of a mine, eight hours a day); or an indirect form … The means employed to make the abstract concrete can be as varied as possible, the important thing is to awaken the spectator’s sensibility and capacity to absorb the news as something real and concrete.52 Euphemism and misdirection take us inside distorted funhouse mirrors, making things of living beings and living beings of things. Drones are run by pilots or operators, not killers. Humans put other humans in cages but distance themselves from that reality by calling it incarceration. In the context of the neoliberal capitalist US police state, looting is framed as violence because it takes or destroys property (things), despite the fact that looting is typically a response to the destruction of actual human beings (beings who were once legally constructed not as beings at all, but as things yoked in the service of building a financially powerful state). Ultimately all of these examples remind us that, as Augusto Boal understood so well, in the struggle against oppression, when we stray too far from the body, we altogether miss the point.

Notes 1 For another analysis focused specifically on the body in TO, see Philip Auslander,“Boal, Blau, Brecht: The Body,” eds. Mady Schutzman & Jan Cohen-​Cruz, Playing Boal: Theatre, Therapy, Activism (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), 124–​133. 2 Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, trans. Charles A. & Maria-​Odilia Leal McBride (New York: TCG, 1985), IX. 3 Ibid., 125–​126. 4 Ibid., 127. 5 Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-​Actors, 2nd ed., trans. Adrian Jackson (London:  Routledge, 2003), 272. 6 Ibid., 48. 7 Boal, Theatre, 126.

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Howe 8 Ibid., 130. 9 Boal, The Rainbow of Desire: The Boal Method of Theatre and Therapy, trans. Adrian Jackson (London: Routledge, 1995), 67. 10 Boal, Games, 176. 11 Ibid., 138–​139. 12 Paul Dwyer, “Making Bodies Talk in Forum Theatre,” Research in Drama Education 9:  2 (2004), 199–​210  (200). 13 Boal, Theatre, 135. 14 Berenice Fisher, “Feminist Acts:  Women, Pedagogy, and Theatre of the Oppressed,” eds. Mady Schutzman & Jan Cohen-​Cruz, Playing Boal:  Theatre, Therapy, Activism (London:  Routledge, 1994), 185–​197  (193). 15 The notion that all participants should always be in control of the extent of their participation is central to TO. Not only did Boal encourage each participant to adapt exercises to their body’s capacity, he also noted, “No one should undertake or continue any exercise or game if they have some injury or condition which might be exacerbated by taking part—​a back problem, for instance.” See Games, 49. 16 Boal, Theatre, 128. 17 Auslander, 128. 18 For a compelling theatrical analysis of the alienation resultant from the fusion of body and machine (and particularly eye and screen) within global capitalism, see Manjula Padmanabhan’s play Harvest (Aurora Metro Publications, 2003). 19 See Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th anniversary ed., trans. Myra Bergman Ramos (New York: Continuum, 2003). 20 Elyse Lamm Pineau, “Critical Performative Pedagogy:  Fleshing Out the Politics of Liberatory Education,” eds. Nathan Stucky & Cynthia Wimmer, Teaching Performance Studies (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2002), 41–​54 (45). 21 Auslander, 128. 22 Pierre Bourdieu, “Structures, Habitus, Practices,” in The Logic of Practice (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), 52–​65 (59). 23 Pineau, 44. 24 Raymond Williams, “Structures of Feeling,” in Marxism and Literature (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1997), 128–​135 (132). 25 Ibid., 134. 26 Ibid., 132. 27 Auslander, 129. 28 Boal, Theatre, 126 29 Ibid., 128. 30 Boal, Games, 155. 31 Lucia Bennett Leighton,“Chapter 1—​The Trauma of Oppression: A Somatic Perspective,” in Oppression in the Body: Roots, Resistance, and Revolution (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2018), 41–​68 (46). 32 Ibid., 54. 33 Richard Dyer, White: Essays on Race and Culture (Abingdon: Routledge, 1997), 39. 34 Augusto Boal, Aesthetics of the Oppressed, trans. Adrian Jackson (London: Routledge, 2006), 39–​40. 35 Boal, Games,  47–​48. 36 Ibid., 256. 37 Ibid., 253. 38 Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,” Theatre Journal 40: 4 (1988), 519–​531 (519). 39 Judith Butler, “Critically Queer,” eds. Donald E. Hall & Annamarie Jagose, with Andrea Bebell & Susan Potter, The Routledge Queer Studies Reader (New York, Routledge, 2013), 18–​31 (22–​23). 40 Boal, Games, 207. 41 Ibid., 124. 42 Ibid., 16. 43 See Bonnie Marranca, “Introduction:  Presence of Mind,” and Gertrude Stein, “Plays,” both in Last Operas and Plays (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995). 44 Boal, Games, 49. 45 Ibid., 50.

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Constraints and possibilities in the flesh 46 A focus on felt knowledge can also interrupt dominant epistemologies of Western theatre, as Richard Schechner suggests in his analysis of rasa in Sanskrit theatre: Traditionally in Western theatre, the eyes and to some degree the ears are where theatricality is experienced. By etymology and by practice a theatre is a ‘place of/​for seeing.’ Seeing requires distance; engenders focus or differentiation; encourages analysis or breaking apart into logical strings; privileges meaning, theme, narration. Modern science depends on instruments of observation, of ocularity: telescopes and microscopes. Theories derived from observations made by means of ocular instruments define the time-​space continuum. From super-​galactic strings on the one hand to molecular and subatomic wave particles on the other, we ‘know’ the universe by ‘seeing’ it … But in other cultural traditions there are other locations for theatricality. One of these, the mouth, or better said, the snout-​to-​belly-​to-​bowel—​the route through the body managed by the enteric nervous system … The snout-​to-​belly-​to-​bowel is the ‘where’ of taste, digestion, and excretion. The performance of the snout-​to-​belly-​to-​bowel is an ongoing interlinked muscular, cellular, and neurological process of testing-​tasting, separating nourishment from waste, distributing nourishment throughout the body, and eliminating waste.The snout-​to-​ belly-​to-​bowel is the where of intimacy, sharing of bodily substances, mixing the inside and the outside, emotional experiences, and gut feelings. A good meal with good company is a pleasure; so is foreplay and lovemaking; so is a good shit. See “Rasaesthetics,” TDR: The Drama Review 45: 3 (2001) 27–​50 (27). 47 Boal, Games, 201. 48 See Diana Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003). 49 Christine Caldwell, “Chapter 2: Body Identity Development: Who We Are and Who We Become,” in Oppression in the Body:  Roots, Resistance, and Revolution (Berkeley:  North Atlantic Books, 2018), 68–​104  (74). 50 Bessel Van Der Folk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (Penguin, 2004). 51 Augusto Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son:  My Life in Theatre and Politics, trans. Adrian Jackson and Candida Blaker (London: Routledge, 2001), 291. 52 Augusto Boal, “The Fourth Category of Popular Theatre:  Newspaper Theatre,” in Legislative Theatre:  Using Theatre to Make Politics, trans. Adrian Jackson (Abingdon and New  York:  Routledge, 1998), 234–​246 (244–​245).

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9 CONTRADICTIONS OF THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED Sérgio de Carvalho

The greatness of Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed project stems from its ability to mobilize contradictions and thus do justice to the “original dialectical relationship, the relationship between theory and practice.”1 It can be said, as did Marvin Carlson in 1995, that “no contemporary theorist has explored the political implications of the performance-​audience relationship in as penetrating and original a manner as the Latin American director Augusto Boal.”2 An evaluation made almost 20 years after the first edition of Teatro do Oprimido e Outras Poéticas Políticas [Theatre of the Oppressed and Other Political Poetics] confirms a status shared by very few artists from a marginalized country, that of the formulator of a new school of thought, dedicated to the organization of collective work. The political poetics of the first book, which laid the foundations for the project, was based on a practical example even though it was part of a set of theoretical studies in relation to which it was presented. In the following years, during the exile of Boal in Europe, Theatre of the Oppressed was reformulated, growing closer to student environments than those of workers or peasant communities. After a few years of reflection on the project, the conditions were present for the research to manifest itself as an aesthetic-​political pedagogical system then also desiring its own multiplication. Boal thus conceives a much broader theatre of the oppressed than the one suggested in the initial poetics. In his book Stop! C´est Magique, he describes his commitment to the aspect that seemed, to him, to be truly new to the work: “a broad systematization of all possible ways through which the oppressed can manifest theatrically. (…) This systematization, this interrelationship, this research, are new—​to that which we call, today, the theatre of the oppressed.”3 If the first book concluded with the description of the “joker” system, a proposal for epic staging during his time at the Arena Theatre, in which the actors distanced themselves from the personages of the play and behaved like a collective of narrators, in Stop! C´est Magique we see a theatrical methodology that articulates the techniques of Image Theatre, Invisible Theatre, and Forum Theatre—​not coincidentally, the last to be mentioned in the publication, and one that would from then on be identified, for many people, with the Boal method. The precise observations that accompany the descriptions indicate the need for constant reinvention of the research, for its constitutional irresolution. The dialectic between theory and practice was still alive in this work, long before some of these contradictions were resolved in a simplified

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manner as a fetishized technique by some followers of the project who, unfortunately, understand Theatre of the Oppressed as a set of techniques of aesthetic activism. Although part of its original strength is linked to the relative ease of practical operation, Boal’s project is far removed from any self-​referential pragmatism, requiring critical mediations and historical adjustments that are not always easy to accomplish. Rethinking the original dialectic between theory and practice may serve today to revitalize the paradoxical, politicizing anachronism that brought the project to life at its inception—​and help us to understand how much its supposed topicality has little relation to its real virtues; Theatre of the Oppressed’s topicality or actuality is more a sign of its incorporation into a marginal market.

Contradiction between theory and practice Born as a work of Latin American popular theatre during a moment of counter-​revolutionary expansion, Theatre of the Oppressed bolstered its theoretical vision with its political critique of European dramaturgy, with a special interest in its processes of modernization. Teatro do Oprimido e Outras Poéticas Políticas is a book written in exile, a few years after Boal’s departure from Brazil, when he was arrested and tortured by the agents of the civil-​military dictatorship (1971) and found himself banished from the working conditions of the best theatre of Brazil in its time, the Arena, in São Paulo. It was a time of self-​criticism for the Left, in relation to the defeat imposed since the 1964 coup. The suspension of Boal’s creative activities was decisive for his project, as can be read in many pages of his autobiography Hamlet e o Filho do Padeiro [Hamlet and the Baker’s Son]: “Metaphorically speaking, the Theatre of the Oppressed was born in prison. I like to say that in it, the citizen of the present studies the past and invents the future.”4 The reflection that took place in the following years, in Argentina, is a critical review of the dramaturgical and scenic experiences of the previous decade. It begins with the realization that a new practical method should be inspired by the techniques of Newspaper Theatre (an experience of the formation of political theatre “cells” from the ideological deconstruction of staged news) and the use of theatre as trans-​aesthetic education, as experienced in his journeys promoting literacy in Peru in 1973.The dramatic poetics of the West, those of Aristotle, Niccolò Machiavelli, and even that of Bertolt Brecht, should be rethought in light of a greater shift of perspective: all the theatrical knowledge of the past could be put at the service of the oppressed so that they themselves could express themselves. In the celebrated formulation in the essay “The Poetics of the Oppressed”—​which ended up naming the book—​lies the ambivalence of this interaction between a critique of dramaturgy and an experimental practice aimed at changing the social function of theatre: In order to understand this Poetics of the Oppressed, one must always keep in mind its main objective: to transform the audience, the ‘spectator,’ from being passive in the theatrical phenomenon to being subjects, actors, participants in transforming dramatic action. I  hope the differences are very clear:  Aristotle proposes a Poetics in which the viewers delegate powers to the character so that they act and think in their place; Brecht proposes a Poetics in which the viewer delegates powers to the character to act in their place, but reserves the right to think for themselves, often in opposition to the character. In the first case, a catharsis takes place; in the latter, an awakening. What the Poetics of the Oppressed proposes is action itself!5

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The fundamental principle of the project, therefore, was political activation by the negation of the social condition of “spectator.” Boal would later call this relationship intransitive, a bond between stage and audience that must be achieved in order for the audience to manifest itself theatrically (shortly after, he will identify the oppressed with the passive viewer). The theoretical principle, still considered radical today, lies in the questioning of the distinction between spectator and actor, which implies a critique of the social division of labor in capitalism that converts some individuals into specialized producers and others into consumers of culture. Boal would later write: “one of the most serious atrophies suffered by men in a society of specialists is none other than the atrophying of aesthetics.”6 The demand for the collective right to free activity, symbolized in art, arises as a utopian yearning, as a movement of critical-​poetic totalization. Without establishing his own modernist affiliation, Boal rekindled connections with the most radical politicized European theatre of the 1920s, which not only dealt with revolutionary issues, but which knew how to relate to the means of production to the point of changing the technical tradition. Walter Benjamin, who better reflected on this repurposing of art, understood that only by overcoming the compartmentalization of competences, core values in the bourgeois conception of culture, could something politically valid be generated in the art of the Left: The barriers between the scope of effect of two productive forces—​the material and intellectual—​erected to separate them, must be torn down together. The author as a producer, while sympathetic to the proletariat, is also sympathetic to certain other producers, with whom he did not previously seem to have much in common.7 The debatable revisions of the philosophies of Aristotle and Brecht that Boal makes in the same book, despite any valid remarks they may contain, are in this sense false counterpoints to the poetics of the oppressed that subsequently arose. Aristotle is presented as the formulator of a coercive system of repression of the tragic error—​with a view of solution via catharsis. Brecht, on the other hand—​in contrast to Hegel—​is presented by Boal as the inventor of a Marxist poetics in which the characters are objectified by economic and social forces, an arrangement made so that the viewer can oppose them in order to raise awareness. Although Boal’s effort to state that the new project lies somewhere beyond Dramatic or Epic Theatre is understandable, the suggestion that these would be surpassed confuses different dimensions:  becoming a subject in the theatrical phenomenon is a matter of productive order (the story in the scene will be modified by the spectator, who breaks their social position and becomes an actor-​playwright), that is, with regard to the mode of theatrical work, the construction of a possible audience-​play relationship; whether or not it becomes subject to dramatic action is a matter of dramaturgy, of the organizational mode of fiction. In the case of the comparison with the work of Brecht, the summary presented by Boal describes Epic Theatre only from the perspective of the dramaturgical technique. It omits precisely what Walter Benjamin understood as a modeling, the Brechtian ability to “turn readers and viewers into collaborators” insofar as it did not aim at “the exclusive manufacture of products, but rather, at all times, at the means of production.”8 The radicality of this new mode of fictional organization thus had implications for the audience-​play relationship, altering the conventional mode of expression of the theatre, calling its productive reality into question. Brecht enacted the original dialectic between theatrical theory and practice because he knew how to expose not just the works, but the work itself, assuming for himself an organizing function in relation to the productive environment:

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The modeling character of production is therefore decisive (…). This apparatus is all the better the more it leads consumers to the sphere of production (…). We already have a model of this kind, of which I can only speak briefly here. It is Brecht’s epic theater.9 If we consider didactic plays, which were written as tools for the study of dialectics by militants, performed in environments such as workers’ festivals, we can see how much the core of Theatre of the Oppressed has a critical antecedent in Epic Theatre: the didactic play “teaches because it is interpreted, not because it is seen; in principle, the didactic play has no need of spectators, but it can take advantage of them.”10 Why, then, did Boal make a point of demarcating a debatable difference when there were so many potential similarities at play? To be sure, it was not only a desire for authorship, but also because, at that moment, it was important to emphasize, programmatically, the rupture with a European theatricality focused on the logic of effect on the audience, whether cathartic or conscientious, an evaluation that is not valid for Brecht but which may be valid for a certain Brechtism of the time, including some aspects of the Arena Theatre experience. The most important act of politicized theatre should take place, as it always did (when live), underlying or beyond performance, in the ensaio [rehearsal], the process of social modification of aesthetic action. It is from this angle that the quoted text of Theatre of the Oppressed, though incorrect in its comparison with Dramatic or Epic Theatre, rightly defines the importance of the laboratory dimension in a collective production that one wishes to critique: The spectator does not delegate powers to the character to act or to think in their place; on the contrary, they assume the role of protagonist themselves, changing the dramatic action initially proposed, trying out solutions, discussing plans for change: in summary, the spectator rehearses, preparing for real action. That is why I  believe theatre is not revolutionary in itself, but it certainly can be an excellent “rehearsal” for the revolution. The liberated spectator, a righteous man, launches into action! It does not matter that it is fictitious: what matters is that it is an action.11 In the best essayistic tradition of the modern scene, the one that seeks to launch art into social life and change in this interaction, Boal understands Theatre of the Oppressed as a rehearsal for revolution. The symbolic action has no emancipatory value in and of itself, but it is taken as a collective proposition, a kind of trial and error, as a transition, the preparation of plans and gestures to enact change, a way of pushing culture and society to improve.

The problem of the “leading role” The formulation of the project contains, in any case, a basic contradiction between the valorization of the act of assuming the “leading role” and the work of a collective essay on social transformation. The non-​dialectical starting point which founded Boal’s argument—​the difference between the active and the contemplative, so dear to bourgeois philosophy—​was relativized by the essayistic emphasis of a work in which the preparation and debate of action are as important as the action itself. Boal would later write, “In choosing to say nothing, such choice is in itself a form of participation.”12

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Brecht himself, in his commentary on the didactic plays, notes that the task of those experimental forms of dramaturgy would be the suppression of the dichotomy between thought and action, configuring the modality of a scene to be both politicizing and philosophical at the same time. According to Benjamin, he “opposes drama that is based on the concept of a complete work of art, the dramatic laboratory.”13 It is necessary, however, to consider the historical differences between Boal and Brecht in order to understand this theoretical insistence on subjective action, which requires difficult interventions in order to prevent it from becoming an individualizing practice. One of Brecht’s great achievements during his years of exile was to channel the destruction of his work environment and the dispersion of his personal ties into the operative dynamics of his own work. His distance from the most important events of the time became constitutive of the form, a necessary condition, and exposed in work that could therefore only be seen as “literature.” José Antonio, Pasta Jr., who wrote a beautiful book on the subject, comments that: Brecht will indeed give a radical response to this lack of immediacy that was thus imposed on him: he will bring it to the problematic center of his production. Brecht’s production will internalize the distance, the decentralization, and the risk of disintegration to which it was subjected, dialectically transforming them into its engine. (…)14 Boal’s exile presents an analogous formal internalization of historical difficulties. In Brazil, the forces of conservative modernization were advancing. Self-​criticism of the national-​popular cultural project of the past combined with the massacre of those attempting armed resistance, and Boal collaborated with a guerrilla movement, the ALN, prior to being arrested. Contact between artists and social movements was largely banned, and there was a feeling that grassroots militant strategies would need to be re-​evaluated. However, the Latin American popular revolution had not yet been completely crushed, as can be seen from the cycle of coups that began on the continent in 1973. The critique of populism in art (which would become a strong presence in the 1980s) coexisted with the construction of means for a true popular theatre. The sum of this experience, particularly that of prison, was thus internalized as an appeal to maintaining hope in acts of liberation that could not let go of individual agents. The interrupted collective dialectic would continue in the breaches, even if symbolically, in a purposeful and anti-​melancholic manner. The formal principle was therefore not the critique of literary distance, but rather something closer to a libertarian activism, mediated and balanced by a dialectical and pedagogical consciousness, henceforth refractory to any risk that was not shared, founded on the here and now of participants who could not lie about their real situation or falsify it in theatrical abstractions. The “leading role” contains remnants of the cathartic or awareness dramaturgy with which the Theatre of the Oppressed will find it difficult to dispense (to separate itself from) whenever the gesture of staging a scene is considered positive in itself, evaluated as an example of individual overcoming and not as a result of the collective work of those involved.

Stop! C´est Magique The dialectic between theory and practice continued to fuel Boal’s project at the time of the publication of Stop! C´est Magique in 1979. The research was ongoing, which ensured the aggregating and self-​critical impulse. While it is true that the title sounded to the unsuspecting reader like a salute to the technique of interruption, it was, in fact, just the opposite, a phrase intended to interrupt the Forum Theatre session when someone presented “magic” solutions, thus falsifying the dramaturgical parameters of the discussion. However, the reflection in the 90

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book refuses to institutionalize the procedures at the same time as it describes them, adhering to the path of a self-​critic’s razor, trying to present principles of study and work: Theatre of the Oppressed should rehearse using anti-​models capable of stimulating social displacements and revolutionary praxis. There began, however, to be difficulties arising from the internal evolution of a method that was associated with new historical and geographical parameters. The final chapter of the book opens with the following assessment: I began to work using the forum theater method in Latin America, almost always in poor regions and places, where all of the participants had very pressing needs, and oppression was easily visualized. (…) Here in Europe, oppression, as a rule, is different, involving nuances and filigrees to a much greater extent, less obvious, more hidden.15 The distinction between forum theatre and psychodrama which defines this part of the text does not address the technical difficulties of incorporating abstract aspects of life into the world of capital, a problem encountered frequently in Forum Theatre. The text does discuss the applicability of the technique to the social theme (more common in Latin America) or the psychic one (more common in Europe), proposed by the participants. This interest in reconciling the social and psychic dimension causes Boal, at the beginning of the same book, to assert that the “best definition for the theatre of the oppressed would be that it is the theatre of the oppressed classes and of all the oppressed, including those inside these classes.”16 The class struggle still operates as a concept, but the ideal of an activity that can be embodied on stage expands. To the world of French dramaturgy of the 1970s, with which Boal interacted, the impossibility of capturing reality as a whole and transposing it symbolically to the stage was established theory. It was left to the theatre to capture fragments or, in the words of Bernard Dort, “to submit this apparent impossibility to the spectator so that they would resolve it according to the facts.”17 The political contradictions were becoming more distant from May 1968, when the youth wanted to be, in the occupied Odéon of Paris, “their own actor and their own spectator,” forcing the directors of the French popular theaters to issue a manifesto like that of Villeurbanne, which verifies the cultural divide that separates the privileged who enjoy a bourgeois culture from the mass of their fellow citizens “constrained to participate in the production of material goods but deprived of the means of contributing to the general direction of movement of society itself.”18 The new “discourse of protagonism” which would be confirmed in the 1980s would go a step further and become confused with the sensorialist praise of the present moment, the finitude of the body, and the interruptions of logocentric flows, echoing of a repudiation of representation ideologically transmitted from politics to aesthetics. It is in this context that one of the basic principles of Theatre of the Oppressed, that of becoming the subject of theatrical action (“it is necessary that the spectator becomes protagonist in the aesthetic combat that provides preparation for real combat”19), is confused with the ideal of positively leading a dramatic action: the only aspect of Theatre of the Oppressed that cannot be changed are its two fundamental principles, that the spectator must play the leading role in the dramatic action and that they must prepare themselves to lead their own life! That is what is truly essential.20 91

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Stop! C´est Magique, on the other hand, records Boal’s commitment to resisting the most simplistic aspects through which identity thinking can be disseminated, several of which would serve to guarantee the future propagation of the method. In opposition to the individualism that was fashionable at the time, he insists on a type of theatre performed “in the first person plural.”21 It should contain problems in its presentation that involve the majority of the participants, not only those relating to the person who originated the construction of the scene with their own story: “We had to look for a theme that, although singular, could also be shared by all, to which everyone could identify, either by identity or analogy.”22 Anyone who does not speak of themselves concretely and truthfully is not performing Theatre of the Oppressed. However, those who are not able to find analogies in the experience of another or similar reasons for collective dynamic interactions will also not be, either. Faced with this tension, fictitious actions can be transcended into real social struggle, extrapolated into real actions. The dialectic between theory and practice continued, to the extent that Theatre of the Oppressed was thought of as consisting of negative models and not of composition methods (“an anti-​model intended for discussion, not a model to be followed”23). For Boal, what led to self-​ activation was the dialectic itself as practiced, the argumentation with counter-​argumentation, not any possible solution that might be found by the group. It is not a case of examining the historical reasons why this dialectical dimension of the project came to be neutralized. Theatre of the Oppressed was not the only place where the principle of identity overcame that of analogy, in which anti-​models of reflexive practice were replaced by ideological pragmatism, in which critical consciousness became a justification for pseudo-​activity. Conformity is spreading more and more in non-​conformist guises. Rather, it is a case of remembering that in the original project there was a limit not properly faced by Boal: to believe that it would suffice to put the theatre at the service of the expression of the oppressed, so that this “language” would serve to uncover new contents.24 The non-​dialectical hypothesis assumes stable formations and informed contents. As on other occasions, it was adulterated in Boal’s personal practice when he reminded the curingas [jokers] that the model presentation of Forum Theatre should express, above all, doubt, for “every gesture must contain its own negation, every sentence must presuppose the possibility of saying the opposite.”25 The dismantling of masks and performance rites requires radicalization in the dismantling of forms, opening up to negative performances (meaning performances and characters where there is no positivity), exposure of the ideological limits of the subject’s drama, founded on the ideal trinomial of the bourgeois character: discursive will-​consciousness-​moral act).26 Boal had an accurate picture of this need for aesthetic radicalization when he called for dramaturgical improvisations to be carefully rehearsed and for the invention of art with dialectical techniques, such as the exposure of contradictory subtext or the isolation of motives for later synthesis. It was necessary to place emphasis on the concrete materiality of the scene, otherwise the act of representing would be self-​referential, a mere ideological confirmation. This aspect is indeed a determining factor: Theatre of the Oppressed as a rehearsal for popular revolution. This, furthermore, happens only with a kind of double suppression, that of the opposition between artists and spectators, and that of the separation between technique and content, always keeping in mind that it is the “level of class struggle that more or less completely determines the temperature at which fusion takes place.”27 The new paths of Theatre of the Oppressed depend on a reconnection with what was its most important task, the rejection of the concept of culture as a class privilege. To use Walter Benjamin’s old phrase, the most urgent task of the modern artist must be accomplished “to become aware of just how poor they are and how poor they must be to start over.”28 92

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Notes 1 This chapter was translated from Portuguese by Multilingual Connections, a translation service in Evanston, Illinois, USA, commissioned by the editors of this volume. We have made additional English edits to clarify the author’s meaning, with permission of the translation service. For the quotation that begins this chapter, see Walter Benjamin, “Que é o Teatro Épico? Um Estudo Sobre Brecht”, em Magia e Ttécnica, Arte e Política, 2a edição (São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1986), 88. 2 Marvin Carlson, Teorias do Deatro: Estudo Histórico-​Crítico, dos Gregos à Atualidade (São Paulo: Fundação Editora UNESP, 1997), 458. 3 Augusto Boal, Stop! C´est Magique (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Civilização Brasileira, 1980), 23. 4 Augusto Boal, Hamlet e o Filho do Padeiro (Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2000), 286. 5 Augusto Boal, Teatro do Oprimido e Outras Poéticas Políticas (São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2013), 123–​124. 6 Boal, Stop! C´est Magique, 30. 7 Walter Benjamin, “O Autor Como Produtor: Conferência Pronunciada no Instituto Para o Estudo do Fascismo em 27 de Abril de 1934” [The Author as Producer: Conference held at the Institute for the Study of Fascism on April 27, 1934], in Magia e Técnica, Arte e Política, 2nd ed. (São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1986), 129. 8 Ibid., 131. 9 Ibid., 132. 10 Bertolt Brecht. Théâtre Épique,Théâtre Dialectique (Paris: L´Arche, 1999), 52. 11 Boal, Teatro do Oprimido, 24. 12 Boal, Stop! C´est Magique, 160. 13 Benjamin, “O Autor Como Produtor,” 134. 14 José Antonio Pasta, Jr., O Trabalho de Brecht: Breve Introdução ao Estudo de Uma Classicidade Contemporânea (São Paulo: Ática, 1986), 178 15 Boal, Stop! C´est Magique, 127. 16 Ibid., 25. 17 Bernard Dort, O Teatro e Sua Realidade (São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1977), 398. 18 Ibid., 355. 19 Boal, Stop! C´est Magique, 163. 20 Ibid., 160. Grifo nosso. 21 Ibid., 128. 22 Ibid., 134. 23 Ibid., 147. 24 Boal, Teatro do Oprimido, 123. 25 Boal Stop! C´est Magique, 152. 26 It is possible, in a highly general manner, to say that drama as an inter-​subjective form is organized at the same moment in which, starting with the Renaissance, individuation comes to be considered no longer as a problem of a tragic order but as an activity that is in itself positive—​supported by a free subject ideal—​in a world of coercion. From that point on, the dramatic tendency was for central characters to dominate the general structure of the action of the play, developed based on the transfer of the decision to the relational acts, resulting from the clash of morally conscious wills with the ­situation itself. 27 Benjamin, “O Autor Como Produtor,” 130. 28 Ibid., 131.

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10 IDENTITIES, OTHERNESS, AND EMANCIPATION IN THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED Julian Boal and José Soeiro

Benjamin Constant, a writer and politician of the French Revolution, had a beautiful ­definition of what a political revolution is: the moment when no statesman can tell a citizen, “mind your own business,” because all matters became those of all.1 This lack of specialization, this fundamental democratic aspiration, this breaking of the monopoly of politics by professionals, is at the origin of many of the emancipatory projects of modernity. It is a similar impulse that underlies Theatre of the Oppressed and the idea of a radical democratization of the means of symbolic production of reality. When Boal states that “[e]‌veryone can do theater: even actors,”2 it is this aspiration that he carries not only for the theatre but for society itself. Such a project can only be based on a dialectical combination between, on the one hand, a theory of oppression capable of explaining the mechanisms of reproduction of the social order and its divisions, and, on the other hand, a theory of emancipation capable of finding the gaps from which the oppressed, instead of being submissive in conformity with the system, would also have an interest and conditions to call into question that same order that confines them. Neither of these premises is obvious. The emancipation of the oppressed is, in effect, highly counterintuitive. First and foremost, even with contradictions that point to possibilities of transformation, the way oppressive systems operate is supposed to assure their reproduction. That is to say, the strength of these systems lies in the fact that they distribute unequally the resources that exist in a society and in the fact that they create an entire superstructure that aims to guarantee order, either through coercion or consent. The violence of oppression thus results from its material structures, but also from a “symbolic violence”3 based on the opacity of the system—​which would make it difficult for the dominated to know the origin and condition of their own domination—​and in mechanisms of conformation that assure the hegemony of the system, that is, a more or less conscious consent on the part of the oppressed toward their own oppression.4 Contrary to the theories of social reproduction5 that describe oppression as a kind of closed circle, the presupposition of Theatre of the Oppressed (as indeed of Marxism itself) is that the oppressed are capable of understanding this system and have an interest in transforming it. Theatre itself, by assuming our capacity to observe ourselves in action, would be a privileged instrument for this critical analysis, for allowing this operation of displacement relative

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to ourselves and the possibility of being others, of denaturalizing the very condition of the oppressed, and of rehearsing transformation. Theatre of the Oppressed is, in this sense, a theory and a practice of liberation. Like Gramsci or Freire, Augusto Boal believes in the possibility of the oppressed classes developing their own good sense,6 which lies buried under the common sense of the dominant culture. The task of Theatre of the Oppressed would then be to rescue forms of popular culture, to develop that emancipatory good sense, and to stop the reproduction of oppression. Not so much by the effect of a magical moment of awareness, but through a work of deconstructing the inscription of the structures of oppression in bodies and institutions—​structures that mechanize the subjects and confine them to certain social relations and that seek their adherence to the structures of thought and to the categories of classification of the world used by the oppressors. This work would imply breaking away from the traditional divisions in the existing dramatic forms and “giving back the means of theatrical production to the people.”7 This “giving back” proposal of Theatre of the Oppressed implies questioning the social division of labor, in which some have the right to act and others are condemned to be passive observers. Nonetheless, it also results from a critique of the apparatuses of representation that had been transformed into dispossession mechanisms, from a criticism of authoritarian forms of political and pedagogical action and of traditional mediation forms of politics. And it presupposes a reliance on the self-​emancipation capacity of the oppressed and the existence of common identification and interests among groups of oppressed—​which does not mean the annulment of their internal antagonisms. Any of these assumptions has a history, has a context, and poses important epistemological and political questions. The purpose of this text is to retake the thread of this history and to problematize these hypotheses.

From the cultural revolution to the guerrilla: emancipation as taken for granted? The foundation of the capacity of the oppressed to liberate themselves has never been a theme much developed by Augusto Boal—​it appears more like a fait accompli, a truism that needs no more explanations. And yet, like any premise, it has a source. What reasons, in the very experience and course of Augusto Boal, made him assume that it was evident that the oppressed could autonomously obtain their own emancipation? A first reason can be found in the very tradition of Brazilian modernism. For writers such as Mário de Andrade, the mediation necessary for Brazil not to content itself with copying the canons of European art was the rediscovery of popular art, an art that not only contained a neglected sophistication but also, through its own modes of production, an unconscious affinity with what was more boldly produced.8 This attempt to rescue Brazilian culture for the modernization of Brazil was not a strange idea to the Brazilian Left of the 1960s and 1970s.There was, in certain sectors, a well-​developed belief that, given the pre-​capitalist character of the ways of life of large portions of the Brazilian population and their incomplete insertion within the commodity regime, there would be resources for a break with underdevelopment, even with the capitalist system itself. Its sociability (in which, for example, in the area of culture, the division between consumer and producer was not clearly defined), the peasant origin of large contingents of workers, the survival of some rural livelihoods—​all of these traits would outline an effective possibility of overcoming capitalism that was present in the Brazilian people.9

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The military coup of 1964 did not invalidate these conceptions, but on the contrary gave them a new impetus, with organizations of armed struggle going to the fields in search of the revolutionary subject. In fact, the theses that are defeated by the coup are precisely those of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) on the possibility of a broad alliance of classes for the Brazilian industrial development, as well as the idea that the PCB would be the vanguard that would clarify the Brazilian People about the historical mission they had to fulfill. The critique of these conceptions—​of a vanguard party that would bring awareness to the oppressed from the outside, and of the possibility and necessity of an interclassist alliance—​was incorporated by Theatre of the Oppressed in the form of theatrical practices that sought so much to be attentive to the uniqueness of the social subjects and at the same time systematically deny a position of pedagogical superiority to theatre. This association between a certain type of political organization (here, the Party) and authoritarianism and revolutionary inefficiency participated in a wider critique, which was spreading internationally at that time, against all forms of institutionalization. The attraction of Maoism and the Chinese cultural revolution during this period to a part of the communist movement and to many young intellectuals radicalized around the world (for example, its influence in the French May of 1968 or in the Portuguese Revolution of 1974) is precisely related to this apology for the spontaneous action of the masses, its rejection of the institutional and the divisions and hierarchies associated with bureaucratic communism, its attempt to overcome the divisions between manual and intellectual work, or between countryside and city.10 The erosion of communist party apparatuses around the world seems to have created a political environment favorable to the idea of ​​an emancipation that would be done against the traditional mediations of politics. This influence was conjugated, to the Left outside the Soviet orbit, with another one: that of the Cuban Revolution of 1959 and the foquismo of Che Guevara. Both are identifiable in Theatre of the Oppressed, in the form of a conception of a revolutionary structural situation, and therefore always latent. In the Latin American Left, especially in Argentina and Brazil, where the first books of Augusto Boal were published, this idea that the people were already spontaneously carrying out the revolution was very present, which helps to explain why Boal never seems to feel a great need to further substantiate this confidence in the capacities of the oppressed to liberate themselves. It was, to the Left of the time, taken for granted. But it cannot be. As has been said before, the self-​emancipation of the oppressed seems highly counterintuitive. Marx, for example, does not spare pages to describe the workers bewitched by commodity fetishism, divided by the competition, atrophied physically and mentally by the despotism of the factory, dependent on Capital to survive. How could this class itself have the resources to put an end to the yoke to which it is subjected?

The proletariat as a gravedigger of capitalism: Marx and the “class for itself ” The answers found in the Manifesto11 to this question seem to compose a certain teleological narrative,12 which predicts the inevitable defeat of the capitalist class against the proletariat. The struggle against the bourgeoisie “begins with the birth” of the proletariat as a class,13 and its development would result from its numerical increase, but also from a process of internal homogenization given “by machinery that obliterates differences in labor and almost everywhere reduces wages to an equally low level.”14 We shall see how this internal homogeneity will become a recurrent leitmotiv in identity politics as well.The fundamental axis of this historical narrative is that of a social development that is mirrored by a political development: from the destruction of machines made by dispersed Luddites, it moves to the creation of unions 96

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increasingly capable of imposing their demands on their employers until the creation of a revolutionary unity. The concrete capacity given to the workers to be the “gravediggers” of the bourgeoisie and of capitalist society would thus be based, for Marx, at least in the Manifesto, on a “sociological bet”:15 its continuous growth in number and its gradual education by the struggles would make it able to become the ruling class, capable of ending exploitation and dissolving all classes. This is also the logic exposed in The Poverty of Philosophy where the passage from the class “in itself ” to the class “for itself ” (that is, to a class conscious of its interests and struggling for revolution) is described as a vast cumulative historical process.16 For the Hungarian philosopher György Lukács, the ability of the proletariat to emancipate itself is due to the particularity of its insertion within the relations of production in the capitalist system. Involved as they are in the processes of transformation of nature and society because of the specific location they occupy, workers would be in a privileged position to understand the evolutionary character of the system, to understand that the system is a historical fact (it did not always exist like this, nor will it always have to exist), and that it is composed as a totality. The bourgeoisie, on the contrary, because it always needs to confirm its domination, cannot accept the historicity of social forms, always tending to the “praising of the existing order or, at least, to the demonstration of its immutability.”17 For Lukács, if bourgeois thought has an enormous competence to account for isolated facts, it is nevertheless incapable of grasping the social totality, seeing society itself as a sum of facts. The fragmentation resulting from the capitalist process, the increasing partialization and specialization of labor, science, and all activities, actually favors such apprehension through fragments. But beyond the mode of apprehension of facts, what is ignored by the bourgeoisie is the very historicity of the facts as “products of a determined historical epoch: that of capitalism.”18 According to Lukács, only the dialectical method, as a synthesis of several determinations linked together in an organic way, can account for the intellectual reconstruction of the concrete totality.This knowledge is impossible for the ruling class, given the very functioning of the capitalist system, which thus necessarily becomes opaque to those who are both its agents and its most impetuous subjects. The same barriers, Lukács argues, would not exist for the proletariat, who is capable of apprehending society as a coherent whole and, therefore, of acting to change it.19 This capacity to fully realize the praxis (by matching theory and practice) does not follow from a pure conscious collective decision, but it happens only when the capitalist crisis reaches apexes that compel the conscience to become an active practice. However, this same totalizing consciousness already exists in potency, because of the place that the workers occupy in production, and that would push them to the revolution. The misery of their condition of life would make revolt imperative. And since this condition of life is the foundation upon which bourgeois society is based, the emancipation of the proletariat would necessarily mean the end of that society. The proletarian, because he is at the center of this process, has a privileged point of view on the totality of the system and will have every possibility of becoming the vanguard—an objective possibility that, however, can only be realized, according to Lukács, with the existence of a party capable of reversing the reification of the consciousness of the proletarians in the comprehension of the totality.

Party, councils, and the idea of a homogeneous representation of the oppressed In the different essays that draw up History and Class Consciousness, the Party is presented in a somewhat contradictory way. At times, it is understood as a consequence of the revolutionary 97

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process, with the role of being “the bearer of the class consciousness of the proletariat” and of its “historical mission,”20 that is to say, of making the unconscious impulses of the proletariat conscious—​the party would be a kind of rational “explainer” of what workers spontaneously already do and feel. Other times, this awareness that the party represents would come earlier in relation to action; it would itself inflate the combat and influence the actions of each militant. That is, the party would not be so much a reflexive instance of the class but a primordial actor of the class struggle that, through its practical action, would illuminate the consciousness of the workers. Another form of organization of the oppressed, described briefly but very appreciatively in the same book of Lukács, is the workers’ council. The enthusiasm for this form is that it would be able to overcome the contradictions between the economic and the political, the immediate concern and the ultimate goal, as well as the spatial and temporal dispersion of the proletariat. This organizational form of the council will inspire various movements of emancipation, including those of black people and women, namely from the 1960s onwards, and will arouse great interest in a heterodox follower of Lukács, the Situationist Guy Debord. Debord, who criticizes the Bolshevik organization, perceiving it as a “representation that opposed the class” (as if class could once again be understood as homogeneous), compliments the workers’ councils, which he sees without any reservation as the at-​last-​found form of emancipation, unlike the party. “It is the place where the objective conditions of historical consciousness are gathered: the realization of active direct communication, where specialization, hierarchy and separation end, and where the existing conditions have been transformed into ‘unity conditions.’ ”21 This overcoming of the separation between directors and the directed, between consumers and producers, between use-​value and exchange-​value, allowed by the form of the Council, seems in Debord’s view to put an end to the commodity spell in a society whose abundance would at last be rationally controlled. The Council is as much a tool to build this world as a pre-​figurative image of this same world. However, the implicit assumption is that there is in fact an organic community of the oppressed whose creation or recomposition is relatively easy. What is surprising in this type of argument is the apparent disregard of internal differences within the oppressed groups, of their contradictions. Debord seems not to take into account the possibility that there may be someone, within the working class, who identifies with the system,22 and by doing so reduces alienation to a purely external element. It is certainly on very similar premises that the movements referred to as minority movements drew the basis to suggest that the mere absence of the other pole of contradiction seemed to be a sufficient condition for elaborating one’s own empirical experience of oppression. This is not to question the protagonism of the oppressed themselves in their process of emancipation. It is this conception of the oppressed group as homogeneous that is odd. Sociologist and French feminist activist Christine Delphy, for example, develops her analysis of patriarchy as a unique system of oppression distinct from and parallel to capitalism, emphasizing how patriarchy is a means of production where the “women’s work” (housework, child care, etc.) is directly appropriated by men without market intervention.This undoubtedly interesting theory seems, however, incapable of satisfactorily analyzing the intersection between the two systems (capitalism and patriarchy), that is, gender inequality within the framework of productive labor relations mediated through market (the more “feminine” labor precariousness, wage inequality, etc.) and class inequality inside the group of women. The absence of centrality to these issues, however, had a strategic advantage for the construction of the French feminist movement: to present women as a cohesive social group, capable of functioning as a collective subject of 98

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struggle because of the common traits that gathered women and distinguished them from other groups.23 The search for a specific point of view of a group of oppressed people traverses other feminist formulations, such as those that emphasize the fact that women further away from wage labor are less susceptible to commodity fetishism.24 What is curious about these approaches, which claim a materialist view and which are critical of differential feminism, is that they seem to overestimate a supposedly radical difference between the “masculine world” and the “feminine world,” which ends up making this last one a unitary and positivized identity.

Politics as mediation of internal antagonisms to the oppressed This depreciation of politics is perhaps the consequence of what Daniel Bensaïd called the “illusion of the social,”25 in which the “social” would be the haven of purity against the commitments and the obsession of the struggle for personal power, which would be characteristics of politics. In this sense, this illusion of homogeneity of the social is also a way of not facing the divisions, the conflicts, the disputes, and the tactical differences that always inhabit the groups of the oppressed. This idea that workers—​or people of color, women, the LGBTQI community—​would have a homogeneous interest as a class or as a group, capable of being represented without contradictions or disputes is, after all, the denial of politics itself. It was precisely this reasoning that gave origin, for example, to the concept of a single-​party rule in the so-​called socialist regimes. Trotsky pointed to that when he wrote denouncing Stalin’s single-​party authoritarianism: As if classes were homogeneous! As if their borders were traced once and for all! As if class-​consciousness corresponded exactly to its place in society! Marxist thinking here is no more than a parody. In fact, classes are heterogeneous; shattered by inner antagonisms, and only reach their common ends through the struggle of tendencies, groupings, and parties. We will not find in all political history a single party representing a single class if, of course, we consent not to take a literary novel for reality.26 This is to say that, when thinking about oppression, the relationship between representation and the represented cannot be understood as organic, since the necessary homogeneity is lacking for this transparent relation to be realized as such. For this reason, the political domain is not the place where the “social unconscious” becomes conscious, but rather the necessary mediation so that internal antagonisms can be expressed and potentially solved. A politics of the oppressed is not a mere extension of the social, its duplication in another field. Politics (whether through a theatre group, an activist collective, a party, or some other form of political association) is a relatively autonomous instance, capable of mediating the cohabitation of alterities that are not antagonistic contradictions. But this does not always seem to have been thought and carried out by the different movements that bet on the autonomy of the subjects to carry out their own emancipation.

“People” and otherness in Theatre of the Oppressed The subject of emancipation is described quite variably in the writings of Augusto Boal. In his first book, Popular Techniques of Latin American Theatre, this subject is the “People,” which 99

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“includes only those who rent their workforce.” However, this strict definition around the position within the production relation is soon nuanced in the following lines: People is a generic definition that encompasses workers, peasants and all those who are temporarily or occasionally associated with the former, as is the case of students and other sectors in some countries. The ones that constitute the population but not the people—​that is, the anti-​people—​are the owners and the landlords, the bourgeoisie and its associates (executives, butlers) and, in general, all those who think like them.27 This definition seems to us to be too small a definition. The need of the author here is twofold: to clearly delimit the recipient of his theatrical techniques and to distinguish them from the too vast conception that would include the national bourgeoisie. This second objective is certainly achieved, but the “people” here is presented as a whole to which one can belong through class position or ideology, the latter being more decisive, since the “butler” who rents his workforce cannot, however, be considered “people” because he has associated himself with the bourgeoisie. This lack of definition makes it not surprising that Boal has repeatedly returned to the task of finding more precise ways of naming the subject of his Theatre.The new attempts at defining will always oscillate between contradictory poles, without this contradiction being accurately articulated. In some definitions, the salient trait is its great plasticity—​as we find, for example, in the dynamic definition, in which the oppressed always “defines himself in relation to his oppressor and not himself.”28 On the other hand, we find definitions motivated by a legitimate concern not to silence the other but that will end up pulverizing the subjects to infinity: But the spectator who sees my play [about the oppression of women] and is pleased with it remains oppressed. If she sees a woman’s play about feminist and feminine liberation, it is not enough: she must find forms of liberation of her own as a woman.29 The idea that representing within a group (already often presented in quite tight ways) becomes an oppressive act of dismissing the words of other individuals seems to us problematic. This seems to presuppose that emancipation is only possible through the transformation of each individual into a monad (that is, into an absolute unity). Thus, we are in the presence of a theatre which, by making an impasse in the question of representation, can deny itself as theatre, in the sense that theatre is precisely the ability of one subject to act (represent) as other. In a single gesture, and following the reflection of A. Rosenfeld, what is denied is both the ability to act, always suspect of being a substitution that makes the other invisible, and also something essential to humanity itself: Man only becomes man thanks to his ability of detaching from himself and identifying with the other. This faculty is a given basis of anthropology. The actor only radically performs what distinguishes a person: playing roles on the world stage, in social life. To merge with the other, I must leave myself and expand beyond the limits of self. Only thus, separated from myself, becoming an object of myself, can I define myself as Ego and conquer self-​consciousness. Only by identifying myself with the other may I conquer my own identity. An animal on the other hand is massively identical and does not have the ability of the hypocrites to play roles. They’re incapable to free themselves from their natural unity, to project beyond, and to take possession of the spiritual realm.30 100

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This idea of theatre as the ability to create otherness meets other formulations of Augusto Boal, in which theatre is praised exactly for allowing this rupture with the determinations imposed on us by society. Indeed, emancipation—​or politics, in the sense given by Jacques Rancière—​ could well be defined as this disturbance of the distribution of the roles, spaces, and places to which we are allocated/​destined/​assigned. That is exactly what Augusto Boal proposes in his writings and exercises on masks, rituals, or the de-​mechanization of the body: that we be liberated from the fixations that are assigned to us by the social division of labor. And nothing in his reasoning prevents us from considering other “social masks,” “ritual,” or “mechanization” imposed by other structures and divisions of society (for example, gender, race, or sexuality, the more frequent examples in TO practice) as forms that also limit our being and have to be overcome and not as identities-​outside-​of-​history to be positivized.

Emancipation as a liberation from oneself The multiplication of causes and spaces of social conflict, of movements around issues other than economic ones, and the rediscovery of the topic of alienation as an antidote to the economic reductionism of oppression were of great importance in the second half of the twentieth century. The explosion of multiple contentious identities, of the “critique of everyday life,”31 of the “society of the spectacle,”32 of the vertical forms of pedagogical relation,33 and of the authoritarian forms of political “evangelization” (as Boal enacted) went hand in hand with a kind of search for new collective subjects of emancipation and for new forms of organization that could be an alternative to the “Big Party” and to the traditional working class. The ability to look at the various systems of oppression beyond capitalism—​patriarchy, heterosexism, racism, domination on the basis of age, language, culture—and how they have relative autonomy—​was a very important thing to learn for a politics of emancipation capable of politicizing everyday life, of bringing new spheres of life to the center of social conflict, of transforming institutions, and of creating forms of resistance to the subtle mechanisms of power in everyday life. At the same time as it was an antidote to the invisibility of the various forms of oppression; this attention gave new impetus to the critique of the modes of domination within the organizations and movements of the oppressed. However, in the retreat of the idea that another world is indeed possible, these perspectives, and in particular the “identity shift,” had contradictory and problematic effects on ways of thinking of emancipation. Two of these pitfalls are those of essentialism and of hyper-​individualism. The first one tends to conceive identity as an essence and not as a strategy of struggle, as if the most important thing would be to value and positivize differences, defining categories of oppressed not from the experience of discrimination (in which case, the end of discrimination also means the disappearance of these same categories) but from a proper “culture” that one would have to preserve, or from certain personality traits that would have to be affirmed positively (feminine “care” or feminine “sweetness,” for example, not as inculcation of patriarchy, but as a characteristic to be revalued). In his book Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon seems to point precisely to the need for the struggle against oppression to be not the positivizing of the categories constructed by these same systems of oppression, but their abolition, which would result from the abolition of those same systems of oppression. We will not deny that historically it has been useful and necessary to use certain provisional identities as forms of tactical resistance and building of communities of struggle, especially when the narrative of equality acted as a perverse form of invisibilization. But to paraphrase Fanon—​a thinker of the decolonization and anti-​racist movements whose works are also influential in postcolonial studies—​the struggle against oppression is a struggle 101

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to free the oppressed from themselves: “we intend nothing less than to free the man of color from himself. We will advance slowly because there are two fields: white and black.” And he adds, “in absolute terms, the Negro is not lovelier than the Czech, in fact it is about leaving the man free.”34 The second trap—​of hyperindividualism—​devalues what is common, as if each person is only what is unique in herself and not also shaped by social roles, her position in the social structure, her collective and shared identifications. It turns out that if, ultimately, I  can only represent myself (aesthetically, theatrically, and politically), this would lead to an impossibility of collective organization and mediation in the name of a group.The notion is that without mediation there is no politics—​that is, there is no emancipation. Universalism, as we well know, is out of fashion, and partly because of the fair criticism of how many times the “universal” has been an arrogant “particular” who intended to speak on behalf of all. But having a vision of totality does not necessarily mean being insensitive to diversity. Indeed, totalization is indispensable to thinking of a transformation that is more than a sum of micro-​demands and to maintaining an overview of how the various systems of oppression are organized, how power is structured, and what is the logic that makes society operate as a system. When Augusto Boal describes, for example, his experience of Legislative Theatre in Rio de Janeiro, he points out the importance of the festivals in which different groups meet to share problems and find mechanisms of solidarity.35 Each of these groups worked from their experience and was organized around concrete issues, but the beauty of the team’s mandate and work was also to link the nuclei and to translate the various struggles so that there could be solidarity, communication, and a common political grammar. Indeed, translation between oppressions and struggles implies precisely a reference to totality. It is when we make the connections between the various systems of oppression, when each militant recognizes in the cause of the other a part of his own cause, when each struggle is a struggle against all oppression and the systems that organize it, that the hypothesis of emancipation gathers density. This liberation from all the categories that confine us could well be the other name of emancipation. A liberation that could not be the task of an individual alone, but rather a slow and impatient collective work. As Bensaïd would say, emancipation is not a lonely pleasure.36

Notes 1 Benjamin Constant, “La Revolte Nécessaire,” in Le Goût de la Révolte (Paris: Mercure de France, 2008). 2 Augusto Boal, Hamlet and the Baker’s Son: My Life in Theatre and Politics, trans. Adrian Jackson & Candida Blaker (London & New York: Routledge, 2001), 319–​320. 3 Symbolic violence is the term used by Pierre Bourdieu for the imposition on dominated groups of the ideas and structures of the dominant ones. Its efficacy is due to the fact that it is based on the almost natural dispositions that constitute the habitus, i.e., the embodiment of a social structure that expresses relations of domination. Bourdieu’s point—​that is, for us, too deterministic—​is that the oppressed (he would say “the dominated”) cannot think of the world or think of themselves with lenses other than those of the instruments of knowledge and the classifications belonging to the dominant ones; the dominated cannot escape a certain collaboration with respect to what makes them suffer. This complicity of the dominated “is itself the effect of a power, which has been inscribed enduringly in the body of the dominated, in the form of schemes of perception and dispositions (to respect, to admire, to love, etc.).” In Pierre Bourdieu, Meditações Pascalianas (Oeiras: Celta, 1998), 130–​131. 4 We refer to the concept of hegemony as it was defined by Gramsci: “the combination of force and consent, which balance each other reciprocally, without force predominating excessively over consent. Indeed, the attempt is always made to ensure that force will appear to be based on the consent of the majority.” In Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (New York: International Publishers, 1971), 80. A discussion about the similarities and differences of

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Identities, otherness, and emancipation the approach of Bourdieu and of Gramsci can be found in texts by Michael Burawoy. See, for example, Michael Burawoy, “Cultural Domination:  Gramsci Meets Bourdieu,” http://​burawoy.berkeley.edu/​ Bourdieu/​4.Gramsci.pdf (accessed May 20, 2018). 5 When we refer to theories of reproduction, we are thinking, mainly, on the kind of arguments of an author such as the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. See, for exemple:  Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-​Claude Passeron, Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (London: Sage, 1977) and Pierre Bourdieu, Pascalian Meditations (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000). 6 The concepts of good sense and common sense are developed by Gramsci in his Notes from Prison. See Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, 332–​333. 7 See Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed and Other Political Poetics (São Paulo:  Cosacnaify, 2013[1975]), 124. 8 Vide E. Jardim, Eu Sou Trezentos, Mario de Andrade, Vida e Obra (Rio de Janeiro, Edições de Janeiro, 2015), 115. 9 See Marcelo Ridenti, Em busca do Povo Brasileiro (Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2000), 12. 10 See Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed. 11 K. Marx and F. Engels, Manifesto do Partido Comunista (Porto Alegre: ed. L&PM, 2001). 12 With the term teleological narrative, we refer to the idea that history in itself has a purpose, a goal, a finality. 13 Marx and Engels, Manifesto do Partido Comunista, 37. 14 Ibid., 38. 15 Daniel Bensaid, Le Sourire du Spectre (Paris: Éditions Michalon, 2000), 68. 16 Karl Marx, A Miséria da Filosofia (Rio de Janeiro: editora Global, 1985), 159. 17 Giorgy Lukács, Histoire et Conscience de Classe (Paris, 1960), 69. 18 Ibid., 25. 19 Ibid., 94. 20 Ibid., 63. 21 Guy Debord, La Societé du Spectacle (Paris: Gallimard, 1992), 116. 22 Vide Anselm Jappe, Guy Debord (Petrópolis: Editora Vozes, 1999), 46. 23 Christine Delphy, L’Ennemi Principal, t.1, économie politique du patriarcat (Paris: Syllepse, 2002), 267. 24 Vide Felix Boggio Éwanjé-​Épée, La réification (Paris: La Dispute, 2014), 357. 25 Daniel Bensaïd, Penser/​Agir (Paris: Lignes, 2008), 238. 26 Léon Trotsky, La Révolution Trahie (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1969), 177. 27 Augusto Boal, Técnicas Latino-​Americanas de Teatro Popular (Buenos Aires, 2014), 15. 28 Augusto Boal, Jeux Pour Acteurs et Non-​Acteurs (Paris: Éditions La Découverte, 2004), 293. 29 Augusto Boal, Jogos Para Atores e Não-​Atores (São Paulo: Editora Cosac Naify, 2015), 355. 30 A. Rosenfeld, Prismas do Teatro (São Paulo: Editora Perspectiva, 2008), 24. 31 Henri Lefebvre, Critique of Everyday Life (London: Verso, 2014 [1947; 1961]). 32 Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (New York: Zone Books, 1994 [1967]). 33 Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire, was written in 1968, in exile, with successive editions in Brazil and around the world since the 1970s. 34 Franz Fanon, Peles Negras, Máscaras Negras (EDUFBA: Salvador da Bahia, 2008), 26. 35 Augusto Boal, Teatro Legislativo (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1996), 117–​133. 36 The expression is used in Daniel Bensaïd’s last text, “Puissances du Communisme,” 2010. Available at: www.contretemps.eu/​puissances-​communisme/​ (accessed May 20, 2018).

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11 CAPITALISM AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION Michael Löwy

Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed had from its origin a strong anti-​systemic character. It denounced all forms of oppression, but the evils of capitalism were one of the main aspects of the social criticism embodied in its theatrical method and performances. In the following lines we will briefly discuss the critique of capitalism in socialist theory, from Marx until today’s ecosocialism, as well as the implications of that critique for present indigenous struggles in Latin America. “Delenda Carthago!” is an expression attributed to Cato the Old (II Century before Christ):  “Carthago must be destroyed,” called the Senator, as the armies of the Tunisian city threatened Rome. Today we have no empire to defend, but something much more important: life on this planet, which is threatened by a destructive war waged by Capital. To destroy capitalism is now an issue of survival, and should be done as soon as possible, before it is too late … Admittedly, it is a difficult task, but not an impossible one: the power of Kapital is immense, but fragile. Human action—​the emancipatory unity of its victims—​can change the world, and defeat the armies of capitalism: mercantilism, the idolatry of the market, and commodity fetishism.

Karl Marx versus Kapital Karl Marx was not the first but rather the most systematic and coherent socialist critic of the capitalist mode of production. The anti-​capitalist argument is one of the main force-​fields which run across Marx’s work from the beginning to the end, giving it its coherence. This does not prevent the existence of a certain evolution: while the Communist Manifesto (1848) insists on the historically progressive role of the bourgeoisie, Capital (1867) is more inclined to denounce the ignominies of the system. The usual opposition between an “ethical” young Marx and a “scientific” one of the mature years is unable to account for this development. Marx’s anti-​capitalism is based on certain values or criteria, generally implicit: a) Universal ethical values: freedom, equality, justice, self-​accomplishment. The combination of these various human values builds a coherent whole, which one could name revolutionary humanism, that functions as the main guiding principle for the ethical condemnation of the capitalist system. 105

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Moral indignation against the infamies of capitalism is obvious in all chapters of Capital: it is an essential dimension of what gives such an impressive power to the book.As Lucien Goldmann wrote, Marx does not “mix” value and fact judgements, but develops a dialectical analysis where explanation, comprehension, and evaluation are rigorously inseparable.1 b) The viewpoint of the proletariat, victim of the system and its potential gravedigger. As Marx clearly asserted in his preface to Capital, this class perspective is at the root of his critique of bourgeois political economy. It is from this social viewpoint that values such as “justice” are re-​ interpreted: their concrete meanings are not the same, depending on the situations and the interests of different classes. c) The possibility of an emancipated future, of a post-​capitalist society, of a communist utopia. It is in the light of the hypothesis—​or the wager, according to Lucien Goldmann—​of a free association of producers that the negative features of capitalism appear in all their enormity. d) The existence, in the past, of more egalitarian, or democratic, social, and cultural forms, destroyed by capitalist “progress.” This argument, of Romantic origin, is present for instance in all Marx or Engels’ writings on primitive communism, a form of communitarian life without commodity, state, or private property and without patriarchal oppression of women. The existence of these values does not mean that Marx holds a Kantian perspective, opposing a transcendental ideal to the existing reality: his critique is immanent, in so far as it is developed in the name of a real social force opposed to capitalism—​the working class—​and in the name of the contradiction between the potentialities created by the rise of productive forces and the limitations imposed by the bourgeois productive relations.2 Marx’s anti-​capitalist critique is organized around five fundamental issues:  the injustice of exploitation, the loss of liberty through alienation, venal (mercantile) quantification, irrationality, and modern barbarism. Let us examine briefly these issues, emphasizing the less known ones: 1) The injustice of exploitation. The capitalist system is based, independently of this or that economic policy, on the worker’s unpaid surplus-​labor, source, as “surplus-​value,” of all the forms of rent and profit. The extreme manifestations of this social injustice are the exploitation of children, starvation wages, inhuman labor hours, and miserable life conditions for the proletarians. But whatever the worker’s condition at this or that historical moment, the system itself is intrinsically unjust because it is parasitary and exploits the labor force of the direct producers. This argument takes a central place in Capital and was essential in the formation of the Marxist labor movement. 2) The loss of liberty through alienation, reification,3 commodity fetishism. In the capitalist mode of production, the individuals—​and in particular the laborers—​are submitted to the domination of their own products, which take the form of autonomous fetishes (idols) and escape their control. This issue is extensively dealt with in Marx’s early writings, but also in the famous chapter on commodity fetishism in Capital.4 At the heart of Marx’s analysis of alienation is the idea that capitalism is a sort of disenchanted “religion,” where commodities replace divinity: The more the worker estranges himself in his labour, the more the estranged, objective world he has created becomes powerful, while he becomes impoverished … The same happens in religion.The more man puts things in God, the less he keeps in himself …5 106

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The concept of fetishism itself refers to the history of religion, to the primitive forms of idolatry, which already contain the principle of all religious phenomena. It is not by chance that liberation theologians—​such as Hugo Assmann, Franz Hinkelammert, and Enrique Dussel—​extensively quote from Marx’s writings against capitalist alienation and commodity fetishism in their denunciation of the “market idolatry.”6 3) The venal (mercantile) quantification of social life. Capitalism—​regulated by exchange value, the calculation of profits, and the accumulation of capital—​tends to dissolve and destroy all qualitative values:  use-​values,7 ethical values, human relations, human feelings. Having replaces Being, and only subsists on the monetary payment—​the cash nexus, according to the famous expression of Carlyle8 which Marx takes up—​and the “icy waters of egoistic calculation” (an expression used in the Communist Manifesto). Now, the struggle against quantification and Mammonism9—​another term used by Carlyle—​ is one of the key loci of Romanticism.10 Like the Romantic critics of the modern bourgeois civilization, Marx believed that capitalism has introduced, in this respect, a profound degradation of social relations, and an ethical regression in relation to pre-​capitalist societies: At last, the time has come in which all that human beings had considered as inalienable has become the object of exchange, of traffic, and may be alienated. It is a time when the very things which before were conveyed, but never bartered; given, but never sold; conquered, but never purchased (virtue, love, opinion, science, conscience etc., or in short: everything) have finally become tradable. It is a time of generalized corruption, universal venality or, to speak in terms of political economy, the time when anything, moral or physical, receives a venal value, and may be taken to market to be appraised for its appropriate value.11 The power of money is one of the most brutal expressions of this capitalist quantification: it distorts all “human and natural qualities” by submitting them to the monetary measure: The quantity of money becomes more and more the unique and powerful property of the human being; at the same time that it reduces all being to its abstraction, it reduces itself in its own movement to a quantitative being.12

4) The irrational nature of the system … The periodical crises of overproduction that shake the capitalist system reveal its irrationality—​“absurdity” is the term used in the Manifesto: the existence of “too many means of subsistence” while the majority of the population lacks the necessary minimum. This global irrationality is not contradictory, of course, with a partial and local rationality, at the level of the production management of each factory. What is rational from the viewpoint of the profit in an enterprise can be completely irrational from the perspective of society as such—​for example, the inbuilt obsolescence of commodities. 5) Modern barbarism.To some extent, capitalism is the bearer of historical progress, particularly by the exponential development of the productive forces, creating therefore the material conditions for a new society, a world of freedom and solidarity. But, at the same time, it is also a force of social regression, in so far as it “makes of each economic progress a public calamity.”13 The destruction of the Amazonian forest by the “development” of agro-​business is a good example. Considering some of the most sinister manifestations of capitalism such 107

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as the poor laws—​persecution and imprisonment of beggars and poor people in general—​ or the workhouses—​those “workers’ Bastilles”—​Marx wrote in 1847 the following surprising and prophetic passage, which seems to announce the Frankfurt School: “Barbarism re-​appears, but this time it is created inside civilization itself and is an integral part of it.This is the leprous barbarism, barbarism as the leper of civilization.”14 All these criticisms are intimately linked:  they refer to each other, they presuppose each other, and they are combined in a global anti-​capitalist vision, which is one of the distinctive features of Marx as a Communist thinker. On two other issues—​which are today of the greatest topicality—​Marx’s anti-​capitalist critique is more ambiguous or insufficient: 6) The colonial and/​or imperialist expansion of capitalism, the violent and cruel domination of the colonized people, their forced submission to the imperatives of capitalist production and the accumulation of capital. One can perceive in Marx a certain evolution in this respect: if, in the Manifesto he seems to celebrate as a progress the submission of the “peasant” or “barbarian” (sic) nations to the bourgeois civilization, in his writings on the British colonization of India the somber aspect of the Western domination is taken into account—​but still considered as a necessary evil. It is only in Capital, particularly in the chapter on primitive accumulation of capital, that one finds a really radical critique of the horrors of colonial expansion: the submission or extermination of the indigenous people, the wars of conquest, the slave trade. These “horrifying barbarisms and atrocities”—​which according to Marx, quoting M.W. Howitt, “have no parallel in any other era of universal history, in any other race, however savage, brutal, pitiless and shameless”—​are not simply presented as the cost of historical progress, but clearly denounced as an “infamy.”15 7) The Manifesto rejoices with the domination of nature made possible by the expansion of capitalist civilization. It is only later, particularly in Capital, that the aggression of the capitalist mode of production against the natural environment is taken into consideration. In a well-​known passage, Marx suggests a parallel between the exhaustion of labor and of land by the destructive logic of capital:

Each progress of the capitalist agriculture is not only a progress in the art of exploiting the worker, but also in the art of plundering the soil; each short-​term progress in fertility is a progress in the long-​term destruction of the basis of this fertility. (…) Capitalist production thus only develops … by at the same time exhausting the two springs from which flow all wealth: the land and the labourer.16

One can see here the expression of a really dialectical view of progress—​also suggested by the ironical way the word is used, which could be the starting point for a systematic ecological thinking, but this was not to be developed by Marx. This and other texts show that Marx and Engels were not unaware of the environmental-​ destructive consequences of the capitalist mode of production.17 Moreover, they believed that the aim of socialism is not to produce more and more commodities, but to give human beings 108

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free time to fully develop their potentialities. In that way, they have little in common with “productivism,” i.e. with the idea that the unlimited expansion of production is an aim in itself. However, some of their writings seem to suggest that socialism will permit the development of productive forces beyond the limits imposed on them by the capitalist system. According to this approach, the socialist transformation concerns only the capitalist relations of production, which have become an obstacle—​“chains” is the term often used—​to the free development of the existing productive forces; socialism would mean above all the social appropriation of these productive capacities, putting them at the service of the workers. To quote a passage from Anti-​Dühring, a canonical work for many generations of Marxists: in socialism “society takes possession openly and without detours of the productive forces that have become too large” for the existing system.18 Marxists could take their inspiration from Marx’s remarks on the Paris Commune: workers cannot take possession of the capitalist state apparatus and put it to function at their service. They have to “break it” and replace it with a radically different, democratic, and non-​statist form of political power. This idea is also very present in Theatre of the Oppressed itself, when Boal asserts that a revolutionary theatre could not be the mere replacement of a “reactionary content” by a revolutionary one, keeping the old forms, but presupposes the invention of new artistic forms and the appropriation by the oppressed of all theatrical means. The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to the productive apparatus: by its nature, its structure, it is not neutral, but at the service of capital accumulation and the unlimited expansion of the market. It is in contradiction with the needs of environment protection and with the health of the population. One must therefore “revolutionize” it, in a process of radical transformation. This may mean, for certain branches of production, to discontinue them: for instance, nuclear plants, certain methods of mass/​industrial fishing (responsible for the extermination of several species in the seas), the destructive logging of tropical forests, etc. (the list is very long!). In any case, the productive forces, and not only the relations of production, have to be deeply changed—​to begin with, by a revolution in the energy system, with the replacement of the present sources (essentially fossil) responsible for the pollution and poisoning of the environment, by renewable ones: water, wind, sun. Of course, many scientific and technological achievements of modernity are precious, but the whole productive system must be transformed, and this can be done only through ecosocialist methods, i.e. through a democratic planning of the economy which takes into account the preservation of the ecological equilibrium.

Ecosocialism vs. Kapital The Earth’s ecological crisis has achieved a decisive turning point with the phenomena of climate change, a fateful process that is accelerating much faster than predicted. The accumulation of CO2, the rise in temperature, the melting of the polar ice, the drought, the floods: everything is happening very quickly, and the scientific assessments—​while the ink is still drying—​are already superseded, and perceived as too optimistic. In the next decades there will follow the desertification of lands, the sharp decline in fresh waters, the extinction of species, the dramatic rise of sea levels. After a certain temperature—​six degrees Celsius for instance—​would the planet still be inhabitable for our species? Who is responsible for this situation, without precedent in history? It is Human Action, answer the scientists. We have entered a new geological era, the Anthropocene, where human activity is changing some of the essential characteristics of the planet. The answer is correct, but a bit short: human beings have lived on Earth for thousands of years, but the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has started to become dangerous only in the last century and particularly 109

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in the last few decades. As Marxists, our answer is: the culprit is the capitalist system. Its absurd and irrational logic of infinite expansion and accumulation and its productivism obsessed with the search for profit at any price are responsible for bringing humanity to the brink of the abyss. The ecological issue is the greatest challenge for a renewal of Marxist thinking in the twenty-​first century and for the development of radical alternatives to capitalism. Ecosocialism is a political current based on an essential insight: the preservation of the ecological equilibrium of the planet and, therefore, of an environment favorable to living species—​including ours—​is incompatible with the expansive and destructive logic of the capitalist system. The pursuit of “growth” under the aegis of capital will lead us, in short range—​the next decades—​to a catastrophe without precedent in human history: global warming. The planet’s “decision makers”—​ billionaires, managers, bankers, investors, ministers, politicians, business executives, and “experts”—​ shaped by the short-​ sighted and narrow-​ minded rationality of the system, obsessed with the imperatives of growth and expansion, the struggle for market positions, competitiveness, and the margins of profit—​seem to follow the precept proclaimed by the King Louis XV a few years before the French Revolution: “After me, the Flood.” The Flood of the twenty-​first century may take the form, like the one in the Biblical mythology, of an inexorable rise of the ocean waters—​the result of climate change and the melting of the ices—​drowning under the waves the coastal towns of human civilization: New York, London,Venice, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong … Confronted with the impending catastrophe, what does ecosocialism propose? Its central premise already suggested by the term itself, is that a non-​ecological socialism is a dead-​end, and a non-​socialist ecology is unable to confront the present ecological crisis.The ecosocialist proposition: combining the “red”—​the Marxist critique of capital and the project of an alternative society—​and the “green”—​the ecological critique of productivism.19 Ecosocialism is a radical proposition, i.e. one that deals with the roots of the ecological crisis—​which distinguishes itself both from the productivist varieties of socialism in the twentieth century—​either social-​democracy or the Stalinist brand of “communism”—​and from the ecological currents that accommodate themselves, in one way or another, to the capitalist system. It is a radical proposition that aims not only at the transformation of the relations of production, of the productive apparatus, and of the dominant consumption patterns, but to create a new way of life, breaking with the foundations of the modern Western capitalist/​industrial civilization. Such a broad and deep transformation can only take place through democratic planning. What does this mean? Simply, that society itself, and not a small oligarchy of property-​owners—​nor an elite of techno-​bureaucrats—​will be able to choose, democratically, which productive lines are to be privileged, and how much resources are to be invested in education, health, or culture. The prices of goods themselves would not be left to the “laws of offer and demand” but, to some extent, determined according to social and political options, as well as ecological criteria, leading to taxes on certain products, and subsidized prices for others. Ideally, as the transition to socialism moves forward, more and more products and services would be distributed free of charge, according to the will of the citizens. Far from being “despotic” in itself, planning is the exercise, by a whole society, of its freedom: freedom of decision, and liberation from the alienated and reified “economic laws” of the capitalist system, which determined the individual’s life and death and enclosed them in an economic “iron cage” (Max Weber). Planning and the reduction of labor time are the two decisive steps of humanity toward what Marx called “the kingdom of freedom.” A significant increase of free time is in fact a condition for the democratic participation of the working people in the democratic discussion and management of economy and of society. 110

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While in capitalism the use-​ value is only a means—​ often a trick—​ at the service of exchange-​value and profit (which explains, by the way, why so many products in the present society are substantially useless), in a planned socialist economy the use-​value is the only criteria for the production of goods and services, with far reaching economic, social, and ecological consequences. As Joel Kovel observed, “The enhancement of use-​values and the corresponding restructuring of needs becomes now the social regulator of technology rather than, as under capital, the conversion of time into surplus value and money.”20 Ecosocialist planning is grounded on a democratic and pluralist debate, on all the levels where decisions are to be made: different propositions are submitted to the concerned people (in the form of parties, platforms, or any other political movements) and delegates are accordingly elected. However, representative democracy must be completed—​and corrected—​by direct democracy, where people directly choose (at the local, national, and, later, global level) between major social and ecological options. What guarantee is there that the people will make the correct ecological choices, even at the price of giving up some of their habits of consumption? There is no such “guarantee,” other than the wager on the rationality of democratic decisions, once the power of commodity fetishism is broken. Of course, errors will be committed by the popular choices, but who believes that the experts do not make errors themselves? One cannot imagine the establishment of such a new society without the majority of the population having achieved—​by their struggles, their self-​education, and their social experience—​a high level of socialist/​ecological consciousness, and this makes it reasonable to suppose that errors—​including decisions which are inconsistent with environmental needs—​will be corrected. In any case, are not the proposed alternatives—​ the blind market, or an ecological dictatorship of “experts”—​much more dangerous than the democratic process, with all its contradictions? The passage from capitalist “destructive progress” to ecosocialism is an historical process, a permanent revolutionary transformation of society, culture, and mentalities. This transition would lead not only to a new mode of production and an egalitarian and democratic society, but also to an alternative mode of life, a new ecosocialist civilization, beyond the reign of money, beyond consumption habits artificially produced by advertising, and beyond the unlimited production of commodities that are useless and/​or harmful to the environment. It is important to emphasize that such a process cannot begin without a revolutionary transformation of social and political structures, and the active support, by the vast majority of the population, of an ecosocialist program. The development of socialist consciousness and ecological awareness is a process, where the decisive factor is people’s own collective experience of struggle, from local and partial confrontations to the radical change of society. This does not mean that there will not arise conflicts, particularly during the transitional process, between the requirements of environmental protection and the social needs, between the ecological imperatives and the necessity of developing basic infrastructures (particularly in poor countries), between popular consumer habits and the scarcity of resources. A  class-​less society is not a society without contradictions and conflicts! These are inevitable: it will be the task of democratic planning, from an ecosocialist perspective, liberated from the imperatives of capital and profit-​making, to solve them, through a pluralist and open discussion, leading to decision-​making by society itself. Such a grassroots and participative democracy is the only way—​not to avoid errors, but to permit the self-​correction, by the social collectivity, of its own mistakes. Is this Utopia? In its etymological sense—​“something that exists nowhere”—​certainly. But are not utopias, i.e. visions of an alternative future, wish-​images of a different society, a necessary feature of any movement that wants to challenge the established order? As Daniel Singer 111

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explained in his literary and political testament, Whose Millennium?, in a powerful chapter entitled “Realistic Utopia,” if the establishment now looks so solid, despite the circumstances, and if the labor movement or the broader left are so crippled, so paralyzed, it is because of the failure to offer a radical alternative. (…) The basic principle of the game is that you question neither the fundamentals of the argument nor the foundations of society. Only a global alternative, breaking with these rules of resignation and surrender, can give the movement of emancipation genuine scope.21 The socialist and ecological utopia is only an objective possibility, not the inevitable result of the contradictions of capitalism, or of the “iron laws of history.” One cannot predict the future, except in conditional terms: in the absence of an ecosocialist transformation, of a radical change in the civilizational paradigm, the logic of capitalism will lead the planet to dramatic ecological disasters, threatening the health and the life of billions of human beings, and perhaps even the survival of our species. To dream, and to struggle, for a new civilization does not mean that one does not fight for concrete and urgent reforms. Without any illusions of a “clean capitalism,” one must try to win time, and to impose, on the powers that be, some elementary changes: a general moratorium on genetically modified organisms, a drastic reduction in the emission of the greenhouse gases, the development of public transportation, the taxation of polluting cars, the progressive replacement of trucks by trains, a severe regulation of the fishing industry, the progressive suppression of pesticides and chemicals in agriculture.These urgent eco-​social demands can lead to a process of radicalization, on the condition that one does not accept to limit one’s aims according to the requirements of “the [capitalist] market” or of “competitivity.” According to the logic of what Marxists call “a transitional program,” each small victory, each partial advance can immediately lead to a higher demand, to a more radical aim.

The indigenous against Kapital Peasant and indigenous movements of Latin America are at the center of the socio-​ecological struggle for the environment. This is true not only through their local actions in defense of rivers or forests against petroleum and mining multinationals, but also in that they propose an alternative way of life to that of neoliberal globalized capitalism. Indigenous peoples in particular may be the ones undertaking these struggles, but they quite often do so in alliance, as it happens for example, in Brazil, with landless peasants, ecologists, socialists, and Christian base communities, with support from unions, Left parties, the Pastoral Land Commission, and the Indigenous Pastoral Ministry. The dynamics of capital require the transformation of all commonly held goods into commodities, which sooner or later leads to destruction of the environment. The petroleum zones of Latin America, abandoned by the multinationals after years of exploitation, are poisoned and destroyed, leaving behind a dismal legacy of illnesses among the inhabitants. It is thus completely understandable that the populations that live in the most direct contact with the environment are the first victims of this ecocide and attempt to oppose the destructive expansion of capital, sometimes successfully. Resistance by indigenous peoples, then, has very concrete and immediate motivations—​to save their forests or water resources—​in their battle for survival. However, that resistance also 112

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corresponds to a deep antagonism between the culture, way of life, spirituality, and values of these communities and the “spirit of capitalism” as Max Weber defined it: the subjection of all activity to profit calculations, profitability as sole criterion and the quantification and reification, Versachlichung, of all social relations. There is a sort of “negative affinity” between indigenous ethics and the spirit of capitalism (the converse of the elective affinity between the Protestant ethic and capitalism), a profound socio-​cultural opposition. Certainly, there are indigenous or metis communities that adapt to the system and try to gain from it. Further, indigenous struggles involve extremely complex processes, including identity recomposition, transcoding of discourses and political instrumentalizations, all of which deserve to be closely studied. Yet we can clearly see that a continuous series of conflicts characterizes the relations between indigenous populations and modern capitalist agricultural or mining corporations. This conflict has a long history. It is admirably described in one of the Mexican novels of the anarchist writer B. Traven, The White Rose (1929),22 which narrates how a large North American oil company seized the lands of an indigenous community after having murdered its leader. However, the conflict has intensified during the last few decades because of both the intensity and extensiveness of capital’s exploitation of the environment, and also because of the rise of the alter-​ globalization movement—​which took on this struggle—​and the indigenous movements of the continent. One of the main leaders of this movement of anti-​systemic resistance is the Peruvian indigenist revolutionary fighter and ecosocialist Hugo Blanco. Initially affiliated with the Fourth International, Hugo Blanco organized in the early 1960s a large peasant movement at the Convención Valley in Peru, which had its own armed self-​defense brigades. Arrested by the police, condemned to death, he was saved by an international campaign of solidarity which included Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-​Paul Sartre, and Bertrand Russell. Several times elected to the Parliament, he was forced into exile by Fujimori’s dictatorship in 1992. After his return to Peru he joined efforts with the Confederación Campesina de Perú (CCP), the great Peruvian Peasant Union. Today Hugo Blanco’s main reference is the Mexican Zapatista movement; he is the editor of the periodical Lucha Indigena, and in spite of his age (more than 80 years) still in the first line of indigenous struggles in Peru. During the last decade, Blanco became increasingly interested in ecosocialism, which he saw as the continuation of the collectivist traditions of the indigenous communities and their respect for the Pachamama, the Mother Earth.23 He signed the Belem Ecosocialist Declaration and took part, at the head of an indigenous Peruvian delegation, in the International Ecosocialist Conference which took place in Belem after the World Socialist Forum of 2009. He has often argued that the indigenous communities, in Latin America and elsewhere, have practiced ecosocialism for hundreds of years…

Conclusion It is important to emphasize that ecosocialism is not only a project for the future, a horizon of the possible, a radical anti-​capitalist alternative, but also, and inseparably, an agenda of action hic et hunc, here and now, around concrete and immediate proposals. Any victories, however partial and limited, that slow down climate change and ecological degradation, are “stepping stones for more victories”: they “develop our confidence and organization to push for more.”24 In other words: struggles around concrete issues are important, not only because partial victories are welcome in themselves, but also because they contribute to raising ecological and socialist consciousness, and because they promote activity and self-​organization from below: both are decisive and necessary pre-​conditions for a radical, i.e. revolutionary, transformation of the 113

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world. The articulation between these two dimensions—​the concrete struggles and the structural changes that confront the system and the mode of production in itself—​are also a huge challenge for all the artistic and cultural practices that aim for a radical transformation of society, such as Theatre of the Oppressed. There is no guarantee for the triumph of the ecosocialist alternative. The only hope are the mobilizations from below, like in Seattle in 1999, which saw the coming together of “turtles” (ecologists) and “teamsters” (trade-​unionists), and the birth of the Global Justice movement; or like in Copenhagen 2009, when 100,000 demonstrators gathered around the battle cry “Change the System, not the Climate”; or in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2010, when 30,000 delegates from indigenous, peasant, unionist, and ecologist movements from Latin America and the world participated at the People’s Conference on Climate Change, whose document denounces the imperialist destruction of Mother Earth. The entrenched ruling elites of the system are incredibly powerful, and the forces of radical opposition are still small. But they are the only hope that the catastrophic course of capitalist “growth” will be halted. Walter Benjamin defined revolutions as being not the locomotive of history, but humanity reaching for the emergency brakes of the train, before it goes down into the abyss. Theatre of the Oppressed could be one of the practices and languages to rehearse it.

Notes 1 Lucien Goldmann,“Le Marxisme est-​il Une Sociologie?”, in Recherches Dialectique (Paris: Gallimard,  1955). 2 These two concepts are central for Marx. By productive forces, we refer to the combination of the means of labor (tools, machinery, land, infrastructure, and so on) with human labor, applied by people in the production process. By “productive relations” or “relations of production,” we mean the social relationships that people must enter into in order to produce and reproduce their means of life, i.e. the socio-​economic relationships characteristic of a specific mode of production. 3 Reification comes from the latin res, which means “thing.” It means the “thingification” or “objectification,” the process through which objects are transformed into subjects (in the sense that they become an active factor) and subjects are turned into objects (as passive or determined by something exterior). 4 It is true, as Ernest Mandel observed, that there is an evolution between the Manuscripts of 1844 and the economic writings of the later years:  the passage from an anthropological to an historical concept of alienation. See Ernest Mandel, La Formation de la Pensée Économique de Karl Marx (Paris: Maspero, 1967). 5 Karl Marx, Manuscrits de 1844 (Paris: Ed. Sociales, 1962), 57–​58. 6 Hugo Assmann & Franz Hinkelammert, A Idolatria do Mercado. Ensaios Sobre Economia e Teologia (S.Paulo: Editora Vozes, 1989). See also the fascinating text by Walter Benjamin—​largely inspired by Weber—​“Kapitalismus als Religion,” Gesammelte Schriften (Suhrkamp Verlag, 1991) Band VI, 100–​1034. 7 By use-​value we mean the utility of a good for a person, which is different from the exchange-​value, i.e., the value of a commodity when it is traded in the market. 8 The “cash nexus” is a phrase that refers to the depersonalized relationship that exists in a capitalist society and it was coined by Thomas Carlyle, a nineteenth century Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, historian, and teacher. 9 By Mammonism we mean the devotion to the pursuit of material wealth and possessions. 10 See Michael Löwy & Robert Sayre, Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity (Durham, NC:  Duke University Press, 2000). Carlyle is one of the typical representatives of the Romantic/​conservative critique of capitalism. 11 Karl Marx, Misère de la Philosophie (Paris: Ed. Sociales, 1947), 33. 12 Marx, Manuscrits de 1844, 101, 123. 13 Karl Marx, Le Capital (Livre I, Paris: Garnier Flammarion, 1969), 350. 14 Karl Marx, “Arbeitslohn,” 1847, Kleine Ökonomische Schriften (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1955), 245. 15 Marx, Capital, 557–​558, 563. 16 Karl Marx, Capital vol. 1 (New York: Vintage, 1970), 638. 17 See John Bellamy Foster, Marx’s Ecology. Materialism and Nature (New  York:  Monthly Review Press, 2000).

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12 RACISM, COLONIALISM, IMPERIALISM James McMaster

Let’s begin by doing away with a harmful misconception. Racism is not simply a matter of individual misinformation or malice. Far too many “anti-​racists” misunderstand racism as the name for a wide diversity of problematic individual attitudes and bigoted opinions that must be undone. This view is wrong-​headed. One of the major problems with this perspective on racism is that it tends to cast figures like “the white US southerner” or “the drunk uncle around the dinner table” as the racists par excellence. The impulse to cast another as the true figure of racism is born of the desire to absolve ourselves of our own complicities with structural oppression. Something to accept:  we are all complicit in the perpetuation of racism. When accused of racism, the appropriate response is not any version of, “No, not me!” Rather, the work begins when we come to terms with the fact that racism is the air we breathe; it is the water in which we are submerged, and in which many of us are drowning. The belief in racism as individual attitude also problematically erases the reality that racism operates systemically and at every level of life. Scholar and prison abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore defines racism this way:  “Racism, specifically, is the state-​sanctioned or extralegal production and exploitation of group-​differentiated vulnerability to premature death.”1 Gilmore’s definition refuses the pernicious individualization of racism in favor of a broader structural analysis. For examples of “state sanctioned” genres of racism—​in line with Gilmore’s own activist investments—​we can turn to the institution of policing. Two interlocking strategies of policing utilized by mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1990s’ New York City illustrate this point: “quality of life policing” and “zero tolerance policing.” Quality of life policing is the intensified policing of typically non-​criminal behaviors such as sleeping and drinking, as well as minor offenses such as littering and panhandling, simply because they are occurring in public space. Founded in “broken windows” theory, quality of life policing responds to the belief that allowing signs of social “disorder” (like broken windows) to exist in public will lead to an elevation in crime. Zero tolerance policing ensures that those who, for whatever reason, find themselves in violation of these and other minor regulations are met with disproportionately severe, life-​altering punishments.2 Unsurprisingly, low-​income people of color—​black and Latinx individuals especially—​quickly become the targets of this regime.3 Gilmore’s definition also recognizes that the violences of racism do not only emerge from the state. When she writes of the “extralegal production” of “vulnerability to premature death” 116

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she accounts for cultural and interpersonal ways in which racism is systemically perpetrated and perpetuated. For instance, consider the racism that saturates economies of romantic and sexual desire. Recent studies of internet-​based dating sites outline racialized disparities in desirability. Within the heterosexual context—​while intraracial dating is statistically dominant—​ Asian women are shown to be desired by men of all races, whereas black men and women as well as Asian men received the fewest correspondences from potential partners.4 Data such as this demonstrates that our desires, both romantic and sexual, are as saturated with racism as any other aspect of life. Not only does this present racially overdetermined personal crises in self-​ worth and loneliness, but one’s (un)desirability also overdetermines the availability of social and material resources and stability offered by the couple and nuclear family forms (i.e., tax benefits, shared bills and finances, access to health insurance and/​or citizenship, etc.). The example of sexual racism demonstrates that an analysis of racism as Gilmore defines it must be pursued through the critical lens of “intersectionality.” Intersectionality is a black feminist analytic originally developed by the legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe the inability in both the law and in feminist and anti-​racist discourse to properly account for black women. With regard to the law, Crenshaw writes, “in race discrimination cases, discrimination tends to be viewed in terms of sex-​or class-​privileged Blacks; in sex discrimination cases, the focus is on race-​and class-​privileged women.”5 More generally, she argues: Black women are sometimes excluded from feminist theory and antiracist policy discourse because both are predicated on a discrete set of experiences that often does not accurately reflect the interaction of race and gender. These problems of exclusion cannot be solved simply by including Black women within an already established analytical structure. Because the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated.6 I quote Crenshaw at such length to emphasize the specificity and centrality of black feminism to intersectionality in a moment when, within social justice circles, the term has become short hand for the imperative that all vectors of identitarian difference (race, gender, sexuality, class, disability, nation, religion, and so forth) must be understood not as single-​axes of difference but always together in their interplay. In this context, the best deployments of intersectionality avoid white feminism and patriarchal anti-​racism by remaining rooted in a variety of black and women of color feminisms that operate according to a logic that trans legal scholar Dean Spade has termed “trickle-​up social justice.”7 Playing on the name of the failed conservative model for economic growth, Spade has argued that if we prioritize those who are most vulnerable to structural oppression in our social movements and critical analyses by way of a logic of “trickle-​ up social justice,” then, inevitably, we will address the issues facing those who are less vulnerable to systemic subjugation. These two intimately connected frameworks—​intersectionality and trickle-​up social justice—​should undergird all anti-​racist, anti-​imperial, and anti-​colonial analysis and practice. Additionally, it is important to name at the outset of this writing that a robust understanding of whiteness and white supremacy is required for an adequate comprehension of racial subjugation. Many scholars and activists prefer the term “white supremacy” to the term “racism,” believing that “white supremacy” more accurately captures the specific culpabilities and outcomes of racial oppression. One of the insidious powers of whiteness is its ability to elude recognition as a race. Too often, whiteness goes unmarked; it is understood as a neutral position against which all others are measured. Whites are allowed, simply, to be human while all other 117

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racial groups are deemed Other. An analysis founded in white supremacy makes whiteness apparent as the political, cultural, and economic structure of power consolidation that it is. From this point of view, accusations of “reverse racism” are revealed to be ludicrous because the term “white supremacy” forecloses the possibility that racism will be misunderstood as the general maltreatment of any one race against any other.The claim of “reverse racism” is willfully ignorant insofar as it disregards the realities of material inequality and cultural hierarchy. Again, as with the more generalized designation of “racism,” it is urgent that we stop conceiving of white supremacy as something extraordinary—​the province of Nazis, klan members, and the like. The truth is that “white supremacy,” like “racism,” names an ordinary arrangement of power and privilege that shapes us as much as we shape it. The indigenous feminist Andrea Smith has written of white supremacy in terms of its three pillars:  slavery/​capitalism, genocide/​capitalism, orientalism/​war.8 Inspired by Smith’s formulations, in what follows I will propose three pillars of my own: empire/​orientalism, settler colonialism, and anti-​blackness. Diverging from Smith for reasons that will become clear by this chapter’s end, mine are not pillars of white supremacy but of modernity; they are three pillars—​among others that I will not be able to address here—​that fundamentally uphold the violent structure of social and political life in the present.9 Rather than associating capitalism and war with any particular pillar as Smith chooses to, I position both capitalism and war as inherent in each of the pillars. Capitalism, as Cedric Robinson has taught us, is always already racial capitalism.10 Though the image of pillars seems to imply three discrete entities, in reality the three are deeply and inextricably interconnected and interactive. While my own training as an Americanist will limit the analysis contained herein to the United States and its relations, it is crucial to note that histories and hierarchies of race differ across the globe. Race does not operate in Brazil exactly as it operates in the United States; it does not operate in the Philippines as it does in England. Nonetheless, this chapter sets out to track the ways in which racism, imperialism, and colonialism—​in their inextricable interconnectedness and interactivity—​structure such foundational categories as life, death, and the Human. It does so in order to gesture toward a politics that, when combined with the methodologies of Theatre of the Oppressed, carries the potential to make the world other and better than what it is.

Orientalism/​empire Edward Said defined “orientalism” as a discourse through which “the West” constructs a far-​off, exotic, and fantastical vision of “the orient,” or “the East,” as a means of securing its own identity as superior, normal, and rational.11 In the essay discussed earlier, Smith expands Said’s definition beyond Asia to include Latin America. Drawing on Said and Smith together, we can view orientalism as the discursive condition of possibility for anti-​Asian, anti-​Arab, and anti-​Latinx racism in the West/​Global North. Orientalism casts these peoples not only as inferior, but, when convenient, as perpetual foreigners, threats, and/​or invaders. Orientalism, then, precisely through the paradoxical construction of the West/​Global North as simultaneously superior and vulnerable to foreign others, also becomes the cultural and political technology through which wars benefitting empire are justified. The histories of Asian American immigration and subjugation provide a useful context for understanding the interrelated operations of orientalism and empire. Asian American studies scholars such as David Palumbo-​Liu and Karen Shimakawa have argued that the Asian American is in constant vacillation between, as Shimakawa puts it, “visibility and invisibility, foreignness and domestication/​assimilation.”12 This vacillation has historically been determined by the at times contradictory requirements of the imperial nation-​state and capital. As Asian Americanist 118

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Lisa Lowe writes, “on the one hand, Asian states have become prominent as external rivals in overseas imperial war and in the global economy, and on the other, Asian immigrants are still a necessary racialized labor force within the domestic national economy.”13 This double-​bind logic undergirds, for example, the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 in the United States. In the mid-​nineteenth century, Chinese laborers began migrating to the United States pushed by instability in their home country caused by the Opium Wars and pulled by the promise of work and the dream of luxury precipitated by the California gold rush. The United States, in turn, found benefit from Chinese labor because these immigrants were willing to work for lower wages and in worse conditions, such as during the building of the transcontinental railroad.14 However, when white economic interests were threatened, orientalist “yellow peril” discourses began to emerge. The ideology of yellow peril understands Asian bodies as a fundamental contaminant and threat to the interests of the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed as a result of yellow peril, the first piece of legislation in the United States to explicitly ban a population based on ethnicity. The act made it nearly impossible for Chinese non-​laborers to migrate to the United States, leaving Chinese laborers already in the United States, mostly men, to choose between proximity to their families and their livelihoods. It is important, here, to acknowledge that migration from a given home country to the West is often precipitated by imperialism, which operates according to a violent logic of extraction, debt, and domination. In the above instance, British imperialism was the force pushing the Chinese to migrate west. For another example, we might take note of the relationship between Filipino migration to the United States and legacies of U.S. imperialism in the Philippines. The Philippines remains indebted to, and thus economically dependent on, the United States even after declaring formal independence from U.S.  colonial rule in 1946. As such, thousands of Filipina women per year are forced to migrate to the states (and other nations such as Canada and Italy) in order to work as domestic laborers so that they might send remittances back to their families—​monetary contributions on which the Filipino economy continues to depend.15 In this example, we can clearly see the de facto durability and duration of the extractive and insidious U.S. imperial project. In the latter half of the twentieth century, the orientalist discourse of yellow peril in the United States—​though still readily available for deployment in situations of national instability—​ gave way to the model minority myth, the other side of Asian racialization’s vacillation.16 This myth established Asian Americans as an ostensibly assimilated and upwardly mobile minoritized class—​honorary whites.Though it might seem complimentary and indicative of progress, model minority discourse is best understood as a machination of white supremacy and anti-​blackness. In 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Act opened U.S. borders largely to professionalized waves of Asian immigration.This time period, however, was also one of great dissent with major social movements fighting for racial, gender, and economic justice. Model minoritism, then, emerges as a fallacious logic meant to discredit black and brown claims regarding the existence of systemic inequality by propping up Asian Americans as proof of a fair and progressive nation.The logic is fallacious in that it omits and obscures inequalities that exist within the Asian American population. Indeed, when the category “Asian American” is disaggregated, we see that certain ethnic subgroups within the racial category suffer profound poverty and diminished life chances, even as other subgroups are relatively prosperous. It is not merely that the expectation of living life beneath the weight of the model minority stereotype places undue pressure on Asian American youth. It is also that model minoritism maintains racial and ethnic hierarchy at a grand scale. Another unrelenting transmogrification of orientalism characterizes our contemporary post-​ 9/​11 moment. The orientalist and Islamophobic construction of “the terrorist”—​underneath 119

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which all Arab, South Asian, and Muslim bodies are deemed threatening, dogmatic, and irrationally destructive—​has not only justified a global and seemingly unending imperial war on terror intended to establish Western political hegemony, military dominance, and economic security around the world and, particularly, in and near the middle east. The construction of “terror” has also resulted in the sweeping expansion of securitization and surveillance. Here, we can think of such phenomena as the U.S. Patriot Act and the gross infringement on rights to privacy and due process, a Muslim registry, Guantanamo Bay, and bans and limits in the West on immigration from “Muslim countries” despite the reality that the Western imperial war on terror is largely what precipitated migrations from such countries in the first place. Of course, these new anti-​ terror orientalisms echo longstanding yellow peril discourses and histories even as they exceed them. We can, for instance, recall the incarceration of Japanese Americans during the Second World War within concentration camps. Perhaps no moment in history has so exemplified the impossible positionality of Asians in the United States: the perpetual foreigners within, subject to use and abuse by white supremacy and anti-​blackness whenever it is deemed necessary to maintain the nation-​state and the racial hierarchy on which that nation-​state depends.17

Settler colonialism Contra the extractive logic of imperialism, the logic of settler colonialism is one of replacement. One people, the settlers, arrives upon the land of another, the natives, seeking to take that land for their own inhabitation and use. In order for the settler to secure their claim to this “new” land, the natives must be expelled from the land. This displacement most often happens by way of systematic annihilation in the form of mass murder, rape, war, and other spectacular and unspectacular violences. For this reason, as Andrea Smith has argued, settler colonialism is inextricable from genocide. She writes,“This logic [of genocide] holds that indigenous peoples must disappear. In fact, they must always be disappearing, in order to allow non-​indigenous peoples rightful claim over this land.”18 In other words, genocide in settler colonial contexts must remain ongoing as long as those indigenous to the land remain. Indigenous people, their very bodies and existences, come to figure as threats to the settler colonial nation-​state. Recognizing this, the state persists in its erasure and extermination of indigenous life in order to maximize its own unjust survival. Examples of settler colonies abound:  Canada, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, and, of course, the United States, to name only a few. A variety of technologies facilitate the ongoing, genocidal erasure of indigeneity under settler colonialism. One such technology is the creation and dissemination of nationalist mythology. Consider, for example, the way in which the United States constructs itself as originally of the land it occupies. One need look no further than the classic song, “This Land Is Your Land,” often performed at nationalist events and anti-​nationalist protests alike, to confirm this latter point: “This land is your land, this land is my land. From California to the New York island, from the red wood forest, to the Gulf Stream waters: this land was made for you and me.”19 The song announces, without qualification or apology, that the land now known to most as the United States of America—​a land once known to its inhabitants as Turtle Island—​was originally intended for “you and me.” Given the patriotic timbre of the song, “you and me” can be understood to reference settlers, even as the song works to obfuscate that classification. Another pernicious strategy of indigenous erasure and genocidal logic can be seen in the appropriation and mimicry of native peoples. From desert-​based music festivals to too-​popular Halloween costumes, the imitation of the Indian reveals a genocidal logic by which the settler imagines himself as native (to the land) while simultaneously casting the native as a savage other to himself. Philip Deloria has termed this phenomenon “playing Indian.”20 On this point, Smith 120

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asks, “why would non-​Native peoples need to play Indian—​which often includes acts of spiritual appropriation and land theft—​if they thought Indians were still alive and perfectly capable of being Indian themselves?”21 Indeed, though the critique of cultural appropriation has by now permeated popular culture, rarely is the appropriation of indigeneity recognized as the technology of genocidal perpetuation that it is. Among the technologies least recognized as settler colonial is perhaps the nuclear family—​ the model of relation consisting of a legally married heterosexual couple and their children, the basic unit of capitalist social organization, in that rights and resources are distributed in a manner that privileges those who have successfully obtained access to the nuclear family. Historically, the nuclear family has been a site of exploitation for women, designating them as property to be exchanged through marriage and then as unwaged domestic laborers in the private sphere as wives and mothers. Queers, too, have long existed in antagonistic relation to the nuclear family, recent liberal acquisitions of marriage rights notwithstanding. Incompatible with the heteronormative expectation of the nuclear family form, queers often find themselves cast out from their families of origin, left to form kinship ties elsewhere in the world, often after or while navigating homelessness, poverty, and profound personal trauma.What feminist and queer critiques of the family unit often neglect to mention, however, is the nuclear family’s foundational role as a colonial imposition. Indigenous societies are often structured in ways that place emphasis on extended kin relations, value women and the feminine, and revere a wide range of gender expressions. Smith argues: [I]‌n order to colonize peoples whose societies are not based on social hierarchy, colonizers must first naturalize hierarchy through instituting patriarchy. In turn, patriarchy rests on a gender binary system in which only two genders exist, one dominating the other … the colonial world order depends on heteronormativity.22 Smith illustrates the deep ties between gender and sexual subjugation under heteropatriarchy and the ongoing settler colonial capitalist project. Feminists along with queer and trans liberationists do themselves a disservice to the extent that they neglect a thorough analysis of indigenous genocide under settler colonial capitalism. A politics of gender and sexual liberation is hamstrung without a politics of anti-​capitalist decolonization and indigenous resurgence. While the violence humans face under settler colonialism is immeasurable, the violence of settler colonialism is not reserved for humans alone. Many (though not all) indigenous worldviews position the human as one entity within a larger web of relations. Within such worldviews, nonhumans—​plants, water, the land, etc.—​are often understood as sacred and as kin to humans, living relatives that care for the human and require care from the human. Put differently, many indigenous worldviews resist the colonial and capitalist mentality that the land, the waters, and that which they put forth into the world can or should be privately owned by individual humans. Karl Marx named the violent process by which all that was once held in common becomes private property “primitive accumulation.”23 Primitive accumulation founds the transition into capitalism and waged labor from whatever existed prior to colonization; it is the originary, forceful enclosure of the commons, an ongoing process rather than a once-​and-​ for-​all event. Capitalism thus replaces a situation of interdependence in which native peoples have direct access to that which they need to survive so long as they care rigorously for it with an economy in which land and water become privately owned by the colonizer. Within this capitalist economy, indigenous people and others are forced into positions of exploitative wage labor, made to work under the colonizer for that which had once been openly available to all. Moreover, because capitalism depends on a worldview in which land, water, plants, and animals 121

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are understood as resources to be consumed, owned, and used, under capitalism these entities that were once considered kin to humans are reduced to consideration as potential property of humans. In effect, therefore, the onset of capitalism depends on the demise of an entire spiritual system, and the gross reduction of life to livelihood. Lastly, there are ongoing debates among scholars and activists regarding how best to conceptualize racialized immigrant populations with respect to the settler colonial project. How, in other words, are we to understand the status of kidnapped and enslaved Africans? Can a people brought to the United States so violently against their will be considered settlers in the same way as those white Europeans who intentionally arrived and violently displaced native peoples from the land? Similarly, how should we understand those racialized populations—​Asian Americans and Latin Americans, for instance—​who are forced into migration for survival opportunities, pushed from their home nations by economic and political instability often caused by the imperial maneuvers of the more powerful nations into which they eventually settle? For indigenous scholar Jodi Byrd, the categorization of “settler” is afforded by whiteness. Borrowing from the poet Kamau Brathwait, Byrd uses the term “arrivant” to “signify those people forced into the Americas through the violence of European and Anglo-​American colonialism and imperialism around the globe.”24 Asian Americanist and settler colonial studies scholar Iyko Day has offered the categorization of “alien” to account for the complicated relation of both slaves and racialized migrants to settler colonial capitalism.25 The value in terms such as “arrivant” and “alien” lies in their ability to parse the specific constellations of complicity that lie between people of color, capitalism, and settler colonialism. The terms also honor the varied histories of subjugation, acknowledging people of color in the United States (and potentially other settler colonies) as victims of racialized violence while ensuring account of them as settlers of a kind. Still, other scholar-​activists such as Patrick Wolfe, Haunani-​Kay Trask, Candace Fujikane, and Dean Saranillio—​the first, writing within the Australian context, the latter three in the Hawaiian—​hold tight to the term “settler” as a means of resisting the movement of people of color, Asians in particular, toward innocence in relation to settler colonialism through a distancing from the term.26

Anti-​blackness Slavery was never abolished in the United States. The most immediately legible evidence of this fact in the United States is given in the thirteenth amendment of the U.S. constitution, the amendment that is often said to have freed the slaves. The thirteenth amendment reads as follows: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”27 The qualification, “except as a punishment for crime,” makes clear that, far from having been abolished, slavery in the United States has been transformed and installed into the criminal punishment system (often wrongly referred to as the “criminal justice system”). It should be unsurprising then that, according to the NAACP, “in 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population,” incarcerated at five times the rate of whites within the most incarcerating nation in the world.28 Michelle Alexander, in The New Jim Crow, tracks the transformation of black subjugation through slavery, Jim Crow, the war on drugs, and, finally, the prison industrial complex. In each of these historical contexts, the state strategically criminalized blackness through the use of cultural and juridical technologies, in order to recreate and reinforce what Alexander terms “a new racial caste system” in the United States.29 122

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The legal sustainment of enslavement and black impoverishment described by Alexander can be gleaned as one element of what the preeminent black studies scholar Saidiya Hartman has termed “the afterlife of slavery.” Hartman writes: If slavery persists as an issue in the political life of black America, it is not because of an antiquarian obsession with bygone days or the burden of a too-​long memory, but because black lives are still imperiled and devalued by a racial calculus and a political arithmetic that were entrenched centuries ago. This is the afterlife of slavery—​skewed life chances, limited access to health and education, premature death, incarceration, and impoverishment. I, too, am the afterlife of slavery.30 Anti-blackness can be understood as the totality of violence and overdetermination that produces and is produced by the afterlife of slavery; it is a saturating and structuring logic of modernity, rooted in histories and power arrangements of black enslavement and subjugation. To begin to understand antiblackness in its operation, one must delve deeply into the conditions of the enslaved and the way those conditions have persisted not only at the level of the law and its enforcement, but also at the level of culture and the performance of everyday life. The slave, upon becoming slave, is reduced from human being to, as black feminist Hortense Spillers puts it, “a thing, becoming being for the captor.”31 A fundamental logic of antiblackness is given in Spillers’ assertion that the slave becomes a “thing.” The black performance studies scholar Fred Moten has similarly posited that “the history of blackness is testament to the fact that objects can and do resist.”32 Both Spillers and Moten acknowledge that fundamental to the process of enslavement (and thus to antiblackness in the afterlife of slavery) is the objectifying demotion—​ what Orlando Patterson has termed the “social death”—​of the black from a human person to a thing and, even more specifically, to a commodity.33 Owing to Marx’s theorization of the commodity as a thing to be exchanged, fetishized, and owned as property, black being for the captor must then also be understood as black being for capitalism, a fact that anchors capitalism in antiblackness. Furthermore, the captor about which Spillers speaks cannot be understood in limited terms only as the particular white owner of the individual slave. It is essential to acknowledge, with Hartman, that “the subjection of the slave to all whites defines his condition in civil society.”34 That is, the structural position of the slave within society placed the neck of any individual slave under the boot of every individual member of the white population. Slavery’s forcible expulsion of blackness from the category of the human into commodified objection for white and nonblack society has long licensed gratuitous and hardly imaginable violence against the black body. Such logic undergirds all manner of anti-​black behavior and attitudes in contemporary times: the inappropriate fondling of black hair by nonblack peoples; mass incarceration; the unjust manhandling of black youth in schools and from schools to prisons; the donning of dreadlocks and other black forms of self-​styling by nonblack peoples;35 the ongoing expectation that blacks belong in servile and thankless jobs; the violent deployment of the n-​word by nonblack persons;36 the execution, public and private, of black people by the agents of state violence known as the police; and any other circumstance that presumes that blackness exists for the benefit of whiteness and nonblackness, and/​or imposes upon blackness, as a given, the twin burdens of hyperobedience and impossible restraint. The acknowledgement of this latter imposition returns us to Moten’s assertion that “the history of blackness is testament to the fact that objects do resist.” Moten is invoking the black radical tradition and long histories of resistance enacted by black people against the anti-​black world. Here we can think of slave rebellions, the Civil Rights Movement,37 the black panthers,38 and infinite others. It is the resistance that is promised by the object—​that is, by black life and persons—​that poses an 123

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existential threat to the racist order of things, for the undoing of antiblackness would require a fundamental redistribution of resources and restructuring of the world. It is this implicit recognition of blackness-​as-​threat to (anti-​black) society that provokes a police officer to shoot or strangle black men on the streets, to snuff out black life for simply living. It is this perception that positions blackness as animal, dangerous, criminal, or otherwise out of control. Given the atmosphere of terror in which black life is made to subsist, it is unsurprising that others in the field of black studies, the afropessimists, have argued that racism cannot be thought about in terms of white supremacy alone. In their view, the antiblackness that emerges from enslavement and its afterlife does not constitute a pillar of white supremacy as critics such as Andrea Smith might have it. Rather, afropessimism refuses an anti-​racist logic that takes white supremacy as its organizing principle by displacing a white-​nonblack binary of racial hierarchy for a black-​nonblack binary. Frank Wilderson has argued that such a displacement is necessary because such fundamental categories as the World, the Human, and Being itself are defined and structured by and in their opposition to the condition of social death that is blackness.39 From this vantage point, the undoing of white supremacy would not equate to the undoing of antiblackness. Rather, the demise of antiblackness would require nothing less than “the end of the world”40 and “the creation of an entirely new world.”41 The scholar Jared Sexton has coined the term “people-​of-​color-​blindness” to emphasize the afropessimist disagreement with anyone who fails to understand “the specificity of antiblackness and presumes or insists upon the monolithic character of victimization under white supremacy—​thinking (the afterlife of) slavery as a form of colonization or a species of racial oppression among others.”42 He goes on to explain: [E]‌very analysis that attempts to understand the complexities of racial rule and the machinations of the racial state without accounting for black existence within its framework—​which does not mean simply listing it among a chain of equivalents or returning to it as an afterthought—​is doomed to miss what is essential about the situation … That is to say, the whole range of positions within the racial formation is most fully understood from [the black] vantage point, not unlike the way in which the range of gender and sexual variance under patriarchal and heteronormative regimes is most fully understood through lenses that are feminist and queer.43 To be clear, the claims of afropessimists like Wilderson and Sexton remain controversial among many scholars of race and ethnicity. It is not the objective of this chapter to come to any conclusions regarding afropessimism’s use value for a coalitional politics wishing to navigate and overturn racial subjugation. Nonetheless, afropessimism represents a critique of antiblackness’ totalizing and unrelenting hold over the World and the Human that remains urgent for anti-​ racists to understand within the ancient and ongoing state of emergency facing blackness today.

What is to be done? There are those who, contra to the positions of afropessimism, see liberal initiatives on behalf of inclusion and diversity as the primary and proper path toward social justice. Liberal reforms are seductive because their aims often aspire to being agreeable across the political spectrum and achievable within current matrices of political viability. However, while inclusion and incrementalism may at times operate as necessary tools for activists and organizers interested in dismantling systemic inequalities, there is much to consider in their utilization. What is our end goal? Will these incrementalist reforms get us closer to that goal? Or will these reforms pacify, distract, or shore up certain elements of the status quo? Is the institution into which we are 124

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seeking inclusion an institution into which we should wish to be included? Or is that institution one that must be destroyed? We must recognize that a politics of incrementalist inclusion, in actuality, often functions as a technology of renovation, a way for systems of oppression to save face with the oppressed public without making the fundamental alterations required for real, material change to occur. Political endeavors that do not assume anti-​capitalist positions are particularly susceptible to cooptation such as this. There are several ways to think about the mode of capitalism under which we currently live. Beginning in the latter half of the twentieth century, scholars and activists began using the term “neoliberalism” to account for certain shifts in capitalism’s operation: namely, a movement by wealthy interests and state leaders such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher toward privatization, individualized entrepreneurship, and deregulation.44 Under neoliberalism, ethical and cultural logics are measured in accordance with the values of the free market; all activity is understood in terms of economic exchange and the profit-​motive. In short, under neoliberalism, the homo sapien is better understood as “homoeconomicus.”45 The material violence of neoliberalism is global and gargantuan. Economic inequality between nations has been exacerbated by situations of structural adjustment and austerity imposed by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, resulting in seemingly interminable relations between debtor and indebted nations. At a smaller scale, wealth has been systematically concentrated within the hands of 1% of the world’s population, while others are left to struggle and to starve. These material conditions are obscured by neoliberalism’s cultural machinations. A  neoliberal ethic is one of personal responsibility that abides by the myth of meritocracy, the myth that if one is well-​behaved and hardworking they can simply pull themselves up from poverty by their bootstraps into flourishing success. Furthermore, and here we return to questions of incrementalism and inclusion, scholars such as Jodi Melamed, Roderick Ferguson, and Grace Kyungwon Hong have multifariously argued that one of the insidious violences of neoliberalism is its ability to weaponize diversity and multiculturalism toward its own ends.46 By affirming difference, neoliberalism is able to disavow the minoritized death that it leaves in its wake. By way of example, consider that the first black president of the United States and the first female presidential candidate for the Democratic party held tightly to decidedly and explicitly pro-​ capitalist and pro-​imperial agendas even as they seemed to embody ostensible gains at the level of representation and visibility for marginalized peoples. The most effective and inspiring contemporary social movements in the United States have rejected the logics of neo/​liberal capitalist incorporation in favor of a radical politics aimed at achieving that which has been deemed politically unachievable or impossible by the common sense. Consider Occupy Wall Street’s (OWS) refusal to name a clear demand for governments to act upon. Given in that refusal is the condemnation of an entire political economic system as well as the statement that no minute legislative adjustments are enough to sufficiently challenge and dismantle it. Alternatively, recall that during the 2016 presidential election the Movement for Black Lives refused to endorse any single presidential candidate, recognizing that black life has always been under siege in the United States and would continue to be, even under a “progressive” administration. The Movement for Black Lives consists of over 50 organizations, Black Lives Matter among them. Unlike OWS, the Movement for Black Lives has put forth a number of concrete demands: an end to the war on black people, an end to the mass surveillance of black people, prison abolition, reparations, universal healthcare, and divestment from fossil fuels, among others.47 Alongside the Movement for Black Lives, another movement of Asian Americans has begun to emerge: the Model Minority Mutiny.48 Early calls for a Model Minority Mutiny (a movement less formalized and self-​conscious but burgeoning nonetheless) 125

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abided by an afropessimist logic of trickle-​up social justice by calling on Asian Americans to refuse their role as anti-​black/​white supremacist intermediaries within racial hierarchy by standing in solidarity with black movements and individuals. A truly anti-​racist practice and performance of art and life must be similarly unapologetic and uncompromising in its coalitional opposition to racial capitalism and antiblackness, to settler colonialism, orientalism, and empire. There can be no justice under capitalism. Inclusion within a machinery that is designed to destroy so many of us is not and never will be justice; indeed, the will to inclusion in such a machinery may very well be one of the most significant strategic problems facing those interested in livable minoritarian life. Theatre practitioners and other cultural workers would do well to operate from a set of assumptions that sees settler colonial nation-​states as fundamentally violent and that recognizes that the most powerful enemy of people of color, black people especially, is the state. At least in the United States, these facts require us to do away with patriotism and (ethno-​)nationalism, as well as with fantasies that imagine the United States as a source of justice rather than one of destruction. Only after we’ve done this will we be able to imagine and enact a politics that is formidable, radical, and revolutionary enough to reckon with a country dependent on the ongoing genocide of indigenous peoples, the ongoing enslavement of black peoples, the ongoing abjection of other people of color, and the ongoing imperial wars for resources and power being waged across the world. Another world is possible, but it is our task to build it.

Notes 1 Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag:  Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 5. 2 For more information regarding “quality of life policing” and “zero tolerance policing” see the worksheet developed by INCITE! on the topics, www.incite-​national.org/​sites/​default/​files/​incite_​files/​ resource_​docs/​3316_​toolkitrev-​qualitylife.pdf. 3 I use the appellation “Latinx” rather than Latino or Latina to account simultaneously for male and female individuals of Latin American descent as well as those with gender identities and expressions that exceed the gender binary. 4 Christian Rudder, “Race and Attraction, 2009–​2014,” OkCupid (blog), September 10, 2014, https://​ theblog.okcupid.com/​race-​and-​attraction-​2009-​2014-​107dcbb4f060. 5 Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum (1989): 139–​167  (140). 6 Ibid., 140. 7 Dean Spade, “Trickle-​Up Social Justice (Excerpt),” February 9, 2009, Barnard Center for Research on Women, http://​bcrw.barnard.edu/​videos/​dean-​spade-​trickle-​up-​social-​justice-​excerpt. 8 Andrea Smith, “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy: Rethinking Women of Color Organizing,” in Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology, ed. INCITE! (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016), 66–​73. 9 Due to space and thematic constraints I am unable to speak to other systems that might constitute a pillar of modernity—​ableism, for instance. 10 Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism (London: Zed Press, 1983), 2. 11 Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Random House, 1978). 12 David Palumbo-​Liu, Asian/​American:  Historical Crossings of a Racial Frontier (Stanford, CA:  Stanford University Press, 1999); Karen Shimakawa, National Abjection:  The Asian American Body Onstage (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002), 3. 13 Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996), 5. 14 It is important to note that cheap Asian labor forces were utilized to supplement and, in some cases, to replace black slave labor as the slave trade ended—​marking an early relationship between Asian and black racialization, exploitation, and oppression.

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Racism, colonialism, imperialism 15 For more on this topic, see Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Servants of Globalization: Migration and Domestic Work (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001). 16 For a more nuanced and extensive account of the shift from yellow peril to model minoritism, see Ellen D.  Wu, The Color of Success:  Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014). 17 Although I do not focus on Latinx histories within this section, it is important to note that similar logics of model minoritism and immigration anxiety play out within that context. For an example of the former, consider the manner in which respectable undocumented youth—​DREAMers—​are lifted up as good immigrants par excellence while criminalized immigrants are largely left by the political wayside. For an example of the latter, consider Trump’s proposal for a border wall, his insistence on the violence promised by Mexican immigrants, and the subsequent expansion of Immigration and Customs Enforcement nationwide. 18 Smith, 68. 19 “This Land Is Your Land” was written by Woody Guthrie in 1940. 20 Philip J. Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999). 21 Smith, 68. 22 Smith, 72. 23 See Karl Marx, Capital: Volume 1 (London: Penguin, 1976), 873–​940. 24 Jodi Byrd, Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011), xix. 25 Iyko Day, Alien Capital:  Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016). 26 For these arguments, see Patrick Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research 8:  4 (2006), 387–​ 409; Haunani-​ Kay Trask, “Settlers of Color and ‘Immigrant’ Hegemony:  ‘Locals’ in Hawaii.” Amerasia Journal 26:  2 (2000), 1–​ 24; Candace Fujikane, “Introduction:  Asian Settler Colonialism in the U.S. Colony of Hawai’I,” in Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawaii, eds. Candace Fujikane & Jonathan Y. Okamura (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008), 1–​42; and Dean Itsuji Saranillio, “Why Asian Settler Colonialism Matters:  A Thought Piece on Critiques, Debates, and Indigenous Difference.” Settler Coloial Studies 3: 4 (2013), 280–​294. 27 U.S. Const., amend. thirteen, § 1. 28 “Criminal Justice Fact Sheet,”NAACP,accessed July 27,2017,www.naacp.org/​criminal-​justice-​fact-​sheet. 29 Rather than think in terms of “criminals” and “innocents,” it is important for anti-​racist wishing to stand in solidarity with black and brown life to think in terms of the “criminalization” of blackness, brownness, and other minoritized categories. To do so is to recognize that the law functions not as a barometer of moral right and wrong, but rather as a technology that can create and enforce a particular social order. Criminality is a category deployed by the state to maintain a social order that, at this historical moment and all those preceding it, is anti-​black and white supremacist. The criminal is the fiction that justifies a system of punishment that might otherwise be imagined as a system of rehabilitation, reassimilation, and justice. 30 Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giruox, 2007), 6. 31 Hortense Spillers, Black,White, and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 206. 32 Fred Moten, In The Break:  The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (Minneapolis:  University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 1. 33 Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985). 34 Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection:  Terror, Slavery, and Self-​Making in Nineteenth-​Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 24. 35 For more on the relationship between blackness and cultural appropriation in the United States, see E.  Patrick Johnson, Appropriating Blackness:  Performance and the Politics of Authenticity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003). 36 When I reference “the n-​word” I am invoking a word that is largely unspeakable in the United States among nonblack persons that respect black life. The word is spelt nigg** with the asterisks standing in for the letters “er.” My refusal even to write the word here reflects my own recognition of the historical and contemporary damage inflicted through and alongside the n-​word—​people have died

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McMaster (while being) beaten by this most violent word. It should be noted, though, that the n-​word has been reclaimed within black communities. In these instances the word is frequently spelt nigg* with the asterisk standing for an “a.”This iteration of the n-​word should also be unutterable to nonblack persons as my refusal to write the word should indicate. 37 The African-​American Civil Rights Movement spanned the 1950s and the 1960s. The movement, which included figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks within its ranks, famously utilized non-​violent tactics of civil disobedience such as a bus boycott and sit-​ins to bring a legal (if not actual) end to racial segregation and discrimination, particularly in voting and housing. 38 Founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966, the Black Panther Party was a revolutionary organization of black radicals that provided black communities with militant defense from discrimination and material support in the face of oppression. For more on the panthers, see Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr., Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (Oakland: University of California Press, 2013). 39 Frank Wilderson, Red,White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010). 40 Ibid., 91. 41 Jared Sexton,“People-​of-​Color-​Blindness: Notes on the Afterlife of Slavery.” Social Text 28: 2 (Summer, 2010), 49. 42 Ibid., 48. 43 Ibid., 48. 44 For a more thorough account of neoliberalism’s nature and history, see David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007). 45 Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collége de France, 1978–​1979 (New York: Picador, 2008), 225–​226. 46 See Jodi Melamed,“The Spirit of Neoliberalism: From Racial Liberalism to Neoliberal Multiculturalism.” Social Text 24: 4 (Winter, 2006): 1–​24; Roderick Ferguson, The Reorder of Things: The University and its Pedagogies of Minority Difference (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012); Grace Kyungwon Hong, Death Beyond Disavowal: The Impossible Politics of Difference (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015). 47 “Platform,” https://​policy.m4bl.org/​platform (accessed July 27, 2017). 48 For one of earliest and best articulations of the Model Minority Mutiny call, see Soya Jung, “The Racial Justice Movement Needs a Model Minority Mutiny,” Race Files, October 13, 2014, www. racefiles.com/​2014/​10/​13/​model-​minority-​mutiny.

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13 PATRIARCHY, CISNORMATIVITY, HETERONORMATIVITY Kelly Howe

Since its development in the 1970s, Theatre of the Oppressed has been used in many contexts around the world for struggles against patriarchy, the oppression of gender constructs, and heteronormativity.1 In his own books, Augusto Boal recounts Theatre of the Oppressed work addressing these oppressions in various ways. Or we might think specifically of Jana Sanskriti, the thousands-​strong Theatre of the Oppressed movement in India, which has used TO to struggle against patriarchy and other oppressions in rural villages.2 Or Féminisme-​Enjeux, the French feminist TO collective.3 Or the Ma(g)dalenas, a self-​described “network of feminist theatre groups from Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.”4 Or the CTO-​Rio play Coisas do Genero (Things of the Gender or Gender Things), which dissects patriarchal, heteronormative structures.5 Or the Mandala Center for Change’s Transgender Youth Legislative Theatre project, which focused “on the struggles of living outside the mainstream’s definitions of gender identity and ultimately changing laws and public policy that impact transgender youth.”6 Or New  York-​based practitioners S.  Leigh Thompson and Alexander Santiago-​Jirau, who have facilitated TO in a range of contexts with queer youth and have explored how “Theatre of the Oppressed offers queer young people the opportunity to go beyond the exploration of their identities and provides structures for understanding the larger political dimensions of their personal oppression stories.”7 Thompson and Santiago-​Jirau reflect, “We hoped to provide them the opportunity to move beyond heartwarming stories of queer pride or tragic displays of queer devastation to develop Forum stories of the oppression they face that would stimulate dialogue and positive action for change.”8 In short, many people do TO with hopes of combating systems oppressing women, LGBTQIA people, and non-binary and genderqueer people.9 As this chapter will address, connections between systems of heteronormativity, patriarchy, and cisgender normativity abound, as do opportunities for shared struggle by those affected by them in disparate ways. For example, even a cursory consideration of many constructions of the so-​called “nuclear family” reveals ways that LGBTQIA people, women, and non-​binary individuals suffer from the hegemony of that formation. Many TO groups do not focus explicitly on one or two systems of oppression only, precisely because they believe that the analysis of one system of oppression necessarily involves the analysis of other systems of oppression on which it feeds or depends. And even those who do focus on specific systems of oppression as part of their group’s practice (or even their “advertised” identity) must analyze other systems of oppression 129

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in order to understand the specific suffering they are attempting to end. As just one example, how can one understand the operations of patriarchy, heterosexism, and cisgender normativity on a global scale (or, in most cases, on a local one) without understanding how capitalism compounds them? Capitalism amplifies the suffering of queer people, gender non-​conforming people, and those who identify as women in countless ways, structuring (and even sometimes almost disappearing) their range of available choices. As a result, a group might set out to analyze the most overtly visible oppressions they face, and then find multiple forms of oppression overlapping, holding each other up.This is, of course, one part of what makes dismantling oppression so difficult: even when you consider yourself to be working against it, you are, but simultaneously you are not so much against it as you are inside it, within it. Tangles everywhere you turn. And because we know that, in TO, sometimes the techniques themselves receive more analysis than the systems of oppression they are attempting to dismantle, I offer here a kind of partial, cursory companion for those who are continuing to develop a shared vocabulary about patriarchy, heteronormativity, and gender normativity—​knowing that my own sense of these systems is no doubt particularly informed by my location in the US, where I live and work. At the same time, this chapter is not so much focused on providing the definitions of any words or systems (indeed, words move and shape-​shift because, as Jill Dolan says, “new ideas need new languages”).10 In particular, the chapter emphasizes examples of connections between systems that could seem discrete, challenges and contradictions that can arise in building shared struggle against these systems, and a few of the many possible lenses one might apply to analyze them.

Vocabulary: naming systems with material consequences Patriarchy has been variously defined, but typically with a starting assumption that it refers to a world structurally organized in ways that benefit “men” (not a fixed identity, but we will return to that shortly). As Kate Millett famously writes in Sexual Politics in 1970, [O]‌ur society, like all other historical civilizations, is a patriarchy. The fact is evident at once if one recalls that the military, industry, technology, universities, science, political offices, finances—​in short, every avenue of power within the society, including the coercive force of the police, is entirely in male hands. As the essence of politics is power, such realization cannot fail to carry impact.11 Heidi Hartmann adds: [W]‌e define patriarchy as a set of social relations, which has a material base and in which there are hierarchical relations between men and solidarity among them which enable them in turn to dominate women. The material base of patriarchy is men’s control over women’s labor power. That control is maintained by excluding women from access to necessary economically productive resources and by restricting women’s sexuality. Men exercise their control in receiving personal service work from women, in not having to do housework or rear children, in having access to women’s bodies for sex, and in feeling powerful and being powerful.The crucial elements of patriarchy as we currently experience them are: heterosexual marriage (and consequent homophobia), female childrearing and housework, women’s economic dependence on men (enforced by arrangements in the labor market), the state, and numerous institutions based on social relations among men—​clubs, sports, unions, professions, universities, 130

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churches, corporations, and armies. All of these elements need to be examined if we are to understand patriarchal capitalism.12 I highlight here the attention to how patriarchy plays out within and composes the very fabric of the institutions, ideologies, and sensations of everyday life in most parts of the world. Often analysis of the suffering of women is reduced to attention to their individual relationships and the behavior of those around them: Who is abusing them? Treating them “badly”? Or: “Oh, don’t worry about him!” Or: “He’s one of the good ones!” As Deniz Kandiyoti wrote in 1988, “the term patriarchy often evokes an overly monolithic conception of male dominance, which is treated at a level of abstraction that obfuscates rather than reveals… .”13 And as Raewyn Connell reminds us, a gender order where men dominate women cannot avoid constituting men as an interest group concerned with change.This is a structural fact, independent of whether men as individuals love or hate women, or believe in equality or abjection, and independent of whether women are currently pursuing change.14 What’s more, patriarchy is often framed (in life and in TO) as a matter of individual manners and morality: Are the men in your life ones who use their power and disproportionate material resources kindly? Are you such a man? If so, in either case, carry on! And in the latter case, “thanks very much!” as we are often trained to respond. This is all to say that to analyze patriarchy is less to reveal as “bad” the behaviors of individual men, of those who demonstrate subtle forms of sexism or who domineer, dominate, or even altogether literally destroy women (although surely a staggering number of those men exist)—​and more to analyze how the fabric of the world has been constructed in favor of men, how those relations of power cause suffering and oppression and for whom, and how we can identify opportunities to struggle together to remake the world anew. It is also to understand that patriarchy is a relational system; it manifests not only within and around men. Women, LGBTQIA individuals, non-​binary people, and others who suffer at the hands of patriarchy are also frequently its agents, having internalized its power relationships and living them out on the body, even policing themselves and others with the very norms that have disciplined them.15 Often the language of analysis of patriarchy has assumed “men” and “women” as binary essences rather than constructions. As Vrushali Patil, a scholar of transnational feminism noted in 2003, Recent critiques of the use of the term ‘patriarchy’ have focused on a number of interrelated dimensions. Perhaps the central critique concerns patriarchy’s unidimensional conceptualization of gender, its dichotomization of gendered individuals into women and men, and its neglect of differences and power relations within each category.16 In many cultural contexts, gender has often been conflated with biological sex, though they are not inherently connected or essential identities. “The” story often goes like this: A person is born with particular, supposedly clearly perceivable biological characteristics. Medical discourses and the doctors who live them categorize the person’s sex based on their perception of biological characteristics. Then the world around the person greets them as though anything else at all can be known about them based on their assigned biological sex: the discursive wand deemed them “female,” so they will “be” and “act” like a “woman.” Of course, no inalienable 131

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connection exists between one’s assignment of biological sex (already a construction of people, not a fact of flesh) and one’s behaviors (gender expression) or self-​conception (gender identity). Gender is not an innate or natural reality; rather, it is constructed socially, as the body lives and moves in the world. In this respect, as I note elsewhere in this volume, gender can be defined, as Judith Butler has, as a “stylized repetition of acts” rather than an essential identity.17 Someone who has been identified as biologically female who crosses their legs when they sit down does not do so because they were born with the instinct; they likely do it because of all the times they have watched other people called “female” and interpreted as “women” crossing their legs, because of all the times they have been told to do so, because of all the times they have seen others rewarded in some subtle way for doing so, and because of all the subtle details their muscles have absorbed about the amount of space they are allowed to take up in this world, etc. Or, to put a sharper point on the stakes, it is reasonable to suppose that people biologically deemed “female” do not tend toward looking down and avoiding eye contact on subways or elevators because of any essential characteristics typed into their bones; they likely do it because their body has absorbed the reality of the world’s often violent (deadly) consequences for them. In this way, we enact gender.We are not a gender.We are compelled to do our gender, but not without the possibility of some slippage out of gendered expectations: The practice by which gendering occurs, the embodying of norms, is a compulsory practice, a forcible production, but not for that reason fully determining.To the extent that gender is an assignment, it is an assignment which is never quite carried out according to expectation, whose addressee never quite inhabits the ideal s/​he is compelled to approximate.18 Gender is in many ways a relation of oppression, but not necessarily one completely evacuated of agency and the possibility of negotiation. And while gender is constructed, it is, like race, a construction with material consequences, particularly steep consequences for transgender people as well as non-​binary and genderqueer people, whose senses of their gender as lived in their own body do not match that which is expected of the biological identity that was assigned to them at birth, whether they experience themselves in some kind of opposition to that assignment or as defying categories altogether. (The term cisgender, in contrast, tends to be used to describe those whose felt sense of self happens to align with their biological assignment.) While arguably any person has material limits placed on themselves as a result of gender’s disciplining practices, we of course often witness those material constraints unfold in terms that can be particularly painful or even deadly for trans and non-​binary people. Trans and non-​binary people often live especially economically (and otherwise) precarious lives, with their defiance of a range of organizing categories targeted as a threat by state power and by others who have internalized binary gender norms. In addition to the many forms of everyday suffering that people experience as a result of how oppressive systems manifest in one-​on-​one interactions (often designated microaggressions, but I prefer to hold on to oppression’s connotations here), we witness many more overt forms that gender normativity takes: the physical violence (including murder) often targeting trans and non-​binary bodies and the internalized fear that can result, economic precarity and housing and employment precarity specifically, the difficulty of accessing medical care that is not binarized, the obsession with what spaces can be occupied by whom (restrooms, for example), and the fixation by the state on classification (gender or sex—​often conflating the two—​on state IDs, gender or sex on purchased plane tickets, targeting of trans and non-​binary people at airport 132

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security or other similar regulatory sites, etc.). Butler notes, “[I]‌t is primarily political interests which create the social phenomena of gender itself.”19 Why, for example, would anyone “need” “gender identity” on an official state ID if gender did not fundamentally constitute a regulatory classification that combines with others to maintain the interests of the state? As many trans and non-​binary people have noted, their defiance of the gender binaries on which states depend means that they often receive intense surveillance and violation in contexts framed as “ensuring security.” Gender—​like patriarchy and, as we will see, heteronormativity—​is part of the technologies through which fictions of nations are constructed. In an airport context in the US, for example, surveilling and objectifying the bodies of trans and non-​binary people has typically been configured as quite literally part of “national security.” With the destabilization of some of what are often framed as supposedly stable categories defining biological sex and gender, it starts to become clear how picking at individual threads threatens to unravel much larger fabrics. Other terms—​related but also distinct—​that some might assume to be stably defined—​heterosexuality, homosexuality, gay, lesbian, etc.—​reveal themselves as complicatedly knit up with other definitions. If, for example, one recognizes that there are not only “two” genders or “two” biological sexes, suddenly we can begin to see many limitations in any assumption that everyone can define their sexual practice or desire relative to the supposedly “stable” identity of another: “same sex,” “opposite sex,” etc. These are designations that in some ways focus on sex, gender, and sexuality as essences rather than the practices and sets of relations that constitute (and are constituted by) them. Per Butler, Insofar as heterosexual gender norms produce inapproximable ideals, heterosexuality can be said to operate through the regulated production of hyperbolic versions of “man” and “woman.” These are for the most part compulsory performances, ones which none of us choose, but which each of us is forced to negotiate.20 Like patriarchy, heteronormativity signifies a system (or interlocking systems, plural). Michael Warner defines heteronormativity as a “sense of rightness” which “everywhere disperses heterosexual privilege as a tacit but central organizing index of social membership.”21 He adds, for example, that “Western political culture has taken the heterosexual couple to represent the principle of social union itself.”22 In their essay,“Sex in Public,” Lauren Berlant and Warner elaborate, distinguishing heteronormativity from heterosexuality: By heteronormativity we mean the institutions, structures of understanding, and practical orientations that make heterosexuality seem not only coherent—​that is, organized as a sexuality—​but also privileged … It consists less of norms that could be summarized as a body of doctrine than of a sense of rightness produced in contradictory manifestations—​often unconscious, immanent to practice or to institutions. Contexts that have little visible relation to sex practice, such as life narrative and generational identity, can be heteronormative in this sense, while in other contexts forms of sex between men and women might not be heteronormative. Heteronormativity is thus a concept distinct from heterosexuality.23 They add: “Heteronormative forms of intimacy are supported, as we have argued, not only by overt referential discourse such as love plots and sentimentality but materially, in marriage and family law, in the architecture of the domestic, in the zoning of work and politics.”24 Cathy J. Cohen—​in her oft-​cited 1997 essay, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?”—​also explores the institutional nature of heteronormativity and 133

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adds crucially that other forms of oppression like racism and class oppression are inextricable from heteronormativity and patriarchy (connections to which we will return): It should also help to underscore the fact that many of the roots of heteronormativity are in white supremacist ideologies which sought (and continue) to use the state and its regulation of sexuality, in particular through the institution of heterosexual marriage, to designate which individuals were truly “fit” for full rights and privileges of citizenship.25 As with patriarchy, heteronormativity cannot be reduced to thoughts or behaviors on the individual level. In this respect, to name heteronormativity as heteronormativity signals the reality that struggle is about more than (or for some, not at all about) “opening” or “softening” “hearts and minds,” as many people like to say here in the US. Rather, it is about striking at the heart of the social, cultural, and state structures that install and reinforce heterosexism, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, and patriarchy every day. In any case, though understandably many people would hope that “hearts and minds” would shift in relation to structural change, often the “hearts and minds” work is left at the feet of the oppressed person, calling them to convince others, on a one-​to-​one basis, of their right to exist. Imagine, for example, the blaming-​the-​oppressed problem of a Forum Theatre scene with one queer protagonist trying to convince one singular oppressor to merely “see” them differently. While such a conversation is more than understandable on the part of an oppressed person (as how can they be blamed for trying to survive?) and a tactic to move within the present moment, the system and the possibility for shared struggle fall away completely. And such a notion of “conversion” also depends on an assumption that heteronormativity and other oppressions have not climbed inside and structured the bodies of those they oppress. Sara Ahmed writes, It is important to consider how compulsory heterosexuality—​defined as the accumulative effect of the repetition of the narrative of heterosexuality as an ideal coupling—​ shapes what it is possible for bodies to do, even if it does not contain what it is possible to be. Bodies take the shape of norms that are repeated over time and with force. She adds, I would suggest that heteronormativity also affects the surfaces of bodies, which surface through impressions made by others. Compulsory heterosexuality shapes bodies by the assumption that a body “must” orient itself towards some objects and not others, objects that are secured as ideal through the fantasy of difference.26 As may be becoming clearer, the words patriarchy, cisnormativity, and heteronormativity describe systems of power that are in certain ways partially distinct (in terms of the historical contexts of their articulation, precisely whose oppressions they attempt to describe and combat, and the particular nature of the social arrangement). At the same time, in other ways they are inextricably bound, with each other and with other systems of oppression. In her writings on indigeneity and queerness, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson describes these overlaps as heteropatriarchy: “I use the term heteropatriarchy as an umbrella term to mean the intertwined systems of patriarchy and heterosexism to include its manifestations as heteronormativity, transphobia, and cisnormativity.”27 It would be understandable to see the overlaps, the contradictions, and the 134

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continuities and discontinuities between these systems of oppression as merely overwhelming, confusing, and mutually reinforcing. But another way to think about them is that those are precisely where the opportunities for shared (messy, contradictory) struggle lie.

Movements and struggles, verbs and nouns, challenges and contradictions It would be insulting to suggest that one chapter could come close to anything more than a gloss of some of the myriad movements, struggles, and social theory that have attempted to dismantle patriarchy, cisnormativity, heteronormativity, and/​or heterosexism. Instead, I gesture here toward a few historical examples of movements and some of the complexities that arise in the process of trying to struggle together. Even before we think about shared struggles against patriarchy and heteronormativity, we find the difficulties of constructing collective movements against patriarchy itself. Many forms of feminism, for example, have identified themselves as struggling in one way or another against patriarchy, but efforts within these larger movements have sometimes been thwarted precisely by the difficulty of defining shared goals or objects of struggle—​or even agreeing on what the problems are in the first place. We have many reasons to be reminded that the most potentially transformative struggles will likely cohere around shared goals and practices, not around any assumed essential identity or even “types” of movements. If we look to the history of, for example, US feminisms of the so-​called Second Wave relative to each other and to feminist struggles around the globe, we are forced to face the difference of struggle as verb versus struggle as noun. Arguably, the important questions are likely not so much “Are you a feminist?” and “Which kind?” but instead “What kind of world do we want?” and “How do we work with others to practice it into being?” For example, US liberal feminism (which is, from my own feminist perspective, still the most powerful form of US feminism today) historically has tried to secure equality between “women” and “men,” though arguably largely within systems as they currently stand. Per bell hooks, “[p]‌articularly as regards work, many liberal feminist reforms simply reinforced capitalist, materialist values (illustrating the flexibility of capitalism) without truly liberating women economically.”28 Kathy Miriam notes: Most important for present purposes, liberalism still centrally values the “autonomy” of “individuals” and their rationality, and it continues to promote the idea of a universal equality in terms that conceive that equality as open to all individuals on the basis of this autonomy (“just make the playing field level”). It follows, of course, that liberalism is centrally concerned with the idea of “choice,” and construes “choice” as the exercise of the individual’s autonomous will.29 Another form of feminism associated with the Second Wave, “radical feminism” has tended to work less within existing systems, with a focus on—​among other interests—​notions of essential differences between men and women and the potentials of women, as women specifically, in community. “Materialist feminism,” by contrast, “destroys the idea that women are a ‘natural group’ … a group perceived as natural.”30 It also has tended to account for how a range of oppressions (race, class, etc.) intersect with patriarchy to shape women’s material realities. But as many feminists during the Second Wave (and recently) have pointed out, such forms of feminism come up against the limits of conceiving struggle as born of shared identity across a group. Women of color in the US as well as women outside the US have taken to task those Second Wave feminists, among others, for identifying problems and goals that tilted toward whiteness, toward heterosexuality, and toward US interests. As one example of staggeringly 135

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many, hooks describes how feminists who considered the stakes of oppression “from a race-​sex-​ class perspective were accused of being traitors, destroying the movement, shifting the focus.”31 Such fissures point to the value of struggle as defined by practice and goals rather than any essential shared identity.32 For example, though I describe myself as feminist, often engage in feminist actions and struggles, and recognize the value of the potential coalitions the word can signal, on many days I am left to wonder, especially in the context of global capital and imperialism: What precisely is a “feminist” when many (though certainly not all) who call themselves that in my own country cannot seem to be bothered by US actions beyond our borders? What precisely is a “feminist” in the case of those who are primarily concerned with a certain group of women achieving more within the fabric of order and wealth that has already been established? Movements against oppression of queer people have often been founded on a notion of shared struggle (in some ways evidenced precisely by the addition of letters within abbreviations: LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA, etc.). Clare Croft notes,“Queer signals a coalitional sensibility, one that brings LGBT identities into provisional, strategic unity.”33 In other words, queer struggles have often specifically marked that movement and solidarity can be built out of a recognition that the same systems threaten you and others (even if not all are threatened to precisely the same degree or in the same way), rather than the notion of a shared essential identity. Or as Tim Dean offers: Queer theory views with postmodern skepticism the minoritizing conception of sexuality that undergirds gay liberation and women’s liberation (and hence academically institutionalized gay studies and women’s studies too). Building on the civil rights movements of the 1960s, feminism and gay liberation based their claims for political participation and radical equality, whether assimilationist or separatist, on the foundation of identity—​female, gay, lesbian, and, more recently, bisexual, transsexual, transgendered identities.34 Sara Ahmed adds, It is hence for very good reasons that queer theory has been defined not only as anti-​ heteronormative, but as anti-​normative … Importantly, heteronormativity refers to more than simply the presumption that it is normal to be heterosexual. The “norm” is regulative, and is supported by an “ideal” that associates sexual conduct with other forms of conduct.35 This notion of anti-​normative politics opens up possibilities for seeing what might be imagined to be disparate struggles as in fact connected. As Croft has reminded me, simply to be single tears at the fabric of heteronormativity (and often arouses suspicion as such), and a queer politics would recognize potential coalition-​building on that ground as well. In other words, many people have an interest in working against the institutions of social life that tilt resources, material and otherwise, toward the cisgender, heterosexual (and preferably reproducing) couple. Consider, for example, tax benefits for marriage in the US, one of many materially oppressive structures that would seem to invite collective struggle across many people imagined as discrete groups. “That’s one of the things that ‘queer’ can refer to,” writes Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent elements of anyone’s gender, of anyone’s sexuality aren’t made (or can’t be made) to signify monolithically.”36 136

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At the same time, the limits of queer coalition have also been tested in many ways. E. Patrick Johnson’s “ ‘quare’ studies,” for example, enacts what Johnson terms a “theory in the flesh,” noting that queer theory and activism have often insufficiently incorporated race and class into their analysis of the world and their consideration of modes of resistance.37 In another example, when gay marriage was legalized in the US, I witnessed many a conversation in private and public in which people “congratulated” queer family members, friends, or acquaintances on that victory and then were surprised to find that some of those people met that congratulations with ambivalence. Indeed, gay marriage was a contested political priority within LGBTQ communities, with some activists maintaining that instead more focus should have been placed on struggles related to other oppressions queer persons face—​oppressions that receive less mainstream attention and did not involve access to normative institutions. “To lay claim to queer as one’s identity, as many do in the twenty-​first century,” Croft writes, “often denotes a non-​normative gender or sexual identity and that one is not invested in more mainstream LGBT policies.”38 Cohen argues, The inability of queer politics to effectively challenge heteronormativity rests, in part, on the fact that despite a surrounding discourse which highlights the destabilization and even deconstruction of sexual categories, queer politics has often been built around a simple dichotomy between those deemed queer and those deemed heterosexual.39 Croft reinforces simply: “Queerness has to challenge the entrenchment of the gender binary.”40 Queer political potential often rests in the ability to recognize that many people are affected by the regulatory mechanisms of the state and of social life, yet dichotomous notions of identity often emerge in ways that complicate the potential for alliance—​or at least make one think very carefully about which struggles they might identify as most urgent or most worthy of their time. This chapter’s clear interest in politics as verb, as practice—​rather than a politics where people are necessarily assumed to share priorities based on certain conceptions of an essential identity—​is not intended to denigrate struggles and politics in which notions of shared identity have been a powerfully galvanizing factor. The notion of identity politics can be polarizing among activists, and it has complicated histories, as Juana María Rodriguez illuminates in relation to US politics: Identity politics, as an organizing tool and political ideology, has historically had specific investment for marginalized groups in this country. The civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and gay and lesbian liberation movements have all depended on organizing around categories of identity … Oppositional strategies have driven us to seek out others whose struggle and experiences mirror our own political concerns and have galvanized the resolve to work collectively to bring about social transformation.41 At the same time, the limits of such categories can be witnessed on many fronts: Political groupings based on these categories have in fact become highly contested sites, splintering ever further into more specialized and discrete social units and political units, based on more precise, yet still problematic, categories of identification and concomitant modes of definition. Identity politics’ seeming desire to cling to 137

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explicative postures, unified subjecthood, or facile identifications has often resulted in repression, self-​censorship, and exclusionary practices that continue to trouble organizing efforts and work against the interests of full human rights, creative individual expression, and meaningful social transformation.42 I admire Rodriguez’s nuance and measured tone regarding what has often been at stake in the deployment of identity relative to political struggle. Many (though of course not all) critiques of identity politics can tend to tilt toward an implied blame for not simply falling in line with a broader movement (even when sometimes a movement might involve you in experiences as oppressive as the structures you had initially joined the movement to fight), rather than asking how the power dynamics within certain larger movements may have failed to build a politics where all could feel and envision the benefits of shared struggle, which histories tell us are many. At the same time, as Rodriquez notes, it is true that essentialized notions of identity can thwart shared struggle in many ways. I believe that hope can be found in considering how movements have historically fragmented, with an eye toward what can be learned in the interest of building the most capacious, concrete mass movements possible.

Common oppressors, shared struggle In “Experimental Desire: Rethinking Queer Subjectivity,” Elizabeth Grosz writes: For notions like oppression, discrimination, or social positioning to have any meaning, they must be articulated and explained outside any particular form (whether racist, imperialist, sexual, class, or religious). In other words, there must be a common strand shared by all the different forms of oppression, something (or many things) that enables them to be described by the same term, even if there is a strong recognition that oppressions may take on massive historical and cultural variations. This core or even “essence,” and the range and variability of the term, need to be addressed if one is to come to a clearer understanding of the relations and interactions between different forms of oppression.43 The recognition of common oppressors (or at least similar ones) and the possibilities for shared struggle that can result—​both of these keep me hopeful even in times that give us nauseatingly many reasons not to be. Those possibilities can take several forms, including the sharing of repertoires of embodied political engagement. As one example, “[w]‌ithin a US context,” Croft writes, it is important to note that the physicality of queer protest is learned from—​or at least related to—​the strategies of the civil rights movement and radical feminism, movements where activists of color used their bodies to make radical calls for change in hostile environments.44 Ann Cvetkovich underscores this potential to share embodied knowledges of resistance in her writing about ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), the famous activist group born in the 1980s and focused on the struggles of people living with AIDS or otherwise affected by it: Although ACT UP’s formation of a queer community is distinctive, a focus on its lesbian members also reveals strong ties to histories of feminist organizing.The lesbians in 138

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ACT UP had a crucial and visible role, disproportionate to their numbers, because so many of them came to ACT UP with previous political experience and contributed organizing skills. Ranging in age from their early twenties to forties when they got involved in AIDS activism, they had experience with the civil rights and antiwar movements, feminism, and the women’s reproductive health movement of the 1970s and 1980s.45 In this case, specific activists’ past experiences led to extending the work and vocabulary of a movement. We are also reminded of the notion of identity as a practice: these individuals in Cvetkovich’s example had learned a series of bodily scripts for doing activism, and then they were present in the struggle of ACT UP, which then made it possible for others to encounter strands of those histories of activism there. This example interests me particularly in the context of Theatre of the Oppressed. Often TO work begins with theatre people who want to use TO and then pick a “topic” or a “theme.” For me, Cvetkovich’s example carries a hint of how people who have absorbed some of TO’s physical repertoires of protest and resistance might be able to use them in the movements in which they fight or want to fight. Working from within movements, TO practitioners may have some particular weapons to share with others inside struggle, if TO actually suits the particular struggles at hand. One should never simply assume it does. But when TO grows out of a specific set of shared goals, one that consciously calls on the activist repertoires of people with many different modes of resistance already learned within (and mapped onto) their bodies, we just might make ourselves sufficiently flexible to adapt to the shapeshifting of oppressive structures and their agents. When TO groups start projects by selecting a “topic” of oppression and learning about it, the overall endeavor often fails to connect to the larger network of activism related to a particular oppression. Somehow Cvetkovich’s genealogical example speaks to the potency of starting not with what theatre you want to do but instead by working within movements and finding out what, if any, theatre they/​you might need or want to do to serve the larger whole. With respect for the vastness of the topics explored in this chapter and the limitations of such a text when it comes to addressing them, I will close for now by gesturing toward a specific activist group whose performances manifested a recognition of shared suffering under patriarchy and heteronormativity: the Church Ladies for Choice in the 1990s. The US group, composed primarily (though not exclusively) of gay men, would stage irreverent performances in drag outside of abortion clinics, in the same outdoor space as anti-​abortion protesters. The Church Ladies hoped their theatricalization of such spaces could direct a spotlight toward the pro-​choice cause. Jan Cohen-​Cruz says of Church Ladies for Choice in Radical Street Performance: An International Anthology, Why do gay men, who make up the Ladies’ majority and are the least likely to be directly affected by abortion rulings, get up early Saturday mornings to do clinic defense shows? … The Church Ladies go beyond identity politics by resisting anti-​choice and anti-​gay actions simultaneously.46 While understandings of gender identity have shifted to broaden the definition of those affected directly by abortion from “women” to those who can become pregnant (a group which of course could include trans men), Cohen-​Cruz’s larger point about solidarity in this specific example is a valuable one and underscores a sense of shared struggle. The Church Ladies’ performances indicated a recognition that the interlocking forces of patriarchy and heteronormativity come 139

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down on the heads of so many people, even though not in precisely the same ways for all. As such, their performances contested not only patriarchy and heteronormativity, but norms and regulations of bodies themselves.

Notes 1 Thank you to Clare Croft, who was a crucial interlocutor in the early stages of this chapter, and Anna Joaquin, whose excellent research assistance played a key role in the direction of this writing. 2 See Sanjoy Ganguly, Jana Sanskriti: Forum Theatre and Democracy and India (London: Routledge, 2010), as well as the chapter and interview about Jana Sanskriti in this volume (Chapters 28 and 40). 3 See Chapter  41 by Gwenaëlle Ferré in this volume. See also Muriel Naessens, “Feminism and Its Relationship with Theatre of the Oppressed,” trans. Margy Nelson, Under Pressure:  Theatre of the Oppressed International Newsletter 7: 25 (2006), 11–​16 (16); emphasis hers. Online at www.salto-​youth. net/​downloads/​toolbox_​tool_​download-​file-​ 653/​newsletter_​ITO_​women.pdf (accessed February 11, 2016). 4 For more on Ma(g)dalenas, see www.kuringa.org. 5 Coisas do Genero is available on DVD. An essay by Helen Sarapeck in the DVD’s booklet accompanies the recording of the play. See Julian Boal, Kelly Howe, Scot McElvany, eds., Theatre of the Oppressed in Actions (London: Routledge, 2015). 6 See the Mandala Center for Change’s website:  www.mandalaforchange.com/​site/​applied-​theatre/​ theatre-​of-​the-​oppressed/​transgender-​youth-​legislative-​theatre-​project. 7 S. Leigh Thompson and Alexander Santiago-​ Jirau, “Performing Truth:  Queer Youth and the Transformative Power of  Theatre of the Oppressed,” In “Come Closer”: Critical Perspectives on Theatre of the Oppressed (New York: Peter Lang, 2011), 97–​108 (99). 8 Thompson and Santiago-​Jirau, 97. 9 For more analysis of feminist struggle and TO, see, for example, Berenice Fisher, “Feminist Acts: Women, Pedagogy, and Theatre of the Oppressed,” eds. Mady Schutzman & Jan Cohen-​Cruz, Playing Boal:  Theatre, Therapy, Activism (London:  Routledge, 1994), 185–​ 197; and Ann Elizabeth Armstrong. “Negotiating Feminist Identities and Theatre of the Oppressed,” eds., Jan Cohen-​Cruz & Mady Schutzman, A Boal Companion: Dialogues on Theatre and Cultural Politics (New York: Routledge, 2006), 173–​184. 10 Jill Dolan, Geographies of Learning:  Theory and Practice, Activism and Performance (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001), 3. 11 Kate Millett, Sexual Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), 25. 12 Heidi Hartmann, “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Towards a More Progressive Union,” eds. Carol R. McCann & Seung-​Kyung Kim, Feminist Theory: Local and Global Perspectives, 4th ed. (London: Routledge, 2017), 214–​228 (222). 13 Deniz Kandiyoti, “Bargaining with Patriarchy,” in Feminist Theory: Local and Global Perspectives, 103–​111 (103). 14 Raewyn Connell, “The Social Organization of Masculinity,” in Feminist Theory:  Local and Global Perspectives, 288–​300 (296). 15 See, for example, Sandra Lee Bartky, “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power,” in Feminist Theory: Local and Global Perspectives, 466–​480 (478): The woman who checks her makeup half a dozen times a day to see if her foundation has caked or her mascara has run, who worries that the wind or the rain may spoil her hairdo, who looks frequently to see if her stockings have bagged at the ankle or who, feeling fat, monitors everything she eats, has become … a self-​policing subject, a self committed to a relentless self-​ surveillance. This self-​surveillance is a form of obedience to patriarchy. 16 Vrushali Patil, “From Patriarchy to Intersectionality: A Transnational Feminist Assessment of How Far We’ve Really Come,” in Feminist Theory: Local and Global Perspectives, 204–​212 (206). 17 See Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution:  An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,” in Feminist Theory: Local and Global Perspectives, 481–​492. 18 Judith Butler, “Critically Queer,” in The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, 18–​31 (22–​23). 19 Butler, “Performative Acts,”  490. 20 Butler, “Critically Queer,” 26.

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Patriarchy, cisnormativity, heteronormativity 21 Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics (New York: Zone Books, 2002), 195. 22 Michael Warner, “Introduction,” in Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), xxi. 23 Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner, “Sex in Public,” in The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, eds. Donald E. Hall & Annamarie Jagose, with Andrew Bebell & Susan Potter (Oxon: Routledge, 2013), 165–​179  (176). 24 Ibid., 173. 25 Cathy J. Cohen, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” in Feminist Theory:  Local and Global Perspectives, 419–​ 435 (428). See also Roderick A.  Ferguson, “Introduction:  Queer of Color Critique, Historical Materialism, and Canonical Sociology,” in The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, 119–​133 (123):  “Put plainly, racialization has helped to articulate heteropatriarchy as universal.” 26 Sarah Ahmed, “Queer Feelings,” in The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, 422–​442 (423). 27 Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistence (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017). Location 3995. Kindle Edition. 28 bell hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, 2nd ed. (London: Pluto, 2000), 23. 29 Kathy Miriam, “Stopping the Traffic in Women: Power, Agency, and Abolition in Feminist Debates over Sex-​Trafficking”, in Feminist Theory: Local and Global Perspectives, 136–​149 (137). 30 Monique Wittig, “One is Not Born a Woman,” in Feminist Theory:  Local and Global Perspectives, 282–​287  (282). 31 hooks, xii. 32 See also Amrita Basu, “Globalization of the Local/​Localization of the Global: Mapping Transnational Women’s Movements” in Feminist Theory:  Local and Global Perspectives, 63–​71 (64). See also in the same volume: Beckty Thompson, “Multiracial Feminism: Recasting the Chronology of Second Wave Feminism,” 51–​62 (54), and Linda Nicholson,“Feminism in ‘Waves’: Useful Metaphor or Not?”, 43–​50. 33 Clare Croft, “Introduction,” in Queer Dance: Meanings and Makings (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 1. 34 Time Dean, “Lacan Meets Queer Theory,” in The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, 150–​162 (154). 35 Ahmed, 426. 36 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Queer and Now,” in The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, 3–​17  (7–​8). 37 E. Patrick Johnson, ““Quare” Studies, or “(Almost) Everything I know about Queer Studies I learned from my Grandmother,” in The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, 96–​118 (98). 38 Croft, 8. 39 Cohen, 421. 40 Croft, 3. 41 Juana María Rodriguez, Queer Latinidad:  Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces (New  York:  New  York University Press, 2003), 39–​40. 42 Ibid., 40. 43 Elizabeth Grosz, “Experimental Desire: Rethinking Queer Subjectivity,” in The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, eds. Donald E. Hall & Annamarie Jagose, with Andrew Bebell & Susan Potter (Oxon: Routledge, 2013), 194–​211 (195). 44 Croft, 14. 45 Ann Cvetkovich, “AIDS Activism and Public Feelings:  Documenting ACT UP’s Lesbians,” in The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, 373–​397 (385). 46 Jan Cohen-​Cruz, “At Cross Purposes: The Church Ladies for Choice,” in Radical Street Performance: An International Anthology (Routledge: London, 1998), 90–​99 (96).

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14 GAMES Demechanization and serious fun An interview with Cora Fairstein, Birgit Fritz, and Roberto Mazzini

Games and exercises are among the main elements of the arsenal of  TO. The games and exercises are designed to activate the senses, engage the expressivity of the body, research bodily mechanization, and reflect about oneself and about bodies in context. Here we invite three experienced practitioners to discuss, from their concrete practice, the importance of games and exercises in relation with TO poetics, ethics, and aesthetics. The first question is simple: Why do you use TO games? What do you use them for? And in what contexts?

Birgit Fritz:  I use them because I believe in their revolutionary power and strength to touch issues that might not be able to be verbalized, to overcome prejudice and pessimism, to strengthen people’s beliefs in their abilities—​and because [games] actually do create new realities and thus bring about change. On another level, I use them as metaphors when I  teach teachers or facilitators, in order to discuss and to question pedagogical concepts, values, beliefs, and traditions (such as “good” behavior) … The contexts vary:  from teacher trainings to youth work, work with the elderly, in communities, with women and girls from different cultural backgrounds, in transcultural encounters where refugees share their stories with people who have been living in Austria for a longer time … [Games] also work and connect very well to contact improvisation with people with different abilities. Cora Fairstein:  I use games in all the contexts in which I work (young people in situations of social risk, vulnerable neighborhoods, work with women, in the training of multipliers, in the work with militants of social movements, etc.). I use games basically because TO is theatre, and playing games is the base to be able to leave the universe we call “reality” or “adulthood.” If we want to create, and to facilitate processes of creation in other people, when we want to imagine other possible realities and take them to a scene, playing games—​it’s a good start. I use games to generate group trust, to bring attention to something in everyday life, to promote contact with one’s own body in a new way (not traversed by automated activities), that is, to de-​mechanize. And I also use them to rest. I believe that the game is a kind of rest for the body and for the mind. It is also a way to recognize one’s own 143

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body and that of others and to find the marks of oppression in that recognition. I use games, moreover, to begin to understand the relationships of groups and individuals with oppressions. I also use them to build trust because that trust is what will later enable a deeper work when we move to concrete oppressions. Roberto Mazzini:  We, as Giolli,1 use Boal’s games and exercises (I prefer gamexercises) and invent new ones, in order to fight against oppressions at a bodily level, usually a level not so much considered. We use them for many reasons: to warm up and create a playful and trusting atmosphere, to reflect on our own body and mechanizations/​ possibilities, to investigate the participants’ social masks, to prepare actors for a Forum play and for spect-​actors’ interventions, to search for oppression metaphorically … And we use them in multiple contexts: courses about professional roles, school, prison, psychiatric centers, with groups preparing a Forum play, and so on.

Is there a particular game (or more than one …) you always use? Why?

Mazzini:  Colombian Hypnosis. It’s simple, it’s suitable to start with a new group because the structure is easy and people have fun; the atmosphere releases and we go out of daily routine, where people only speak. At the same time that the group has fun, it is also a chance to debate about power relations implicit in the structure of the game. And it can be enriched with variations (in pairs, mutual hypnosis, with three or more, one person stealing the hypnotized to another hypnotizer …). At a metaphorical level, it can be used to evoke oppression (where there is a direct relation between oppressor/​oppressed) or the issue of leading/​helping/​supporting. Finally, it is also a listening tool: the one who leads should challenge the partner, but also should be sensitive about her/​his limits and resources in order to keep the exercise alive. Fairstein:  I use the blind series a lot. It seems to me very necessary to amplify the perception through other channels beyond the hegemony of sight. I think moving beyond that hegemony is very useful for enabling new ways of understanding some things. Another game that I use a lot is what we call here “six chairs and a table” (or the game of power with the bottle). I think both games make it possible to understand oppression from its spatial dimensions, which seems very useful to me. I also use Colombian Hypnosis a lot because it is easy to access complex analysis with it. Fritz: Two by Three by Bradford! I use it the following way: First I tell people jokingly that I need to test their ability to count to three and promise that the challenges will become more complex. Then I have them replace the numbers with movement and sound step by step. Then I ask them to do it totally quietly. Then I ask them to do it in silence and with their eyes closed. Then I applaud and say that half the group is going to watch the other half do it; then I stand with the other half, and they watch the ones who watched before. I love this exercise because it can contain so many different levels of content. As a joker, with the instructions I  address peoples’ humor and fear of failure at the same time. Then I  validate peoples’ intelligence by promising that the game will become more complex. The game invites the spirit of play as intrinsic to human nature. We do stuff which can be considered ridiculous (as adult behavior), and we enjoy it! We make mistakes, and we laugh! 144

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The game also addresses our abilities to shift from loudness to gentleness to silence. Sometimes people forget that they can change modes. This game reminds them. So we widen our vocabulary of expression. When we do it with the eyes closed, we are invited to trust intuition and share an intimate space, which later on gets shared with a larger part of the group. In this case, the leader gives up the privilege to be the only one to watch, which again reminds the group that there is always privilege involved. Sometimes it goes unquestioned, but here we want to question it. At least we should really try to democratize the space. I also love the Capoeira exercise, which I learned from Julian Boal, because it contains paradoxes.You play it with a partner; forearms of partners touch at all times. Both want to touch the other person’s face, and both want not to be touched. You should use as little muscular strength as possible, never lose touch, and not run away. Moving your spine is essential. I  usually invite people to do the exercise with a partner for a few minutes and then try it with another partner for a shorter time, observing whether their strategies change with another partner. I love it because it breaks conventions (in some cultures, you are not supposed to touch another person’s face if you are not in a family relation …), and if you get resistance from some people in the group, perfect; then you can discuss things. Sometimes people want to be polite to the facilitator, but they don’t really want to touch, and they will fall into a dance, forgetting the original goal. Some people will get into almost a fight.The reflection about this game, in the group, is usually very fruitful.You will have it all there: privilege, good manners, respect, winning/​losing, fear of touching, anger, laughter, following rules …

We would also be interested in understanding this:  how do you connect the games you use with the different kinds of analysis of oppression that you’re doing? And how do you connect the games with the other TO techniques?

Fritz: The games serve as an alphabet for anything to come. With a group, we create a common ground of experience and reflection (along the Freirean path of “action/​ reflection”), the group’s own “culture” of doing and reflecting. This is the basis of all other work. We get to know the sounds of our voices, the different smells that are in the room, the type of touch, the differences. We share strengths and weaknesses without labeling them (ideally, of course …). We acquire a way of looking at things, share our ideas and perceptions. On this we build everything else. Meeting our blind spots and being confronted with inner (emotional) journeys is part of this. Sometimes I ask people to write practice journals for the thoughts that they don’t want to share yet. In different groups, different types of analysis will apply (feminist analysis is one I emphasize).And this will be spiced up in a big way by the knowledge participants bring. Fairstein:  I always incorporate a game that allows me to visualize some relationship of power, and many times I do it from Image Theatre: We start from a game to end up in an image to be analyzed. In general, the analysis allowed by games is a little more abstract; we do not anchor it so much in specific stories of oppression but in the evidence of how relationships between people and groups are structured. Another analysis allowed by games is to see that things are like that but they could be otherwise, and that what is obvious in reality is not natural but naturalized—​and therefore modifiable. This 145

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is something that enables activating the imagination. An “a” can be said in many ways; a forest of sounds can incorporate multiple variants; a race can happen backwards and in slow motion, etc. While we have fun and we clear and de-​mechanize the body, we are enabling a way of analysis that we need to continue working with other techniques. Mazzini:  I connect games with the other TO techniques in three main ways. First, I use them as a tool for de-​mechanization and group-​building, before starting to search for oppression; in this way, people usually are more open to share their oppressions in a group that they feel is safe. Secondly, I use them as a tool to investigate oppression metaphorically: we can start debating what emerged from the game or what is evoked and, for instance, begin to create images of oppression or short scenes; this way is helpful both because it protects people who are not ready to express clearly their own situation of oppression and because it expresses oppressions which are not clear to the oppressed person him/​herself. Thirdly, I use games also as a preparation of needed skills for the Rainbow of Desire set of techniques: here mainly games with image, improvisation, and feeling prepare participants to use more effectively the techniques.

To what extent do you discuss the games you do and reflect on them with groups?

Mazzini:  Good question! At the beginning, since we learned TO from Rui Frati from CTO Paris, we started copying his style, so we rarely discussed the gamexercises. Then, we had a period where all the games were discussed in order to make people more aware about what they experienced during the games. We believed seriously that also a little game contains all the TO goals (analysis and transformation), so we spent a lot of time sharing feelings and discoveries after a game. Now we keep a balance, depending on the specific group and moment, giving emphasis to the rhythm of the process or to sharing feelings and thoughts, which in other fields is called de-​ briefing. We like to give space both to the experience and to reflection, according to the different groups’ needs. We, like Giolli, try to be maieutic also in this phase, not judging people but stimulating them to share feelings and reflections, depending on the path, the group, the phase, etc. Fairstein:  I always explain, or almost always, that games are not innocent, that we are working with TO and, for a reason, TO incorporates games as something so important in the methodology. When I  am in groups with people who want to multiply TO, the analysis is very detailed. When I  am working with oppressed groups, I  extend it according to the need. But in all cases I make it clear that games are part of TO and not just any exercise that only serves to entertain or relax us. Fritz: This depends on when the work is done and with whom it is being done: basically, action and reflection go together. In groups that don’t share the same languages, sometimes we do less reflection during the games and more during Image Theatre (often with translations). With groups who have worked together before, less talking might be needed. In facilitator trainings, [we do] more reflection because you want to give space to all there is. I usually also give space to silence; you never know what it will bring: often you will be surprised, if you wait for one minute longer, what might come out of people, and what you might have missed out on … I also believe that most 146

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manipulation being done by facilitators happens in this space in which participants can participate verbally, or not participate.

How do you handle the question of inclusivity in games, especially in terms of physical ability?

Fairstein:  Before starting any workshop, in any context, I clarify that nothing that is done is mandatory, and that participation is voluntary both in the initial part and in the rest of the activity. We live in a world where we do many things by obligation, and I think that the space of a TO workshop should stop reproducing, as much as possible, the ways of relating with each other imposed by the patriarchal capitalist system in which we all live. Beyond this, if there are some people with particular needs (physical, mental, emotional …), it is also explicit that you can ask for help if necessary. Mazzini: We adapt games or instructions to the group and its reactions in order to keep all participants included. Of course, there are variations also in the capacity to keep focused or in the resistance to tiredness; therefore, we try to observe the group dynamics and to change speed, rhythm, number of people, etc. Basically we tell people that no one is obliged to do any proposal we give and everyone can stop working if needed, without a particular explanation or justification. Sometimes inclusivity has to do with culture, so we are careful with heavy exercises in some specific cultural contexts, meaning we are careful with gamexercises implying touching, trust, closed eyes, mixed group by gender, etc. But because we are not sure about our criteria, we try to observe the group reactions and to give space for small evaluations in order to redirect the process in a more inclusive way. Inclusivity does not mean that all must do every exercise, but that each person feels respected within the process. Fritz:  Games are great because they very often have common denominators, like sound, movement, speed, intensity … so you work with the most common denominators in a group, and when there is a bit of trust and confidence, you can also work with all the different abilities that are present in the group. This I learned from mixed ability dance: “a person with no legs will not be made happy if a person who owns legs doesn’t dance” … if you have it, use it; the group will benefit from all the different abilities! The important thing is to realize that you can use privilege for the good of a group; you can also give it up (if you can). When you do it, you will encounter other abilities in people where you thought there were none, you will relate differently, etc.There is always a way to invent a different way of doing things. If you don’t see it, ask the group.

That’s a good principle: asking the group … We would also like to ask you about another concern: the bad uses of some games and the balance, within games, between fun and reflection …

Mazzini: We start with fun. When the group is made of adults, professionals, “serious people,” it’s more with games than exercises, in order to break the ice and create an easy atmosphere. On the contrary, we do not push on fun so much when we start 147

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with youngsters or children. Our tendency is to go from games and fun to exercises and focusing. The reflection depends on age, social role, and participants’ motivation. Of course there is a danger of going too far with fun because—​early or late—​you should face oppression and you should touch the real oppression the group lives, and the change of atmosphere is a delicate step in the process. About the bad use of gamexercises, I  think that the main risk is to use the group and impose a process that is not helping to create a safe environment. One can use gamexercises just for fun or that are too challenging for the sensitivities of the group or that are not appropriate to the group culture. You can also use the gamexercises with the idea that they in themselves have the capacity to create trust, openness, cooperation, etc., like a material tool used toward a goal. This is an epistemological level; if you think human beings are more complex than that–​and that what works in the gamexercise is not the gamexercise in itself, but the relationship between group and Joker and among participants, as mediated by gamexercises—​you need to observe the group reaction carefully and to adapt the way you lead the gamexercises. Fairstein:  First, I want to clarify that I do not separate fun and reflection. Fun, laughter, and humor are very powerful weapons that I always try to have on my side. I do not think that you cannot reflect while someone is having fun; rather, I think the opposite. Fun clears, reassures, and generates space for deeper analysis. Clearly there are times when you need concentration, and I think that a misuse of games can occur when the game prevents the analysis instead of facilitating it … There are times when I  avoid certain types of games. For example, I avoid games that are very bodily in groups of teenagers with women and men. But I do not believe at all that the reflection is separate from the fun. Many times the analysis starts from fun and leads to places where there is less laughter, because of the topics, not because “the fun is over”… Fritz: We live in a culture of effort; only effort is validated here. We need to validate creativity more, and for this we need TO games. They are serious fun! We trigger the sources of inspiration, strength, laughter. If we stay superficial in our work, this is truly sad … You can spoil any game, if you only use it as a warm-​up activity with no further importance. The other danger is that you become too stuck in reflection and the complexity of things. In my part of the world, we have long winters, and depression and resignation are never far.You don’t want to go down that alley when inspiring and harvesting collective strength. The three of you have been practicing TO for a long time … Are there still questions you are pondering about certain games?

Fairstein:  Gradually I ask myself more questions than before (with TO in general), particularly with games. I try to find those that generate new ways of analysis and those that no longer bore me because if I get bored I cannot be a good facilitator for others. I also try to incorporate variants to games that I know, always trying to get the games to help me set up lines of analysis as early as possible in a process or in a workshop. There are some very simple games with a lot of force that I have been doing for many years. I like simple games that give a lot of material to analyze. And I also like to work with games that the group knows beforehand in order to give those games other meanings and to 148

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keep working with this idea that the things we know in a certain way could be different. Something I’m still investigating is how to generate games that synthesize several of the things I want to work on with a group at once, to apply with groups who I do not have much time to work with. Mazzini: Yes, in general, I have asked myself if there is a best set of gamexercises to propose and an order that is the best to attain the goals we want. My answer is no! For epistemological reasons: a gamexercise works not in itself, like a mechanism, because human beings are not mechanisms, but intelligent subjects who interpret the world.The way a gamexercise works is due to the relationship between the facilitator and the group; the trainer should observe carefully the dynamics and adjust the proposal during the process (a lot of variations can be taken into account, like time, space, number of people playing, verbal instructions, non-​verbal instructions, position of the trainer, how many breaks in the process, use of music, type of voice, etc.). The same gamexercise can bring different results, never objective, never the same for all. So, my question is how to train jokers to be so sensitive to the process instead of having an agenda of results … Another general question is how to develop more gradual gamexercises in order to use them several times in a long process without annoying people, but also to help people to proceed gradually in skills development. A third question is about how to create some sets of effective gamexercises to explore social masks, starting from the gestures you use in your life. A fourth question is how to work on Western social masks that are today more linked to flexibility than to a fixed role. Fritz:  I am under the impression that in the beginning Augusto worked for much longer periods of time with people than when I started seeing his work, so the time that got spent on physical work especially got shorter and shorter. This I experience as a loss. I remember hearing or reading that in one workshop in Paris, way back, people were drawing their body images blindly on posters and then those posters were stuck on the walls for the several-​week-​long duration of the workshop. And poems were added—​and other information until it all became a visible geography of bodies.Things like this I find very interesting. Also, with Sanjoy Ganguly’s way of doing the games we start to rediscover what benefits time can actually bring us. Doing games with too little time can be an escape route, avoiding confrontation with awkward issues, just like any technique can be a trap to avoid what on the surface it pretends to do.TO is no exception here. And I hope that I do not fall into this trap too often.

Note 1 Giolli is a social cooperative founded in Parma in 2008 by Roberto Mazzini, based on the experience gained by the Giolli association in its 16 years of activity, working with Theatre of the Oppressed and Paulo Freire’s method.

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15 NEWSPAPER THEATRE The oldest branch of TO in the post-​print present Sabrina Speranza Translated from Spanish by Martín Zimmerman

“[W]‌e think theatre should be a game the whole world can play, a form of communication with which the whole world can communicate,” insists the opening of Augusto Boal’s 1970 production, Newspaper Theatre: First Edition: “You do not need to be a speaker to participate in a meeting, you do not need to be an athlete to play football, and neither do you need to be an artist to make theatre.”1 Celso Frateschi, one of the actor-​creators of this piece, says it always “filled me with pride and astonishment”2 when Boal cited Newspaper Theatre as the beginning and the foundation of Theatre of the Oppressed. This chapter attempts to briefly recount the background, context, and emergence of this technique, historically seen as the first branch of Theatre of the Oppressed, and then focuses on how Newspaper Theatre is used today. Augusto Boal placed Newspaper Theatre within the category of popular theatre (by the people and for the people): Journalism is an art and not a science (…) And as with all arts, it is political. And as a political art, it is a weapon. And as a weapon, it is utilized in favor of some and against others. Just as private property is utilized (…) by the dominant classes, generally against the dominated classes, with the singular objective of perpetuating this domination.3 Newspaper Theatre, therefore, has three primary objectives: “[R]‌eturning theatre to the people is the first objective of Newspaper Theatre. The second is to demystify the supposed objectivity of journalism, showing that every article published in a newspaper is a work of fiction serving the dominant class.”4 The third objective is to “demonstrate that theatre can be practiced by anyone, anywhere.”5 In a context of fairly widespread “progressive neoliberalism,” characterized by an amalgam of truncated ideals of emancipation and lethal forms of financialization,6 where the faces that hold power melt into a globalized space, and peoples and classes dissolve into a postmodern multitude, it would be appropriate to ask what we understand today as “the people.” As Bensaïd warns, this notion of a multitude is “theoretically confusing, sociologically inconsistent, philosophically dubious and strategically empty.”7 This idea of the multitude has been fetishized and 150

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contributes to the concealing of a strategic emptiness in which political mediation tends to disappear. Who is the anxious subject of postmodern subversion? Who is “the people” and/​or the popular object of our Theatre of the Oppressed theories and practices? Perhaps knowing who were “the people” in distinct theatricalizations of newspapers could provide a little more clarity. If not, perhaps it could at least help us question ourselves a little more. Although, upon first look, questioning ourselves does not seem the best way to gain clarity, it is the only possible way to avoid falling into dogmatic repetitions.

Background As of 1918, already prevalent in Russia were works similar to Newspaper Theatre, such as the series of substitutes for print newspaper that the Russian Telegraph Agency created:  the Living Newspaper, the mural newspaper (which inspired Mayakovsky’s “satire windows”) and the “Newspaper Theatre,” where they staged news stories.8 Beginning in 1923, students at the Moscow Institute for Journalism created the group Blue Blouse, which worked in a “Living Newspaper” modality and had as widespread an influence in Russia as in Germany, where Blue Blouse inspired the creation of other troupes. Beginning in Germany in 1926, this type of theatre began to appear in the group Die Helzer (The Heretics), which was directed by Béla Balász. “We presented the so-​called live newspaper; that is to say, as soon as an event of political importance to workers occurred, Die Helzer would stage it one week later.”9 In the 1930s, in the United States, we find the so-​called “Living Newspaper” headed by the Federal Theatre Project.10

Newspaper Theatre: First Edition (Teatro Jornal: Primeira Edição) In Latin America, beginning in 1961, after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution and the creation of the House of the Americas (Casa de las Américas), Latin American theatre gatherings began to be organized. In 1968 in Manizales, Colombia, the First Gathering of Latin American University Theatre was held, and from this event the first documents about popular theatre and class struggle (signed by 42 groups from six countries) emerged. In 1972, during the first Festival of Theatre of Ecuador, representatives from various South American countries (including Brazil, through Augusto Boal) formed the Latin American Cultural Workers Front. These were decades of resistance in the face of an onslaught of repression in Latin America, with successive and proximate dictatorships allied with one another under the so-​called Condor Plan.11 Between the 1964 coup in Brazil and 1968, the Right continued to allow Leftist cultural production, and, even when the content was exclusively Leftist, “only those who had organized or contacted workers, peasants, soldiers, or sailors were tortured or detained for long periods.”12 This enticed groups to create armed propaganda for the revolution. Then the coup hardened, everything was censored, and the Right felt it necessary to liquidate living culture. It is in this context that Augusto Boal was directing the Arena Theatre in São Paulo, which was “one of the only political theatre groups that continued organizing and playing a central role in the cultural resistance against the dictatorship,”13 cultural resistance that was definitely not divorced from political resistance. Dulce Muñiz and Celso Frateschi, two of the young protagonists of Newspaper Theatre: First Edition, elaborate on these links: “Most of us, including Boal, were militants from clandestine organizations. Helen was with one organization, Boal another, Celso another, and Hélio and I were with yet another (…).”14 “Boal was linked with the ALN, with the strategic staff. I was linked with Red Wing. Dulce, if I am not mistaken, had a foot in Trotskyism.”15 151

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In his autobiography, Augusto Boal recounts that, after the acting class  Cecilia Thumim and Heleny Guariba gave in the Arena Theatre in 1970, a group of their students wanted to continue working and took up an idea that Boal had thought up with Vivianni but had not yet begun to practice:  daily shows with that morning’s newspaper. Celso Frateschi, one of the participating actors, recalls, “We did not have the least idea how to present Newspaper Theatre as a piece of repertory.We wanted to investigate what [aspects] of a newspaper could be theatricalized.”16 They first began with secret presentations for friends, and the spectators asked for training so that they could form their own Newspaper Theatre groups, which allowed Boal to see the form’s potential for escaping censorship and continuing to resist the dictatorship.This is how Newspaper Theatre: First Edition developed. They presented the work in non-​theatrical spaces, student cafeterias, churches, town squares, and, during each performance, they explained the techniques. “Do you have a problem? Don’t discuss, enact. Form your own Newspaper Theatre group. There are already 17. Help us,” the program said. These groups started spreading like the flu! We started to form Newspaper Theatre groups, more than thirty. We performed anywhere (…).We wrote our plays, and two hours later, they were ready for the audience. Instantaneous, fulminant theatre. Our dream was to propagate these techniques so that everyone could make theatre, use this very rich language to think or act.17 While there is a similarity to other groups that staged news stories, such as those linked with the Soviet revolution, the objective here was not political literacy; rather, it was struggle against the dictatorship, which was represented by censorship of the cultural struggle.

Newspaper Theatre techniques In his book Latin American Popular Theatre Techniques, Augusto Boal describes 11 techniques for staging the news. The following list is a synthesized description of each: 1) Simple Reading. This is not precisely a “technique,” but rather just reading the news story outside of the context of publication. The layout of a newspaper already has a political orientation. Headline or at the bottom of the page? Reading it outside of this context prioritizes the information itself. 2) Complementary Reading. “Complementing is necessary since a half-​truth is not the truth, but a lie.”18 This consists of adding missing information to a news story. 3) Crossed Reading. Reading two contradictory news stories or the same story from two papers with opposing ideologies, to demonstrate that information is manipulated. 4) Rhythmical Reading. Rhythm underlines or makes manifest certain aspects of the news story. For example, a reactionary speech read as a Gregorian chant. 5) Reinforced Reading. Mixing the news story with popular songs, advertising jingles that support a “better understanding of the story.”19 6) Parallel Action. This involves a group acting out their opinion of a news story that is being read by another actor.This does not mean acting out the story itself but, rather, staging with the body that which the story hides or distorts in order to make explicit the hidden interests behind the story. 7) Historical Reading. Consists of connecting the news story to facts related to it—​ for example, relating today’s student protests to previous protests or showing the actual origin of the economic crisis, etc. 152

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8) Improvisation. Improvising the scene that the news story describes. 9) Concretion of Abstraction.This consists of making visible or proximate the abstraction that anesthetizes us to the news. We eat dinner while watching a video of the latest bombing campaign in Syria without it upsetting our stomachs. This technique seeks to make things present in the body and create live communication. 10) Text Out of Context. Presenting the news story in a context different from its original one; for example, a celebrity speaking about his/​her concerns about poverty while eating an opulent dinner. 11)  Insertion Into Actual Context. Presenting the news story by inserting it within its true context. For example, a case of gender-​based violence in the context of patriarchy, linked with news stories that show women as objects to be consumed. The pieces of Newspaper Theatre we have seen share some elements in common. First, they have a clear political objective, investigating and contrasting the most material possible. By intervening in public or private (but not necessarily “theatrical”) spaces, they are basically itinerant productions, easily mounted and taken down. They possess a fragmented dramaturgy, composed like a collage, with greater or lesser narrative structure. They use irony and the grotesque, based in exaggeration and sarcasm, which should not be seen as an underestimation of the enemy’s strength but rather as a momentary victory over fear.20 They are localist, meaning that they present news stories that are important in the place and context in which they are shown. The advertising jingles, for example, are well known by the audience. This is not to say that these pieces cannot be understood by an audience in another country, but, rather, that they communicate directly with the locality in which they are shown.

Newspaper Theatre today Of all the Theatre of the Oppressed techniques, Newspaper Theatre is the most clearly rooted in the actuality of the present moment because a single group can change its piece as a result of changing news stories. In Augusto Boal’s first experiences using the technique Concretion of Abstraction, which attempted to set aside the purely artistic to manifest a news story in “reality,” a dove was killed and was later substituted with burning worms. Can we translate these techniques without much ado to our present context? In a context where violence is part of the daily “show,” does seeing staged violence really awaken us? Would it not be cheap pornography, a sad imitation of day-​to-​day violence? And even more importantly, is it responsible to replicate a technique without questioning its effect today? Of course not, since political theatre is a response to a specific context, and to replicate a technique without critiquing it would be to adopt a Fordist (assembly-​line) perspective rather than a political one. With this blind replication, we would be killing the technique. At the beginning of this chapter, we mentioned the context of financialization. While the industrial capitalist had to produce objects, the financial capitalist does not need to produce anything, and the accumulation of wealth comes from the virtual manipulation of money itself.21 The mass media today has other forms and symbols. We cannot ignore the use of the internet and social media, in which the rhythm of a message is incredibly accelerated compared to that of the page of a print newspaper; simultaneity replaces sequentiality, which, according to Franco Berardi, diminishes our ability to interpret statements critically to the point that this ability is extinguished. 153

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Above all, Newspaper Theatre is a tool for political struggle. The first thing that lights the way for us is a concrete political objective, and from there each group should feel creative freedom to explore how to practice these techniques, as well as to add new techniques that can enrich this methodology. In the International Gathering of  Theatre of the Oppressed organized by the MST (Landless Workers Movement), the Augusto Boal Institute, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in June 2016 at the Florestan Fernándes School (of MST), GTO (Theatre of the Oppressed Group) Montevideo collaborated with MST’s cultural representatives to offer a workshop on Newspaper Theatre and agitprop. In this workshop, the following possible techniques were created and analyzed: • • • •



Removing the adjectives from a news story to try to read only its essence. Searching various news stories about the same topic for repeated statements or ideas to demonstrate how information is biased. Re-​reading; first reading the news story as is, then reading it “as it should be” according to the group’s critical lens. Using social media to our benefit, filming the scene when it is publicly performed and uploading it to social media.This means recognizing the existence of social media that can be used to support the internationalization of the struggle, but also keeping in mind that we have to be extremely critical so as not to concentrate only on a simple “Like” or to believe that the revolution can be brought about by “tweeting.” Developing a platform of action in which the same Newspaper Theatre scene is performed at the same time in different parts of a city.

These are just some examples that came out of the theatrical research into three themes: violence against women and its representation in media, the advance of the Right in Latin America, and the persecution of social movements. Celso Frateschi poses that “(…) the greatest tribute to Boal is to surpass him, because he surpassed himself all the time.”22 Is there a worse way to insult the legacy of Augusto Boal than an empty replication of his proposals, when he himself fought against all mechanization? “Who are sectarians if not people (of the right or left) who mechanize all their thoughts and responses? Even when facing new facts, they react in old ways, with old habits.”23 Therefore, let us embody Boal’s defiance by confronting new facts, reacting politically and artistically in new ways.

Notes 1 Celso Frateschi, “Teatro jornal primeira edição” Vintém no. 7 (2009): 46–​50 (46). 2 Ibid., 46. 3 Augusto Boal, Técnicas latinoamericanas de Teatro Popular: una revolución copernicana al revés. (1st ed. 1975. Bs. As: Corregidor, 2014), 47. 4 Ibid., 44. 5 Ibid., 46. 6 Nancy Fraser, “El final del neoliberalismo progresista.” Sin permiso república y socialismo también para el S.XXI. 12 enero 2017, www.sinpermiso.info/​textos/​el-​final-​del-​neoliberalismo-​progresista (accessed Januart 25, 2017). 7 Daniel Bensaïd, Cambiar el Mundo (Barcelona: Liberdúplex, 2010), 71. 8 Douglas Estevam, Iná Camargo Costa y Rafael Villas Bôas (orgs), Agitprop:  Cultura Política (São Paulo: Expressão Popular, 2015), 14. 9 Béla Balász, “Improvisación y teatro invisible,” en Máscara, Cuaderno Iberoamericano de Reflexión Sobre Escenología. México D.F., Año 4. N°21–​22 (1996–​1997), 57–​60 (60).

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Newspaper Theatre 10 Eduardo Campos Lima, Coisas de Jornal no Teatro (São Paulo: Expressão Popular, 2014). 11 “The so-​called Condor Plan was a repressive coordination or conspiracy between the intelligence services of the dictatorships that govern the countries of the Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brasil, Paraguay, Bolivia) in coordination with the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency.” See “Cinco preguntas para entender qué fue el Plan Cóndor.” TeleSur, www.telesurtv.net/​news/​ Cinco-​preguntas-​para-​entender-​que-​fue-​el-​Plan-​Condor-​20151105-​0007.html. 12 Roberto Schwarz, O Pai de Familia e Otros Estudos. Ed. Paz e Terra (1978), 62. 13 Ibid., 95. 14 Dulce Muniz (2011), “Entrevista com Celso Frateschi. 23 de setembro 2010” em Coisas de Jornal no Teatro de Eduardo Campos Lima (São Paulo: Expressão Popular, 2014), 163–​180 (163). 15 Celso Frateschi (2011), “Entrevista com Celso Frateschi. 7 de fevreiro 2011” em Coisas de Jornal no Teatro de Eduardo Campos Lima (São Paulo: Expressão Popular, 2014), 181–​203 (192). 16 Celso Frateschi, “Teatro jornal primeira edição,” Vintém no. 7 (Brasil, 2009), 46–​50 (47). 17 Augusto Boal, Hamlet e o Filho do Padeiro (Río de Janeiro: Record, 2000), 271. 18 Augusto Boal, Técnicas Latinoamericanas de Teatro Popular: Una Revolución Copernicana al Revés, (1st ed. 1975. Bs. As: Corregidor, 2014), 52. 19 Ibid., 55. 20 Douglas Estevam, Iná Camargo Costa y Rafael Villas Bôas (orgs), Agitprop:  Cultura Política. (São Paulo: Expressão Popular, 2015), 89. 21 Franco Berardi, “Las Redes Sociales Postergación Infinita del Placer Erótico,” Entrevista por Íñigo Ibáñez. Confabulario. El Universal, el gran diario de México. 21 enero 2017, http://​confabulario. eluniversal.com.mx/​las-​redes-​sociales-​postergacion-​infinita-​del-​placer-​erotico/​ (accessed March 5, 2017). 22 Celso Frateschi, “Entrevista com Celso Frateschi. 7 de fevreiro 2011,” 196. 23 Augusto Boal, Jogos Para Atores e Não-​atores. (9ª ed. rev. e ampliada-​Rio de Janeiro: Civilização brasileira, 2006), 61.

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16 IMAGE THEATRE A liberatory practice for “making thought visible” Alexander Santiago-​Jirau and S. Leigh Thompson

Image Theatre (IT) is one of the core practices in the arsenal of  Theatre of the Oppressed (TO). Boal describes IT as a theatrical language that lets participants use their bodies to take on the role of subject within the aesthetic space and to discuss oppressions that affect them, thereby furthering the spectator’s “transition from passivity to action” that is the main goal of Poetics of the Oppressed.1 IT consists primarily of the physical representation of thoughts and ideas through the raw expression of the body, one’s most fundamental artistic tool. In IT, participants explore oppression by using non-​verbal expression and sculpting their own and other participants’ bodies into static physical images that can depict concrete situations or abstract ideas, such as feelings, political issues, or personal moments. Spectators observe these images and reflect on what they witness. Through IT, it is possible to communicate beyond the confines of language, separate out (at least partially) objective and subjective thinking, and begin to develop a physical and aesthetic language of representation—​what Boal calls a stimulating, easy-​to-​practice form with a capacity for making thought visible.2 Image is the first expression in Boal’s TO tree because it supports other areas of  TO. IT can be used both as a preparation to build a Forum Theatre scene or play and as an autonomous technique to facilitate conscientization, dialogue, and rehearsal of concrete action. IT is also central to the development of Newspaper Theatre and Invisible Theatre—​and particularly important with Rainbow of Desire—​Boal’s therapeutic techniques exploring internalized oppressions. In Rainbow of Desire, the use of extended image sequences allows participants to bring to life internal voices that police our desires and behavior—​what Boal calls the “cops-​in-​ the-​head.” These “cops,” Boal argues, have headquarters in the real world. Image Theatre can help us embody these policers, and the emotions and thoughts they engender, in order to dismantle their systemic sources in society. This chapter seeks to 1) reframe IT as much-​needed continual practice for demechanizing body and thought, 2) introduce some of the fundamental techniques and activities of IT, and 3) highlight some of the techniques’ potentials and limitations across a variety of contexts. As you’ll learn, we believe IT is a critical tool for breaking the status quo through the necessary dual activation of body and mind.

Image Theatre as an activating tool In an increasingly technological world where humans are surrounded by a continued stream of shifting images—​produced by both corporations and individuals, disseminated at ever faster 156

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speeds through social media networks—​we as oppressed people and passive spectators internalize these images and in turn our oppressions. We reduce our human capacity and edit out movements and thoughts to better uphold the status quo. To become more human, we must become more conscious (conscientization). We must break out of our habitual behaviors and thought patterns and explore our true human potential (demechanization).To seek liberation, we must think outside the status quo, be creative, open up to possibilities, rethink and reimagine the world. In this context, we need to continue to develop and sharpen creative tools to analyze, decode, and deconstruct the world.Theatre, arguably the most human of all creative expressions, is the ideal tool for this process, but to achieve this purpose it must become a tool of the people. As Augusto Boal said, we must democratize theatre.3 Oppression targets our bodies—​the ways our bodies are shaped, the color of our bodies, how we use our bodies for work, how our bodies move, what our bodies do with other bodies—​and yet we often are expected to divorce our bodies from how we experience and understand the world. Liberation must include the whole self, mind and body. As we move more and more into a virtual existence, we are losing our connection with the embodied human experience. IT can help fill some of this gap. It is an embodied practice that relies on our physical memory and knowledge and brings them into the conversation, often surfacing memory, experiences, histories, thoughts, and ideas previously hidden in the subconscious.

An ongoing process of demechanization One of the central tenets of TO is that the people must regain control of the means of theatrical production. Theatre, Boal argues, is used as a tool of domination by the ruling classes. The division of stage and audience created by those in power in turn creates passive spectators who consume art without challenging the dominant ideologies that the work replicates.Thus, a new form of theatre is imperative: one with a democratic emphasis challenging the status quo while becoming a weapon for liberation of the oppressed. For Boal, the first stage of a liberatory theatrical vocabulary is the human body. To control theatrical production means that human beings must control their own bodies to make them more expressive.4 If oppressed people are to use theatre differently, Boal contends, we must dispense with the ways our bodies (those of actors and non-​actors) are mechanized both in their muscular structures and their capacity to express emotion. Our bodies are conditioned by repetitive actions and by social masks that do not allow us to explore original actions.5 To demechanize the body, TO uses exercises that allow participants to get to know their bodies, their limitations and their possibilities, while also using them for self-​expression and the breaking of traditional patterns of behavior.6 These exercises are designed to undo participants’ learned oppressive physicality: That is, to take them apart, to study and analyse them. Not to weaken or destroy them, but to raise them to the level of consciousness. So that each worker, each peasant understands, sees, and feels to what point his body is governed by his work.7 IT continues and expands Boal’s concept of demechanization for actors and non-​actors. With its emphasis on spectactor interventions that “speak” through images created by participants’ own bodies or “sculpted” on the bodies of others, IT is a space for physical and emotional discovery and rehabilitation, critical engagement, and the theatrical language and constant expression of the concept of demechanization. Like the games that precede it in the stages of TO, IT is interested in breaking habitual patterns. However, by directly exploring the themes of 157

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oppression along with multiple imaginative and embodied potential solutions—​both within the reality of the image and the reality of the world it depicts (metaxis)—​IT goes a step further; it becomes the first true stage of action in TO, and perhaps the most important. Through IT, the stage immediately becomes a “rehearsal for real life.”8 At the same time, IT challenges definitions of art and who is capable of expressing ideas aesthetically. IT can help us build a stronger resistance to passivity, as it develops creative and critical thinking. Creative, critical thinkers don’t rely on tradition or habit, but instead expand possibilities and analyze options to identify problems, find new answers, and unlock innovative and effective solutions. IT invites us to use our bodies in concert with our minds, so that we can understand our world better and rehearse anti-​oppressive interventions to transform it.

Key stages of Image Theatre IT is a vast set of techniques that can be modified and combined in innumerable ways to achieve a wide variety of goals. In the following section, we identify the key stages of IT and some of our favorite activities that support participants’ demechanization and development of aesthetic language to engage in dialogue theatrically. One must invest time, exploration, and study to get the most out of IT, yet much can be achieved when focusing on these foundational stages: 1) expanding the physical repertoire, 2) building image language, 3) building image literacy, and 4) dynamizing images. Expanding the Physical Repertoire. One can build toward IT by engaging other TO exercises. In Boal’s “Walks” series (from the “Feeling What We Touch” series), for example, participants try different ways of walking, imagining new ways of moving and exploring the body’s capacity. In “Two by Three by Bradford” (“Listening to What We Hear” series), partners count to three in alternation, and later select physical movements and sounds that stand in for the numbers as they continue to count. The result opens the body. Because participants teach each other sounds and movements, they put new physical movements into their bodies as they replicate their partners’ movements. Once participants have expanded their physical repertoire, they are ready to begin to practice communicating ideas through the body. Building Image Language: Sculpting Ideas and Moments. Here is one of many possible examples of an IT progression: In “Complete the Image,” partners take turns stepping into an image in a range of different configurations while the other partner remains frozen. It begins as an exploration of physical capacity in relationship with another and later includes topics or themes that participants try to capture. “Image of the Word” takes time to sculpt one’s own body to communicate an interpretation or reaction to a word or phrase, before moving on to sculpting others, nonverbally shaping their bodies as living clay. This progression takes participants from exploring physical capacity with a partner to the initial attempts to portray thoughts, ideas, and experiences in images.When “Complete the Image” is introduced, participants explore movement in relationship with each other, though they are not charged with establishing meaning, only with extending bodily possibility and exhausting the potential of movement. This is a key process of physical demechanization. The following stages of the activity explore themes, communicating their interpretation of the theme in the images they create with partners. Like most of IT, this process is silent. Participants then move into intentional self-​sculpting, as they consider the topic and make deliberate choices about how to shape their bodies to communicate. This is a slower process that allows participants to take time to think about possibilities and let their bodies speak through physical shape. Once participants have a strong skill in sculpting their own bodies, they begin sculpting others’. This non-​verbal process challenges participants to communicate 158

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through physical aesthetics rather than inferred meaning. As an example of inferred meaning, if a sculptor tells an actor to “be angry,” the actor then reflects on their experience of anger—​ how it feels in their body, what they think anger means to other people, etc.—​and then puts that inference into a pose that they strike for the image. But to the sculptor, that image may read as “frustration” or “impudence” or “melancholy.” The idea of the sculptor goes into verbal instruction that the sculptor speaks to the actor. That instruction goes into the ear of the actor and through the actor’s own unique coding to shape their body in a particular way. It becomes a game of telephone, where the idea is not exactly the word spoken, the word spoken is not the meaning heard, the meaning heard is not what is sculpted, and so on. Instead, when the focus is on communicating through physical aesthetics rather than inferred meaning, the sculptor sculpts directly onto the body of the actor, putting their intention into the shape of the image and allowing the actor and the spectators to interpret the image as they will. Building Image Literacy: Reading Images. Image is not only about sculpting; it is also about reading. Spectators are asked to observe sculpted images and reflect. In life, we read images all the time, but are not necessarily conscious of processes that contribute to how we interpret them. Developing greater consciousness of mechanized processes for reading the world helps us build better, stronger tools in the fight for liberation. To practice demechanization, it’s helpful to identify the differences between objective and subjective analysis of an image. Participants are encouraged to distinguish between what one sees and what one assumes based on how one processes what one sees. This emphasis disrupts the often-​automatic thought processes of inference and yields a stronger understanding of the way images can be interpreted. It’s also important to read for polysemy. Often spectators have little or no context for an image they view. Images can be accompanied by a title, follow a story, or reflect on a central theme, but not always in each case. Sculptors are not asked to define their intention or explain the position of each actor and the reasoning for it. “If an image is interpreted just one way—​like ‘This is that!’—​it ceases to be IT and becomes a mere illustration of the words spoken.”9 If you show a Rorschach or inkblot test to a group and ask, “What do you see?” participants may respond with “a tree,” “a bunny,” or “my mother.” If you ask, “What animal do you see?” participants may respond with “a giraffe,” “a bunny” or “an elephant.” But, if you ask, “Do you see the bunny?,” participants will look for the bunny only and lose all the possibilities they could otherwise discover. Instead of limiting these potentials, we open the conversation to them, which complicates the image and makes the dialogue much richer. Dynamizing Images. While images begin as static and silent sculptures, they can be dynamized for further exploration and to deepen community dialogue. Dynamizations can include images with repetitive movements, rhythm, ritual gestures, transitions, illustrations of the passage of time and its effects, larger group extensions, different sculptors, multiplicity of points of view, and sounds and words to track the thoughts and feelings of the characters. The use of sounds, words, or even phrases is not intended to build complete narratives but rather to focus, clarify, or concretize ideas. Image dynamization, through its multiple stages, continues the process of demechanization and can set up participants for the dynamic interventions required by Forum Theatre.

A dynamic theatrical language If the main objective of Boal’s TO is to transform spectators from passive beings into actors, then IT is the conduit through which participants can learn how to enter the theatrical space. IT as a stand-​alone practice can lead not only to a more demechanized body but also to more inclusive 159

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and active dialogue. With its emphasis on physical expression rather than verbal exchanges, IT does not preference one language over another, thus making it possible for participants across a diversity of communities, educational levels, and physical abilities to participate actively in the exchange of ideas, stories, and potential solutions to the oppressions they face. IT is also an essential building block to the practice of Forum Theatre—​TO’s most well-​ known technique. In fact, Boal stated that his preference was that the Forum Theatre anti-​model “be developed by means of the various IT processes, especially the sequences of techniques which end in the construction of the ‘ritual’ concretizing the subject being treated.”10 Boal insisted that dialogue in TO should happen theatrically, and we argue that this aesthetically engaging dialogue cannot happen without the intentional, in-​depth, and continued practice of IT. Image Theatre offers participants the opportunity of experiencing a holistic activation—​one that does not rely solely on words but that incorporates the representation of feelings and abstract ideas open to a multiplicity of interpretations and interventions within the theatrical space. Perhaps the most well-​known sequence of images in IT is the sculpting of the actual image (an image of the oppression being explored), the ideal image (an image of the particular context without oppression), and the transitional image (a potential intervention to “show how it would be possible to pass from one reality to the other”).11 These images give participants the opportunity to embody their stories, enact the themes they wish to discuss, and activate potential interventions for the oppressions they want to eradicate. Furthermore, this sequence of images is central to the development and activation of Forum Theatre, providing spectactors with the opportunity to fully visualize the oppression in question and the relationship between the characters in the Forum play. As Boal suggests, IT makes Forum Theatre more stimulating—​both in concrete scenarios and more symbolic ones—​by provoking the audience to engage theatrically rather than rely on “verbal discussions about possible solutions.”12 Thus, the multiple alternatives explored through transitional images, with their multiplicity of individual approaches and interpretations, serve as ideal sparks for the “good debate” Boal seeks within the Forum experience. In other words, the non-​verbal nature of IT leads participants to “act” and ultimately discuss in more rigorous ways the potential of their interventions rather than settle for a single approach. While IT may not rely on words for its practice, it is not devoid of discussion; dialogue is its natural outcome. IT is then the foundation of TO’s theatrical praxis—​its main language.

Potentials and limitations for the future practice of Image Theatre As with many artistic expressions, it is the limitations in the technique that invite creativity, inspiration, and imagination. The boundaries of IT provide a container for this creativity to blossom and grow. This is not to say that IT is the only technique needed for liberation. There is no one action, no one strategy, no one art that can do all things for all people in all situations. IT, like all artistic expressions and like all tools for liberation, has its limitations. There are particular limitations to the effectiveness of embodied techniques for people with disabilities (PwDs), including mobility and vision limitations. Certainly this is not to say that PwDs are incapable of rich participation with IT—​the authors have engaged in Image techniques with participants with many different mobility capacities, as did Boal—​but only to recognize that the engagement with PwDs is different and therefore IT needs different considerations. For people with body trauma, the embodied practice of IT may be triggering, particularly with physical touch or increased scrutiny of the body. Some of the richest work we have done has been to support people living with body trauma—​such as that arising from significant injury, dysphoria, and sexual violence—​through Image-​based techniques. But the potential of 160

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retriggering trauma must be understood, and practitioners must be mindful and intentional when engaging with these communities of experience. A significant benefit to IT is in its simplicity. Participants can quickly jump into the techniques and have meaningful physical dialogues with little practice. But, like with any language, IT takes learning and practice—​i.e. time—​to develop deep, nuanced literacy. There are moments when urgency and expediency may be more crucial than investing the time for the depth available in IT. Practitioners must be conscious of aligning their goals to realistic timelines and expectations. As we consider the future of IT, we can’t ignore the changing role technology plays in our world, particularly as it governs/​manages/​impacts/​structures interactions between people. We strongly believe that in-​person, physical interaction is crucial to deep, human understanding and, therefore, conscientization. But we also recognize that the way we interact and build relationships is changing—​in our increasingly virtual world where human connection is often mediated through the use of technology across distances. Thus, technology can represent both a limitation and a potential for the future of IT. It’s up to practitioners to creatively imagine new forms of IT engagement in an increasingly technological world. We must continue to ask: when does IT’s usefulness cease? Is it time-​bound, technologically-​bound, culture-​bound? Is it a foolish, romantic idea that IT can help us change the world? If it’s not, how do we keep the form alive and responsive to the needs of diverse communities? As artists, activists, and educators, we flex our methods to meet the changing world, but also to resist it. The possibilities in IT lie in the way we respond to its limitations. For us, there is no substitution for being in person, in community, sharing, exploring, and creating together. IT can always bring us back to our human roots, to unearthing the oppressions which are often hidden in plain sight and imagining beautiful and liberatory possibilities for the future.

Notes 1 Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, trans. C. A. and M.-​O.L. McBride. (New York: Urizen Books, 1979), 132. 2 Ibid., 137. 3 Augusto Boal, Legislative Theatre: Using Performance to Make Politics, trans. Adrian Jackson (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), 19. 4 Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, 125. 5 Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-​Actors, trans.Adrian Jackson (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), 30. 6 Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, 126. 7 Ibid., 128. 8 Augusto Boal, The Rainbow of Desire:  The Boal Method of Theatre and Therapy, trans. Adrian Jackson (London and New York: Routledge, 1995), 44. 9 Boal, Games for Actors and Non-​Actors, 175. 10 Ibid., 256. 11 Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, 135. 12 Boal, Games for Actors and Non-​Actors, 257.

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17 INVISIBLE THEATRE From origins to current uses Rafael Villas Bôas

When the political and cultural life of a country or city coexists well with cultural and theatrical events both within and outside conventional settings, we may deem unnecessary the development of methods and tactics that can use theatrical language in a way that is devoid of the theatrical elements of the spectacle.1 In Germany, the communist struggle that strove to expand the Russian Revolution to the European continent suffered a major defeat on January 15, 1919, when a wave of repression culminated in the murders of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. With the destruction of the Spartacist League—​the radical movement that had been fighting for revolution—​the way was paved for fascism. Sown in the complicit soil of the German Social Democratic Party, fascism was able to grow, and with it, paramilitary groups like the Freikorps, which would later go on to form the feared Nazi SS. These reactionary squads began fighting the communists and their demonstrations in the streets in two ways:  by attempting to appropriate their methods, and even dramaturgy, adapting them so that the agitation and propaganda could be appropriated by the National Socialist Party, and by physically combatting the communist agitation and propaganda brigades whenever they performed plays in the streets. Doing theatre became a risky act because of the brutal repression of fascist forces. In this context, Invisible Theatre emerged as a way of keeping protest and agitation and propaganda in the streets, but without making it explicit that their activities were theatrical interventions produced by a group of activists. The first record of Invisible Theatre tactics, then, originated in the context of restrictions on democracy and the rise of fascism. For theatre to continue fulfilling the role of political struggle in the public sphere, it became invisible, disguising itself, and seeking the most effective connection between theatrical performance and the political life of the people. The US American Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King Jr., which fought for equal rights and against racism between the 1940s and 1960s, developed direct action tactics that also employed the principle of theatre as a weapon of political struggle. In his book Why We Can’t Wait (1964)2, King describes the careful planning, courageous execution, and results of acts such as black people entering restaurants where they were allowed to buy food but were forbidden from consuming the food on the premises. Assigned to groups, after rigorous non-​ violence training, black activists would enter the space, which had been mapped out beforehand, buy food, and sit down to eat, in clear defiance of the racist law. After waiters’ and 162

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managers’ frustrated attempts to get the activists to leave, the police were sent in to enforce the law, arresting people. The restaurant chains became overcrowded with people who had not committed any crime other than buying and eating food in the restaurant, which was absurdly considered illegal. In those circumstances, Invisible Theatre presentations illustrated the strangeness of laws that were strongly propped up by racist justifications. More than three decades after the German experiment, director and playwright Augusto Boal brought back the technique of Invisible Theatre when he proposed theatrical interventions in his work in exile, after his career as director of Teatro de Arena (Arena Theatre) was cut short by imprisonment and torture. The first techniques Augusto Boal recovered from the context of 1920s political theatre were those of Newspaper Theatre. He did this while still director of Teatro de Arena, working with a second cast that turned to resistance tactics through theatre. The director started working with Invisible Theatre while he was in exile in Argentina, where the situation was also worsening. The conjuncture in Argentina was already an outline of what would become one of the bloodiest dictatorships in South America, with more than 30,000 victims either killed or disappeared. It should be pointed out that, from the outset, the position claimed by Augusto Boal in the construction of  Theatre of the Oppressed was more of someone codifying a set of methods, techniques, and forms into a poetic form, rather than that of an inventor. Although long, the excerpt in which Boal addresses the issue, in the book Stop! C’est Magique!,3 is worth quoting it in its entirety so as to dispel the false controversy about the alleged antagonism between “inventor” versus “appropriator” of previous forms: The theatre of the oppressed was not invented by one person, nor by small groups of people. It was not born at any given time or in any particular country. It has always existed! The same forms that are now becoming more familiar and common (such as invisible theatre) have always existed in various shades, but in an essentially similar fashion. Invisible theatre was not born in Argentina when my group (Machete) and I began practicing it, nor in Germany of the 1920s, when similar forms were widely practiced, nor in Evreinov’s theatre of life, nor in the Yucatán, where the Maya used similar forms, nor anywhere else in the world, at any point in history. It is one possible form of artistic expression, used, with modifications and adaptations to the moment and place, everywhere and at all times. What is really new is what we are now trying to do: a broad systematization of all possible ways through which the oppressed can express themselves theatrically.What is really new is an investigation and research, which is intended to be increasingly broad and profound, of all processes, techniques, styles, forms, exercises, games, that interrelate. This systematization, this interrelationship, this research is new—​this is what we now call the theatre of the oppressed. In Brazil, the ramping up of censorship and the direct repression of artists from Left-​wing theatre groups had created great difficulties for continuing to work in conventional theatres. This was because, since the 1964 coup, the primary social movements that had composed the upswell of new collective groups—​such as peasants, workers, and students—​had been destroyed. Soon, the new public, who motivated the search for new themes and forms, had been expelled from the audience, and from the social struggle. Faced with the impossibility of continuing his work as the director of a conventional cast, Boal set out to research forms and methods that could move theatre onto the streets, in contact 163

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with this non-​specialist audience, in search of a means of popular communication without the intermediaries of theatrical devices, Italian stages, and fourth walls.4 The theatre fulfilled the role of direct action, of political struggle in the public sphere, and not of spectacle. If this latter condition is not considered in a critical evaluation of Invisible Theatre, then judgment would assume some evaluation criteria of the theatre as spectacle. There is no need to elaborate how the argument, from that starting point, becomes dislocated and unfair to one of the primary forms of agitprop theatre. Invisible Theatre was incorporated by Augusto Boal as a form of Theatre of the Oppressed, and many collectives used it in countries in repressive situations, where protest in the streets was stifled, so that the flame of indignation and denunciation would not be extinguished: the flame of the audacious acts of groups staging protests in unexpected spaces, seeking to destabilize the conventional order, introducing narratives counter to the hegemonic discourse. Boal defines the objectives of Theatre of the Oppressed as follows: Invisible theatre is one of the techniques of the theatre of the oppressed and, therefore, has the same fundamental objectives: 1) transforming the spectator into a protagonist of dramatic action, the object into subject, the victim into agent, the dead into the living, the consumer into producer; 2) through this transformation, helping the spectator to prepare real actions that lead to his own liberation, because the liberation of the oppressed will be the work of the oppressed himself, it will never be granted by his oppressor.5 Invisible Theatre is linked to a set of actions for which guerrilla movements are one of the main sources of inspiration. Knowing how to map out a site, studying security forces, forms of monitoring, and times when people pass through the space, acoustics, lighting, planning, rehearsing and carrying out the act and evaluating its effects: this set of actions is very similar to the modus operandi of guerrilla warfare, which is characterized by surprise, daring, and the nimbleness of a small but well-​articulated group. Boal was well-​acquainted with this environment of resistance to the dictatorships that were being imposed in Latin America because he had even chosen to become a member of the Aliança Libertadora Nacional (ALN), the organization led by Carlos Marighella, one of the primary actors of the resistance to the dictatorship in Brazil. In recounting the implementation of the scene of the young woman raped in front of the post office in Rennes, Boal sums up the experience as follows: “This example shows that invisible theatre must always be done with extreme precision.The same precautions should be taken as would be taken, for example, for clandestine activity. Any mistake can lead to the destruction of the whole scene.”6 Augusto Boal devotes the greatest amount of space to the explanation of Invisible Theatre in his book Stop! C’est Magique!. In addition to narrating and commenting on a sequence of experiments carried out with casts in European countries, it is in this book7 that the author sets out the rules of Invisible Theatre, namely: a ) The purpose of Invisible Theatre is to make oppression visible. b) Actors should never commit any act of violence against or intimidate spectators—​their actions must always be peaceful, as they are revealing the violence of society as it exists, not duplicating it. c) The scene must be as theatrical as possible, and must be able to unfold even without the participation of the spectators. 164

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d) Actors should rehearse the written text of the play or the scene, but also rehearse any possible or predictable interventions by future spectators. e) An Invisible Theatre performance must always include some wildcard actors, who do not participate in the central action, and who act in order to warm up the spectators, starting conversations about the theme of the play to be performed. f) They should always take all possible security measures, as each country has its own laws and offers up its own risks—​security measures are not the same for everyone. g) One should never perform an illegal act, since the aim of Invisible Theatre is precisely to question and challenge the legitimacy of legality. The changing course of history, however, also involves changes in the objective conditions for the use of Invisible Theatre: Why do this? With whom do we do this? How do we do this? What are the current criteria for measuring the political effectiveness of an intervention? After the dismantling of insurgent tactics against dictatorial regimes, with the return to representative democracy as the dominant form of power, increased expression, and limiting of bourgeois parliamentary democracy, Invisible Theatre became increasingly unnecessary, from the perspective of its use being motivated by the demands that gave rise to it. Why do Invisible Theatre if, strictly speaking, nobody would repress a theatrical performance in public space? Just for the sake of style? It seemingly made no sense because, as part of the condition of being invisible, it would not even be possible to attribute credit to the cast and the group staging the performance. In 2010 I was able to witness an intervention staged by Argentine students in a Buenos Aires subway car, for which the sole purpose of the scene was to draw attention to the two young people so that the moment they dismantled the invisible scene they could ask travelers for money, on the grounds that they needed to complete their studies. In this case, the tactic became an attractive veneer for the old practice of asking for handouts. What we notice in training processes in workshops and courses is that, against a backdrop of less repression than in the years of dictatorship—​and of overexposure to the logic of the spectacle—​formats that only vaguely resemble this form of agitprop have become an attraction on television shows called Pegadinhas in Brazil, Apanhados in Portugal, or Candid Camera in the United States. Generally speaking, they consist of staging a scene, in a public or private place, in which ordinary people participate without being aware of an act staged by actors, which is being filmed. The success of this format is the supposed comedy, generally sadistic in nature, drawn from the moment the deceived person realizes the ridiculousness of the situation and tries to get even with the actors, sometimes turning to violence, until he or she is informed they are participating in a trick—​and then cools off with the cast, unless they walk away annoyed and irritated by what happened (scenes that show uneasiness at the end usually are not aired on the program). Slightly more sophisticated forms have already appeared on TV Globo’s Fantástico, in sketches that proclaim their intention of evaluating the daily behavior of people in response to some situation proposed in the scene. In this format, a certain laboratory-​like attitude predominates, in which Invisible Theatre is treated as a dynamic instrument of a television show, whose methods allow for a debate on behavioral analysis in a given situation, but without the intention of explaining the causal dimensions of the problems staged. It does not aim to reveal structures or to unveil the functioning of the ideology, as Augusto Boal intended when he incorporated the form of Invisible Theatre in his proposal for Theatre of the Oppressed. Relegated to a backseat within the set of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques—​in which Forum Theatre takes on central importance—​Invisible Theatre seemed destined to a shop 165

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window on the boulevard of history, as something interesting but no longer applicable in our time, or applied sadistically in corporate media television programs. The use of Invisible Theatre as a device for political intervention, however, never completely disappeared, even in socio-​political contexts different from the ones in which Boal began to use it. One example of such a use was the partnership proposed by Augusto Boal, as coordinator of the Centro do Teatro do Oprimido (CTO-​RJ), with Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), which in 2001 gave rise to the Brigada Nacional de Teatro do MST Patativa do Assaré (Patativa do Assaré National MST Theatre Brigade). The activists who were part of the training experience began to ask for information about the Invisible Theatre technique because they needed methods capable of taking action in public or enclosed spaces where the voice of the landless would certainly be prohibited and even repressed, due to the widespread prejudice and intolerance fomented by Brazilian corporate media. As the largest mass social movement in Brazil, MST suffers on a daily basis from the criminalization of its actions by its derogatory portrayal in the corporate media, as well as by the judiciary and repressive police force. Known for its direct actions and acts of mass resistance, such as marches and occupations of large estates and public buildings, MST always mobilizes the energies of law enforcement for potential massive acts of occupation. But with the increasing number of interventions carried out, it has been noted that repressive forces cannot predict, nor is there any way for them to prevent, Invisible Theatre interventions because these actions can come as a surprise at any time, in the context of formal and informal activities, in public or private spaces. MST has already undertaken numerous actions in public and private spaces, with some of them generating major media repercussions, such as the invisible action at the awarding of the Ana Terra prize8 in March 2008 by governor of Rio Grande do Sul,Yeda Crucius, of the PSDB political party.9 For MST, Invisible Theatre is an action in service of a political strategy, so use of the tactic must be previously planned together with its governing bodies and other sectors of the organization, such as the human rights sector, which must be on guard in case of any hiccups, as well as the communication sector, which must be careful to follow along with the action and broaden the impact of the action. The experience of the actions by MST and the Terra em Cena (Earth Stage) Collective at the University of Brasilia (UnB)10 has shown us that Invisible Theatre remains a relevant option in the fight against the various forms of exploitation and discrimination, as a tactic of intervention and as a theatrical form, as long as the media monopoly and violence of the repressive system remain key features of political life in Brazil and in most countries. Therefore, confrontation with the hegemonic patterns of representation of reality remains necessary. Nevertheless, we are now more aware of the need to develop powerful security precautions and media impact alongside the scenes, so that the action is not restricted to the localized effect of the actors’ stage performance—​that is, so that it does not only reach the people around it, the ephemeral spectators of an invisible theatrical action. With respect to media impact, there are two possible ways to increase the repercussions of the intervention: either the scene has planned audiovisual coverage that allows for widespread sharing across various social media platforms, or, in order to achieve impact in terms of viewing by a large contingent of the population, various agitprop and political theatre groups coordinate to perform the same scene in many high-​traffic spaces, either in the same city or simultaneously in several cities of the same state or country. It should be noted that procedures for rehearsing an Invisible Theatre scene demand that the entire rigorous protocol systematized by Augusto Boal be followed, including character-​ building, performance, and scene playwriting techniques. What is at stake is the verisimilitude 166

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of the scene presented with reality, in its contradictory dynamics. What is key in an Invisible Theatre intervention is its political effectiveness, and for this dimension to be made possible, it is also necessary to develop the aesthetic effectiveness of the scene. In closing, we can confirm that the technique is not dated nor is it limited to the context of the struggle against the Latin American dictatorships of the twentieth century. There are countless examples of work with the technique by contemporary collectives and movements. There is, therefore, strong potential for the technique at our current moment in history; however, this requires us to critically discuss the contradictions and risks involved in the process of appropriating and assigning new meaning to the technique, particularly in a context in which the spectacularization and commodification of life challenge the fragile achievements of the struggle for democracy and social rights in our countries.

Notes 1 This chapter was translated from Portuguese by Multilingual Connections, Evanston, Illinois, USA, with additional editing by the editors as permitted by the translation company. 2 Martin Luther King, Why We Can’t Wait (New York: Harper & Row, 1964). 3 Augusto Boal, Stop! Cést Magique! (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1980), 23. 4 In theatre, the “fourth wall” is an expression that describes the feeling that the characters on stage are closed off within a particular atmosphere, separated from the public by a kind of invisible wall. The form of representation that makes use of this resource is drama, guided by the subjective dialogue between characters. 5 Boal, Stop! Cést Magique!, 83. 6 Ibid., 89 7 Ibid., 85. 8 A photo of the intervention is available at:  www.clicrbs.com.br/​blog/​jsp/​default.jsp?source= DYNAMIC,blog.BlogDataServer,getBlog&uf=1&local=1&template=3948.dwt§ion=Blogs&pos t=53563&blog=218&coldir=1&topo=3951.dwt (accessed May 2, 2017). 9 The Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) emerged from dissent within the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) in 1988 and elected President Fernando Henrique Cardoso to two consecutive terms for president of Brazil, from 1994 to 2002. It is currently the strongest party in the conservative camp of Brazilian politics. 10 The Terra em Cena Collective came about in 2010 with the aim of working with theatrical and audiovisual languages, bringing back traditions and methods of political theatre and the popular video movement. The collective is organized as a research group and as an extension program of the University of Brasilia, and forms groups in rural and Maroon communities, coordinating a network of production and theatrical and audiovisual movement. Since 2017 Terra em Cena has created and coordinates the Escola de Teatro Político e Vídeo Popular do DF (Federal District School of Political Theatre and Popular Video). Blog: www.terraemcena.blogspot.com.

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18 FORUM THEATRE A dramaturgy of collective questioning An interview with Inês Barbosa, Vanesa Camarda, and Paul Dwyer

In Forum Theatre, the most well-​known practice in Theatre of the Oppressed (TO), a play or scene investigating an oppression first unfolds once from start to finish. Then the play begins again, with an invitation to spectators to halt the action, replace characters, and rehearse alternative ways to struggle against the oppressions depicted. Interventions and audience discussion combine for a collective investigation of a problem, facilitated by the figure of the joker, a “wildcard” or “difficultator,” a term Augusto Boal sometimes used to underscore notions of questioning, deepening, and complicating. In this chapter we share responses to a range of questions from three experienced Forum Theatre practitioners.1 Why do you do Forum Theatre, or why have you done it in the past?

Inês Barbosa:  I approached Forum Theatre because I realized that it united three areas that have always been present in my life: education, art, and politics. I quite enjoy the process of collective construction, the way of asking questions, how it enables an analysis of reality and the structures of power and oppression, combining body, emotion, and word. I think that it is a tool, simultaneously conscientizing and mobilizing, that demands a de facto blurring of the division between those who act and those who follow. Another aspect that I admire in Forum is the fact that it functions like a kind of antidote to fatalisms and the discourse that “there is no alternative” (to unemployment, to austerity, to capitalism, to exploitation).2 Paul Dwyer:  I started working professionally in theatre in the late 1980s, just as Australia was coming towards the tail-​end of what we once called the “community theatre movement.” This was a relatively brief moment when it was possible to obtain reasonable amounts of government funding to employ artists as facilitators or animateurs in all kinds of community contexts, often with a quite explicit and progressive social justice agenda. Inspired by similar developments in the UK, Australia had experienced quite significant growth in areas like theatre for young people, theatre for migrant and refugee groups, theatre for the deaf, “art and working life” projects developed in collaboration with trade unions, and so forth. While much of this work was innovative, it was also sometimes naïve and patronizing. Let’s be honest:  any time a community of mostly middle-class, university-​educated theatre-​makers (I include myself in this) starts labeling 168

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practices as “theatre for [insert marginalized target group here],” you’ve got a problem! So, when I first encountered Theatre of the Oppressed, I started to get a clearer picture of how I could work with, not simply for, people in the community-​based theatre projects where I was employed … Vanesa Camarda:  I do [Forum] because it is one of the forms in which theatre returns to being a concrete, militant practice and a tool within the struggle. The forum allows us to analyze reality by going from the specific to the structural, to visualize the diverse factors that affect a problem, and to look for strategies for struggle that go beyond individual responsibility, allowing us to focus on the collective. Using theatre, we re-​ appropriate the artistic means of production. And the theatre allows us to arrive at a synthesis using aesthetics, using our bodies, and using poetics, which are much stronger than any speech or communique. And then, of course, we have to move from representation and continue the struggle in the streets.3 Do you have a specific dramaturgy for Forum Theatre? A  specific structure? A particular way you create scenes?

Dwyer:  I don’t consider myself particularly innovative in this regard. I will always try to do some Image Theatre before moving into the creation of a forum scenario. I also make sure that participants in a workshop understand the dramaturgical shape of a forum scenario before I  elicit stories. I  remind them how important it is that the audience sees a protagonist struggling for something, not just reacting to instances of oppressive behavior from others. I explain the notion of what Augusto called a “Chinese crisis,” those necessary pivotal moments where crisis could also become opportunity. I stress the importance of having other characters in the story—​bystanders, co-​workers, neighbors, friends, etc.—​ who could potentially become active supporters in the protagonist’s struggle. I urge them not to start the story too late in the piece or at a point where the protagonist might appear to be a “sitting duck.” I explain that the catastrophe does not necessarily have to mean a representation of utter mayhem, savagery, death, or destruction. While it could go this far, it often just needs to be an ending that will discomfort an audience, sparking their desire to intervene … Barbosa: The dramaturgy I use (both in workshops myself and in our group) has been created and re-​created as a result of attentive observation of mistakes we had made or we were seeing people make. Our group was quite influenced by the practices and reflections of Julian Boal and Muriel Naessens, with whom we had the pleasure of working several times. As a result of these experiences, we ran away from the imposition of conflicts and “Chinese crises” that involved a confrontation between a “grand oppressor” and a “grand oppressed,” so that we could give way to a more complex dramaturgy, with dense and contradictory characters … Camarda:  In the Theatre of the Oppressed school of La Tortuga, and in the groups in which I participate, we try to go beyond the fetishization of representation, thinking of it as within the processes of activism. We adapt the theatrical process to the militant objective and not the other way around—​for which, even though the point of departure is often the same, the processes differ, and, with them, the way of creating scenes and forums. Certain collectives are very clear about what they want to discuss and how, what questions they want to ask with a forum, and, with these collectives, we 169

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try only to dramatize their questions and give them a structure. With others, the search is longer, and we opt to break with the dramaturgy of the forum to investigate with improvisations, collective research, physical theatre, etc. It also depends on the amount of time and the sense of urgency the groups have.Yes, there are some patterns that emerge in all the processes in which I have participated, for example: structural conditionings, conflict, and needs of the characters placed in a collective context, etc. What are some interesting examples you have witnessed of approaches to Forum Theatre by other people? Why were they interesting?

Barbosa:  For me, the best approach to Forum Theatre is one that does not make it the “solution for all evils,” but instead one that uses this tool as one among many in the context of broader collective action and effective political commitment: groups that do not use Forum only but also organize and participate in debates, petitions, direct actions, demonstrations, etc., articulating with other groups, associations, and movements. Examples of these include the theatre brigade of MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem-​Terra, or Rural Workers Movement) or Féminisme Enjeux or GTO Montevideo (Theatre of the Oppressed Group-​Montevideo). Dwyer: There are two companies whose work I find particularly interesting. The first is Theatre for Living (formerly Headlines) in Vancouver. I have enormous respect for the work that David Diamond and his collaborators have been doing for such a long time now. It has always bothered me that an article I wrote years ago (“Making Bodies Talk in Forum Theatre”), which was based on a brief case study of a relatively small-​scale Headlines Theatre project, keeps getting misquoted and misrepresented as some kind of grand, sweeping critique of Forum Theatre practice in general.4 The point of the case study was simply to highlight the extent to which the joker in forum is taking up a pedagogical role: all jokers talk a lot (probably too much), and I’m not sure we always acknowledge how our talk can frame and define the scope for participation by spect-​actors. But, as I said in the article, I was also hugely impressed by the work of Headlines at this time (mid-​1990s). Compared to my own modest engagement with Forum back in Sydney, they were making forum scenarios of greater length: scenes of 30 or 40 minutes that were really quite dramatically nuanced with greater character complexity than I had seen before. Their models included a range of aesthetic strategies such as direct address, pared-​back realism, montage sequences of Image Theatre supported by live music, sometimes dance and symbols from the culture of first nations’ people, etc. They were already starting to merge Forum Theatre and Cop in the Head Image Theatre techniques to allow an audience to explore the psycho-​social basis for an antagonist’s oppressive behavior (without thereby excusing the behavior). As I  have written elsewhere, I  think David Diamond is absolutely on the right track when he argues for re-​aligning some aspects of TO practice by drawing explicitly on systems theory and moving away from a binary dramaturgical model of oppressor versus oppressed that can sometimes, if followed rigidly, simply re-​inscribe the “problem,” rather than helping an audience envision solutions. The other group that I want to mention is Milk Crate Theatre here in Sydney. They work very closely with the transient populations of people who are living life rough on 170

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the streets of Sydney or who move in and out of supported accommodation (hostels, group homes, etc.), but Milk Crate (like Cardboard Citizens in the UK) has also successfully engaged in co-​productions with some of the more mainstream performing arts organizations in this town and their work is making increasingly sophisticated use of live-​ feed and documentary video projections, environmental sound design, etc… Their regular, ongoing program of Forum events feeds into a whole host of opportunities for homeless people to access healthcare, training, social enterprise work placements, and the like. Camarda:  I will give an example that is not from Forum Theatre, but for me is just as strong as a forum, as it is theatre made by a group that has been militant for 12 years.The work is by Domestic Territory (Territorio Domestico), a collective of house cleaners. They told us they began to make theatre because, in their meetings, the realities they discussed were so harsh that they needed to be theatricalized. This was because of the group’s need, and not because of an outside agent’s proposal. From there, they mainly created comical scenes in which they represented the oppression they lived as women, as immigrants, as people living in precarious conditions. They showed gender, class, and race-​based oppression in an oblique way. Theatre serves them as one more tool within a wider process of struggle, and they use it collectively, with a practiced aesthetic, to make visible the oppression they live. I could speak a lot more about the many interesting things they propose, but we do not have so much space. What kinds of questions can be asked through Forum Theatre?

Barbosa:  There are some situations that disturb me when I see Forum plays. One is when the play is asking something for which it already knows the answer, making Forum Theatre a didactic exercise in the worst of senses: infantilizing the audience and creating a moment of simulated or false debate. Another is when the group presenting the play does not share, feel, or live the situation that they portray. Even if the strategy of blurring the line between stage and audience is “technically” maintained, this approach creates an abysmal distance between the actors and spectators:  “We do not really know this situation, but we imagine that you—​the public—​need to discuss and learn about these questions.” In both circumstances, what is missing for me is a question that is actually a sincere question. Another important aspect to take into account is that the questions have the possibility of being answered and do not just reinforce the character/​person’s oppression—​as happens, for example, in plays about domestic violence in which the victim is expected to be capable of confronting her abuser. There are also questions that are so overwhelming that they risk creating a sensation of powerlessness within the spect-​actors. We came across this risk in our play about precarity and unemployment, especially when we were living the peak of the economic crisis in Portugal, in which the dominant discourse was “Suck it up, and stick with what you got!”5 What is essential for me, therefore, is that the questions are concrete, urgent, and genuine. Dwyer: This is a really hard question, but I tend to follow the same line as Augusto: I think Forum Theatre is more about exploring tactics than devising strategies. Generally, a Forum Theatre scenario is assuming that the audience of spect-​actors will endorse the goal of the oppressed protagonist. The question is not “what are we fighting for?” but how. However, I think there is a lot of scope, in a longer workshop process, to use Image Theatre techniques as a way of exploring different perspectives on questions of strategy. 171

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Camarda:  The questions that we decide on as a collective change how the group works. It is not the same to generate questions for those who directly suffer oppression and then propose actions to take as it is to ask questions for a mixed audience (where there are people who do not live in that situation), in which many times the forum ceases to be a place of questioning and becomes one of denouncing, making visible lived oppressions, and asking who is responsible for all of this, but without proposing alternative solutions. In Forum Theatre, we begin with specific questions that interrogate normativity and bring about answers that go beyond a quick solution. Some of these are: What can we do if we suffer from this oppression? Why do we suffer from it? What are the strategies we can put in practice? What elements does it have in common with other oppressions? What strategies have already worked? Which factors intervene? How do we organize ourselves? Where do we want to go, and where do we want to get to? How do you move from the individual stories of people in a group or workshop to a forum in which the play is a collective investigation rather than one person’s story? (Or do you approach it differently…?)

Barbosa: Whenever I can, I lead TO workshops with a specific theme (gender inequality, LGBT rights, precarity, education …). In this way, from the start, the people who participate are already attuned to the problem. I do not do this just because it makes the work easier, but because it is a way of guaranteeing a certain base commitment, and ideally, contributing to the work’s continuity. In other situations, particularly when working by invitation, there is no theme, but there is something that unites a certain group: the school or university that they all attend, a city or neighborhood where they all live, the status of student, precarious person, woman, etc. This is where I begin the explorations, the exercises and games of Image Theatre, culminating, typically, in a story that is shared by almost all. Dwyer:  If there is time to conduct research with workshop participants and/​or if you have the support of relevant specialists (say, experienced community activists, health professionals, etc.), then I  think it’s important for all of these research materials and expertise to be shared. Let everyone understand as much of the bigger picture as they can from fairly early on in the piece. Don’t assume that the life experiences of a self-​ selected or randomly selected or even purposively selected small group of community participants are going to somehow magically provide unmediated access to all that one really needs to know about the issues. Even if—​as can often happen—​a Forum scenario basically evolves from a story shared by only one participant, it’s important for all the participants to be able to identify ways in which the story is likely to resonate with community members outside the workshop. If someone has shared a story and we are going to improvise some scenes based on that story, I always invite the storyteller to give some basic character notes to the other performers, but then we have to agree to let the story “shape shift” a little bit.The storyteller needs to understand that their fellow workshop participants will play characters based loosely on the things they’ve heard the storyteller say about how these characters present themselves in real life but that what we will see are going to be creative interpretations of these roles.The workshop is not a psychodrama session.We are improvising and inventing around the roles described to us by the storyteller because we are all 172

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exploring the ways in which these roles resonate with us; we are all bringing different lived experiences to this exploration. The individual story is becoming collectivized. But great care needs to be taken so that the storyteller does not experience these early improvisations as a form of symbolic violence. Camarda: We begin with a subject that affects us all in one way or another. We always look for the positioning of each person with respect to the subject, and we work from that intersubjectivity. Starting from these individual experiences, we continue group investigations to arrive at a collective creation. How do you avoid framing oppression as an individual responsibility—​based on a supposedly simple interaction between two people? How can Forum avoid that individualistic frame, making sure that scenes and forums consider structural elements of oppression?

Barbosa: Sometimes I  think the TO practitioners are divided into two major groups: psychologists and sociologists. I’m part of the latter [laughs]. My emphasis is mainly on what happens from the social and structural point of view (macro) and how this is reflected in individual (micro) stories and experiences. I think that there are several ways to get around this trend. One is to make room for discussion about the concepts of power and oppression and to create a kind of “common ground.” To show that power is not an essence, that there are no “oppressors” and “oppressed,” but rather relations of power and oppression. And so there are contradictions, different interests, and several layers that sometimes overlap. Another way is to show—​in the scene—​that the protagonist moves in multiple social groups and, as such, can use different strategies according to the people/​institutions with whom he interacts. It is also very important to contextualize the stories well. Situations of oppression do not occur independently of a social, cultural, economic, or political context. Dwyer:  I think all good Forum Theatre practitioners have been asking themselves these questions for at least the last 30 or 40 years! How do we avoid creating a performance which, implicitly or explicitly, ends up blaming the victim? I think it’s important to note that Augusto himself struggled with this. In my 1992 edition of Games for Actors and Non-​ Actors, there is a passage where he writes: The original solutions proposed by the protagonist must contain at the very least one political or social error, which will be analysed during the forum session. These errors must be clearly expressed and carefully rehearsed, in well-​defined situations […]. The audience is informed that the first step is to take the protagonist’s place whenever he or she is making a mistake.6

Later in the same book, he adopts a more circumspect tone: If we inform our spect-​actors that the protagonist of our anti-​model has committed an error, this implies that we think the protagonist has taken the wrong approach. However, this is for the spect-​actor to say, not for us. Consequently, the right way of expressing this is to say that in the anti-​model, we have doubts about the way the oppressed protagonist behaved.7 173

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The risk with the latter formulation is that it could turn Forum Theatre into what the British sociologist Basil Bernstein used to call an “invisible pedagogy.” The joker shares some “doubts” with the spect-​actors and makes what appears to be a democratic invitation to join in open-​ended, problem-​posing dialogue, but actually this only masks the hierarchy in place: the joker is actually running the show and does have an ideological point of view that the “good” spect-​actors will arrive at in due course. … I am [also] in favor of developing scenarios that are not so locked into a rigid oppressor vs. oppressed dramaturgy. Let’s show a big slice of the “world” within which various oppressions take place. Let’s see how chains of oppression, including forms of intersectional violence, are operating in this world. Let’s see how characters who are acting oppressively in one scene might be potential allies in another scene (and vice versa). Let’s also be aware of themes where a binary model of oppressor vs. oppressed is simply missing the point.This is particularly evident in some Forum scenarios to do with drug and alcohol issues. If you start out from the perspective that the drug user in your scenario is an oppressed protagonist (and that the behaviors of various antagonists are, consciously or unconsciously, forcing our protagonist down the path of continuing to misuse drugs), then you are likely to see numerous spect-​actors attempting interventions that are premised on the goal of abstinence (which we know does not work for most people in their everyday lives). A very simple but effective alternative is simply to design a scenario where we see some of the harms that can be related to drug use. When the scenario is being performed a second time, you can simply invite spect-​actors to stop the action whenever they feel the risk of harm is becoming important and to replace whichever character they feel is best placed, at that specific point in the scenario, to attempt some form of risk-​reduction or harm-​minimization strategy. Of course, an even more valuable approach might be to worry a little less about the consumption of alcohol and other drugs and design a scenario that explores some of the social determinants of health. Camarda:  On the one hand, we collectivize oppression, in a form in which there is never just one person who lives that situation. Even though it is the oppressed individual who has the greatest will to change, she will have people oppressed by other conflicts at her side. We try to minimize scenes in which there is a face-​to-​face oppressed-​oppressor to avoid closed alternatives that are limited to the individual character of the oppressed person, that blame individuals, or that give rise to individualized responses. The structural elements appear from the dramaturgy itself, in the relationship between characters, in their conflicts, in mass media messages such as audio, magazines, songs, etc., to show that it does not matter whether the “oppressor” themselves is good or bad. It has to do with breaking the notion of “change begins with the individual” or “if the boss were a good person, everything would be different” and trying, with the difficulty that this carries in such little time, to reflect on the need for a change at the root, a deeper change, a more complex change, a more necessary change. That [approach] attempts to avoid individual alternatives, but if they come up, in those instances we try to analyze them within the forum itself with jokering and, afterwards, we return to the piece with the group to look for other ways of generating questions. 174

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For what audiences have you performed Forum Theatre? Where? On your own initiative, with you or your group as the starting motivation? Or by invitation?

Barbosa: It has been quite varied; we go to unions, associations, community centers, schools and universities, party meetings, festivals, and community theatre meetings, etc. We go as a result of the invitation or initiative of the group. When we have a Forum play, we try to go to the spaces/​contexts where the people who are interested in asking our question might be. At the end of a workshop, the site for presenting is chosen by the group and, as a joker, I rarely interfere. I just try to have them think of a place where they feel comfortable and where there is the audience we need for that play. Dwyer:  A lot of my earliest experiences involved working with young people who had a lot of autonomy in the choice of theme. However, these performances soon attracted interest from “service providers” working in the area of family violence, and I started getting invitations to produce Forum Theatre for staff training days and conferences. There were certainly occasions when I  wished that I  had spent more time with the organizers and sponsors of such events in order to find common ground. It’s very easy to get into a situation where people assume that the outcome of Forum Theatre will be to reinforce the existing policy guidelines of an organization. I recall, for instance, receiving feedback from a Department of Family and Community Services bureaucrat that too many spect-​actor interventions failed to enact a prompt, official notification of a “child at risk”—​this person was blind to the implicit critique of departmental policy that was being enacted through these interventions by workers who were showing a) that they need to be allowed to exercise greater autonomy and professional judgement “on the ground”—​to take the time to build rapport and trust with a child, so that they can find out what’s really going on—​rather than simply applying rules, and b) that they knew the Department was, in any case, so hopelessly under-​resourced that notification of a child at risk was no guarantee of anything. Having said that it’s important to work out what an institutional partner/​sponsor’s agenda really is, I am equally wary of Forum practitioners who would assume that it’s the partner’s organization that will have to change, not the theatre-​maker’s practice. There is so much that Forum practitioners could learn by working really hard to understand the logic of practice that underpins the work of counsellors, social workers, activists etc. Camarda:  I try to make sure we decide on that [the question of audience] as a group, beginning with our need in that moment. When we use a forum as a denunciation, we stage the forum for an open public; other times we respond to an invitation with the goal of looking for alliances with other collectives, and we try to generate spaces with partners who could live the situations we depict in the forum, circumstances in which we open the forum up to a gathering that can debate concrete actions to take. To what extent do you use forums to organize groups who are already aware of—​ and engaged in fighting—​ a specific oppression? To what extent do you think Forum can engage people who are not already fighting?

Barbosa: I have had different experiences. I  particularly enjoy working with groups already involved in a specific struggle because our objectives are very clear and we know that there will be continuity, which I  think is something that any joker values. Even 175

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when TO is not being done to create a play and use it as a method of conscientization and mobilization, it is an optimal research laboratory for groups who are already “politicized.” For example, in certain activist contexts, the theoretical debate is very accentuated, and Image Theatre is useful for demechanizing our strategies or ways of thinking—​to explore other ways, to see what we do not see in everyday life, to relate that which we present in debates with our personal lives and our own bodies. On the other hand, it is also gratifying to work with youth and social groups who are seemingly politically disengaged and to see them gain awareness, will, and strength for fighting their oppression. Dwyer:  I tend to think that Forum Theatre works best with people who see themselves as part of a “community of concern” but not necessarily or not yet actively engaged in struggle. I’d be happy to be proved wrong, but I don’t instinctively see the place of Forum Theatre as being on the picket lines or in the front ranks of a mass demonstration. Camarda: We do not use forum to organize groups; rather, the group uses it as a tool within its struggle. Right now, we are working with Las Kellys, a collective of women housekeepers, organized on a national level. We have created a forum with them that we work on in two ways: denouncing and making visible oppression on the one hand, and, on the other, [using it] as a way of [women] getting closer to other women living in the same situation. I doubt that forums attract people who are not organized. While in some spaces it has generated a seed of organization, it should be accompanied by something more, by a continuity that a forum alone cannot offer, since it is only two hours long but the path is much longer … What are your priorities when jokering? What is the role of the joker in relation to the group performing or to the audience? What is the balance between the joker as a voice of the audience and as a voice of the group?

Dwyer:  I try to make sure that the questions sitting beneath every frown or wrinkle on the faces of spect-​actors can be asked … I don’t mind too much if there is a lot more talk in the room than there is role-​playing onstage. I see the talk as a mode of action in and of itself. But I do try to make sure it isn’t always the same voices dominating … And I try to talk less than I used to when I started out jokering. My job is to keep asking questions, not to give a neat take-​home summary of what we learned from any given intervention … Barbosa:  First, the ideal is to be part of the group and therefore share the oppression the play portrays. In some cases (at the end of some workshops I have been leading), this does not happen. But I don’t remember ever feeling very distant from the oppression [being examined]. Relatedly, I think that another priority is to be honest, as I’ve already said: not to be demagogical nor to infantilize the audience. It is very important to be attentive to the movement of the spect-​actors (it’s a good sign when they shift in their chairs!) and the people who “take up too much space,” silencing others. I also like to provide information (statistical data, petitions, laws, grassroots organizations, procedures for filing a complaint, etc.), mentioning possible allies. When I meet someone in the audience who can help solve a problem (a militant from a union, a person who has

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lived through a similar situation, etc.), I try to get her involved in the play, to take a role in it. Another priority, not always achieved, is to leave the spect-​actors restless, with the will to do something, so that the forum is not a moment that fades without leaving a trace. In our groups, the joker is part of the group, and we try to make it a rotating position, encouraging the less experienced members to assume this role. At the end of workshops, this is not possible, unfortunately. The figure of the joker, in my understanding, should always be that of a “comrade” (a companion) in struggle, a group spokesperson. In some cases, a “more senior comrade,” but never with a relation so distant that it makes the joker a power figure, paternalistic or detached from the oppression being fought. The joker hears what the audience has to say, tries to give voice to all, but has a certain political position on the subject, that of the group. Therefore, the joker is not a neutral mediator who seeks a kind of consensus. Camarda:  [Our priorities when jokering are] those that the group proposes with the work.While in process, [our priorities are] trying to create the most horizontal relationship possible, so that the investigation and search can be collective. It does not always happen … In the forum, [the priority is] to generate the questions on which the group itself has decided. My priority in general is to make sure the joker is one more means and not the protagonist of the process.The joker is a tool of the group and should act as such.The ideal is that the role should rotate and be constantly questioned by the group. In relationship with the group, the joker’s role should be to remain aware of their position with respect to the subject at hand—​whether, by the need of the collective, we arrive at the subject from the outside and we are not militating in it, or, on the other hand, we are already involved in that struggle. In the first instance, I believe the joker should open up bit by bit so that the group itself can carry out the process. In the second instance, the one I hope occurs more frequently, the joker’s relationship with the group has to be as horizontal as possible, making the forum dynamic, generating questions, but always with the group accompanying the joker and serving as the thermometer that decides what the questions are.The forum is not the only moment of representation. After each work, the interventions and the role of the joker are analyzed, and it is the group itself who should give suggestions about how to proceed and the joker’s positioning.Then we have to take into account what group we are working with. I do not think there is a fundamental, repeatable format for all forums; rather, in each instance a specific forum should be analyzed and proposed. For example, with Las Kellys, we have decided that our relationship with the public—​if they do not suffer the oppression (that is to say: if they are not workers in a precarious work situation)—​is to create an informative gathering and to denounce. In other Forum groups in which I  participate, which come from the Theatre of the Oppressed school of La Tortuga or La Trinchera TO Group, there is a more open debate, in which the joker only asks questions, except when the interventions or responses go to places that are against our political positioning. In these cases, there is no doubt about our stance in the struggle. We believe neither in a neutral joker nor in a forum in which the public’s voice is respected above all else. One must find an equilibrium, but this must always come from the group living the oppression and involved in the struggle …

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What happens after the forum? How do you approach the need for continuity?

Barbosa: This is one of the most fragile aspects of the practices of Forum Theatre. In the most active period of the social mobilization against austerity, our group was combining TO with direct actions, debates, political meetings, etc. We were part of the collectives and movements, we collaborated in the organization of the demonstrations, and, therefore, the continuity was not properly “temporal” but “spatial,” in the sense that our intervention took place in multiple contexts and in different modes. We also try to have at our presentations representatives of associations/​institutions that can clarify information or deepen [knowledge about] certain subjects. We also associated ourselves with petitions, which we passed to people at the end of the shows. We always find, however, that we fall short of what we wanted. In some moments, I  even refuse to dynamize workshops where I foresee that there will not be any continuity. Dwyer:  Not my strong suit … It’s why I admire Milk Crate Theatre so much. Everything they do has an element of follow-​up. They have so carefully built relationships with partner organizations that have a similar ethos. Camarda:  Continuity is very complicated, and we have tried many ways of achieving it. What we do defend is the idea that it should not come from the theatre but rather from the militancy about the subject at hand. What actions can be taken? How do we create organized groups for struggle? Forum Theatre is part of something much larger, for which, if it has not started with an organized group, we look for groups and gatherings in the neighborhood. Forum Theatre began in a specific historical and political context, or at a particular historical conjuncture. Given many global shifts since the 1970s, to what extent do you think Forum can still be effective now? How?

Barbosa:  It is true that we live in a world where there is more information all the time, but it is also true that much of it is manipulated and misrepresented. It is true that today participation is “fashionable,” but it is also true that effective participation, in the various spheres of life, is still a mirage for a large part of the population. Not only have old oppressions not ceased to exist, but new, more subtle and imperceptible things have come to our eyes. It is also certain that there is oversimplification, depoliticization, neutralization, and adulteration in much Forum practice. That is why it must be criticized, complicated, adjusted to the present day. But I do not think that it has lost its potential for transformation. It is particularly useful in the deconstruction of dominant discourses, in unveiling forms of oppression, in the dialectical and contradictory analysis that constitutes reality, in the impulse that it gives toward collective action, among many other aspects I have already mentioned. Dwyer:  In the era of what some economists have called “turbo-​capitalism” and with the continued dismantling of the welfare state, there is no doubt that Forum as a practice is even more relevant to so-​called “first world” settings than ever. The lines between what was once considered the “third world” and the “first world” are being completely re-​ drawn. People are experiencing all kinds of social precarity. However, I think the two greatest challenges, if Forum Theatre practice is going to remain effective, are 1) the ongoing effort, led by people like David Diamond, to bring 178

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TO techniques into line with a systemic analysis of social conflict, not simply a dyadic oppressor—​oppressed binary; and 2)  the development of more localized, culturally-​ specific ways of using TO techniques like Forum Theatre. Camarda:  Unfortunately, in fact, many of the groups who practice Forum Theatre in my context do not have a political stance, and the forum has become another tool of the system. For that reason, I maintain that the forum itself is not effective. And cannot be. Without an organization as its base, without concrete actions that go beyond it, Forum merely deals with conflict resolution or looking for solutions on an individual level, without a deeper analysis—​and institutional organizations will call for us, will subsidize us because we are not dangerous to the system; rather, many times, we will nourish it. We will have entered the capitalist system, and, actually, in many gatherings of “social” theatre, there is more discussion about how much to charge than about why we are making theatre. Something has gone wrong … Forum Theatre has not escaped the consumerist and individualist logic. In Europe, and in Madrid specifically, where individualism and charitable assistance are entrenched, there has been much effort to “help those who do not have a voice” from “professionals” very far from the initial impulse to bring about social change. Actually, I see [Forum] as one more tool, potent and fundamentally transformative for the group that uses it. But this group has to be organized, has to find forms of struggle that complement the forum. If not, we will only create a space for group catharsis, and we will go home with a quiet conscience thinking that, with that discussion, we have saved the world. The forum is important, but it is not an end; it is only a means.

Notes 1 The questions for this group interview were generated by the book’s three co-​editors, with the written interview process facilitated by Kelly Howe. 2 The responses of Inês Barbosa were collaboratively translated from Portuguese to English by the editors. 3 The responses of Vanesa Camarda were translated from Spanish to English by Martín Zimmerman. 4 Paul Dwyer, “Making Bodies Talk in Forum Theatre.” Research in Drama Education 9: 2 (2004), 199–​210. 5 This is a saying of the Right, essentially trying to communicate the following: “Even if you have a terrible job, just deal with it, don’t waste it, because at least you are employed!” 6 Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-​Actors (London: Routledge, 1992), 18–​20, emphasis by Dwyer. 7 Ibid., 232.

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19 THE RAINBOW OF DESIRE Boal and doubt Adrian Jackson

One of the fault-​lines in the world of  TO immediately post the too-​early death of Augusto Boal was perhaps that between doubt and certainty.Without Augusto, there was no one to adjudicate. For me, TO thrives on doubt. Doubt is its territory, doubt feeds its exploration, doubt is the foundation of its appeal. And doubt permeates all TO’s aspects, from how exactly it works and what it can legitimately lay claim to achieving, right through to where and how it should be applied and with whom. For others, at that time, the important thing was to draw boundaries, clear lines in the sand, to reconnect the work clearly and indelibly to its origins when Augusto started out all those years ago, partly at least as a bulwark against the depredations of those who would dilute the purity of its intention; this anxiety to name and delimit I also understand and voice myself when necessary—​the ethos of the work, summarised in its name, must resist all attempts to colonise or co-​opt into agendas it was never meant to serve. There is truth in both positions. I try to teach that for TO certainty is anathema. Certainty is a wall; it does not seek to welcome people in. Rather, it towers over them in a daunting inviolability, a permanence which repels boarders. Certainty is the realm of the fascist, the violent preacher who screams orders at us, awaiting our salute, awaiting our obeisance. We saw enough certainty in the last century, and now in this one we have seen enough to last a lifetime (though perhaps what we see this time is something less confident, which masquerades as certainty). Certainty brings us slap bang against each other, in serried lines, in confrontation, in tectonic plates which rub up against each other till the inevitable earthquake. Those who wish to disseminate dogma, those who know what is what and what we should do, have other means than TO at their disposal. As someone said, if you want to send a letter, use a postman. Certainty does not require dialogue. Certainty is monologue. My father had a phrase when he wished to end an argument, delivered with a certain edge: “I am just telling you,” he used to say—​after which one would cease to speak. The statement meant: your opinion doesn’t matter in this instance, I have the answer. Doubt by contrast is a welcoming fold. Come in here, all who are not sure and wish to talk. Doubt is a doorway without a door, a portal through which we go to meet others who aren’t so sure, who want to talk with, rather than be talked at. Sceptics Anonymous. Nowhere is doubt more evident than around Rainbow of Desire, one of the youngest forms of TO and probably least-practised (for reasons I will explore in this chapter). For those 180

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unfamiliar with this work, the Rainbow of Desire is the over-​arching name Boal gave to an elaboration of theatrical techniques designed to tackle “internalized oppression.” The most self-​ explanatory of these is the Cop in the Head, in fact the title of the originary workshops he led in Paris in the 1980s (Le Flic dans la Tête). In this detailed and multi-​stage process, a protagonist works with a group to explore why she follows a particular course of action which is inimical to her or unhelpful—​in spite of her knowledge that this is the case—​though no one is forcing her to do so; there are no “cops” telling her what to do, the only cops present are those in her head. It is well established that external oppression can be internalised to the extent that it controls our behaviour. By means of this technique, the origins of these self-​prohibitions are made flesh, and thus subject to dialogue and interrogation—​the theory being that this process of visualisation and embodiment enables the protagonist to understand why she does what she does, and of course, i​f she chooses, ​to change it. Augusto published the eponymous book of these techniques in the 1990s and continued to develop the practices through the rest of his life, whenever opportunity presented itself. I was lucky enough to host Augusto’s workshops annually at London Bubble and then at Cardboard Citizens1 for many years, and almost always time was set aside for the creation and testing of new techniques. Their rootedness in the TO is abundantly clear in their deployment of Image Theatre processes as triggers for understanding ourselves in our societies; indeed, many exercises found their way into earlier books, in different forms, such is the overlap between the branches of TO. Like Forum, these exercises will tend to start from the telling of a true story, a moment of oppression in the life of the protagonist—​unlike Forum, the definition of oppression in this case is wider and more generous, encompassing the self-​imposed prohibitions described earlier. From the telling of a single story in front of a group of willing spect-​actors, images are created, named, and identified; the identification can be led by the protagonist or the spect-​actors, the latter simultaneously exploring their own demons and the protagonist’s.This last characteristic is one of the elements which broadens the work out from being an elaborate therapeutic process for the benefit of a single person, to one which can enhance a group’s understanding of itself and its society. Variously classified in the book as exercises and techniques, Rainbow of Desire offers a considerable number of approaches, depending on the problem at hand. Some, such as Image/​ Counter-​Image, are comparatively simple to facilitate; others, including the technique which gives its title to the book, involve many stages through which the images are dynamised or animated, given voices, sent into battle with each other, or atomised into numerous sub-​scenes and related conflicts. This is a rich, detailed, and highly theatrical work, offering little by way of easy resolution and much in the realm of ambiguous interpretation, like all good theatre. It is best undertaken with an established group or a group which will commit to a sustained period of self-​investigation using the work—​but there are also techniques which work well with a new group. The Rainbow of Desire was first of all viewed by some TO adherents as a kind of anachronism, a throw-​back, or worse, a heresy.2 This is because its connections to the mother-​ship—​perhaps the mother-​tree is better3—​appeared to these critics as more tenuous than those of Forum Theatre. What has this to do with Marxism, or a Marxist analysis of the world, some would ask, fixed as they were on the notion that all things TO can be explained back to these roots? For these, Rainbow represented a backslide or a misstep into a species of bourgeois individualism. For others of a similar persuasion, Rainbow of Desire was redeemable, but only by pushing hard to re-​cast this work into the field of ideology by stressing that its subjects are never the individual and their behaviour, but rather the individual as representative of a class or ideology, their behaviour then being understandable in those terms. 181

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In truth, as actually in Forum Theatre, the work in practice dips into both worlds, the personal and the political, depending on the case at hand, depending on who is in the room, depending on the story we are telling. The efficacy of Forum has always depended on the attraction for the individual to step into the micro-​conflict, the interpersonal argument being played out on stage. That is the original bait, the first provocation to action. That is what kicks the game into play. Later, gradually, we can widen the lens, pull back to see what world this is, and what factors in this world are causing our non-​hero or heroine to behave as they do. And yes, among the causative factors, if that is our view of the world, we are likely to see isms, which push our protagonists into doing things which—​if they could see the wood for the tree—​they wouldn’t (all puns and references intended). But there will be occasions when we do this work and the isms don’t even appear. The micro and macro—​as we know, the perfect Forum Theatre model contains both, but we can’t all always achieve perfection. These are perhaps some of the original reasons that Rainbow remains the most recherché of Boal’s modes. But there are other reasons, foremost amongst them the fact that it is less-​practised than almost all the other forms of  TO, due to a number of causes. Much of the work needs a lot of people to be really effective. Not everybody has regular access to groups of 15 upwards (probably the lower limit for effective operation—upper limit, there hardly is one, maybe 35?).4 This speaks to its origins, how the work came into being—​ by the time Augusto started on the journey of invention which led to the codifying of these techniques into the book The Rainbow of Desire, he was already a world superstar, a uniquely popular traveling theatre-​maker, able to command large groups wherever he went, such was the hunger for his teaching. Also, the work looks complicated on paper (in the book). It looks daunting. It has so many more phases and steps than other TO modes. It really feels like you need to see it and participate in its practice a few times before its comparatively simple inner logic becomes clear. Now we come to the techniques themselves, a few of which I have named already. What do they do, what do they not do, and how can we know? Know. There we go again, striving for certainty … Since the very beginning of my work with Cardboard Citizens and others in this field, students and others have asked for proof of effect: How do you know this is doing any good? What proof do you have? One is used to these demands from funders, and while I used to sidestep these questions, pointing to their total absence in any theatre world other than that which is designated “applied” by some, I  have become more relaxed about this and have learned that the trick is to try to devise one’s own measures: measures which resist, or at least augment, the numerical and instrumental outcomes which many funders require. I am fond of citing the methodologies of a radical health practice in South East London in the 1930s, the Peckham Pioneers, who measured “the spring in people’s step,” “the gleam in people’s eye.” Post-​show interviews or questionnaires can only be a small part of the solution; of course we do not always know what we think directly after experiencing a piece of art, nor should we. Theatre (applied or unapplied) is a slow burn, and its effects are not always obvious, for some time. Good theatre permeates the consciousness; it lives with you for several days at least, years sometimes.5 And Rainbow of Desire is often good theatre. And when something happens in your life that takes you back to a theatrical moment, you may recognise when this seed was planted. Or you may not. So to state reductively that the technique will lead to such and such particular change or epiphany can be to diminish and underestimate the power of the work, the power of art to effect change by changing consciousness. But what is happening when we do Rainbow of Desire, and how might we know? 182

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With Forum Theatre, all of us who work in this field can cite amazing examples of effects, personal and political. The woman who came to see a Cardboard Citizens’ show, standing at the back and barracking drunkenly—​until finally she took the stage, inhabited the protagonist’s role, and took him to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, which we improvised on stage, before she staggered back into the homeless hostel audience. We met her again by chance six months later, and she was clean. The following day she had paid her first visit to the real Alcoholics Anonymous, having rehearsed it on stage. Or we can point to larger-​scale, more political results, such as Cardboard Citizens’ recent show, Cathy, with a Legislative Theatre section, feeding into legislation subsequently passed in parliament. We all have many such stories, well-​evidenced, of Forum’s effects. But the changes may be less obvious or measurable in the field of Rainbow, so what is happening when we do this work? What are its effects and how might we know? For the efficacy of Rainbow, there is so far no hard statistical analysis, based on large-​scale surveys. For myself, I can only offer the anecdotal, the observation, the speculation, based on having led this work in a number of different arenas and contexts over many years. Back to doubt. Most often, people offer themselves up as protagonists for a Rainbow technique because they have some doubt as to what actually happened in a particular situation, and more importantly, what part they played in what actually happened. They submit themselves to the scrutiny of others (the multiple mirror of the gaze of others, as Augusto put it) because they were so immersed in the scene of their lives at the time that they could not see it. The readiness is all. When someone puts themselves forward as a protagonist, that is already the first step in a journey. And boy, are some of the larger Rainbow techniques a journey—​often physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. By the time the protagonist comes out the other end, she has certainly travelled. The Rainbow work gives some clarity—​not certainty, a notch down from that, but clarity, and with clarity comes a degree of calm and resolution.This is the most commonly visible result of Rainbow techniques, for their protagonists: a degree of calm and resolution. Not necessarily a lofty goal, but one which is perfectly respectable, useful, and attainable. In some respects, Rainbow is of course very different from Forum, and in some respects the overlap is clear. Forum presents a world, a story, a context. At its best, it avoids the scene of a single moment of conflict, this being closer to what is called “role-​play.”6 Forum can never be abstracted from its context. It offers a glimpse of a world, what might be wrong with that world, and how a protagonist tries to deal with that world. Role-​play gives us only a moment and invites us to show “successful behaviours”; Forum offers us a story, representing a world, and invites us to try to tackle it. Rainbow almost always shows a single scene, which is then exploded into multiple scenes, but the context is different. The storyteller is the object of our study, her world, which has already been exposed to us in the process of telling her story and our asking questions. We are still in a world and still looking at a world; but we are studying the behaviour of a particular individual in her world (and by refraction, reflecting on our own). We become part of the context. The reasons people participate—​or offer themselves as protagonists specifically—​are all different, but they share a sense of readiness and maybe a cry for help. “This is from the past,” they often say, but we rapidly establish that it is very present (people never die, said Augusto once). As protagonists, they may be offering themselves up to critique. They may know at some level that they may come out of it badly. Maybe they feel they are ready for our communal censure, as we notice their flaws and feed them back to them. Or it may be simpler: they are at their wits’ ends, what should they do (the same question as informs Forum)? Or maybe they want reassurance that they are not bad people, that whatever they have done, it’s reasonable. 183

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Some recent Rainbow stories and speculations about their meanings. A man in Poland tells the story of his open relationship with a woman, who now has a child, his child, while her other lover lives upstairs. He chooses a very quiet person to play the woman; we remark on this fact. He performs the scene of his seeking to maintain independence with her. He is emotionally loud, extravagant even. His choice of a quieter antagonist gives him even more space to exhibit. Did he choose an opponent who would not overly trouble him because he was worried that a more vociferous opponent might overcome him? Or, conversely, did he choose a quiet person because he wanted to show us how domineering he was, how his self-​ needs filled the room? We don’t know.We reflect back to him. Only he knows what, if any, effect this exercise will have on his life. A similar story in London, a few weeks later: a man wants to tell his partner that their relationship is over, but he still wants to be part of her and her son’s life, and he wants to be “nice” (sadly, there is no “nice” in these situations). He chooses an actor who hardly speaks as his antagonist. Doing the Analytical Image,7 one of the first images offered is of a grinning idiot, face fixed in smiling rictus, incredibly annoying; another, named Sneaky Sneaky by the group, moves around on tiptoe and attempts to climb out of the window without being noticed; another sobs compulsively. In the final scene, our protagonist stops smiling, stops dodging the issue, and delivers the news with clarity, taking the pain which is the payoff, accepting the deal which comes with ending a relationship. These were both illustrations of a kind of performed selfishness masquerading as care for the other (submitted to us willingly by the protagonists, gluttons for our punishment maybe). In the former case, no real resolution was reached: the protagonist was still in a state of doubt, but more accepting of this as reality. In the latter case, there was clarity: the protagonist knew what he wanted to do and how to do it. In the same London workshop, a Rainbow of Desire session with an older woman who wanted to confront her ex-​husband about his years of lying about his affairs: she wanted him to “fess up” to her, rather than getting away with continued lies. We stressed to her that the husband wasn’t in the room and nothing we did could affect what had happened in the past, that we would be looking at her, not him, but she wanted to push on, determined to get the truth out of him. And the resolution scene for her was short, very short: she dismissed him curtly. When she spoke about it, we felt that she had come to an acceptance that it was not helping her to harbour this vengeful hope of confession—better get him out quickly. She told us succinctly that she realised he had “never evolved.” A kind of closure. The power of images to help us find a truth: in another workshop, making the image of his oppression, a US American used multiple chairs to image himself and his family. The image was of someone locked in, boxed in, in a messy complicated hubbub. He seeks to break the image of oppression, and the only way he knows to do it is to trash the set, knocking over chairs and bashing people out of the way. The next day he comes in to the workshop and shares a memory that had come back to him: years before, when he was an alcoholic, he stole a bull-​dozer, and a (very slow) police chase ensued as he drove his steamroller over cars and road signs, finishing up in the middle of a basketball stadium. Unconsciously his image had echoed his experience: here the work made the unconscious-​but-​present desire conscious and thus matter for consideration. And what of the rest of us, watching these scenes? Of course, in some scenes we may take part as images; in others we may even create multiple sub-​scenes, reflecting on how this story has echoes in our own lives. In the techniques where this is possible, the wished-​for tendency to seek an ism finds its easiest fruition. But even when we just watch, our spect-​actor role comes into being as we are dragged into the debate, asking questions which reveal our own dilemmas. 184

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In the men’s stories cited earlier, what ism were we noticing, other than the tendency of men, maybe of human beings, to want to have our cake and eat it? We could say “machismo” or “partriarchy,” if we want catchy short handles. Maybe we were seeing something about how the bourgeois structures of marriage and relationships end up trapping us into behaviours far from those we want. Or maybe we were just looking at how privilege and distance from the consequences—only rarely do we men bear the children, and we are less often left with them, post-breakup—have meant that men are still able to claim a disproportionate amount of space and power in the world, and still often likely to leave wreckage behind us. However, in the end, any such speculations are left in the air and their anchoring to systems of thought, the isms, is a matter of opinion. We don’t know, we are left in doubt, but perhaps a little more certain about our doubt, and comfortable with it, and a little more aware that we are not alone in our doubt. And reassured that, however much the world appears to be full of confident, certain people striding forward to get their way, mostly deep down they are pretty much like us: wondering what is happening, and why, and what we might do to deal with it better… So back to doubt, to finish with, but more certain now that doubt is a freer and more human place to be, a healthier space to occupy than certainty. Or maybe I am wrong…

Notes 1 Cardboard Citizens is a theatre company working particularly with homeless and ex-​homeless people, as actors and participants, which I founded in 1992, when I was Associate Director at London Bubble, on the back of our first visit from Augusto Boal. From its humble beginnings performing in hostels and shelters, it has grown and diversified into a substantial activist organisation working nationally and internationally using theatre, particularly TO, as a catalyst for change at a number of levels, from the personal to the political; Cardboard Citizens offers pastoral support for homeless people at grassroots levels at the same time as telling their untold stories in venues from prisons to theatres to the House of Lords, to stimulate change at a societal level (by the use of Legislative Theatre). Without excessive blowing of own trumpets, it is fair to say that it has shown how TO can be used in practice to effect change in the UK, in the process inspiring a number of similar companies around the world. See www. cardboardcitizens.org.uk. 2 There are of course such earnest and literal souls within the world of  TO who have made their whole career out of poking holes in the Boalian fabric or pointing out what they regard as inconsistencies. I remember one such critic, who approached me after a workshop to talk about his thesis (I think it actually was a thesis) which was founded on the disparities between the different versions of a single story he had heard Boal tell on different occasions—​as if a story was meant to do anything other than teach or illustrate. And as if the man’s thinking could have stayed ossified over the 50 odd years of his career, meeting a pretty fair selection of the oppressed of the world. 3 Augusto Boal often visualised the Theatre of the Oppressed as a tree, with all the different modes represented as branches. 4 To be a tad more optimistic, there are a number of the techniques which are achievable with fewer people, but they become more labour-​intensive, as they then require people to keep stepping out of images to view them and comment; with a larger group, you have effectively a standing audience, available to do the heavy lifting of projection and observation as the techniques slide along without interruption. This allows for a much more persuasive narrative drive, which for me is part of the power of the work. We go on a journey, together, and the smoother that journey, the less interrupted or fragmented, the more “immersive” (to use a theatrical word of the moment), the better they work. 5 One of the beauties, and part of the power, of Rainbow of Desire work is precisely that it is often great theatre. It is so extravagant in its gesture, so profligate in its deployment of images and bodies, that it rarely disappoints on the theatricality front. This is of course a major difference between it and some other species of drama therapy whose currency is naturalism and whose scenes can easily veer into the dull.

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Jackson 6 The problem with role-​play is that it offers us a chunk of life abstracted from context, almost to the point of meaninglessness. We watch as someone on stage responds to the problem of dealing with an authority, for instance, and then we can get up and deal with it better. Role-​play is well-​used as a customer-​service-​improving tool, beloved of management trainers. It is of course a sad fact that what is called Forum Theatre often finds itself used (abused) in a similar manner; in fact, it is more common in staff or management training than anywhere else. 7 The Analytical Image involves the explosion of a single scene into at least five sub-​scenes, in which single aspects of the protagonist’s behaviour become the dominant note, each detail extravagantly blown up.This anatomisation of the original scene offers the protagonist a chance to see the unseen and monomaniacal underlying oh-​so-​civilised behavior.

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20 LEGISLATIVE THEATRE Can theatre reinvent politics? José Soeiro

An experiment in Brazil An “experiment.”1 This is the word used by Boal to define his experience with Legislative Theatre. Like any weapon in Theatre of the Oppressed’s arsenal, this was also the result of the need to devise a concrete response to a specific problem and context: Rio de Janeiro in the early 1990s, when the Centre for the Theatre of the Oppressed (CTO-​Rio) got involved in an electoral campaign and Boal was eventually elected councilman of that city by the Workers Party (PT). Boal’s mandate was not very long—​four years between January 1, 1993 and the end of 1996—​but it was intense enough to develop dozens of actions. Across that period, in conjunction with his mandate as legislator, about 50 Theatre of the Oppressed groups had been created (some with a brief existence, admittedly) on a territorial or thematic basis. In these three years, 33 bills were presented by Boal as a result of this collective work, 14 of which became municipal laws. The book in which Boal describes this experience is written and presented as a “Beta version.”That is, a document of the kind that is done when something new has yet to be tested, when we share with others something that is still in the process of being built and discovered. Therefore, it is not worth looking, in the book on Legislative Theatre, for the codification of any “new technique.” What we have there is far more interesting: an exciting account of what was then “the most recent experiment of the Theatre of the Oppressed”2 and its profound relation to a particular social, economic, cultural, and political context. After his exile in Argentina (1971–​1976), Portugal (1976–​1978), and France (1978–​1986), Boal finally returned to Brazil in 1986, following the invitation of Darcy Ribeiro, who was, at that time, the Vice Governor of Rio. Darcy had created the Integrated Centres for Popular Education (CIEPS). Between 1986 and 1989, Boal developed a large project in these centres, using Theatre of the Oppressed, with a team of more than 30 cultural animators, and, in the beginning of the 1990s, he founded the Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed in Rio. However, having lost its link to the CIEPS and Darcy (who had lost his campaign for Governor), it became more and more difficult to survive. Boal and his team decided, therefore, to put an end to the CTO. By coincidence, 1992 was the year of elections in Brazil. CTO offered to support and theatricalize the campaign of the Workers Party, aestheticizing it through songs and masks in the streets and squares, doing Forum Theatre … The Party accepted and proposed Boal run 187

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as a candidate. After some hesitation, he agreed to run, thinking he had no chance to become a legislator. But he ended up being elected. Boal describes what happened then as follows: “The Theatre of the Oppressed returns to its roots—​Brazil and politics.”3 This return to an explicit political use of  TO is thus presented as if TO was coming back home after a long trip—​its European journey, but also its turn to education, social intervention, and therapy. With Boal’s election, it was actually his whole theatre company that was elected:4 the jokers of CTO became parliamentary assessors, and the team set up a device that used theatre as a form of “transitive democracy.”5 The campaign itself had created “theatre groups of ecologists, women, university students, black people … ”6 During the mandate, more were created. Partners of the mandate were organized in “links” (“a group of people from the same community, which communicates periodically with the mandate,” via presence in the Chamber, in the community, or via interactive mailing list) and in “nuclei,” i.e. Theatre of the Oppressed groups collaborating with the mandate in a systematic way. These “nuclei” could be community-​based (people who lived in the same community and shared problems), thematically-​based (communities of interest that shared an oppression and an objective, such as groups of disabled people, domestic servants, unions, or ecologist groups), or a combination of both characteristics. The mandate supported these groups (on the whole, they had 19 permanent groups of “organized oppressed” all over the city, and others more intermittently) namely through the presence of the “jokers,” and promoted inter-​nuclei dialogues (one group acting and visiting others, creating solidarity), parables (a specific subject being worked on by all groups, who met after to present each other their work), denunciations (shows performed at political demonstrations or on the streets to create awareness about a subject), or festivals (in which the groups, from Brazil and abroad, exhibited their work and “discover[ed] the pleasures of shared experience”). But the mandate also developed such forms of consultation as the interactive mailing list: thousands of letters about an issue being sent to the mailing list of the mandate to collect suggestions; or the Chamber in the Square: public debate sessions that could happen in many places, where discussions were held with written material, the presence of a legislative assessor familiar with the legal aspects of the matter, and people making suggestions about what to do. Sometimes, these Chamber in the Square gatherings were theatricalized as a Chamber session, with the same kind of rituals, including voting. The Cabinet of the mandate was thought of as a Metabolising Cell: a team of general administrators and legislative assessors that had the mission to discover the laws that could be proposed from the suggestions of citizens, the interventions in Forum Theatre sessions, and the summaries of all the other consultant processes. Direct Actions could be done around specific issues and cases. Legislative Theatre was therefore, more than a specific technique, a concrete experience of making “ ‘theatre as politics,’ instead of simply making ‘political theatre.’ ”7 That is, a process of using theatre as a form of political dialogue, through which people could participate in the creation of laws or attempt to ensure the proper enactment of those already existing.

Legislative Theatre without the legislator: between symbolic sessions and self-​organization In 1996, Boal was not re-​elected. All the jokers lost their jobs, everyone had to go get their subsistence elsewhere, and most of the groups were dismantled. But Boal did not give up the idea of using performance to intervene directly in politics. Was it possible to do Legislative Theatre without a legislator? Yes, thought Boal in 1998: that was his “dreamt future.”8 In Santo André, a city close to São Paulo with 900,000 inhabitants, Boal and his team cooperated with the “Participatory Budget”9 promoted by the Workers Party’s municipality 188

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between 1997 and 2001.The public sessions, to which the population was invited to discuss the priorities of the budget and to vote on them, always started with a Forum Theatre play. In that period, Boal also did a symbolic session of Legislative Theatre in Munich, Germany. In France, in the context of a Legislative Theatre project, he developed Forum Theatre scenes with children who were living in various situations of oppression. In the years that would follow, other Legislative Theatre experiences took place with CTO in Brazil. More and more, they seemed to combine Forum Theatre plays with the theatricalization of Chamber Plenaries where citizens mimed the work of legislators, inviting decision-​makers to be present and to take these projects of law into consideration.10 This “model” was also taken up by other groups around the world. Just to give an example, it was the case with the festival “Agora” organized in 2002 by Theatr Fforwm Cymru, a big event held in a tent in front of the Welsh Assembly—​gathering 15 different groups with whom the company had prepared Forum Theatre plays (students, users of mental health institutions, women’s groups, elderly groups)—​and that resulted in a few tens of propositions delivered to the elected MPs. More and more, in the world of  Theatre of the Oppressed, Legislative Theatre has begun being presented as a “technique,” one of the last extensions of the method developed by Augusto Boal. However, Boal defines it as—​more than a technique—​“a new system, a more complex form, since it includes all the previous forms of the Theatre of the Oppressed plus others, which have a parliamentary application.”11 If so, Legislative Theatre would not be exactly a new technique, nor would it merely be a complement through which, after a Forum Theatre session, an imitation of a parliamentary session would take place. It would, rather, be a way of thinking Theatre of the Oppressed that responds to a founding impulse of the method itself: the idea that theatre is not enough to provoke political transformation, but it can be part of a process—​in this case, a legislative one. Thus, more than a simulacrum of participatory democracy or an act of raising awareness of the elected politicians—​supposedly converted into allies by means of an emotional communion generated by the Forum—​it seems to us that the potential of Legislative Theatre lies mainly in two circumstances. The first is that it allows us to think of the devices of Theatre of the Oppressed as part of a broader process of political struggle: theatre as part of a campaign and movement building. Secondly, by bringing to the Forum demands that address the state or an institution, Legislative Theatre invites us to think about transformations beyond the level of the “behavior” or the “individual,” and to make the ascesis from the conjuncture to the structure. In fact, Legislative Theatre is not a specific and crystallized form and does not necessarily have to be a way of framing Theatre of the Oppressed as a merely institutional intervention. Even within the framework of a parliamentary mandate—​as it happened in an experience that we will share next—​Legislative Theatre would not be very stimulating if it were only a more “lively” and “interactive” way of “listening to voters.” More than that, it might be interesting as a form of self-​organization and of rooting a campaign or a mandate.

“Students for Loan”: theatre as a campaign In the summer of 2009, I  was confronted with the possibility of being added to a list of candidates for the Portuguese Parliament, to be eligible in the elections that would take place in October of that year. The idea of associating a Legislative Theatre experience with the foreseen parliamentary mandate was immediate. The “Students for Loan” project started with a meeting between a handful of activists in that summer of 2009,12 to build a Forum Theatre play from 189

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our experiences as students of higher education. Many of us knew each other not only from the students’ movement but also from the Left Bloc.13 The play we created told the story of a student who had lost her right to a social action scholarship. Without the means to pay all the expenses associated with being in university, she sought, without success, different allies. In the end, the only solution that seemed to be left to her was to take out a bank loan. During the period in which we performed the play, private banking began to set itself up unabashedly in universities, exploiting the business of student loans, which grew in proportion to the retreat of social action grants awarded by the state. At that time, about 20,000 students had lost their scholarships, according to the new rules on social support, and thousands had already taken out a bank loan to study, the global debt amounting to 13 million euros. The purpose of “Students for Loan” was to go to schools and universities, provoking debate about this reality, collecting students’ opinions on what should be proposed to address it, and stimulating collective action around this problem. For this, we contacted the students’ associations of the whole country, offering to hold, in partnership with them, Legislative Theatre sessions on this topic. Every Monday, which is the day off for MPs to carry out activities outside Parliament, we would go to a school or two to perform our Forum play. Expenses of travel and food were paid by the salary I received as MP. Everything else was voluntary work, conceived as part of our political activism. At the end of each Forum, we distributed a sheet of paper where we asked the students to leave their contact details and to write down what they considered to be the most important changes to take on from the ideas and interventions that had taken place in the session. At the end of each day, we transcribed every suggestion for our weblog, where all the testimonies could be consulted with concrete cases, as well as opinion texts about the reality that the piece portrayed, statistical data, an account of past sessions, and the calendar of the next ones. At the end of a year we had done around 50 Forum Theatre sessions all around the country, attended by a few thousand students. We then put together a “Metabolizing Cell”—​made up of lawyers we invited and by all elements of the project—​to thematically group the suggestions and turn them into possible bills or legislative initiatives. At that time, we called all the students from the various schools who had left us their contact details for a Legislative Theatre Session that took place in the Senate Chamber of the Portuguese Parliament in May 2010. There, we performed again the piece that the students already knew and we held the Forum. Sitting in the seats of the Members of Parliament, the students discussed the proposals resulting from the project, chose the ones with which they were most identified,14 and launched a national petition to gather support for these initiatives. For this session, we also invited the directors of the social action services, the Minister of Higher Education (who did not appear), and MPs. The promoters of the petition (students from all schools where we had been doing the Forum) were called to the Parliament a few months later to be heard by all parties, the petition was scheduled, and the different parties presented their bills. In the meantime, there were student assemblies that organized schools, sign-​ups, news in the press … Some of the “Students for Loan” members ended up making lists and running for the board of Students’ Associations (and because they won, they stopped having time for the project, which, paradoxically, was very good news!). None of the bills that resulted directly from “Students for Loan” were approved by Parliament. It is not 50 Legislative Theatre sessions, however exciting they can be, that change the balance of forces, the parliamentary composition, and the interests to which most MPs are attached. In our case, the government incorporated some of our proposals into the new Social Scholarships’ Law and its regulations, but, with hints of austerity logic already surfacing, funding for higher 190

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education and social action was cut. That is, even with fairer rules, there have been fewer scholarships. The breakdown of bank secrecy, which we advocated, instead of being approved as a mechanism to combat the fraud of the rich, was only applied to control the social benefits of the poorest. For one more year, we kept doing the play and rehearsing how to mobilize around our claims.The years that followed saw violent cuts in social support, change of government, and the entry of the Troika (the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and European Commission) into the country. Many of us have gone to work and have become more afflicted with the issue of precarious work. The group dissolved as such. But we founded an association that still exists. Between 2011 and 2015, Portugal saw the largest street mobilizations since the 1974 Revolution, the growth of unemployment, and an unprecedented wave of migration that led to one-​tenth of the Portuguese population leaving the country for economic reasons. In this process, other activist Theatre of the Oppressed experiences appeared that would end up in the gathering Óprima! Its root lies in the process of “Students for Loan,” in our willingness to associate Forum Theatre with wider processes of political intervention and activism, and in our will to find allies.

The many dimensions of law and politics in Legislative Theatre The aim of this text is not to praise a process and even less to fix any recipe or model. If we refer to our experience, it is because our many difficulties may be useful to others, not as a point of arrival but as a starting point for their own discoveries and creations. In the experience we developed in Portugal, we assumed Legislative Theatre as a specific way of practicing Theatre of the Oppressed. Contrary to the reduction of Legislative Theatre to a procedure of legislative debate, we sought to develop it in articulation with our political activism in four fundamental dimensions. More and more, it appeared to us that the question of Legislative Theatre is not simply to ask “what are the laws we need?,” but also, for example, “why are some good existing laws simply not respected?,” “how do we join forces to get the laws we want approved?,” or “how do we organize to get to the legislature?” A concrete political process using Legislative Theatre includes a creative articulation of answers to some of these questions.

1) Identify our collective wishes and demands: what laws do we want? Formally, jurists distinguish different “sources of law”: the People, through elected Parliaments; the International Treaties; and the jurisprudence of the courts. But they forget that the material sources of law are often the social struggles that make the rules of society change. The material sources of the laws limiting working hours were strikes and unions; of laws that establish racial equality, the Civil Rights Movement; of right-to-abortion laws, the feminist struggles. For many reasons, law and recourse to the law is a central repertoire of struggle of most of the social movements that exist. A first potentiality of Legislative Theatre is precisely to use the encounter that theatre provides for the oppressed as the source of new rules in the society that protects and recognizes them. In a Forum Theatre play, actors are invited to intervene to change the story. Often the drama of the play stimulates individual interventions, in which the oppressed attempt to fend off oppression, convert the oppressor through his goodness or empathy, escape the situation in which he or she is placed, or appease the exercise of power. But most of our problems have systemic roots. If we are interested in overcoming oppression, not just circumventing it, we need to identify those roots and rehearse collective solutions. That is, most of the problems we face also 191

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have a political dimension with some relation to the state, either because they confront existing legislation or because their solutions demand some kind of public policy.Within the framework of a Legislative Theatre process, Forum Theatre has to seek a dramaturgy that opens the debate to these dimensions. How to theatrically formulate a question about a given problem in such a way that it (the question, that is, the play) stimulates the identification of the laws that could help deal with a situation, of the necessary collective demands beneath them, and of what can be done to strengthen those demands? In the case of the students, we were not particularly interested in discussing in the Forum how this individual woman could get out of taking on the bank loan (in the end, she could get out of it …), but mainly how we could self-​organize to fight for a free education, for a system of social action that would prevent the abandonment of the poorest. The question of the Forum makes all the difference.

2) The law already exists. But how do we apply it on our behalf? Some laws exist that protect the oppressed. They are achievements of oppressed groups who have been able to inscribe their demands onto the state, by diverse historical processes. But many of these laws are not enforced. Legal experts speak of the difference between “law in books” and “law in action.” Sometimes the distance between what is written and the reality is huge. For many reasons: promoted ignorance about those laws; because laws do not exist in a social vacuum (to exercise them in practice, I must have concrete conditions); because they are not regulated and therefore become only declarations of intentions, without concrete forms of application; because, although they exist, inspection fails; or because, when the oppressed want to use law on their behalf, they do not have access to justice and to the courts, which are also, often, sexist, classist, and racist. Legislative Theatre is also about these dimensions of “law.”That is, it can be a way of disseminating progressive laws and rehearsing their use by the oppressed. It can be an instrument to test strategies against fear and isolation, which are obstacles to the exercise of rights that formally already exist. It may be a way of identifying the regulation or the public policies yet to be made so that the law is effective and the mobilization to assure the law is enforced (how many anti-​ discrimination laws are respected? And labor laws? …)

3) If law is a balance of power, how do we construct it? If a law or public policy is the crystallization of a relation of forces in society, then Legislative Theatre is not merely an identification of the necessary laws or the mechanisms of its enforcement. It is also the rehearsal for the construction of this relation of forces. That is, of self-​ organization strategies of the oppressed to impose their desires and anchor them in the state under the form of rights. In our project in Portugal, it soon became clear that there were some legislative changes that most students supported:  lower or zero university tuition fees, broadened social action grants, stronger fiscal justice mechanisms … Our Forum Theatre sessions were therefore useful to rehearse the ways of organizing and the ways in which these proposals could make a path. If we need a new law to extend social grants, how do we get support for it? How do we build a students’ movement gathered around this proposal? What tactics and repertoires of struggle do we use? Identifying a law is basically identifying the demands of a collective, of a movement. A legislative Forum Theatre can be the rehearsal on how to organize collective action around this idea. 192

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4) Reaching the legislative power: the claim becomes a right Sometimes we already know what we want, we know what law we need, we discussed the mechanisms for it to be enforced, and we are part of a political movement or organization struggling for it. In such cases, would Legislative Theatre be useless? Maybe not. After our final session in the Senate Room of the Portuguese Parliament, we had a debate on how to get the proposals to the legislature. We surely had an easy shortcut: my mandate. But we didn’t want the project to be confined to it. We preferred to launch a petition and collect signatures in support of these proposals. That would force us to once again talk to the students and keep the mobilization, instead of delegating the action to the MP. Besides the channel to reach the legislature, there is more to do. On the day of voting, parliamentarians must feel pressured by society to make a choice in a particular sense. Symbolic actions that can capture media attention and thus be amplified, street performances to create public attention to the problem, concrete actions to confront powers with the situation—​all can be useful tools in a long process of struggle for transformation. Legislative Theatre can serve to rehearse them—​and to make them overflow from the aesthetic space to reality.

A reinvention of politics? And of Theatre of the Oppressed? One fundamental hypothesis of  Theatre of the Oppressed is that it is possible to question the social division of labor that gives to some the right to speak and think and condemns others to the condition of passive observers of the spectacle of the world. Legislative Theatre attempts to extend this hypothesis to the domain where this division is probably more profound and also more exuberantly contradictory—​that of institutional politics. One of the problems of institutional politics is precisely that it is concentrated in the hands of professionals, who have appropriated the “means of production” of opinion and public discourse, relegating the majority to the condition of “political incompetent.” For many people, the problems politicians discuss are, to a large extent, not political problems but “problems of politicians,”15 that is, problems that are retranslated by the field of representative institutions into conflicts between particular interests of professional politicians rather than between classes and social groups. This form of alienation is also a form of dispossession and domination. Theatre of the Oppressed does not require people to have the “language of politicians” to express themselves politically. Perhaps because of this, Legislative Theatre can be a way to recover politics for life:  by summoning all the senses and linking the discussion to concrete stories of suffering and struggle, it confronts institutions with a politics rooted in everyday life. Of course, it’s not always like this. Like any form of organization and any process of popular participation, Legislative Theatre can be absorbed as a folkloric complement of liberal democratic systems, as a form of regulation and not of emancipation, as a mechanism of co-​optation and not of confrontation with power. The very fetish of form, or the crystallization according to which the Legislative Theatre would be not a process of organization but the moment in which a parliamentary session is mimicked, risks folklorizing and emptying it. Of course, the symbolic has a great importance. The question is always whether it serves the domestication by the institutions or the rebellion that calls them into question. As in any Theatre of the Oppressed process, Legislative Theatre implies an analysis of the personal stories and conflicts that we live from a grid that seeks to find in these experiences the structural properties that insert them in different systems of oppression and relations of inequality. Therefore, the Legislative Theatre that matters is, above all, a process of politicization. This process begins in the very logic of working the Forum. Because it has to articulate the 193

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subjective scale with the scale of institutions and the state, Legislative Theatre seems to invite the dramaturgy of the Forum to overcome an individualist vision, opening the field of possibilities to collective solutions. But, moreover, the basic assumption of Legislative Theatre is that theatre is not enough. For this reason, theatrical practice is pushed (perhaps more than in other forms of Theatre of the Oppressed) to combine with other modes of struggle—​social movements, institutional combat, dispute over hegemony—​making it clear that the work is not confined within the walls of a workshop room or a forum session. This brings another problem with which I personally have been confronted. In the context of political struggles (and of a political mandate, too), theatre competes with many other repertoires of action, some whose immediate effectiveness seems more evident.Why, still, insisting on theatre? I have no answer for that. But I can say that political activism must not be a frustrating annoyance. Theatre, with all its properties, sometimes allows us to look in another way for what we had already seen. It creates, sometimes, that form of joy that results from being together, understanding the world together, and laughing along while fighting oppression. And that’s no small thing.

Notes 1 Augusto Boal, Legislative Theatre. Using Performance to Make Politics, trans. Adrian Jackson (London: Routledge, 1998), 4. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid., 6. 4 As Boal says, “For the first time in the history of the theatre and the history of politics, there opened up the possibility of a whole theatre company being elected to a parliament.” Ibid., 15. 5 The term used by Boal to name the combination between direct democracy and delegate democracy, through dialogical forms of theatre and other consultant mechanisms. 6 Ibid., 17. 7 “Our mandate’s project is to bring theatre back into the centre of political action–​the centre of decisions–​by making theatre as politics rather than merely making political theatre. In the latter case, the theatre makes comments on politics; in the former, the theatre is, in itself, one of the ways in which political activity can be conducted,” Ibid., 20. 8 “The dreamt future:  Legislative Theatre without the legislator” is the title of “A letter to Richard Schechner” published in The Drama Review in March 1998. Cit in Ibid., 113. 9 Participatory budgeting is a process of democratizing politics through the promotion of a public deliberation on a part of the public budget of a city. This practice was inaugurated with the Workers Party government in the city of Porto Alegre in Brazil, in 1989. 10 “Legislative Theater is already a concrete social action that has continuous effects. After a session of Forum Theatre, a Legislative Assembly is set up with all its elements:  table, tribune, contradictory debates, referrals. It is not enough to practice the rituals: it is necessary to contact legislators to have them approve, in the true plenary, the ideas that have arisen in theatrical fiction.” In Augusto Boal, A Estética do Oprimido (Rio de Janeiro: Garamond, 2009), 221. 11 Boal, Legislative Theatre, 5. 12 The following people were part of the team, along with me: Amarílis Felizes, Adriano Fontes, Catarina Príncipe, Diogo Silva, Irina Castro, Joana Cruz, João Mineiro, Jorge Cardoso, José Miranda, Luísa Morais, Marco Marques, Marta Calejo, Nuno Moniz, and Ricardo Sá Ferreira. Amarante Abramovici made a video about the project. 13 Left Bloc is an anti-​capitalist party founded in 1999, in the political and cultural melting pot of the alter-​globalization movement, bringing together different currents of the Portuguese Left and activists of different social movements. It has currently around 10% of the votes and 19 seats in the Parliament. 14 The three initiatives approved to be proposed as a law were: 1) a new regime for granting scholarships, expanding the universe of holders, and reducing bureaucracy in the process; 2) a legislative amendment to end the policy of tuition fees; and 3) a law to end banking secrecy, putting an end to injustices in granting scholarships and allowing the state to have more income to finance higher education and social action. 15 Pierre Bourdieu, Propos sur le Champ Politique (Lyon: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 2000), 35.

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21 AESTHETICS OF THE OPPRESSED Self-​criticism and re-​foundation of Theatre of the Oppressed Bárbara Santos For Augusto Boal, the experience of Aesthetics of the Oppressed [Estética do Oprimido], which was performed between 2000 and 2009 with the Center of the Theatre of the Oppressed [CTO] team, represented a true revolution: the re-​foundation of the Theatre of the Oppressed.1 Boal used to say that Aesthetics were present in the arsenal of the method as embryonic essence, indication, and inspiration. After three decades, this essence flourishes and demonstrates the need for self-​criticism and reinvention of a method throughout its existence. The Theatre of the Oppressed appeared in the early 1970s, in a Latin American context of political resistance, steeped in the conviction that specific problems are linked to structural issues. Newspaper Theatre, Image Theatre, Invisible Theatre, and Forum Theatre proposed that the social structure be analyzed through specific stories—​the macro contained in the micro. In the first half of the 1980s, the method continued its development in the European context with the techniques of the Rainbow of Desire, in which internalized oppressions become the nucleus of the analysis. Even if the description of the techniques shows that the individual question should be the starting point for understanding the mechanisms of oppression involved in a given situation—​the micro as a path for analysis of the macro—​the singularity of the problem becomes the center of the development of these techniques that come to be known as the “Boal method of theatre and therapy.” Furthermore, this individualized approach to conflict can help us understand a trend that has taken place among practitioners of a scene production method involving personal challenges without considering or demonstrating structural aspects. I believe that the Legislative Theatre project, begun in 1993 in Rio de Janeiro, was established as a first attempt to overcome (through self-​criticism) this individualist bias that became common in the practice of  Theatre of the Oppressed. In Legislative Theatre, the key is to broaden the scope of the discussion on the problems staged to give them a contextual dimension. However, neither the demand for a structural analysis of the problem nor the search for alliances for the achievement of the necessary changes guarantees that the individualist approach in production will be overcome. Between 1993 and 1996, we opened approximately 50 centers through demonstration workshops in the city of Rio de Janeiro. We formed 19 stable popular groups over the four years of Augusto Boal’s term. Even in this context, a significant portion of the pieces produced were based on personal quests and family dramas, with stories of isolated protagonists who 195

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questioned single antagonists—​teachers, employers, fathers, and husbands—​without necessarily questioning either the social relations developed there nor the society where they lived. In the interventions of the audience, individual and heroic attempts were unavoidable, since the protagonists, to overcome the oppression they faced, had to be exceptional individuals. The ability to articulate alliances and medium-​and long-​term collective strategies was not always at the heart of the discussion. The model of representation tended to be realistic and lacking in action, with long and repetitive dialogues, often expressed from a well-​placed chair in the vicinity of a table. The theatre that we were performing always strived to remain faithful to real life. However, by reflecting the real world as it appeared to be, it was unable to truly reveal the essence of the problem, which is often hidden behind everyday appearances. The aesthetic gap encouraged us to seek alternatives so that we could progress in the plasticity of these productions. We began the 2000s focused on the need to stimulate ourselves and other group members to create metaphors:  representation of ideas and/​or concrete realities through a variety of aesthetic means. We founded the Aesthetics of the Oppressed. It is important to note that, during this same period, Augusto Boal began the search for a metaphor to represent the method: an image that was capable of expressing the interrelation and interdependence between the different techniques. An image capable of bringing the parts together into a coherent whole, confirming that the meaning of this whole must be provided by the production of concrete and continuous social actions in the real world. The Tree of the Theatre of the Oppressed represents the symbolic result of this effort: all of the interrelated and interdependent techniques composing a single entity. It is also important to emphasize the constant preoccupation of Boal as dramatist with the use of the techniques of the Rainbow of Desire [Arco-​íris do Desejo] as therapy, as an independent technique apart from the method. In this sense, the laboratories called “The invasion of the brain”—​which articulate Aesthetics of the Oppressed, Cop in the Head [Tira na Cabeça], and Rainbow of Desire for the production of Forum Theatre—​sought to validate the complementarity between the various techniques used in the method. The production of Forum Theatre, based on and using these techniques, aims to make the mechanisms of oppression existing in the subjective conflicts explicit. On the one hand, it reveals the links of the subjective conflict with the process of socialization of the protagonist. On the other hand, it demonstrates the actual consequences of this conflict in the objectivity of its existence. Furthermore, the Rainbow of Desire techniques deepen the complexity of the characters, avoiding simplistic and Manichean staging among monochromatic characters. “The invasion of the brain” research highlights the principle of interdependence contained in the tree and underlines the organic nature of the method. We carried out the research on the Aesthetics of the Oppressed within this context. We began with activities that entailed critical analysis of the real world: the exercise of investigating and questioning pre-​established definitions—​observing the shape, colors, and size of a symbol, for example, and analyzing what contents would be associated with that image and what purpose they would serve; training the interested eye to unveil the contents impregnated in the observed image, in order to understand that a representation is the result of someone’s choice to communicate a certain perspective. We invited participants to reinvent the form and to represent another perspective on the subject in question, in their own manner. The idea was for them to include themselves and their reality in both analysis and representation. The activities proposed detachment from the particular circumstance and the opening of perspective to include the context that circumscribes it: to observe reality and write a poem or paint a picture to express their opinion; to dance the daily life, in order to move to the rhythm 196

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of life and routine; to photograph the geographies of life so as to understand the places destined to each social class, relationships with trash, with transit, with green spaces, and the right of access to the city; photographing one’s own hands in action to understand that what we are is connected to what we do, among other such activities. The shift from the restrictive condition of consumer of the products of others, to the liberating condition of also acting as a producer of representations of reality, sets symbolic revolution in motion, serving to open creative and reflective channels. It fights back against “the invasion of the brain” brought on by the aesthetics of the oppressor, which, through socialization and continuous stimuli, convinces the oppressed of the impossibility of transforming reality. The exercise of creating metaphors expands one’s ability to represent problems in different languages: colors, shapes, images, sounds, words, movements, rhythms … These activities confirm our right to express our own perspective, both in confrontation and in dialogue with the other perspectives of the group, in order to generate a collective perspective. When we began to introduce the Aesthetics of the Oppressed in the production of performances, we first used it as a complementary element to guarantee the plasticity of the staging. In this regard, the results were immediate: Scenes which lacked theatrical attributes became interesting and creative representations. Aesthetic development—​while broadening the understanding of the problem within its context—​does not, however, necessarily lead to the immediate evolution of dramaturgy itself. Starting in 2006, with the expansion of both domestic and international projects, our focus became the training of multipliers. With our advancement in Brazil and throughout the world, our specific work with community groups at the CTO was reduced, and together with it, an important part of our research: the incorporation of Aesthetics of the Oppressed into the production process itself. Furthermore, in the courses themselves, Aesthetics was first incorporated through complementary activities, until it achieved an organic role in the training of multipliers. This helps us to understand why, for many practitioners, aesthetics has not progressed beyond the status of a mere adornment. In 2004, we received an invitation from the National Women’s Secretariat of the government of President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva to participate in the first National Conference on Women’s Policy, which would bring together close to 2,000 female delegates, the elected representatives of the 120,000 people who participated in the municipal conferences. The Theatre of the Oppressed was invited to the opening of the conference. For this purpose, we presented the production of Coisas do Gênero [Gender Things] a non-​ verbal Image-​ Theatre-​ Musical presentation produced for a Forum session, with dialogues structured around choreographed images, linked to musical compositions or to incidental sound stimuli. Coisas do Gênero portrays the daily struggle of a woman for space for existence and rights: as a mother, worker, wife, and person. The story of this individual woman is introduced through a sequence of choreography and scenes that depict the construction of the concept of gender, based on which social functions and civil rights are defined. The process created for the production led to discussions of subjects—​such as patriarchy, machismo, gender inequality, and capitalist exploitation—​through aesthetic activities:  poems, dance, images, sculptures, music, etc. We sought to understand the wider context of the oppression faced by women, and then to define the particular situation of the oppressed and to link it to the structure of the sexist society into which they are born and where they continue to live. Although we sang songs and worked on poems for these compositions, we opted for non-​ verbal language, which became an activating limitation for collective creativity. It required aesthetic effort to find images, plasticity, movement, sound, rhythm, musicality, and emotion that 197

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were capable of communicating the desired content. We offered a variety of aesthetic channels of communication to multiply the possibilities of understanding the story being staged and the subsequent interventions. On July 15, 2004, Coisas do Gênero opened the conference in Brasilia for an audience of more than 2,000 people, with the president of the republic sitting in the front row as a spectator.With such a large audience, it would not make sense to have a Forum session based on spoken words, with the need for microphones and the risk of the discourse becoming static. The production proposed the use of theatrical language throughout the Forum to the audience, driving them to action. The show had a profound effect on international events of Theatre of the Oppressed (France, 2005; India, 2006; Palestine, 2007; Austria, 2009; Croatia, 2010; Guatemala, 2012). The decision to use non-​verbal production enabled international experiences, since it was not necessary to understand a language neither to access the story nor to engage in participation. The internationally recognizable theme helped break down geographical as well as cultural boundaries, even though it did not drive away controversies about Coisas do Gênero among practitioners of the method. Apart from rare exceptions, Forum Theatre productions generally lack the inclusion of aesthetic communication that seeks to connect with the audience using all five senses. In October 2009, at the Austrian festival, Coisas do Gênero was highlighted as a play and, at the same time, criticized as a Forum Theatre production. The criticism focused on the aesthetic plasticity of the show, revealing the fear that this aesthetic conception might undermine the discussion taking place during the Forum. As if the aesthetic pleasure arising from the production presented a risk to the identification of the political contents, and as if its artistic power could manifest in a form of intimidation of the audience, preventing their participation. Our conception went the other way: aesthetic representation seemed crucial to reveal “naturalized” content in everyday life. The fact that the investigation and dissemination of the Aesthetics of the Oppressed were restricted to the projects and direct partners of the CTO up until 2009 represents one of the factors in this dissonance in perception. The international workshops, in which Augusto Boal was able to share some of the process, and the handbook2 on Aesthetics, released in English in 2006, were not sufficient to guarantee the sharing of the experiences developed in Brazil on an international level. The advances made through the Aesthetics of the Oppressed up until 2009 have changed our understanding of the Theatre of the Oppressed and our way of performing it. Coisas do Gênero is a paradigmatic example of this change and represents the recognition of theatre as the essential language of the Theatre of the Oppressed. CTO shows, in general, advanced in the plasticity of their representation, and in turn members of popular groups, as well as multipliers, changed their attitude in light of the challenge of creating metaphors to represent reality. Coisas do Gênero is also exemplary with regard to the challenge of overcoming the individualist approach in the dramatic structure: in the first part of the show, the social context that produces the problems faced by the protagonist is evident. After that, when the specific story is developed, even when the continuous influence of society is evident, the protagonist ends up isolated, and without any concrete possibilities of forming alliances. When the Forum takes place during the first part, when the construction of the concept of gender is discussed, the resulting debate directly refers to the social structure. However, the interventions carried out in the second part tend to lead the discussion to the specific attitudes of the protagonist. Years before his death, Augusto Boal developed techniques to help broaden the group’s overview of the story to be staged. Among these, we highlight “a story in three images”: from one story, three installations (sculptures) are created that represent “hope,” “crisis,” and “failure.” 198

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Paintings and poems are also produced. The metaphors are created through various types of improvisation and serve to orient the discussion toward the subject to be approached. The starting point is the problem in question, and not the story in particular. The challenge is to translate the findings to the improvisation stage. Starting from 20103, in various work partnerships, I  intensified the experiences with the Aesthetics of the Oppressed, aiming to associate aesthetic development with deepened political engagement—​and striving to ensure that the production had all attributes necessary to be recognized as artistic production and to bring about political discovery. A fundamental challenge of this investigation involved the best manner to approach structural themes in Forum Theatre works, a manner that was broad enough to demonstrate the mechanisms of oppression and, at the same time, specific enough to allow personal identification and direct intervention. Therefore, it was necessary to return to the subject of the construction of the question, in order to specify the elements that should guide the production. We realized that the question of the Forum is typically defined by the story chosen to be represented. However, the conflict conveyed by the story is not always sufficient to reveal the problem. Furthermore, if the problem behind the conflict is not evident, the chances of conveying oppression and its mechanisms of functioning are reduced. Therefore, the production has to be a radical process of ASCESE: the conflict that belongs to the micro must lead us to the oppression installed in the macro. To do so, the story chosen must cease to be the main vehicle for the construction of the question, so that it may instead become the stimulus for the research. In our work, the Aesthetics of the Oppressed is the guiding thread of the analytic-​creative process, which seeks to identify the intrinsic connections between the particular case (experienced in the micro-​ structure) and the variables that involve it and influence it (found in the macro-​structure). The goal is to access the problem that lies within the story. We use the Aesthetics of the Oppressed (as well as Newspaper Theatre) to jump into the social context before going into the individual story. From a simple scene involving a concrete fact, for example, we encourage the writing of poems about the reasons that give rise to/​feed that particular conflict—​or the production of short texts about some shocking event, which is related to the fact being staged, among other possibilities. The texts produced can also inspire performances, generate songs, or individual and/​or collective paintings. We want to stimulate creative channels and, at the same time, broaden opportunities for discussion of the problem and the conflict to which it refers. The macro structure is highlighted in these aesthetic processes of creation. The path to be followed offers multiple possibilities. Since aesthetic synesthesia (interactive dialogues between Sound/​Rhythm, Image/​Motion, and Word/​Text) is the foundation of the work, these paths can create sinuous curves and give the impression of altering the previously chosen direction or of being unable to return to the specific fact. The Aesthetics of the Oppressed both drives and is driven by discoveries. The difficulty is the systematization of the results found, which should constitute the artistic production inspired by the story that was used as a starting point. In this investigative process4, carried out between Latin America and Europe, we move toward a type of production that goes so far as to dispense with private stories. The creative path of sound and rhythm which I have used with Till Baumann5 constitutes the essence of this methodology. In this case, the story produced is the result of an organization of sounds that, placed in a certain sequence, provide the framework for a thematic context. Sounds stimulate the creation of images, choreographies, and performances that make up the Forum model. No one tells a concrete story, and there is no description of a sequence of facts, but rather a sequence of suggestive sounds and images. The goal is to address a certain type of oppression and not end up telling a specific story. The final production is non-​verbal; the model of the Forum that 199

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we use is inspired by the techniques of “projected image” (Invasion of  Territory [Invasão de Território], Four on the march [Os quatro em marcha], etc.). Examples of this experience can be found at www.kuringa.org/​en/​international.html. The Aesthetics of the Oppressed formalizes the concept of creative multiplication and constitutes the laboratory area of Theatre of the Oppressed, where there is, however, still much to be developed.

Notes 1 This chapter was translated and edited by Multilingual Connections professional translation service, Evanston, Illinois, USA, commissioned as work for hire by the volume’s editors, who also subsequently edited the document with field-​specific terminology with permission of the translation service. 2 The text that was published in 2006 was still “in process,” only being completed by Augusto Boal shortly before his death. 3 In 2008, I left the management of the CTO. In 2009, I moved to Berlin, where I founded KURINGA. 4 Starting in 2010 and continuing to the present day. 5 Curinga and musician, part of the KURINGA team. Artistic Director of zukunftsmusik forumtheaterproduktion (Forum Theatre in prisons). Editor and translator of the new German edition of Games for Actors and Non-​Actors by Augusto Boal. Musical Director of TOgether International Theatre Company.

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PART II

Ground shifts

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Changing landscapes in late capitalism

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22 NEOLIBERALISM AND THE ALTERNATIVE OF THE COMMON Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval Translated from French by Jean François Bissonnette

“Neoliberalism?” The word combines references to both novelty (“neo”) and freedom (“liberalism”). Does one need to be a neoliberal to be “absolutely modern,” as Arthur Rimbaud said, and thus entirely free, as Milton Friedman demanded, that is, as free as capital ought to be? Certainly not! Neoliberalism is neither new nor as old as some have claimed; nor does it make us free. It even shows a tendency to play with our freedom in such a way that it prohibits any life choices other than those it surreptitiously imposes upon us. As Michel Foucault said, if it governs us, it is precisely through our freedom!

A very strange word One must admit that the word “neoliberalism” is quite a strange, interesting, and yet unwieldy political term. Neoliberals do not lay claim to it; rather, they reject it adamantly.To the right of the political spectrum, no one ever says: “I am a neoliberal,”“I defend neoliberalism,”“I like neoliberalism,” or even less “I adore neoliberalism!” Rather, what you hear is: “I am a true liberal,” or even, in a more convoluted fashion: “socialism is a bygone ideal,” “Keynes is dead,” “the Welfare State is exhausted,” “globalization benefits all,” or “the European Union brought peace to the continent.” The word “neoliberalism” belongs to the Left. It is used in a critical and polemical way to attack a particular policy, an economic system, certain political leaders, and even certain countries. Yet this use is often fallacious and abusive. It is meant to hide or shift the blame. Neoliberalism is sometimes referred to as a slightly diabolical category disguising what is often called “ultra-​liberalism,” although one would be at pains to describe what lurks behind such a boogeyman word. The figure of the ultra-​liberal is often that of the foreign villain threatening from afar, typically from beyond the Channel or the Atlantic as seen from Europe.What is more, the word “neoliberalism” is sometimes used to avoid speaking of capitalism. One can only adapt to capitalism and manage it as best as possible, but neoliberalism should be regarded as an excess of capitalism and avoided. Such is roughly the stance of the so-​called “moderate” left. We should not forget, however, that the word “neoliberalism” has now been coopted by the European far-​Right, and particularly by the Front National in France, which does not hesitate 203

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to borrow from or even plagiarize the terms and analyses of the radical Left. Denouncing “neoliberal Europe” is a means for the far-​Right to distinguish itself from the classical Right, which in turn does everything it can to blur the line between itself and the former. To add to the confusion surrounding the term, it must also be said that neoliberalism has time and again been pronounced dead. Neoliberalism was said to have died with the systemic crisis of 2008. It died again with the loose monetary policy of the European Central Bank. It died a third time recently, with Brexit, Donald Trump, and the rise of “populism,” all phenomena that supposedly heralded the return of the sovereign nation-​state! Neoliberalism is thus quite a strange phenomenon that can die several times and yet outlive itself. Thus, the meaning of the word is far from simple and unequivocal. It is loaded with ambiguities and confusion. And yet it does mean something. It does have real content. It can even be considered indispensable if we want to understand the world in which we live. We, therefore, need to take it seriously, and for this we have to use rigor when we consider it. It does not suffice to say that neoliberalism is a doctrine or an ideology, which it obviously is; however, it certainly does not represent a return to the economic philosophy of the eighteenth century, as is often heard. Above all, it must not be confused with free trade, nor with “ultra-​ liberalism” or “libertarianism,” in their refusal of governmental intervention. None of these. “Neoliberalism” means something else entirely. From the 1970s onward, a certain normative logic slowly groped its way forward, imposing itself through multiple governmental experimentations, and only toward the end of the twentieth century did this process result in the establishment of a neoliberal world system that scarcely allows for different policies than those that have been tenaciously pursued for nearly 40 years. Every allegedly alternative policy has so far hit a wall. This wall is a system of norms, and it is that system of norms that constitutes neoliberalism today. Understood in this way, neoliberalism can be defined following Michel Foucault as a particular and historically situated “rationality” that guides the behavior of individuals, structures human relations, and shapes subjectivities. Its basic principle is competition; its model is the firm.This rationality or this “practical logic” recognizes no boundaries: it is global in both senses of the word, as it encompasses the whole planet, and as it penetrates every domain of human existence. Every activity has to be framed in a competitive logic and organized like a firm. Neoliberal policies are not only contextual policies of a certain kind, either true or false, beneficial or maleficent. These are policies that follow a deeper logic, a movement that leads every country, and eventually the whole of mankind, to subject themselves to an ensemble of capitalist norms that stretch even beyond the traditional field of capital accumulation. In a way, this process amounts to the integral capitalization both of human existence itself and of the conditions that sustain it. The word neoliberalism must thus be taken in a very specific sense. It designates much more than a simple set of doctrines, theoretical schools, and authors, which are, incidentally, not only diverse, but also contradictory on many issues. Neither does it correspond to certain kinds of economic policies that would all proceed from the same objective of weakening the state for the benefit of the market. Neoliberalism is altogether a certain type of political intervention, a certain mode of governmental action, a certain strategy of social transformation, and a certain form of subjectivity. In a word, it is a global normative logic.

Where does this normative logic come from? In the 1930s, neoliberalism as a doctrinal project revolved around two important issues: refounding liberalism against pure laissez-​faire by relegitimizing in a certain way the role of the state and the 204

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law and reinventing a market doctrine centered on competition. In this perspective, the competitive market appears not as a purely natural given, but as depending on certain institutions, and as such, it must be constructed or maintained by regular and sustained interventions. Considered as a political rationality, neoliberalism thus designates an interventionism of a special kind, based on a more or less explicit constructivism, which puts it at variance with classical liberalism, insofar as the latter is taken to mean pure laissez-​faire. This project can also be seen as fundamentally anti-​democratic since its inception. This anti-​ democratism stems from a deliberate intention to shield the rules of the competitive market from public deliberation by consecrating them as inviolable, and thus as having precedence over the will of any electoral majority. Wary of popular sovereignty and hostile to democracy from the outset, the neoliberal project gave rise to an inflexible and methodical system of institutions that patently functions today so as to bypass democracy. To be sure, it no longer relies on military coups as it did in Latin America in the 1970s, but rather on the accumulation of legal, judicial, regulatory, and institutional constraints that aim to guarantee the inviolability of the very foundations of the system. For reasons that belong as much to the economic disruptions as to the social and cultural upheaval of the 1960s and 70s, to a crisis of the accumulation regime and to a crisis of governmentality, the neoliberal project, born in the 1930s in a wholly different context, was later reinvested in by academics, politicians, and technocrats in the United States, in Europe, in Latin America, of course, as well as pretty much everywhere else. The goal was to revitalize capitalism by transforming not only the political system, but also society and the people themselves. Margaret Thatcher had this remarkable formula, saying: “Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.” What she meant was that capitalism should henceforth permeate the whole of individuals’ daily lives. Neoliberalism is thus a method for expanding the reach of capitalism beyond the purely economic sphere by diffusing throughout society a system of norms for action. How does neoliberalism manage to stretch the rationality of capital beyond the economic field?

Extending the market logic by means of a transformation of the state Far from being an obstacle to the extension of the market logic, the state has become one of its main agents, if not its most important vehicle.The policy instruments inherited from the social-​ democratic and Keynesian era have become as many levers to internally reorient the logic and functioning of state action toward the wholesale transformation of society. It is therefore wholly absurd to conceive of such a transformation in terms of a limit on government intervention, a principle to which classical liberalism had sought to give a theoretical basis. Neoliberalism does not seek to limit, but to expand in a certain way the reach of the state. It transforms the state so as to extend the logic of the market. Competition is what the “market logic” truly means, and it can be applied as such even to institutions that do not produce “commodities” in the strictest sense of the term, and that are not capitalist firms, as is the case of the public sector, for instance. The neoliberal rationality is characterized by its reframing of competition as the general form of all productive activities, in particular those that produce non-​commodified services, as well as of all social relations even beyond the productive sphere itself. This universal logic of competition expands by means of a certain managerialization of practices, techniques, and discourses, which leads to the standardization of public, private, social, and individual activities, and to the homogenization at the level of society of all manners of being and doing. 205

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The neoliberal state constructs markets and puts people in situations of competition.There is nothing natural to such competitive formations. They do not stem from spontaneous processes. Neither are they the effect of some “cannibalistic” tendencies inherent to the dynamic of capitalism. They rather result from a political construction. This construction operated of course through the “privatization” of state-​owned companies as well as through the delegation and subcontracting of public activities for the benefit of private firms. When the situation was not “naturally” commodifiable, the alternative has been to instill competition both outside and inside departments, that is, to create a market situation without merchandise—​or what we would call a quasi-​market. Such has been the case with healthcare, education, research, and culture. Museums, schools, universities, or hospitals must be considered as firms competing against each other on a national or international battlefield. Meanwhile, everybody must yield to that logic as if it were natural that a museum, a school, or a hospital were an “enterprise.”

The shaping of new subjectivities People placed in market situations thus find themselves obligated to “freely” embrace competition. Competition transforms those who participate in it. Surpassing others, improving one’s performance: this is not the mere survival of an unchanged self in a Darwinian world, but a self-​ transformation operated under the very peculiar logic of capital accumulation, that is, of oneself as capital. In sum, with neoliberalism we are witnessing a mutation of subjectivities, as individuals are called upon to relate to themselves in a spirit of self-​valorization. We are all enjoined to become subjects of a new kind, led by a logic of value accumulation. It begins at school and at the university, where the goal is to produce “human capital”—​individuals endowed with a “skills portfolio” to be made profitable on the job market. Foucault had already noticed it as early as 1979, when he saw in neoliberalism a method to force people to behave as if they were “entrepreneurs of themselves.” “Performance” is the keyword of neoliberal competition. Expanding the “domain of competition” supposes a certain subjective consent. How can the model of the firm be imposed on every institution as well as on every subject? How can subjects, all subjects, even those who are not directly exposed to the pressures of the market in their workplace, be made to yield to this norm? How can individuals be made to internalize the external pressure of competition so as to constitute it as the very norm of subjectivity? The whole art of persuasion in management involves making workers believe that this new regime matches evenly with their own will, that it benefits them, and that it best reflects a “society of individuals.” The goal is to bring subjects to consider it natural to function in a regime of competition. The method is to impose on them this very peculiar mode of subjectification that consists in seeking to improve one’s performance in everything one does. With “human capital” now being the most important factor of competitiveness, subjectivity in the workplace as well as in private life thus has to be remodeled according to the principle of competition and the logic of performance. This even constitutes the point on which neoliberal discourses insist the most, even if it remains difficult to put in practice: supplying the economy with high-​performing individuals readily adapted to generalized commercial warfare. The new mode of governing consists in transitioning from a legal-​administrative ordering, suspected of making individuals passive and dependent, to an economic logic based on competition and material incentives, which allegedly make them more active, more autonomous in their search for the best solutions, and more responsible for the results of their work. The calculated subjectification of workers requires the use of standardized management methods that consist of codifying activity, measuring results, establishing benchmarks and quantifiable objectives to 206

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be reached, evaluating outcomes accordingly, and eventually rewarding or punishing actual performance in a material or symbolic way, only to define further benchmarks and objectives. A good example of this logic of unlimited evaluation that is intrinsic to neoliberalism can be found in Jonathan Coe’s latest novel, Number 11. It portrays an Institute for Quality Valuation whose ambition is to put a price on the quality of human life, emotions, and feelings included: We’re dealing with people who have no notion at all that something is important unless you can put a price on it. […] So we’ve coined a new term–​‘hedonic value’. That might refer to, say, the feeling you get when you look at a beautiful stretch of coastline. And we try to prove that this feeling is actually worth a few thousand pounds; or, on the other hand, that a widow’s grief might come at a cost of £10,000 a year to the economy. It would be misleading to think that these are but the wild imaginings of the British novelist because the same argument has been repeated ad nauseam to justify the financialization of biodiversity. Pavan Sukhdev, a banker at the helm of the TEEB project since 2007 (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity), does not hesitate to assert:  “We use nature because it’s valuable, but we lose it because it’s free.” If economics has become the language of politics, we thus need to learn to ascribe monetary value to nature so as to remedy its “economic invisibility.” Calculations have to be made to define such value: for instance, crop pollination by bees constitutes an economically invisible yet essential service with an estimated value of $200 billion.

Crisis as a mode of governing For neoliberalism, every activity as well as every existence, from human feelings to the activity of nature, is thus captured, enfolded, and reshaped according to the logic of valorization and the logic of “more.”Yet the latter is at the same time a logic of permanent crisis. Limitlessness is the norm, but this norm also institutes crisis as the normal functioning of the neoliberal system. Neoliberalism is government by the norm of crisis. How can the neoliberal radicalization since 2008 be explained? Why has neoliberalism emerged stronger after the crisis? Contrary to the crisis of 1929, which led to profound political and doctrinal reconsiderations, nothing of the sort happened after 2008. The 2008 scenario has nothing in common with that of 1929. While largely discredited amongst ever larger sections of the population, where it generates a variety of resistances, neoliberalism strengthened and radicalized itself with the crisis. In the minds of many, the crisis should have led to a post-​neoliberal moderation. The real outcome was rather its radicalization. Political and economic oligarchies dictated the solution to the crisis—​and managed to make the large mass of wage workers and pensioners liable for the cost of bailing out the financial system, saving it from bankruptcy, and reviving the accumulation of capital. Such a radicalization proceeds from the very rationality of neoliberalism. The crisis is both the consequence of neoliberal policies and the cause of their radicalization. In short, neoliberal policies led to the creation of an ever more coherent network of constraints that crystallized as objective forces ordering practices and to which they must bow, as must also the governed like those who govern them, as long as the latter do so within the confines of what they call “reality.” Neoliberalism is no longer a simple ideology, nor is it a principled form of political action. Above all, it defines a “reality,” a “world,” an “environment” in which we live. Simply put, reality itself has become neoliberal. It comprises a system of 207

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constraints made up of treaties, economic rules, norms of all kinds that trigger a logical sequence of self-​reinforcement. There is a close link between this radicalization of neoliberalism and the withering away of democracy, as the latter precisely loops back into the former. As competition takes precedence over citizenship, citizenship ends up being replaced by competitiveness. The ground is thus laid for the unlimited expansion of neoliberalism, which destroys, weakens, or “turns” everyone and everything that could still resist it. The more it spreads, the more the dominant logic destroys that which could contain it, and the more it reinforces itself following a properly infernal logic. The normative logic of competition acts indeed as a powerful solvent on every layer of society. It dissolves the collective in the workplace by means of the individualizing techniques of management, of unemployment and job precarity. It weakens trade unions just like it does the values and mechanisms of solidarity more largely. It draws downwards every system of social protection. It engenders phenomena of social anxiety and moral panic throughout society. In a word, it deactivates every capacity of autonomous collective action. The imposition of this logic hollows out the classical liberal representative democracy. Deliberation and democratic decision making disappear before the absolute privilege of systemic constraint. Any alternative emerging from elections, or any deviation a government could attempt, would, sooner or later, be sanctioned mercilessly by economic and financial international organizations, be it the European Union or the new political powers of large private oligopolies. Most of the time, these different powers indeed converge to undermine the institutional credibility of so-​called representative democracy.

Neoliberalism challenged The neoliberal logic has a dissolving effect on the social and political fabric that was woven during the twentieth century, particularly after the Second World War. Competition ends up fragmenting societies and turning them against one another. It brings back the era of trade wars and bloc confrontations. One just needs to think of Europe, where countries attempt to steal jobs and budget resources from one another using social and fiscal dumping practices. Inequalities explode; fascism comes back with a vengeance. No “common world” can exist where the most brutal competition to accumulate resources has been made into law. Neoliberalism is the negation of the common world. Meanwhile, the vast consensus in favor of neoliberalism, which unites just about everywhere Right-​wing and Left-​wing governments alike, exacerbates the social divide and ecological disaster with each passing day. Nevertheless, in spite of its domination and its self-​reinforcement through crises, neoliberalism faces growing opposition. However, these challenges take opposite directions: a retreat into archaic communities, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the development of democratic activity in all domains. The dominant reactionary form today is to fall back onto a community of sameness, based on the sharing of the same beliefs, the same nationality, the same language, the same origins. This identity-​based reaction can easily be explained: neoliberalism is no longer capable of providing and maintaining the symbolic framework and the material conditions that are vital for a modern society: employment, social security, a belief in progress. Feelings of loss and bewilderment everywhere lead the disaffected to seek the protection of a community, which mistakenly appears to be found in the fictional homogeneity of the past, in the defense of national identities, and the restoring of borders. This nationalistic reaction, with its religious undertones, pretends to fight the dissolution of communities, yet merely adds to the general confrontation amongst human groups its own share of hatred. Communities of belonging, be it that of the faithful or the nation, only fragment societies and humankind into groups that are indifferent, 208

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at best, and inimical, at worst. Moreover, the strengthening of identities calls for authoritarian political solutions that are quick to turn against basic freedoms. Opportunistic individuals often profit from this disintegration to impose their own whims and fantasies, combining oligarchical thievery and demagogical xenophobia. However, there is another answer—​one which is not found in archaic communities but in the democratic common. Amidst the calls for an authoritarian and nationalistic restoration that can be heard everywhere, new practices and new forms of social relationships can also be observed, which challenge the market and bureaucratic rationality while working toward “concrete utopias.”

The principle of the common Through struggle and experimentation, neoliberalism has spawned its opposite principle. Between the logic of competition and that of the common, two worldviews and two conceptions of life are locked in an unrelenting battle. The world is the scene of a great confrontation whose outcome no one can predict.This confrontation, which is also a social war, pits the neoliberal logic against the rationality of the common. Behind opposing discourses, doctrines, and policies, political, social, and economic forces clash. On the one side, oligarchical forces coalescing at the national and international scales expand and radicalize the neoliberal logic while profiting off the crisis, which now constitutes the normal mode of governing, even if that means inventing “neoliberalism in one country.” On the other side, while still too loosely coordinated at the international level, alternative forces occasionally succeed nevertheless in thwarting neoliberal projects: Quebec students who managed to block a tuition fee hike, Italian voters who countered the privatization of water, Brazilian demonstrators who revolted against increased public transport fares and demanded that it be free of charge. What is the relationship between the university, water, and public transport? Do they not form the very conditions of collective life, of basic needs and fundamental rights, which should be guarded against the logic of capital, privatization, and appropriation? “Common” is the concept that emerges and circulates amongst these various struggles and alternative practices to signify what we “positively” want, but, moreover, it is the link between concrete, situated, and limited practices and a radical transformation of society and the world. In short, the “common” articulates micropolitics and macropolitics, the present and the future. While it refers to a multifaceted struggle on multiple fronts, it also serves to give form to experimentations, to identify strategic objectives, to defend and expand fundamental human rights. “Common” is, thus, the name of a regime of practices, struggles, experiences, institutions, and research that aim to build a post-​capitalist world. The “common” means neither “community” nor “communion.” That which is common, which can be designated as common, is inseparable from collective decision and activity, from a co-​decision and a co-​activity.The emphasis is therefore put on action and its democratic modalities. For instance, when we say, “Barcelona in common,” we do not imply the preexistence of a Barcelonian identity, which would be antecedent to political action and in need of protection. What we mean is that the political activity in Barcelona will be democratically determined in favor of the many. It is in that way that we can speak of a “politics of the common.” The common is nothing but what we decide to put in common, what we institute as a common. A common is neither a stock nor a vestige of revivified ancient practices. It is not some exceptional good that should be kept out of reach of the market or the state since these goods would be common by nature. The common exists only insofar as we decide to put in common the material resources, the physical capacities, the intellectual knowledge, the time 209

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and effort necessary to actively preserve and develop its collective use. The common is not what is common by nature, but what we create and institute as such through political action. In that sense, everything can be a common as long as we decide to make it so by means of an instituting act that subsumes under the category of the common a space, a resource, or a work of art, or rather, an act that gives a certain thing, whatever it may be, the status of a common. The commons cannot be instituted and governed without applying the principle of the common, that is, of democracy.

Conclusion Neoliberalism has awoken monsters and generated chaos. For more than 30 years, all the hopes that had been placed in the international order, all the perspectives that had been opened by the welfare state in capitalist countries, have been progressively shattered. And all the lessons drawn from the barbarities of the twentieth century have been forgotten. This shattering of hopes is closely related to the loss of the “common world.” If we no longer have anything to do with one another, if we do not participate in the same world, if we become strangers or even enemies, then we have no common future, we have nothing left to hope for together.With neoliberalism we endure the deadly logic of the anti-​common, and all the effects of isolation, of pauperization, of inequality and precarity that follow in its wake. The chief political issue today is to redefine the common future of society, and more generally the common future of humankind. This must be the focus of our thinking. The many experiments and struggles that can be seen all over the world are already putting this into practice. They show us, practically and politically, what a common world truly means.

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23 INDIGNANT DEMOCRACY Problems of legitimization in neoliberal capitalism Juan Carlos Monedero Translated from Spanish by Martín Zimmerman New crisis of the system, less capacity to respond: indignation as identity We know from neurobiology that “an emotion that carries negative consequences can only be counteracted by another stronger emotion.”1 It is impossible to understand the 15M movement in Spain,2 like other parts of the protest wave of this period, without understanding its emotionality. The movement’s trigger was emotional—​police beating peaceful marchers who were protesting because their future was at risk.The rage the protesters felt at knowing their standard of living would never equal that of their parents while having no alternatives was emotional. The indignation the protesters felt at the excessive and obscene growth of inequality was emotional; it is an emotion that has been present since the beginning of human social interaction. Is it possible to explain a new social movement from the standpoint of emotion? The history of Spain is full of popular explosions of anger—​very much linked to the Catholic condition of the country—​that vanish as abruptly as they arise, leaving behind, however, the conditions for new political expression. 15M is in the DNA of whatever will be the newest reconfiguration of Spanish democracy. Within the range of behaviors of the nascent capitalist system Marx saw, one in particular sparked the wave of indignation that was pulled from North Africa and arrived in the US and Latin America by way of Iceland after stopping over in Madrid’s emblematic Puerta del Sol:  capitalism comes out of every crisis with an even smaller cookbook of solutions. The depletion of this cookbook by the crisis of 19733 slowly left social democracy and organized labor without an agenda. The electoral exchange between Social Democrats and Christian Democrats was ruptured when the Left’s base lost its principal referents. Hegemonic political forces transformed Fukuyama’s “end of history,” proposed upon the fall of the USSR, into a twenty-​first century “end of imagination.” Therefore, people confronted with the need to look for new political instruments ended up doing so. Thus, a typical “populist moment” was born. Western political tradition has had two great inclinations: the liberal and the democratic. The liberal tradition is individualist; it supports the primacy of private property and defends pluralism as well as the balance created through a division of powers. The democratic tradition rests upon popular sovereignty; its objectives are justice and equality. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries both traditions began to mix. Liberalism became democratic—​it accepted universal suffrage and social rights—​and the democratic tradition liberalized—​it rejected the 211

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assault on the Winter Palace and accepted the empire of the rule of law. But economic crises always invite liberalism to regress to its doctrinal roots by rejecting its democratic components. This is where threatened citizens use their rights to challenge the economic system and policies responsible for this abandonment of democracy.4 The social impulse behind Tahrir Square in Egypt, the movement of Indignados in Spain, #yosoy132 (I am 132) in Mexico, Occupy Wall Street in New York, the Syntagma Plaza protests in Athens, the Chilean student movement (penguins and academics), the Que se lixe la Troika protests in Portugal, the Brazilian protests sparked by the FIFA World Cup (“We already have ten stadiums; now we want a country”), the disturbances in Peru against inequality, the complaints against predatory extraction of natural resources in Bolivia and Ecuador—​all are protests that share instruments of communication—​thanks to technological development, a similar yearning for the liberty and democracy attained in each society (characteristic of the world’s globalized image), and an encouragement more often implied than explicitly stated about the need to reinvent democracy and the state in a world that is globalized, interconnected, environmentally devastated, and destroyed by the financial logic of the global casino.5 The historic moment that—​with the arbitrariness of dates characteristic of social disciplines—​ started with the 2007 Lehmann Brothers crisis marks the exhaustion of the post-​Second-​ World-​War political-​hegemonic formula in the Western world.This is expressed in the concept of the “social and democratic state of law,” which would reach Latin America in the form of developmentalist states. This is the same exhaustion expressed by Angela Merkel and Nicolás Sarkozy at the 2009 G8 Summit when they spoke of the need to “build a more humane capitalism” (something which they never brought about). It is the same exhaustion brought about in the opposite direction by the European Troika to drastically curtail the rights of citizens linked to that formula of “social and democratic state of law” (this curtailing is very real). It is the same exhaustion expressed in the citizen protests that made up the “Indignados movement.”The state, as a social relation,6 surpasses its comprehension as a “thing” at the same time as it surpasses its comprehension as a “subject.” The state is an assemblage that changes with its actors and also influences them, that has institutions but that only functions in relationship with the rest of society’s frameworks (the parliamentary coup against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was done in parliament, with the support of the judiciary and military, but also alongside a matrix of opinion created by the media and sustained by civil society). The state no longer has exclusive power, but it continues to be even more than a “first among equals.” Governance, the delivery mechanism of that power, continues “in the shadow of the hierarchy,” in that changes always branch into all social spheres but never cease having the state apparatus as their interlocutor. Even knowing that this movement’s protests were at their core petitioning for a “return to the past” (to the prosperous 90s, constructed as a desirable imaginary), they allow one to see the conscience of an exhaustion that demands a new social contract that, at least, actualizes obtained rights. A good part of the European and North American Indignados movement has gained special strength from the participation of citizens who demand an “end to the excesses” of neoliberalism. But this participation—​along with the impossibility of finding alternatives to markets, to the state, to citizenship, in which all actors end up winners (businesses, workers, pensioners, students, marginalized sectors)—​centers the discussion on the need for a new narrative. But constructing a new narrative demands new questions. This is what 15M was: a new question. We all find ourselves facing an undeniable fact: the abandonment of democracy that has opened up this populist moment can be responded to in one of three ways: 1) narrowing the political system and admitting alternatives are futile (these are the formulas brought about by the great coalition in Germany or indirectly in Spain after the June 2016 elections); 2) proposing an electoral exit based on criticizing the excesses of the system but without proposing real solutions so 212

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as not to impugn the system (the case of Donald Trump in the US or the rise of the European extreme Right):  3) searching for alternative exits that look for new political and economic frameworks (which new political formations—​such as Podemos in Spain—​propose).

Neoliberalism: a corpse full of life that sparked indignation The three decades of advantage that the neoliberal model has over its alternatives has a lot to do with a problem of analysis. Both Stiglitz7 and Krugman8 have insisted that the model’s success has to do with its ability to convince that there is no alternative (the consistent Nobel Prizes in Economics awarded to neoliberal authors since 1974 have done their part). We can affirm that the paralysis of critical thought and the classical politics of the Left have to do with the clumsy manner of confronting this theory and the continued revival of liberal thought. It is this impotence in the face of the onslaught of neoliberal thought and the institutional practices of the Left (including political parties and unions) that sparked the spontaneous creation of the Indignados movement. Beginning in the 1970s, neoliberalism, at the same time as it took from Marxism the diagnosis of the crisis and of the impossibility of universalizing the Keynesian Model, offered its own distinct therapy (reducing public expenditures, opening borders for capital, deregulating labor and finance and the balance of monetary variables). We should add that, despite the fact that neoliberal analysis never formally acknowledged this, neoliberalism required subjecting entire continents to the needs of capital, even though doing so meant promoting coups d’etat or sustaining bloody dictatorships. Neoliberalism as it really exists began neither with Margaret Thatcher nor John Paul II, rather with Pinochet, who, with CIA backing, overthrew Allende’s Unidad Popular government, and offered Chilean soil for the monetarist experiment.9 In theoretical terms, neoliberalism traces its roots to the 1930s with the Walter Lippmann colloquium, and it solidified year after year in the summits at Mont Pelerin and Davos. Almost a century of liberal reflection on the process of rejuvenation has ended up making neoliberalism Western common sense (that is, hegemonic ideology). Analysis of the social state model’s crisis was born in the critical trenches. Take, for example, O’Connor’s The Fiscal Crisis of the State beginning in the 1970s, or works on the crisis of the legitimacy of capitalism by Offe and Habermas. But unlike the initiative of the Right, the political attitude of the Left’s critique was nostalgia. This is where neoliberalism, analyzing the crisis, offered a new therapy, while the Left merely tried to recapture a paradise lost. This is where the Right presented itself as the advancement of thought (“we are the progressives,” Margaret Thatcher affirmed), while the Left, which had dedicated much of its resources to firing back at the social state by accusing it of being a capitalist trap, had started sighing for its return. Therefore, it is not strange that, after four decades of advantage, Europe would see how the fundamentals of European construction are changing.10 It is precisely in this “proletarization of the middle class” and the exhaustion of traditional political instruments that one can understand 15M’s emergence and the resurgence of the Latin American Right that rode a wave of discontent back into houses of government to reinstate neoliberal policies under the banner of populism. One of the principal motives of the Indignados movement was the recuperation of policy as a response to social-​democratic paralysis. Prioritizing the repayment of debts over a commitment to the social state was possible, also in Southern European countries, because it was framed as a “technical” question and not a “policy” decision. The essence of politics (conflict) was set aside for a narrative in which everything is reducible to consensus. Politics was expendable precisely because it was substituted with a technical discourse (one of the effects of the fall of 213

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the USSR and its replacement with supposedly neutral solutions coming from the IMF, World Bank, or WTO).There is no longer a debate over options offered by different models but rather over adjustments better carried out by experts than by citizens. If the best answer is merely a question of expertise, who better than technicians to make decisions? This is where we come to see “government by businessmen.” Thus, the neoliberal diagnosis became reality: citizens are their own worst advisers. Even more: with the development of education and the instruction attained by working classes, the only thing that would be achieved by giving them more credence than experts would be to overload the state with more and more demands (Huntington’s thesis). This is a Right-​wing conservative discourse internalized by social democracy. The outcome is that the social state, the only popular achievement in Europe after the Second World War, was dismantled by supposedly technical, and therefore irrefutable, arguments. The maintenance of the welfare system? Unsustainable. Public education? Too expensive. Universal healthcare? An absurd and inefficient expenditure. And who argues these things are impossible? The new common sense sustained by the corps of politicians and technicians, that is, lawyers and economists who, with their own language, cast citizens to the margins of democracy in crisis. 15M would have never happened in a properly functioning social democracy. Neoliberalism has built a set of “efficiency mechanisms” (Foucault) that have ended up conquering the common sense of our era. Competency has become the metric of social life and even of individuals’ performance of self. “Neoliberalism”—​say Laval and Dardot—​“is a system of norms already profoundly inscribed in governmental practices, institutional policies, and business practices (…) that produce an ‘accountable’ subjectivity through procedures that make individuals systematically compete with each other.”11 In 1973, Habermas declared a European identity crisis, economic crisis, rationality crisis, and motivational crisis. This is the situation to which Spain arrived in May 2011. These circumstances gave rise to the impulse that indignant democracy should function as a solution to overcome the prior moment.The crisis of 1973 was solved by deferring problems that arose during the post-​war period to subsequent generations, to the environment, and to countries to the South.Today that escape hatch is closed.This is why Europe has returned to a more pronounced exploitation of workers and a “Europeanization” of capitalism through “dispossession,”12 meaning placing public goods in private hands. And the increasing proletarization of the middle classes gave rise to the Indignados movement. Expulsion from the consumerist paradise caused frustration and a re-​politicization of certain sectors that, until that moment, had not been worried about affairs of the state. 15M’s analysis understood the novelty of the situation. It was not about simply returning to the past (the post-​war Keynesian or Fordist state) or about negating it (substituting it with a market-​based re-​articulation). 15M situated itself beyond the space of traditional parliamentary democracies. Twenty-​first century democracy should have taken into account criticisms of the extant social and democratic welfare state from different decades and viewpoints: from the liberal viewpoint (when it criticized paternalism, inefficiency, clientism); from marxism (its complaint about exploitation, alienation, debilitation of citizens’ critical conscience); from ecologism (productivist depletion of nature, capitalism’s short-​term and destructive logic); generational critiques (the present mortgaged on future generations); pacifism (the military-​industrial complex, war Keynesianism, violence); feminism (patriarchy, gender inequality, the added burden of reproduction); postmodern criticism (suffocation of the individual and of differences, homogenization of culture, hierarchies); or from global peripheries (increasing inequality between the global North–​South, neocolonialism). For this reason, it also should have critically examined the traditional responses of post-​war states to citizen complaints. The experience of the twentieth century should have been incorporated. Therefore, 15M’s stance was never a reissue of traditional Leftist thought. It had one foot in the traditional Leftist critical condition (progressivism), 214

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but it went much further than that. Since it did not belong to any family of the Left, it did not recognize the Left’s requirements, limitations, or assumptions. As a result, it was capable of things neither Leftist parties nor unions were capable of bringing about. 15M’s ignorance was its wisdom. The traditional functions performed in liberal democracies by political parties are no longer the exclusive patrimony of those organizations, even though they continue to be directly responsible for the structural functioning of the state. If political parties were the tool of excellence in constructing social and democratic welfare states, the ensuing emancipatory phases of the twenty-​first century will have new forms as intermediary subjects. In other words, political parties will be a necessary but not sufficient condition, especially in the reconfiguration of space occupied by what is understood as “the Left.” For these reasons, new forms of democracy aim to incorporate value that was less used than the political during the second half of the twentieth century and that carries more information: critical citizens organized in a plurality of social movements in search of lost political organization.13 When this linear logic is broken, what Prigogine has called “dissipative structures” emerge, points where ice breaks and new forms emerge that are unimaginable with current knowledge.14 The infinitesimal calculus applied to political life is that, although transformation can proceed with unexpected bifurcations, transformations will continue to be the fruits of tension between what exists, its critiques, and offerings of alternative realities. 15M did not land on an answer as the Argentinian shout “all of them must go.” With a larger social and family network, one supported by Spanish social structure, 15M could explore new territories.

Real democracy now: they don’t represent us 15M did not come out of nowhere. Its rage can be traced. There was a generalized sense that the social-​democratic PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) government of Rodríguez Zapatero had failed, even though the expression “do not fail us”—​which a spontaneous crowd had chanted outside party headquarters the night of the 2004 elections—​had succeeded. The demonstrations for a Vivienda digna (Dignified Housing) were being repressed, and the slogan “we want a flat, like the little prince” had been etched into the conscience of those who had to keep living in their parents’ homes. King Juan Carlos I had not yet been discovered hunting elephants in Botswana (which would cause the monarchy’s first public petition for forgiveness and would lead to the end of his reign), but the suspicion of royal privilege was growing, aggravated by corruption cases involving his daughter and son-​in-​law (which would persist alongside the declining popularity of the monarchy in CIS opinion polls). The socialist Culture Ministry had insisted that hackers were “pirates like the terrorists,” and although the PP (Partido Popular) tried to stand aside so as to remain invisible in this matter, it was clear that they sided with industry. Massive demonstrations still filled the streets demanding a democratic historical memory that restored dignity to the 150,000 republicans buried in ditches and gutters for defending constitutional legality in 1936 (demonstrations the government responded to stingingly by not giving funds for exhumation and not vacating Francoist verdicts). Judge Garzón was sidelined and eventually expelled from the judiciary for wanting to investigate the crimes of the Civil War and daring to touch Francoism and the Gürtel network (the PP’s illegal financing network). Universities started noticing cuts upon the application of the Bolonia Plan. Wikileaks’ papers clarified the Spanish government’s submission to North American dictates (especially when the government began tracking downloads of the papers). Employment, salary, and labor stability numbers were constantly declining. All of this formed a “perfect storm.” Where in the hell had the people of the Puerta del Sol found such ability to 215

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self-​organize, asked Amador Fernández-​Savater, a 15M activist? There was something inexplicable about 15M. This also sparked fascination. The indignation of the Puerta del Sol was one bifurcation point that opened after many disappointments:  spending cuts and the government’s resigned acceptance of the “dictatorship of markets”; the then five million unemployed (half of whom were young); the Sinde Law—​later, Werte-​Sinde—​and the limiting of internet downloads (impacting one of the few certainties for youth: the freedom to navigate the internet); the Spanish application of the same “austericide” logic overshadowing Greece, Ireland, or Portugal; the generalized sensation that public policy was being dictated from outside the country; the PP’s surge, despite the arrogance and corruption of all its suspects and defendants; the traumatic application of the Bolonia Plan to universities; hundreds of thousands of foreclosures; the imbalances of electoral law; new threats of layoffs; growing earnings for big companies; the maintenance of tax havens; bank bailouts and offensive bonuses for bankers and executives. And fiscal amnesties, increases in university tuition, healthcare copays, declining salaries, and health and education cuts had not yet even happened. And this is without taking into account more abstract disappointments such as the usurpation of historical memory, the breaking of electoral promises, suspected judicial bias, alongside other, more concrete ones such as police abuse of protesters, the material use of riot police that maim or kill youth—​with rubber bullets—​or the growing difficulty of exercising the constitutional rights of assembly and protest. We add, of course, the examples of the Sahara, Tunisia, Tahrir Square in Egypt, and previously of post-​neoliberal Latin America. The 15M protesters seemed to say: Those people have risen up; what are we waiting for? The people gathered in Sol were not looking to immediately transform the political system through elections. A movement with these characteristics is born because it has already discounted the possibility of change through elections, at least with available offers. All one must do is look at 15M’s grievances, constructed in those days by an anonymous crowd, to understand that the discussion was about the future and the nucleus of the system (among others: electoral reform, the elimination of the political class’s privileges, countermeasures against unemployment, dignified housing, quality public services, decreasing the military budget, public taxation of banking entities, fights against financial fraud, progressive taxation, judicial independence, fights against corruption, transparency, and the encouragement of participatory democracy). Without discounting the parliamentary route, electoral results would make one melancholy. All the proposals 15M began to make signaled the increase of democracy and a growing desire for popular participation, as well as a radical demand for an equality that was being disrupted by the financial sector’s attempt to become the way out of the crisis: ending politicians’ privileges (multiple jobs, multiple salaries, conflicts of interest, lifelong salaries, privileged pensions, and “revolving doors” between government and big business), ending tax havens and bank bailouts as well as bankers’ bonuses, and changes to electoral law that would end disproportionality and the two-​party system or at least support the democratization of the media. They revived proposals to end the practice of unions distributing jobs—​and to not raise the retirement age so that neither the old would have to work so long nor the young would be unemployed. In the absence of mortgage lenders, 15M demanded a public rental marketplace that would allow young people to leave their parents’ homes, just as they asked to change the law that allowed banks, once they could not get payment on a mortgage, to repossess the flat and still charge the monthly mortgage payment (a problem that, 15M pointed out, a public bank would solve). Among the proposals was help for the long-​term unemployed, and the need for those who have to pay more, since without this culture of taxation redistributive public policies are not possible. None of this would be possible in the absence of free, truthful, and pluralistic information (where journalists themselves, who are victims of precarious employment controlled by media 216

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owners, could also regain their dignity). 15M clearly insisted that, without an independent judiciary to concretize the separation of powers, justice would continue to be a farce in the hands of influential politicians entangled with economic powers. In any case, 15M struggled to concretize proposals that could function as the movement’s platform. The idea of equality is lit very strongly within young people. It is true that they have not had to fight for it—​unlike their parents and grandparents—​but they understand perfection when they do not have it. Therefore, none of 15M’s slogans was indifferent to this plea for equality:  “hands up, this is a robbery”; “Sponge Bob is looking for dignified employment”; “Your plunder, my crisis”; “Charging 600 euros is violence”; “We will not pay for this crisis.” The Paris Commune of 1871 revived a core democratic element discarded by representative democracy: the revocation of mandates, which was an assault on the liberal concept of political representation (converted, by a critical expression 15M revived, into “vote and stay out of politics”). That was and is one of the messages Puerta del Sol came to revive: “we are not anti-​ system: the system is anti-​us.” Even knowing that the comparison with the Paris Commune is excessive (Antonio Negri would also use the expression), there are real democratic elements that allow comparisons with that which brought the Commune to the barricades.

The reinvention of politics We live in a capitalism of desire, of information, of brands, of design, of money, and virtual finances, and capitalism has known how to convert critiques into stimuli that insist on its model.15 In this capitalism of design, the precariat is a guest at a party—​not the one who is never invited—​where all the guests crowd near the entrance. The essential condition of the precariat is their frustration. Can this frustration transform into political will? It is not easy. The precariat oscillates between the theatricality of protest—​one that gathers more people than the traditional appeal of the Left and Right, but mostly baffles the state, rather than changes it—​and a traditional confrontation for which there is no space in Spanish society. This is a valid summary of 15M’s social presence in its first phase. Facing the barricades, hands waving in the air. Facing a clash with police, passive resistance. Facing violence, imagination. Facing traditional media, social media. All of this was useful to keep adding on majorities, but insufficient for bringing about change. As one of part of the movement said, “let fear change sides.” Revolutions, according to Boaventura de Sousa Santos,16 never wait for theorists. Certainly, the Indignados movement has demonstrated a different way of starting to operate politically. Citing Marx, Antoni Doménech said the movement “does not know it but does it.”17 In its short life, 15M altered the political agenda, ruptured media silence by communicating via social media (82% of people who assembled with 15M came to the movement through social media), came back to life each time it was written off as dead, mobilized critical citizens who had stopped believing in the public sphere, pushed Leftist unions and political parties to reclaim their role as “conquerors of the system,” and reformulated the viewpoint of those who, without rejecting collective action, felt fewer and fewer reasons to inhabit the arena of social transformation. In this will to resurrect, 15M, like other phenomena of the protest wave that arose in this period in many countries, came to believe that there are people who are on the revolutionary pathway without knowing it. All it takes is to leap from pain to knowledge, to consider the causes of pain, to name the guilty, and to be determined to not give in. That is the revolutionary demand for “real democracy now” because twenty-​first century revolutions will not be measured by their ability to use force but rather by their ability to make possible that which seemed impossible. 217

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The principal risk of the Indignados movement has always been to surrender to melancholy (in the ebb and resurgence of apathy that Hirschmann18 notes as a constant in collective action). This feeling of impotence has to do with wanting to respond in barely a few months to a system that has spent five centuries slipping its tentacles into every area of social life: capitalism and liberal democracy. This explains why 15M has never hurried (and has repeated to exhaustion: “we are not moving slowly: we are traveling very far”). Because they are in a fragmented world and cannot reflect a coherent totality, 15M opted less to know what it wanted and more to know what it did not want. In this way, each act of civil disobedience served as one tile in a grand mosaic that was built a little more each time they said “no” to the system and took a little bite out of the logic of capital, the state, and modernity. They would only grasp the full picture when the mosaic was completed. But each tile is part of the new democracy. It is enough that the demands followed civil disobedience: they demanded without violence, they did not make individual or selfish demands (whomever was in their same circumstances should benefit), and they were ready to accept the consequences of their actions. The Indignados movement is pure civil disobedience, which is why it had such initial success and retained support in opinion polls in its first two years.19 Discerning the broader meaning of each fight—​so that the movement could bit by bit assemble the big picture—​proved an arduous task. Therefore, the principal accomplishment of the Indignados movement has been, as we have asserted, to blow up political “authority.” Even as the movement was still building its platform, that demolition of political authority meant no government possessed a blank check, even if it were to win an absolute electoral majority. The well-​known images in Latin America of presidents fleeing houses of government in helicopters became a possibility in Europe because of 15M.

The great intuitions of indignant politics: revolution, reform, and rebellion Social change manifests as a breach that opens up in a great wall. It is impossible to see only the breach and impossible to see only the supposedly whole wall. The breach points to a possible tendency, but the wall also forms part of social obligations. Can we work with the wall and the breach at the same time? 15M intuited that the extant economic model needed to void democracy and that the instrument of this voiding was cartelized political parties:  political leaders too dependent on opinion polls and too removed from popular will, too much self-​reference, too much similarity between them, too specialized in a bureaucratic logic. In the eyes of citizens, political parties seemed to be from another galaxy. As the political cartoon El Roto in the newspaper El País said, “the youth went into the streets and all political parties immediately got older.”20 It was not about the street silencing parties or replacing electoral processes with mob rule. It was about making sure political parties truly did their jobs, making sure that they were truly democratic and responsible. Indignados movements have drunken from the three streams of emancipation: reform, revolution, and rebellion. This means they have taken on three tempos within their “way of doing.” It is possible to try different solutions for the same diagnosis. There was no problem that some insisted more on organizational aspects, others in overcoming some concrete aspect, and others on building bridges with those political parties ready to reinvent themselves. 15M’s distinctive mark is that it does not forget where it comes from. The movement’s vaccine is its resilience: resisting new challenges without abandoning its essence—​its participatory methodology, its pluralism, its irritation at any kind of injustice, its impulse to the streets, its inventiveness, 218

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its capacity for dialogue, its freshness, its aim for transparency—​in the face of any attack, new setting, or traumatic threat. The articulation of the three emancipatory impulses points out a possible path for the future of the movement. One of these impulses is the reformist: symmetrical with the existing order, gradual, characterized by compromise through negotiation with what is institutionally sanctioned and often is the fruit of previous revolutions (the revolutionary gains of suffrage or equality under the law). The second impulse is the revolutionary: confrontational, characterized by urgency, mounting its efforts in the face of an actual institutional framework, directing its efforts with a platform of maxims that does not hesitate to use a counterpower of force. Finally (and in no particular order), there is the rebellious impulse, tangential to existing structures, with a flexible rhythm, that goes beyond the political forms consolidated in the twentieth century, and that incorporates new freedoms of new subjects. These three streams presumably take separate paths, but, once they settle on a purpose, move close to each other, cross over each other, move aside for each other when the situation demands it, reinforce one another, adapt to historical situations and to the correlation of forces (even though they also impede, compete with, and hurt one another).This conflict is, obviously, a promise of the future of 15M but also a ballast to its daily functioning, both of which are common in the reinvention of any political framework. The twilight of linearity also should affect these three streams, and carriers of each mantle should understand themselves to be part of a transformation that demands dialogue with the other models of social emancipation. Because the old never ends up leaving and the new never ends up arriving, because the thesis always becomes part of the synthesis, these three impulses should learn to encounter each other in the question of emancipation and do the opposite of what they did during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by attending to that which unites them and not exacerbating what separates them, a central idea of this way of understanding politics.

15M as politics in the cracks—​and Podemos as a party-​movement If 15M had great success by lacking memory, leadership, structures, and platforms (by being, as Laclau said, a “significant emptiness”), its previous ballast was precisely the lack of memory, leaders, platform, and structure. From there, that inclination toward “rebellion” also has to solve those problems that, metaphorically, are like waves in the sea, condemned to only exist when it is windy. In conclusion, 15M was impelled to unite these three impulses, with all the difficulties that implies. This is where creating a new political formation, such as Podemos, makes sense. Podemos, unlike 15M, can run in elections. Without leaders, a platform, or internal cohesion, there was a risk of disappearing in the ebb of the movement. But with the systemic crisis and impossibility of finding solutions from within, the search had to continue. Structure does not mean verticality. It was time for a more horizontal social orientation. 15M’s logic seemed to invite a reinvention of governance (believing the state can no longer monopolize politics) into democracy, where political decisions are born in discussions, executed by organizations, and sent back down to be supervised by more discussions. It was a moment, equally, to reinvent leaderships—​which is not the same as leaders—​in all arenas of social life—​leaderships that operate according to the new common sense, meaning the reinvention of politics. Recognitions that imply permanent dialogue with working groups but also to save some of the enormous energy cost of the horizontality of the assembly (assemblies that of course keep their existence, but instead of discussing the same issue again and again, are consequent with their commitments, their decisions, and the consensus obtained at each moment). There are also urgent decisions in the functioning of a 219

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country that, if not recognized, will keep the Indignados movement’s idea of re-​democratization from receiving the majority of the country’s support. It is a great democratic advance to be in a state of encouragement, but if these proposals imply leaping into the unknown, even those with barely anything left will be unconvinced by the proposals. 15M transferred certain traits to Spanish politics that they hoped to concretize: a re-​politicization of citizens, a radical critique of political parties, less social fear, a larger role for women, a questioning of the forms of representation, a reinvention of the concept of dignity that overcomes colonial thought, a demand for reconciliation between economy and ecology, a recuperation of affectivity, and support for unselfish cooperation and for anonymous political work.21 Familiar with political parties’ insufficiencies—​roundly pointed out by 15M—​Podemos tried to be a new kind of party, one that responded to problems in three very related areas: 1) What response did the popular disaffection articulated by 15M demand? 2) What kind of party did they want to build? 3) What idea of transversality would they assume with respect to the subject of change? With respect to their response to citizens’ distancing themselves from politics, Podemos faced two paths: represent the citizen anger expressed by 15M or take advantage of that indignation to channel it toward more transformative political positions and not ones that merely “recuperated” the status quo before the economic crisis of 2008. 15M was a movement that gained enormous sympathy because it embraced equally those traditionally damned by capitalist policies and those new middle-​class victims who had widened the “proletarized” ranks.The rupture of the generational gap and Podemos’ capacity to adapt itself to the specific needs of each territory also helped its proposals gain the approval of 78% of the population.22 In the aftermath of big economic shifts over a short period of time, a feeling of loss was not naturalized and instead generated popular unrest that changed the narrative about the inevitability and morality of neoliberalism. In other words, an unquantifiable part of 15M was not opposed to the system, but rather to the “excesses of the system,” that is, to exclusion, obvious inequalities, corruption, a sense of threat.Tactically representing the Indignados from the standpoint of critiquing the “excesses of the system” posed a strategic problem: it was much simpler for a political force from the Right to represent that viewpoint—​with the advantage that it would not demand anything novel in exchange:  this is what the party Ciudadanos would later do, but it would also generate volatile support. On the other hand, redirecting citizens’ anger toward more compromised positions with the construction of “high-​density democracy” (Santos) implied more deeply altering the platform. Podemos oscillated between creating a “machinery of electoral war” that prioritized elections and institutional work and a new kind of party that prioritized direct participation as an essential requirement for altering common sense. That did not mean choosing between one or the other, but rather synchronizing those two ideas. Political parties, like parliamentarianism, are nineteenth-​century realities that continue operating with perilous values, such as the prohibition of the imperative mandate23, and the continued legitimization of ideas that no longer work (legislative power as a representation of the nation, its monopoly over drafting legislation and controlling government). All of these are elements that are overcome in what Manin called “democracies of audience.”24 The latent struggle between “tactics” and “strategy”—​between the “Santos hypothesis” (a translation of the demands that include the search for a political signal that points toward conquering common struggles that have generated these demands; active hegemony is not adapted to, but rather stepped back from in order to be overcome) and the “Laclau hypothesis” (the populist hypothesis, constructing a “them”—​to whom, following the Italian example, a caste is assigned—​and an “us”—​a people under construction—​polarizing the situation around 220

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a leadership that has voided its initial concrete demands to facilitate a chain of equivalencies in which every discontent with the regime is answered symbolically by a “significant void” represented by the leader)—​awakens new spirits in the internal organization of a party that wants to overcome the cartelization signaled by Katz and Mair.25 This struggle deals with choosing between a party at the service of a vertical leadership (justified as the necessary tactic to gain an electoral majority) or a socio-​political movement with a greater degree of complexity (that takes its strength from its greater capacity to politicize and construct an alternative narrative that builds transversality). The “Laclau hypothesis” calls for a Blitzkrieg that allows immediate access to power. The “Santos hypothesis” has a more medium-​term perspective (and is wiser). We are facing an integral crisis of liberal representative democracies, which are incapable of including a majority of their populations. The system’s exhaustion and political actors’ inability to propose integrating solutions are more than evident. Indignant politics has gained ground by debilitating official arguments and augmenting the silent majority’s will power. But there is still a strong desire to return to a happy past in which all the same problems existed but were beyond the majority’s awareness. All the reasons for disobedience are given, but no one knows when this indignation can become a new common sense that transforms politics. The creation of political forces that are born out of the re-​politicization of “Indignados” movements can be a solution, but in a globalized world there are no solutions that are not both regional and local at the same time. The reiterated need to change common sense continues to arise, but it is no less real that neoliberal common sense has cleared space for itself thanks to large economic groups that brought about cultural change and used the state apparatus once they obtained political power. If 15M was a big experiment, creating new political forces also demands experimentation.

Three alternative logics coming from one alternative thought There are three alternative logics to explore that should serve, together, to construct that “alternative thought of alternatives.”26 These logics would facilitate transformations while helping to impugn the state’s strategic selectivity and looking for mechanisms that help break the state’s biggest inclination to attend to determined interests and replicate material and symbolic power structures as much in the state as in society. The three logics we propose are as follows. First, the “Wikipedia logic,” the collaborative work that Mason27 calls the “wiki state” and enters from Santos’ proposal of an “experimental state.” This logic is based on the fact that ideas, information, and relationships are intangible, can generate well-​being with zero cost, and function better when more people share them. Wikipedia, an encyclopedia of 26 million pages and 24 million collaborators, produces, thanks to collaborative work and information technology, the world’s most important encyclopedia, with more than 8.5 billion pages visited each month. And it is de-​marketized, making the socialist dream of high-​quality free public goods a reality (Wikipedia has been recognized as a superior encyclopedia to Encyclopedia Britannica, which also has errors, but cannot eliminate them).28 Unlike Twitter, Wikipedia is not a company with mercantile interests and has controls that prevent knowledge from being democratized to the least common denominator (which happens on Twitter or Facebook). It is true that multinational corporations and organizations are hiring people to control the content of certain voices, but this same fact forms part of a learning that is easily controlled by the same cooperative logic. This production by equals based on the common good points to an alternative logic that is already here and should be encouraged. The second logic is that of the World Social Forum (WSF), which guarantees universality, translation, deliberation, ecumenism, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and fraternity.29 This is a 221

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logic that looks South, that remembers that next to Marxist grammars of distribution there are grammars of identity and of hidden recognition by the epistemological colonialism of the North. The logic of the WSF moves to the rhythm of the people (it is not the institution that drives the militants), but also has a functioning democratic organism, the International Council, that defuses the danger of movements with weak structures (that, like the waves of the sea, only exist when it is windy). The WSF’s plural condition and its capacity for encounter paint a wide portrait on the level of the conscience—​it is both a cultural and political struggle, with both intellectuals and activists—​and nourishes an essential idea for the rearticulation of the alternative: every time a movement establishes an opposition and does not defend itself as a particularism but rather poses itself as having global validity, it is a tile placed on the wall, on the way to creating a final picture of an alternative where the sum of protests form the mosaic. Finally, there is the logic of the Indignados (15M, Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Nuit Debout, Citizen Waves) that, adding elements to the “Wikipedia logic” and the “WSF logic,” is based on an objection to representative democracy and economic exclusion, demands new forms of participation linked to new technologies, questions media companies, advocates a liberatory functioning profoundly safeguarded by the people, and proposes a new model of the constituent process that breaks with the logic of political parties and injects participation into institutional politics. The explosions of indignation serve as “happenings” (Ranciere) that break cognitive boundaries and permit people to cross social limits. However, these three logics, which can work in the medium and long terms, have the obligation, when facing the short term, of building alternatives in an institutional space, the only real space capable of slowing capitalist metabolism in its neoliberal phase. These three logics are expressed—​and sublimated in something bigger—​in political formations that when facing a “Left–​Right” axis—​without discarding the “sense of family” that comes from Leftist traditions—​insist on an “above–​below” axis or a “new–​old” axis. The efforts of those “below” imply popular grievance (in this environment of fraternity, it is omitted in favor of liberty and equality in the offer of illustration). The axis of the “new” encompasses all the novelties that come out of the critical reading of the old Left and its defeat. We have seen that the case of Podemos in Spain adds to the horizontal logic of the Indignados movement’s own circles, incorporating a new grammar that is technologically sustained, irreverent with the strategic selectivity of the state, and references internationalism in a clearly European way. At the same time, it constructs an electoral machinery that can turn collectively built platforms into public policy. The building of Podemos is necessarily subsequent to the new narrative that made possible the occupation of public squares for three years and seeks to be the institutional incarnation of the demands represented by the three logics we have discussed (which coincide with finalizing the transformation of money, workers, land, and knowledge into mere merchandise). Podemos’ great challenge is to transform the state into a site of reinventing politics, one that can put in motion the idea of subsidiarity that helps society self-​organize, meaning: that allows self-​organization without abandoning those smaller parts that take on a task (a deception of the decentralization of the 1980s, in which a kind of privatization was tied to the idea of the “minimalist state”). The idea of subsidiarity means that an administration allows civil society to organize itself, supplying it with basic elements for this task, along with human means and material resources, so the administration can immediately take a back seat. This taking a back seat without leaving—​a kind of “maternal” politics in the face of social-​democrat or communist paternalism—​allows the three streams of the traditional Left (the reformist, the revolutionary, or the rebellious or anarchist), whose separation has been an essential element for the defeat of emancipation in the final third of the twentieth century, to join.

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All of these discussions should be ridden as contradictions or “creative tensions”30 using the three logics named earlier but with institutional control, which is why it is essential that the building of a new breed of political party accompany new logics—​the subsidiarity built from a global perspective—​that allow for a post-​capitalist society. And it is necessary to involve citizens so that errors do not destroy the project. Constituent processes—​as builders of organization, with a political agenda and created by public conscience—​form an essential part of the new political construct.

Notes 1 Antonio Damasio, Y el Cerebro Creó al Hombre (Barcelona: Destino, 2010), 422. 2 Editors’ Note: 15M was a contentious event that took place in Spain on May 15, 2011, the day before the local and regional elections, held on May 22. Squares were occupied by tents in “acampadas,” which would become a powerful anti-​austerity and pro-​democracy movement in Spain, also known as the Indignados Movement, or the movement for Real Democracy Now. 3 Editors’ Note: The 1973 oil crisis had its origins in the decision of the members of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to declare an oil embargo in response to the US decision to re-​supply the Israeli military during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. It constituted a relevant change in world geopolitics: the oil producing countries challenged US dominance in the global economic decisions, using oil as a political and economic weapon. This crisis is also associated with the formation of the G-​7 (established 1976, by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and with a rapid increase in Third World debt. 4 Francisco Panizza (compilador), El Populismo Como Espejo de la Democracia (Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2009). 5 Manuel Castells, Redes de Indignación y Esperanza (Barcelona: Ariel, 2013). Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, Representaciones Políticas y 15M (Madrid:  CIS, 2012). Disponible en:  www.cis.es/​cis/​ opencms/​ES/​12_​NotasInvestigacion/​Investigaciones/​2012/​NotaInvestigacion0008.html. Massimo Modonesi y Julián Rebón (eds.), Una Década en Movimiento. Luchas Populares em América Latina en el Amanecer del Siglo XXI (Buenos Aires:  CLACSO, 2011). Joseba Fernández, Carlos Sevilla y Miguel Urbán, ¡Ocupemos el Mundo! (Barcelona:  Icaria, 2013). Josep María Antentas y Esther Vivas, Planeta indignado (Madrid: Sequitur, 2012). Juan Carlos Monedero, Curso Urgente de Política Para Gente Decente (Barcelona: Seix-​Barral,  2013). 6 Robert Jessop, El Futuro del Estado Capitalista (Madrid: Catarata, 2008). 7 Joseph Stiglitz, El Precio de la Desigualdad. Como un Sistema Político y Económico Injusto ha Creado una Sociedad Dividida (Madrid: Taurus, 2012). 8 Paul Krugman, Vendiendo Prosperidad: Sensatez e Insensatez Económica en una era de Expectativas Limitadas (Barcelona: Ariel, 2013). 9 Óscar Guardiola-​Rivera, Story of a Death Foretold (Londres: Bloombury, 2013). David Harvey, The New Imperialism (Oxford University Press, 2003). Naomí Klein, La Doctrina del Shock. El Auge del Capitalismo del Desastre (Barcelona: Paidós, 2007). 10 Christian Laval y Pierre Dardot, La Nueva Razón del Mundo. Ensayo Sobre la Sociedad Neoliberal (Barcelona: Gedisa, 2013). 11 Ibid., 21. 12 Harvey, The New Imperialism. 13 Manuel Castells,Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the InternetAge (Cambridge: Polity,  2012). 14 Ilya Prigogine, ¿Tan Sólo una Ilusión? (Barcelona: Editorial Tusquets, 1983). 15 Luc Boltanski y Eve Chapiello, El Nuevo Espíritu del Capitalismo (Madrid: Akal, 2002). 16 Boaventura de Sousa Santos, El Milenio Huérfano (Madrid: Trotta, 2011). 17 Antoni Doménech, “Mejor al revés:  ¿cuál es la alternativa real al Movimiento del 15 de Mayo?” Sin Permiso, May 22, 2011, www.sinpermiso.info/​textos/​mejor-​al-​revs-​cul-​es-​la-​alternativa-​real-​al-​ movimiento-​del-​15-​de-​mayo. 18 Albert O. Hirschman, Interés Privado, Acción Pública (México: FCE, 1991). 19 CIS, Representaciones Políticas y 15M. 20 El Roto, in El País, May 16, 2011.

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Monedero 21 Marina Garcés, “Nuevas Formas de Politización”, en La Maleta de Port Bou, núm.1, septiembre-​octubre 2013. Monedero, Curso Urgente de Política Para Gente Decente. 22 It is important to note that, in parts of the Spanish state outside of Madrid, the movement incorporated grievances of national sovereignty, such as in Catalonia.The “center-​fringe” split in Spain was expressed in Podemos by the announcement of the so-​called “right to decide” (right to assert national sovereignty to a centralized Spain) and started a debate full of complexities about whether the new formation would have federal or confederated organization. 23 The French Constitution of 1791 prohibited the imperative mandate, that is, the obligation of representatives to carry out the orders of the electors. It was replaced by the representative mandate, where accountability only takes place in the following elections punishing the representative. One of the central elements of the Paris Commune of 1871 was the revocation of the mandates, that is, to return to the imperative mandate. 24 Bernard Manin, Principios del Gobierno Representativo (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1998). 25 Richard Katz y Peter Mair, “Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy. The Emergence of Cartel Party”, en Party Politics 1: 1 (1995). 26 Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Para Descolonizar Occidente. Más Allá del Pensamiento Abismal (Buenos Aires: CLACSO/​Prometeo, 2010), 29. 27 See Paul Mason, Postcapitalism:  A Guide to Our Future, First American Edition (New  York:  Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2016). 28 See Jim Giles, “Internet Encyclopaedias Go Head to Head,” Nature: International Journal of Science 438 (2005). 29 Santos, B.  (2005). “Beyond Neoliberal Governance:  The World Social Forum as Subaltern Cosmopolitan Politics and Legality,” eds, B.  De Sousa Santos & C.  Rodríguez-​Garavito,  Law and Globalization from Below:  Towards a Cosmopolitan Legality  (Cambridge Studies in Law and Society) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 29–​63. 30 Álvaro García Linera, Tensiones Creativas de la Revolución:  La Quinta Fase Del Proceso de Cambio (La Paz: Vicepresidencia del Estado Plurinacional Presidencia de la Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional,  2010).

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24 ART AND THE WRECKAGE Marildo Menegat

I. In political economy, the social division of labor is a natural fact that pursues an objective in which society progressively moves toward an end-​state, which is to increase comfort with a proportional reduction of effort.1 This concept has been reified as a popular adage. As in capitalism all effort is labor, and labor is an imposition, a form of servitude, voluntary only in appearance, the notion that one day its result could be achieved with less violence is a great promise. However, when one observes the history of capitalism, it is not difficult to perceive that the history of labor and its social division is in fact the history of endless human degradation.2 Hence, since its origin, the critique of political economy has focused on the critique of the social division of labor. An essential theme for this was the understanding of the phenomenon of alienation, which Hegel had already described years earlier. For Hegel, alienation explained one of the paradoxes of modern society, also perceived by political economy, the explanation of which seemed to him (rightly) somewhat limited. The development of the division of labor removes from individuals any understanding of the meaning of their activities, leaving them solely focused on efforts to increase their comfort—​in the form of goods and the accumulation of money. However, it frequently occurs that these activities are imposed by blind laws of the market, which act as necessities that transcend one’s mere choice. In this sense, liberty in various situations, such as at work, seems non-​existent. Or worse: If you consider what is hidden in the exercise of free choice, it will not be difficult to realize that it can only be exercised through the mediation of money. Therefore, free choice is an attribute of money that, consequently, is only lent to its possessor. As money has no attachment to its possessor, this liberty is often a chimera. How, then, can we explain the fact that a society that presents itself in history as the highest expression of liberty holds within it voluntary prisons? In philosophical terms, the Hegelian concept of alienation sought to provide a positive explanation for this. That is, the immediate meaning of individual choices and actions is beyond the scope of understanding, but in the end, the results of these actions, irrational in appearance, comprise a rational totality in which the designs of such an adage [the adage that the development of this society will ultimately bring freedom] should be realized.

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When, in his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, Karl Marx attempted to “reverse” the outcome of this reflection, making alienation not a justification of the mode of existence in this society, but the central core of a critique of capitalism, he had already realized that convergence between Hegel and political economy came through the acceptance of the division of labor. In The German Ideology, the problem is better analyzed. The relationship between alienation and the social division of labor is no longer explained by a deviation of congealed human essence in the private appropriation of the means of production, and therefore, of the usurpation of the fruits of labor, but based on the objectified form of a society founded on coercive activity. The idea that this social form presents itself as an “alienated power” that dominates individuals, instead of being dominated by them, thus begins to acquire, in Marx’s thinking, an explanatory force completely different from that given by Hegel. In this way, Western societies could only affirm liberty as an objectified condition of the social form if they suppressed labor. In The Protestant Ethic, Max Weber presents a curious relationship between labor and a Christian religious foundation. At one point, he comments that this abstract activity of bourgeois society was explained by Luther in terms of “vocation,” that is, a calling of God. It would then be the realization, through human action, of the divine will. This observation gains importance when confronted with the historical process of the imposition of labor. It is this process that allows us to give an explanation to the process that “cripples the worker and makes him a kind of monster” (Marx) that is not an explanation that can see this result as the prism of the development of the laws of nature or by the designs of religion. In both explanations, the reflective capacity of the human being must remain mutilated. Neither of the explanations leads to resistance against this reality [of the capitalist society]. Hence, it will not be strange that the labor force is a form of existence for almost everyone and that the systems of near slavery that result from it are experienced as destinies, a kind of ordeal and expiation of life. In his mature work, Marx began to conceive of capital as a form of impersonal domination. With this step, he could explain that labor—​and its division—​follows the constitutive logic of capitalism’s social relations, but that, nevertheless, such a process remains oblivious to the consciousness of the individuals involved. He defined this impersonal structuring of domination as an “automatic subject.”3 The religious background of capitalism detected by Weber seems to make sense. It is part of a mode of existence as a religion (Walter Benjamin) where capital occupies the place of an occult Being that structures and determines a whole series of events, which happen to occur because they must, as if they were the will of an (automatic) subject that conditions social relations and acts on individual choices. It is true that for traditional Marxism4 the subject of domination was always formulated in terms of man’s personal domination by man, and that this would be based on the organizational mode of the social division of labor as a set of activities subjectively imposed by one class on the other. To reverse this, politics should, as a sphere of “becoming conscious,” after many struggles, create a new distribution of power and a different organization of labor. The experiences of the twentieth century, however, exposed the fragility of this reasoning and supported the understanding of alienation not as a false consciousness, a part of the dominant ideology, which would have the function of inducing individuals to think differently from their “universal interests of emancipation,” but as the result of social objectification founded in labor. If we think in terms of impersonal domination, this argument of the illogical character of the work makes sense, as is evident in the case of the production of weapons capable of destroying the planet many times over, or in the use of fossil energies that (before long) will leave the earth in the dark—​for reasons quite different from those of their function. Infinite examples could be found. 226

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Capitalism merely obeys the imperative of the incessant pursuit of profit, which makes it an organized social form for the simple transformation of money into greater value. In this perspective, the social division of labor should be understood as the objective and hierarchical organization of the innumerable forms of labor necessary to produce goods and keep this dynamic alive. Both these forms of labor and the advanced technology that capital has developed since the final quarter of the last century have become overtly destructive factors. The socialism that collapsed in the 1990s was part of this school of thought, which criticized the social division of labor, hoping to save labor and technology from it. As if this was because both had an emancipatory potential that could subvert the separation between the rulers and the ruled, manual laborers vs. intellectual workers, etc. However, this critique of capitalism by the socialism that collapsed does not explain the current situation, which can be illustrated with the emblematic scene of a peasant women’s movement destroying a eucalyptus nursery belonging to a giant cellulose production business. The motivation for their action was the intuition that this product of science destroys their possibility of survival. This apparent species of twenty-​first century Luddism is no anachronism. It may be the most lucid way of rethinking a critique of capitalism. It does not simply demand a redistribution of power, but the destruction of anything that serves only for the reproduction of capital. How we would live after this destruction is a theme little considered and one that should certainly inspire art. Before that, art would have to deal with the collapse of a society founded on labor, already heralded by the debacle of socialism and the “Third World,” and which would lead to unemployment and violence in the capitalist countries of the center.

II. G. Lukács’ thesis on the ideological decadence of the bourgeoisie is well known. The initial outline is already found in History and Class  Consciousness. It would not be arbitrary, contrary to the common practice, to relate this concept to his earlier work (cf. 2000; e 2015), rather than the well-​known essay from 1938 (1981).5 The forms of bourgeois society were in crisis from the period before the Great War of 1914. What for them served as representation expressed very little of what really existed, and its internal movement lacked the strength to bear a load of materiality resulting from its contradictions, which, precisely, overwhelmed it. This content, however, was the most interesting thing in that context. Marx defines modern society as a social division of labor for the production of goods.6 I shall propose as a line of analysis the collapse of this form of division of labor and its implications for art, an internal relation—​as I intend to demonstrate in the following pages—​between representation of the bourgeois world and the substance of value, or, more clearly, labor, as the basis of this reality and a hypostatized7 criterion of “realism.” In this sense, the closer we are to an historical situation in the form of which value can logically be constituted without suffering any internal limit, in which the labor force is the determining element of the production process and of its determination, being able to enjoy an expansive impulse and serve as an unquestionable measure of value, furthermore which can be uncontroversially produced (or having produced) a plausible representation of reality. For a long period, corresponding with the horrors of the primitive accumulation of capital, the classical bourgeois drama could successfully dispense with the exposition of the situation of the working class. The bourgeois drama was more representative of the spirit of opposition to courtly society,8 with the appreciation of the active and pioneering character of the bourgeoisie, than the fate of the masses in the nascent laboring society. As the Industrial Revolution began in England, this model of representation went through a profound alteration. Naturalistic 227

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theatre itself would not be understandable without this historical background. As we know, the Industrial Revolution produced a new iteration of the social division of labor. With it, the universal production of goods finally found its own mode of production.The tensions of representation in this social drama, besides the dissension over the distribution of the quantum of work produced, also had, essentially, a new relation with the immense technical apparatus of production. It was these distributive tensions, however, that were at the center of the events of 1848. For Lukács, this was the watershed moment when the bourgeois world entered a thick smokescreen and began to flee from self-​understanding. Unlike Theseus, it was not a question of hiding from monsters, but of hiding from the monstrous contradictions produced by capital. The decadence, still following Lukács’ conception, derived basically from the fact that the expressions of the spirit of this society could no longer face the truth hidden in this contradiction. However, this problem looks minor in the face of the magnitude of the destruction produced by the bourgeois world.The silent threat to the existence of the worker, that is, to the elemental social form of survival—​which was underway in the factories as a logical result of the competition between individual capitals to take over the market, and the metabolic rupture with nature—​had a more devastating potential. Technology, represented by the development of the means of production, gradually suppressed the necessity of the physical presence of human labor in the production process. This development only had a comprehensive impact on European societies in the late nineteenth century. The exhaustion of the first wave of industrialization, which was almost entirely concentrated in England, forced capital to move on to a new phase of competition.These conditions imposed changes in the organic composition of capital in which the labor force underwent increasing cycles of reduction. The industrialization of competing nations in this context, such as France, Germany, and the USA, was carried out with a smaller labor force in the production of each commodity. The trend of diminishing profits demanded from capital a compulsive productivism, which could only compensate with this reduction in human labor, and an increase in the quantity of goods produced. In this period, for the first time, an enormous pool of superfluous human beings was being created by the world of capital. They had little representation in the forms produced by bourgeois art and thought. It was only when mass death gathered momentum, as in the Holocaust, that this material found expression, as was the case in the philosophies of Theodor Adorno, Günther Anders, and Hannah Arendt, amongst (few) others. All the historical moments in which the tendency of capital to approach its internal logical limits was felt—​and this is always the case when the dismissal of the labor force by new technologies takes effect on a large scale—​were accompanied by colossal crises which also had repercussions in the field of artistic mimesis. This was the case, for example, in the great crisis of 1873–​1896. The prolonged depressive effect of overaccumulation amidst substantial changes in the techniques of production impacted virtually every field in which the representation of reality was a basic matter, from philosophy to the fine arts, from science to literature, etc. Such a general state of mind as that which arose at this time led to convergences between political vanguards (which arose from the inability of institutions to face the sinister consequences that these changes engender) and artistic vanguards, as they acted amidst the vertigo caused by broad changes in the conception of reality. The floor being further away from one’s feet required an acceleration of the representations of the world. This acceleration, opened to multiple perspectives, also meant an astounding reduction of the human dimension as a constituent of reality. In Doktor Faustus, by Thomas Mann (1984; cap. XXXIII–​XXXIV e XXXV), the possibility of uniting the artistic avant-​garde with new forms of political action, which was an inescapable fact in Germany between the years 1919–​1923, is sought,9 albeit subtly, making beautiful subject matter of that apparent chaos.The difficulty in apprehending those events, and 228

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all that follow to the end of the novel, bears witness to this limit and the consequent loss of the means, and of the capacity, for human intervention in history. Capital, as an “automatic subject” (Marx) of the social process, was already imposed in this period of its history as an immeasurable mechanism hostile to all forms of life. No vanguard of that period, such as Dadaism or Expressionism, can be understood without this loss of the foundation that gave the real, in normal times, its virtuous constancy of repetition. Human dramas became strange because they encountered inhuman vertigo which had transcended the speculative field of remote possibilities to become part of life. The presence of an impersonal force of domination dragging humanity, with curious coherence, into destruction, such as that seen in “The Thirty-​Year War of the General Crisis of the Twentieth Century –​1914–​45,”10 attests to the extent to which the relationship between crisis and representation is intertwined. As we have seen, capitalism is a social form that is dependent on labor, not as an inescapable socio-​metabolic mediation activity, but as a foundation (substance) of its dynamics and abstract measure of the transformation of money into more money. At the same time, this abstract activity that Marx unceremoniously defined as a mere expenditure of “brain, nerves, muscles and hands” is progressively eliminated by the development of the productive forces controlled by a regime of competition that induces a permanent technological revolution. Hence, the great crises in capitalism,11 which tend to be cumulative and increasingly destructive, are moments of disturbance both in the current conceptions of reality and in the ways it is represented. The crises are not obliged to be inspiring. Rather, in the Benjaminian theme that “hope is given only to those who have no hope,” they produce a last call to give up this journey to the end of the world. The young Lukács’ (2000) conception of the crisis of the novel can be read through this prism. The bourgeois drama, including its naturalistic narrative, became a model of representation of the limits of the relation of the individual to society that could not use—​and was incapable of producing—​any prospect of escape.The capacity and scope of this type of literature when criticizing this situation made it an anodyne exercise. The evocation of an epic literature that could respond in a collective manner to the overcoming of the trauma that the outbreak of the First World War created in European culture, and the search for models related to this end, certainly paved the way, if not as a direct influence then at least as an explanation, for the important step that was taken by the theatre of Bertolt Brecht in the 1930s. In it, more so than in the positions and aesthetic consequences of Lukács in the 1930s, who wrote about ideological decadence—​and with whom Brecht was in debate—​the problem of content in search of form reverberates. It is not only the theme of the bourgeois “falsehood of consciousness” that refuses to incorporate this overflow of the real, but, for a Leftist artist, principally the challenge of giving it a revolutionary form. However, there is something in Brecht’s theatre that limits the scope of this challenge. He shares with Lukács an essential aspect of the thesis of decadence: For both, the central contradiction of capitalism is the distributive dissent between bourgeoisie and proletariat. The self-​contradiction of the development of capital and its disasters, from this perspective, is always and only explained in terms of subjective choices. It is very difficult for traditional Marxism to fully grasp the meaning of such a concept, though enunciated by Marx, as that of the “automatic subject.” After a few tough readings and red eyes before the impenetrable, it surely ends up sounding like a simple “metaphor,” a kind of poetic license from a great writer, which Marx certainly was, too. If the foundations of reality are understood as trans-​historical, and labor is raised upon this ontological foundation, every truth that can be drawn from it has something in common with its fate. How can we understand, however, that something that underlies any reality and all historical time can be undermined by the development of the productive forces of capitalism, which, independent of 229

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this, must be a necessary precursor for socialism? And, perhaps, even more impenetrable: how to conceive that capitalism can self-​destruct without this great event creating nothing more than a state of barbarism? On this line of thought, Brechtian Epic Theatre suffers from many limitations that its author judged to be sins only present in bourgeois drama.The problem is that Brecht’s solution to the dialectical form of theatre includes only the prognosis of the contradiction between capital and labor as a central element in representation, making labor the epic subject, neglecting that it would only be emancipatory if it started from its self-​abolition, since the historical origin of this form of existence (daseinform) is the very socialization of the value of bourgeois society. It is not the other, the negativity, present in a supposed positive dialectic that would propel history in its teleology, but a form created for, and necessary for, the existence of this society which, nevertheless, as it develops, unconsciously destroys it.The hidden truth of the mass of men and women superfluous to capital is another part of reality that does not fit into the realistic mimetic canon of traditional Marxism and still less bourgeois realism. It is perhaps for these reasons that the theatre of Samuel Beckett is more realistic than Epic Theatre. The charges of nihilism against that theatre are often crude. The experience of attending a production of Endgame and then reading the book Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexijevich can be a disturbing kind of realism. In “The Thirty-​Year War of the General Crisis of the Twentieth Century,” centrifugal forces of a destructive process were acting, which appear repeatedly in situations of catastrophic desocialization. Beckett seems to have noticed and channeled the potency of this state of affairs in his plays. As crises are not merely repetitions of a disproportion between sectors of the economy, but cumulative processes of a self-​contradiction underway that cannot be resolved within the realist frameworks of this society,12 these situations can be recapitulated in the later period—​that is, in new crises—​more sharply and comprehensively. It seems that this is the aspect that makes Beckett’s plays more powerful and critical, and diminishes the impact that Brecht’s once had.The Irish writer realized that the social division of commodity labor was capable of engendering frightening nonsenses. During the same period, Brecht was no better than an elegy to Galileo’s avant l’etre Enlightenment, appealing once again to the theme of deviation from a promising discovery, in this case modern science, whose promise would be wasted in the radioactive bonfire of a piece of this extinguished star which is the Earth, first in Hiroshima, then in Nagasaki. Reality in Beckett’s plays is not organized from the foundations of bourgeois society, such as labor, value, money, etc., but precisely from the total absence of these foundations. The situation from which the characters depart—​once the possibility of action has been suspended (in this society it is embedded in an automatic mechanism that, in Beckett’s plays, for some reason, is absent)—​is always a post-​catastrophic situation. We know nothing of what produced it, but with some acuity one can note with unease the absence of the teleology of capital and, with a little more effort, the end that follows if we do not respond to the final call.

III. When art seeks new forms of expression, it unconsciously responds to the shock of the loss of substantiality of value, which maintains the subjectivity integral to the specific reproduction of reality that is the bourgeois world. Unknowingly, it also ends up producing a critique of this substantial content. It diverges from the limits of life given by labor, which, in capitalism, does not pursue the fulfillment of human needs, but those of the increase of value. If art shuns the constraints of the economy, as a useless object from the universe of commodity and money, this critique is strengthened.This is why artistic forms have been able to prefigure a world beyond the current society in which survival is conceived first as a duty to sell oneself and only afterwards, 230

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reluctantly, as the fulfillment of vital needs—​and even these, for the most part, are totally submitted to the logic of capital and divorced from the autonomy and well-​being of individuals. The post-​war period—​until the early 1970s—​represented a relative stability of capitalism. There were “Thirty Glorious Years of the Pax Americana” and, not coincidentally, the modernism of this era also saw a relative cooling of the impact of artistic vanguards. Guy Debord, in a moment of immodesty, even said that “long experience has taught us—​although it is sometimes doubted, no one can offer another explanation—​that, since 1954, wherever it may be, we have not seen a single artist to whom real attention should be given.”13 Incidentally, it was precisely the Situationists who considered themselves the last of the vanguards and, symptomatically, made the theme of overcoming art one of their most characteristic and crucial objectives. In the second phase of their history, from 1962, this question was directed toward the needs of the revolution. The formula preached by the group, more widely known than understood, was the abolition of art while realizing it—​thus differentiating it from Dadaism, which only intended to abolish it, or Surrealism, which only intended to realize it. The resumption of the close relationship between art and politics, however, was now inverted: it was the revolution that should be at the service of poetry, never the reverse.14 There was no shortage of speculation about the causes of the immense malaise of the 1960s and its simultaneous explosion in different parts of the planet at the end of the decade, which had once been treated as a period of calm unprecedented since the nineteenth century. Perhaps the reader will wonder at this point where is the hypothesis of interpretation of the relationship between representation and substance of value, and whether it is even a valid explanation for the field of art. However, all the elements mobilized in this argument were, to use a Situationist term, drifting in these years. Post-​war technological development was so intense that the only reason countries like the USA and the USSR did not already live in a state of mass unemployment (human beings superfluous to capital) by this point was that they maintained active war economies and the military mobilization of large portions of the population. Fordist large-​scale production—​which fueled debates about a possible and necessary change in the status of societies at the center of capitalism, which came to be defined as societies of opulence, with their rituals (potlatch) of waste and irrational destruction of resources—​was anchored in a reduced use of human labor for production of commodities. In addition, in the late 1960s the first signs of the crisis that was to explode between 1973–​1975 began to appear. The great achievement of the Situationists was to have seen at this time the need for a critique of commodity fetishism as a fundamental aspect of distancing from this insane reality, and of its negation. For Debord, the society of spectacle was a consequence of an excess civilization (Marx) that made everything monumental: production, consumption, the city, war … But the most drastic change of bourgeois society was reserved for the 1980s, with the beginning of the Third Techno-​Scientific Revolution. By this point, the modern social division of commodity-​producing labor had begun a process of collapse that has been almost impossible to represent—​not only in art, but in all areas.

IV. Meanwhile, in the countries on the periphery of capitalism, post-​war stability had to be secured beneath the heels of dictatorships. In a country like Brazil, in which Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) emerged from the development of its theatre, the problem of an image that structured reality had been fraught with difficulties for a long time. Modernization was late throughout Latin America. This entailed complex arrangements between times that were simultaneous and non-​simultaneous with the global standard. The very term modernism, in one of the versions of its history, had been coined from the periphery—​by the Nicaraguan poet Rúben Dario. It 231

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described a desire for contemporaneity with the industrialized nations and to overcome the cultural influence of the old Iberian metropolises.The canon version, however, did not solve the problem of how to fit the modern form into a “backward” reality. In general, the best solutions were found by artists who realized that this backwardness was not something foreign to the form, but one of its dialectical moments. In other words, the tension between the archaic and the modern is constitutive of capitalism, and the mediocre reality of the periphery is a motif that should be present in the center itself. Therefore, if we want to overcome backwardness, what is in question is the limit of the foundations of bourgeois society, its indifference to, and inability to embrace, emancipated humanity. This theme was also present in politics. In the periphery, modernism in the arts has always had some kind of estrangement from the medium and a certain critical angle. Not infrequently, this modernism accommodated in its repertoire forms of a late Enlightenment, which reiterated the struggle against the survival of the archaic, whose roots were in a remote past that needed to be definitively overcome in the present. This struggle took the place of the haunting of medieval darkness, essential to the original scheme. Here, however, it gained a local profile and often pushed the boundaries of approaching, in a similar historical sense, landowners producing goods for the world market and feudal lords, or semi-​feudal lords, as was said in the jargon of the time. The communist parties of Latin America strove to validate this scheme, looking for analogies with the European events of the end of the Ancien Régime and, from their political readings of this reality, produced disastrous misconceptions. The generation of Augusto Boal had to break with these formulations; otherwise their art would be irrelevant. In the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) itself in the 1960s, there was a group of intellectuals who sought, through interpretations of authors such as Gramsci and Lukács, other perspectives to understand the culture of that period. In aesthetic terms, the effort of this group did not result in a great deal. The freedom of expression of the artists who broke with the PCB seems to have given them the autonomy for bolder flights.They somehow faced up to the need to be original in order to transmit their positions through artistic artifacts. Industrial development in Brazil, which consolidated and accelerated after the crisis of 1929, was carried out, in part, using the modern technology of that period. The amount of labor per commodity, for this reason, was negligible.This resulted in two common situations in the apprehension of this reality: an overexploitation of the workforce because the modern technology was, although modern, technically inferior to its competitors from the central countries; and a significant mass of human beings who were, in that period, no longer necessary for the production of commodities, thus forcing down wages even further. The explosive character of these historical situations often stirred the nerves and imagination of any artist, especially the best ones. But it is not clear that this stirring results in an art of good quality. The artist can be trapped by the imperative of the democratization of culture and opt to facilitate the understanding of his work, as in the demands of agitprop, or he may think that it is not enough to democratize culture and that it is also important for the content of works of art to be accompanied by advanced forms. To facilitate access should not, therefore, mean lowering the effort of understanding, especially when it is in this dialectic that the relation between art and the world widens and its fruition is enabled to be a powerful moment of humanization. The debate on this subject has not advanced much.15 To the extent that things get worse all over the world, the thick smokescreen that Lukács imagined to be an escape from the decadent bourgeoisie seems to have become a gathering point for the failures of modernization. The military coup of 1964 in Brazil unleashed a wave of political violence that cannot be compared plainly and simply with a counter-​revolution. Perhaps it would be better described as a sort of pre-​emptive counter-​revolution. This distinction better explains the selective nature 232

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of repression and will certainly help to find peculiarities that better clarify the following period. As a revolutionary situation did not exist,16 the political agitation that occurred in the immediately preceding period had not yet gained robust organizational forms. For this reason, the reaction and resistance to the coup was very weak and disproportionate to the repression, which focused mainly on the political leaders and vanguards. It was this selective repression, as well as a process of obscurantist closure of the dictatorial regime, which fostered a type of resistance that only in the climate of the period could be confused with a revolutionary threat. In this case, no matter what people think of themselves, the most important thing is to understand the meaning of what they do beyond their intentions. In this line of analysis, the armed organizations that proliferated in Brazil in the 1960s did not represent any danger of instability for the regime or an alternative for power. It would be more correct to understand them as armed forms of democratic resistance than, properly speaking, revolutionary groups—​without prejudice to such self-​definitions on the part of these groups. All cultural and artistic manifestations of opposition to the regime came to be violently persecuted and censored after December 13, 1968. There is a fact in all this that deserves to be highlighted. Violence against the lower classes in countries like Brazil has always been very ostentatious and is carried out by the military police, a kind of occupation force of the nation’s own territory. This violence is a missing link with a revolution that never occurred, but it does not acquire an immediate political meaning and remains, for this precise reason, concealed in criminal records. As emphasized earlier, the relationship between revolution and modernization in the 1960s was almost mandatory. To the extent that, in the 1980s, the modern social division of commodity-​producing labor began to collapse, this violence has acquired the air of a precursor of the manner in which Western society will dissolve catastrophically over the coming years throughout the world. In it lies, as if it were a cipher, the wreckage of a future that will not come, in which wander masses of human beings increasingly superfluous for the production of goods. These masses will not rebel like the (by this time old, too old) working class. They perceive that the conditions of their existence are denied a priori by the dynamics of the economy and often find themselves in situations where they have nothing to do and are therefore motivated by despair. Producing ties of hope (Benjamin) and not of training, would be, perhaps, a role for art in this context.

V. In a commentary published in The New Yorker on the September 11, 2001 attacks, Susan Sontag (2001) suggested an important premise for any public activity in our times: “Let’s by all means grieve together. But let’s not be stupid together.” These attacks marked a deepening of the progress of crisis of capitalist civilization that had been dragging on for decades. The historian Robert Brenner in a book of the same period, in which he sought to understand the great speculative bubbles, concluded that capital had entered a phase in which it would have enormous difficulties in escaping a great depression of the same magnitude as those of 1873–​1896 and 1914–​1945.17 More skeptical in his analysis of the possibilities for a way out of this great depression, the German Robert Kurz presents the current crisis as a situation where capital would have reached its internal logical limits.18 Despite their theoretical divergences, for both authors this is a time when the substance of value has been defaced to such an extent that the structures maintaining the reproduction of reality have faded away.19 If it is almost impossible to predict and understand positive phenomena in economics, which is the dominant and structuring sphere of modern social life, what can be expected from the necessary effort of art to peer into this darkness? In the same New Yorker commentary, Sontag notes the hypocritical, inescapable attempt at dissimulation by the political leaders for the maintenance of the conditions that 233

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enabled the attacks and the state of war that preceded them and, afterwards, avenged them. To the uninformed, perhaps it was a case of speaking again of ideological decadence. I do not think this is the best course of action. Lukács’ original argument refers to a certain historical reality, in which bourgeois society attempted to simulate an order, false from the perspective of the distributive interests of the proletariat in struggle, but still capable of continuing its productive expansion. By this point, all the premises of this argument, already limited at the time it was formulated, have been nullified. Any expansion of the economy in present-​day capitalism will be impracticable from the point of view of the material well-​being of the masses, since it will need to be based on countless instruments of fictionalization of capital, whose mere abstract production of wealth no longer has any constructive social impact; besides which, it will have to be tied to the destruction of nature and to total war—​and in that sense, nobody wants or can deal with pain and suffering like that of September 11. On the other hand, neither is there a proletariat willing to put an end to this state of affairs, a process which should begin with the demand for an immediate end to the production of arms, automobiles, nuclear power plants, etc. The proletariat’s integration into the current order makes it a conservative force in an historical situation in which having a job has become a privilege, something unthinkable at the time when Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto. In an impasse of this nature it is necessary to abandon the conspiratorial notion that there are subjectivities capable of acting omnisciently and with prescience of outcomes, as Lukács thought. The character of an impersonal domination in capitalism is daily reiterated through the monstrous events that the collapse of the social division of goods-​producing labor requires to continue existing. It is from the radical critique of this material that we need to consider what would constitute (and the viability of) an art beyond the wreckage.

Notes 1 This chapter was translated from Portuguese by Multilingual Connections translation service, Evanston, Illinois, USA, with additional revision by the editors as permitted by the translation service. 2 For a presentation of some of the concepts developed by Marx in the context of a critical analysis of capitalism, see Chapter 11 by Michael Löwy in this volume. 3 Karl Marx, O Capital (T. I. São Paulo: Nova Cultural, 1985), 139. 4 I take this concept from a theme developed by M.  Postone, Time, Labor and Social Domination—​A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 7 et seq. 5 Cf. G. Lukacs, Marx y el Problema de la Decadência Ideológica (México, df: Siglo XXI Editores, 1981). 6 Marx, O Capital, 50: “In the totality of various use-​values or bodies of the commodity, there appears an equally diverse totality […] of different kinds of useful labor—​a social division of labor. It is a precondition of the production of commodities […]”. 7 This term in philosophy means to consider something that is just an abstraction as really existent. In this case, the value form that unfolds as an objective measure of working time (abstract) seems to have a life of its own, that is, autonomous, as if it were a being that has always existed and not the result of historically determined social relations of production.This affirms that reality in modern society possesses a gelatinous, phantasmagoric character (Marx). 8 On this concept see N. Elias, O Processo Civilizador, vol. 1. (Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 1994). 9 Cf.T. Mann, Doutor Fausto (Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Nova Fronteira, 1984), cap. XXXIII–​XXXIV e XXXV. 10 A. J. Mayer, A Força da Tradição—​A Persistência do Antigo Regime (1848–​1914) (São Paulo: Cia das Letras, 1987), 13. 11 There have been three:  1873–​1896; 1914–​1945; and the last, begun in 1973, which continues and deepens with no sign of resolution to the present day. 12 R. Kurz, Dinheiro Sem Valor:  Linhas Gerais para uma Transformação da Crítica da Economia Política (Lisboa: Antígona, 2014). 13 Cited by Jappe, A. “Os Situacionistas e a superação da arte: o que resta disso após cinquenta anos?” Baleia na Rede,Vol. 1, No. 8, Ano VIII, Dez/2011. São Paulo: SFFC/UNESP/Marília, 198.

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Art and the wreckage 14 Cf. Jappe, 2011. 15 On this theme, see Rorberto Schwarz. “Cultura e Política –​1964–​69,” in O Pai de Família e Outros Estudos (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2008), 70–​111, and J. Boal, Sob Antigas Formas em Novos Tempos: O Teatro do Oprimido Entre “Ensaio da Revolução” e Adestramento Interativo das Vítimas. Doctorate Thesis advocated in PPGSS-​UFRJ, 2017. 16 J. Gorender, Combate Nas Trevas (São Paulo: Editora Ática, 1999), 73: “In the early months of 1964, a pre-​revolutionary situation was sketched out and the right-​wing coup was defined, exactly because of that, by a preventive counter-​revolutionary character.” 17 R. Brenner, O Boom e a Bolha Os Estados Unidos na Economia Mundial (Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2003). 18 R. Kurz, Dinheiro Sem Valor: Linhas Gerais Para Uma Transformação da Crítica da Economia Política (Lisboa: Antígona, 2014). 19 A. Jappe, Crédito à Morte—​A Decomposição do Capitalismo e Suas Críticas (São Paulo: Hedra, 2013), 211. There is a correspondence between the fading of structures and the personality of individuals, which manifests itself as a childish regression: In 1995 the first ‘State of the World Forum’ met in San Francisco to discuss the following question: What to do in the future with the 80% of the world’s population that will no longer be needed for production? Zbigniew Brzezinski […] then posed as a solution [that] which he called ‘tittytainment’: to ‘superfluous’ and potentially dangerous populations, because of their frustration, will be delivered a mixture of enough food and fun, stultifying entertainment, to achieve a state of happy lethargy, like the feeling of a newborn who suckles at the breast […] of the mother.

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Figure 1  In 2001, CTO-Rio began a partnership with militants of MST (the Landless Movement), which would then form the Brigade Patativa do Assaré, in charge of the dissemination of theatre inside the movement. There were several moments of formation. This photograph features part of the work with the Brigade at the beginning of 2005, a theatre ​procession with 12,000 militants, theatricalizing various claims by the MST. Photo credit: CTO-​Rio archives. Published by permission of CTO-​Rio.

Figure 2  Augusto Boal, members of CTO-Rio, members of the MST (Landless Workers Movement), and the not-yet president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in Seropédica, a municipality in the inlands of the state of Rio de Janeiro, in 1995. Photo-​credit: CTO-​Rio archives. Published by permission of CTO-​Rio.

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Figure 3  The political theatre mandate of the city councilor Augusto Boal performing one of hundreds of presentations of the play The Worker in Julio Otoni, a favela in Rio de Janeiro. Photo-credit: CTO-Rio archives. Published by permission of CTO-Rio.

Figure 4  Augusto Boal and the CTO team with the members of what would become the national brigade Patativa do Assaré. Rio de Janeiro, at a training meeting for militants from all around the country. Photo-credit: CTO-Rio archives. Published by permission of CTO-Rio.

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Figure 5  No Es Un Problema Menor, Newspaper Theatre by GTO-​Montevideo. Photo credit: Jorge Peña. Published with permission.

Figure 6  Actor Maaji Newbold with the Concrete Justice troupe in a performance about equity in New York City cultural spaces for homeless New Yorkers. Photo by Will O’Hare. Photo credit: Theatre of the Oppressed NYC. Published with permission.

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Figure 7  Audience voting at a Theatre of the Oppressed NYC Legislative Theatre event. Photo by Will O’Hare. Photo credit: Theatre of the Oppressed NYC. Published with permission.

Figure 8  Youth group of Theatre of the Oppressed in Barcelona with Forn de teatre Pa’tothom. Subject: Bullying. 2016. Photo credit: Forn de teatre Pa’tothom. Published with permission.

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Figure 9  Performance by Kaddu Yaraax Forum Theatre group, Senegal, with Boal’s Tree of Theatre of the Oppressed as backdrop. Photo credit: Mamadou Diol. Published with permission.

Figure 10  Performance by Kaddu Yaraax Forum Theatre group, Senegal. Photo credit: Mamadou Diol. Published with permission.

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Figure 11  Presentation of the workshop “Paper Theatre” by Rosa Luisa Márquez and Antonio Martorell at the Pula Forum 2011 Festival, Pula, Croatia. Photo by Saša Miljević. Published with permission.

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Figure 12  Presentation of the “Sound and Rhythm Workshop” by Bárbara Santos and Till Baumann at the Pula Forum 2012 festival, Pula, Croatia. Photo by Saša Miljević. Published with permission.

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Figure 13  An Image Theatre action in Tito Square, Koper, Slovenia, March 2018, as part of FHOFIJ, a project about discrimination in the labor market against LGBT communities. Photo by Roberto Mazzini. Published with permission.

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Figure 14  This workshop was conducted by Mady Schutzman with former residents of Playas, New Mexico, who were forced to leave the town when it was bought by Homeland Security for staging anti-​ terrorist training simulations. Photo by Adele Horne, from her documentary And Again (2010). Published with permission.

Figure 15  An all-​women team of Jana Sanskriti performing in a village called Shyamnagar in the Sunderban region of India. Photo credit: Jana Sanskriti archive. Published with permission.

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Figure 16  Jana Sanskriti performing their play Where We Stand in Kolkata in support of a land struggle in 2007. Photo credit: Jana Sanskriti archive. Published with permission.

Figure 17  A scene from Sonar Meye, a play developed and performed by Jana Sanskriti (whose center is in Badu, West Bengal, India). As described by Jana Sanskriti, Sonar Meye concerns “the life of a girl before, during, and after marriage.” Photo credit: Jana Sanskriti archive. Published with permission.

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Figure 18  Newspaper Theatre in “Espacio de la Memória Virrey Ceballos,” which was a detention center during the military dictatorship in Argentina. The performance was about Santiago Maldonado, a social militant who had been murdered. Photo credit: Pilar Alvarez García. Published with permission.

Figure 19  Newspaper Theatre as prologue of the Legislative Theatre play Students for Loan, on democracy in access to higher education. Presentation at the Pula Forum 2011 TO festival, Pula, Croatia. Photo by Saša Miljević. Published with permission.

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Figure 20  Forum Theatre session in the Portuguese Parliament, in the context of the Legislative Theatre initiative Students for Loan. In the moment captured, students were rehearsing an occupation of Social Services of a university. May 2010. Photo by Carla Luis. Published with permission.

Figure 21  Hotel Europa, performed by TOgether International Theatre Company at Syntagma (Constitution) Square, Athens, Greece, June 2015 (protests related to the financial crisis). Photo credit: TOgether International Theatre Company/​Bárbara Santos. Published with permission.

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Critical reflections on the early multiplication of Theatre of the Oppressed

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25 THE TOUGH EXILE IN ARGENTINA, OR THE “SABBATICAL YEAR” OF BOAL An interview with Cecilia Thumim Boal

Cecilia Thumim Boal, born in Buenos Aires, worked in the 1960s as an actress, director, and television writer. In 1966, she joined the cast of the Teatro de Arena in São Paulo; she participated in various Arena productions in Brazil and in other countries. She was Augusto Boal’s partner from that time, having moved to São Paulo to live with him.When Boal was arrested and tortured, Cecilia returned to Buenos Aires with her son Fabian, in 1971. Boal later joined, beginning a period of exile in Argentina, which lasted for five years. In Buenos Aires, Boal directed several shows and wrote books such as Theatre of the Oppressed and the novel Miracle in Brazil, about the military dictatorship in Brazil. During this period of exile in Argentina, Boal organized the Latin American Opinion Fair in New York, with the involvement of several playwrights, writers, and set design by Helio Oiticica. In this interview with Cecilia Boal—​who accompanied Boal across this entire period and has presided, since 2010, over the Augusto Boal Institute—​we seek to rescue this experience.1

José Soeiro:  Boal went to live in Argentina in 1971 after his persecution and torture by the Brazilian dictatorship.What did this Argentinian period mean? What was its importance for Boal’s life? Cecilia Boal: The period in Argentina was tricky, but it was also fundamental. It was in Buenos Aires that the famous book Teatro do Oprimido [Theatre of the Oppressed] was written. In fact, the name Theatre of the Oppressed was coined there. Boal got in touch with Daniel Divinsky, a Left-​wing man who worked at home with his wife and who had founded a publishing house, Ediciones de la Flor, and became famous because he published Mafalda.2 I do not know if he still is publishing it [laughs]. Quino was not famous yet; he had left Argentina and was living in Italy. For some reason, Divinsky was editing Quino, and I think that financially supported the publishing house, which was very small, very artisanal. At that time, Divinsky published Paulo Freire, who became famous with the book Pedagogy of the Oppressed. When Boal took him his book, Davinsky was also publishing the book of an Argentinian psychotherapist named Alfredo Moffatt—​who worked in a large psychiatric hospital of Buenos Aires—​which was titled Psychotherapy of the Oppressed, and he [Davinsky], as editor, decided to put “Oppressed” in all the books. He wanted to make a collection of the “Oppressed”—​but the collection stopped in these three books … 249

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José: Was Boal already known in Argentina at this time? Cecilia:  I met Boal in 1966 and moved in with him in São Paulo. Afterwards, we were invited for a season to work in a theatre, and I wonder if this Daniel Divinsky had heard of him, as the Arena had been very successful in Buenos Aires—​so much so that Boal was invited in 1966 to direct a play on which I worked and that’s how we met. He was already known. José: And you both returned to Argentina in 1971 … Cecilia: He was kidnapped and imprisoned, that is, a very dangerous situation. He disappeared for two months, and his family decided that I should go back to Buenos Aires because they were afraid for both me and Fabian, who was five years old. So, I went to Buenos Aires and, of course, when he got out of prison, I insisted that he come to Buenos Aires as well. Although the political climate in Argentina was always terrible … At that time Argentina went through about 40 coups d’états … it was a crazy thing. Tanks got in and got out all the time … At that time, everyone in Argentina was a Peronist. They still are, and Peronism has no definition … it is Right-​wing, center, Left-​wing, you encounter everything in there … But Boal was no Peronist … Despite this, Boal was invited to public acts, spoke at unions, but there was a certain hostility against him because he was not a Peronist and expressed this very openly: he thought Peron was a populist. The worst thing a Peronist could hear was that Peron was a populist. Boal did not get along with any political group in Argentina. He was not happy and did not like to live there. José: So he had no connection with political groups other than the theatre groups? He had no tie with some union, or any movement? Cecilia:  No, not with any particular group. He was invited, as were other Brazilian exiles. There was a whole group of Brazilian exiles, but they did not develop a political activity as a group. They only used to go to my house. They came once a week and talked about things they were doing there. Who was there at the time was a former minister of Jango Goulart, Almino Afonso, who would come with his wife. Also Vinícius de Moraes, Chico Buarque, who had been in exile in Italy for a while, and Ferreira Gullar, who later became a very reactionary person, but that was not so at that time … Also, Eduardo Galeano frequented our house; he published the magazine Crisis. There was also a young Brazilian, named Eric Nepomuceno, who came to our house frequently. So, when a Brazilian disappeared in Argentina, people went to look for Boal for help. When someone disappeared in Chile, they went to look for Boal as well. He was a reference. He made a show with the Brazilian exiles who lived in Chile and went to Buenos Aires at the time of the Government of Cámpora,3 escaping Pinochet’s coup. Boal had a stronger connection with the Brazilian exiles than with the Argentinian political movements. Boal did not like the Communist Party, nor did he like Peronism. So, in fact, in Argentina, at that time, there was no group with whom Boal could work in an articulate way. He circulated a little and did his job. I think that it is because he didn’t have a fixed theatre group that he was able to sit down and write the book Theatre of the Oppressed and Other Political Poetics, which should have already been in his head for a long time. José: When Boal got to Argentina, there had already been this presence of Teatro de Arena in Buenos Aires; it was already an important reference. What kind of theatrical work did he do in Argentina? Was he more interested in doing the kind of theatre he did with Arena, 250

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or was he more eager to develop Theatre of the Oppressed and the techniques of popular theatre? Cecilia:  I don’t believe he had his mind set on Theatre of the Oppressed; he had it, rather, on theatre. On theatre and on politics. He wrote Tio Patinhas [The Adventures of Uncle Scrooge] in Argentina, which is a very interesting piece, and we staged this play. It was a remarkable success; the room was always crowded for a long time. Boal also directed Revolution in South America, which there was called “Ay ay ay no hay cristo que aguante no hay.” José: What about experiences closer to Theatre of the Oppressed? Cecilia: What he developed with Maurício Kartun’s group, which was called Machete, was Invisible Theatre because they did theatre in the street, in the subway, in the restaurant. He developed this technique with Kartun and several other actors who were in Uncle Scrooge. But it was a Kartun group; it was not Boal’s group. I would not say Boal had a group. Also because they were actors who had other jobs, they came and went. It was not a group like it was in the situation of the Arena, who developed a work together. José: Do you think that made a difference, the impossibility of structuring his own group? Cecilia: Yes. He worked very hard with the Kartun group. They made Invisible Theatre, they made plays that were not even assembled with the same people. There was no group like the Arena at all. Boal was always very attached to this group from Arena, which he’d had when he was very young. Then a lot of people don’t stay; they need to go and make some money, isn’t it? And then they feel very guilty, for making money, for doing television and that sort of thing. And I think the same happened in Argentina. Good actors were later called upon to do other things where they made more money. José: How did the theatrical milieu of Argentina receive Boal at that time? How did they see him? What were the discussions? Cecilia:  I would say not very well because of these political issues. Because the so-​called independent theatre groups, which were and still are very strong, were generally linked to the Communist Party, and Boal did not sympathize with that party. Nowadays, I would personally think things differently, I would try anyway to get along better with these people because they were invaluable. These theatres are until this day pioneers, in their quality, their proposals … They have always developed research and always staged very important authors. But Boal did not see that at the time. And I don’t think I did either. José: The distancing of Boal from these other theatre groups—​ones closer to the Communist Party—​had more to do with differences along a certain political line or with a certain remove from the type of dramaturgies, the aesthetic positioning, the theatrical work they developed? Cecilia:  I think it was both. But one of the best directors in Argentina, Carlos Gandolfo, had a theatre and lent it to us to do Uncle Scrooge. So there were several people in Argentina who were extremely supportive of Boal. But there were other theatres that had their “stars,” and their fiefdoms, and never invited Boal to work with them. And Boal did not get closer, either… José: But what do you think those groups thought of Boal? How did they see him? Cecilia: Insomuch as they did not invite him, obviously they did not like him very much, or felt threatened. But Boal didn’t try to break the ice either… Nonetheless Gandolfo lent the theatre he had, which was a good theatre, well-​located. There were 251

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very interesting people in Argentina, like Juan Carlos Gené, but he, too, was a Peronist in an absurd, fanatical way.You know, the kind who does not stop to think that there might be something questionable? Nowadays, I don’t know, theatre people have changed a lot. The mind of theatre people has changed a lot. But at the time they were like that, very Stalinist [laughs]. José: Do you think that there was some tension, some contradiction, between the fact that Boal was writing the book Theatre of the Oppressed and doing Invisible Theatre and the fact of his previous course at the Arena? Was there some kind of contradiction between the plays he was directing and the work closer to what would become Theatre of the Oppressed? Cecilia:  I don’t think so; there was a continuity. The only continuity that was broken was the one of quality—​because the fellows Boal had in the Arena were irreproducible. He never had a group with that quality again. As I didn’t participate in the time of the greatest glory of the Arena Theatre, I don’t know much of how they were as humans, but as artists they were wonderful. Boal just died of love for Guarnieri as an actor. The Arena had very good actors at the time I started to participate as well, like Lima Duarte, Renato Consorte, and others. The Arena has always been characterized by its quality. But anyway … Boal never had a group like the Arena again. Perhaps the closest was in Argentina, with Kartun. I think that Boal always had a desire to set up a group again, but he never had a group as such … José: Do you think that the focus of Boal on Theatre of the Oppressed, especially after going to France, has anything to do with the fact that he could not find a group and, therefore, that he could find in TO another viable way to maintain theatrical activity? Or it has nothing to do with this absence? Cecilia:  No.When he lived in France, he was invited all the time to direct in other countries. He staged a piece of García Lorca, he directed a play by an Argentinian, Griselda Gambaro, he staged García Márquez in Paris. All these were conventional theatrical presentations he directed, in conventional theatres, the most conventional of the world. With good actors and lots of resources. These were very rich stage productions, with resources that he did not have in Latin America and would never have had. It turns out that Theatre of the Oppressed has become famous. That’s it. So there’s this impression that he’s devoted more to Theatre of the Oppressed than to directing theatre, and it’s not true. He had immense pleasure in directing plays and in writing theatre; he wrote until the end of his life, so much so that “A Barraca” [a Portuguese theatre company that Boal directed from 1976–​1978] produced his play The Damn Heritage, he directed the sambópera, Carmen, La Traviata … Boal was a great theatre director, and he was an intellectual. He did everything. He wrote theory, wrote theatre plays, worked with actors, worked with Theatre of the Oppressed, made politics, he got into everything. And all with extraordinary pleasure. I think Boal was an exceptional person. He was exceptional and Left-​wing. Look at that recipe! [laughter] Such happiness to the Left! José: What do you think was the most remarkable thing happening in the brief period you both were in Argentina, namely from the point of view of his work and thought? And what is the importance of that to Theatre of the Oppressed? Cecilia:  Look, what was important in Argentina is that, since he no longer had to deal with the Arena Theatre, which was his responsibility, he now had time. Arena Theatre 252

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lived off of the box office receipts, and when it rained it was a disaster because he had no audience. But he had some terrible homesickness for the Arena Theatre; he would say, “Oh, good that it’s raining and I do not have to worry anymore! But there comes anguish and I remember that I’m in Argentina.” He now had time to sit down to write what he had in mind. And if he had stayed in the Arena he would not have been able to do so. So I think it was fundamental to have a gap year, to have time to sit down to write. I think he never wrote such a good thing, as consistent, as organized as the book Theatre of the Oppressed. And he wrote other things, too. He wrote the book Chronicles of Nuestra America, which I love—​I find the book delicious. He wrote Women of Athens. And The Storm, too! José: Why Invisible Theatre in Argentina? Why did you start making more Invisible Theatre and not any other kind of theatre, or another kind of thing? Cecilia:  It must have been a proposal from Boal to this group of Kartun, and the group was into it. They did not have a theatre, they wanted to do that sort of thing, and they did. And they did a lot. They did it on the subway—​and everywhere. They must have started having fun with it. In the time of Cámpora, we did a lot of theatre in the favelas; we did a lot of things. José: Did you have contact with groups in favelas? Cecilia: Yes, I worked in favelas because I used to work in a university’s cultural department with Kartun. We used to write texts for conventional theatres, but I also worked there. But we didn’t do Theatre of the Oppressed because, in general, when you go to work in the favelas, what happens? There’s a lot of kids coming up, right? José: And children like games [laughs]. Cecilia:  And kids like to play! José: Don’t you think there is a kind of contradiction between the optimism and enthusiasm of the texts that Boal wrote in Argentina and the political situation that was happening at the time, not only in Argentina but in Latin America itself? How do you explain that? What do you think about that? Cecilia:  Boal was an eternal optimist [laughs]. So it was not just in Argentina. He always thought that people would rebel, that people would set and lead the struggles. He always thought that. Always. And I think that worked for him. At no time did he doubt the victory of the people. I do not know what he would say now. I do not know if it was a position of his and if deep down he thought something else, but he always kept it … Despite all the evidence, Boal always found that “United We Will Win” and “The People United Will Never be Defeated.” He always thought that. I, on the other hand, did not think so. But I remember a fight he had with Jacques Amalric, who was the editor-​in-​chief of Le Monde and was a very close friend to Émile Copfermann … And Jacques was saying, “What people are you talking about?! There are all kinds of people!” For Boal, People were good. He went to the Northeast with Teatro de Arena, at the time of the CPC [Popular Centers of Culture] of the UNE [the National Union of Students].4 I think that at that time the People he met in the Northeast were the People he dreamed of. They were people who were very mobilized, they were solidary people, they were people who worked in groups … the kind of things that no longer happen. José: Your stay in Argentina ends when you both go to Portugal. What relationships did you both keep with Argentina at that point, also from the theatrical point of view? 253

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Cecilia:  He kept no ties in Argentina, although he had ties with other Latin American groups. He had a particular tantrum against Argentina. Firstly, because I always wanted to return to Argentina and he never wanted to live there. Then he never acknowledged that it was thanks to this Argentinian editor that he became so famous. It may have been a fluke, but he wrote that book, and it was published there, and then it was published in Brazil. And then the French publisher already had a book to be able to edit it in French and make Boal an international celebrity, as he later became. José: It happened mostly out of France, and it would not have happened if there had not been such a “sabbatical year” in Argentina, to use your expression, to write the book that allowed him to take this leap to such visibility … Cecilia:  I think so. Because if he had not had this time to write, if this Argentinian editor had not edited, other things would have happened, but these ones that did happen wouldn’t have, and we do not know what could have happened. Boal did not recognize that; he did not like Argentina, he did not like what happened there, although he recognized some people like Paco Urondo, a playwright who was later murdered by the military, who loaned him his typewriter … Argentines are very tough, at least the porteños … And he kept ties with many Latin American groups, from Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay, Peru, Bolivia, and Cuba, but with Argentina he had a special temper tantrum. José: Had he kept in touch with the publisher? That is, were the other Boal books published by the same publisher? Cecilia: No.  A  cordial relationship, yes, but the strong bond he preserved was with Kartun, and then he became close friends with my friends, but they had nothing to do with theatre. Argentina was not a place of happiness. At that time, there was no Theatre of the Oppressed there. It is done nowadays …

Notes 1 This interview was held on September 14, 2017, by José Soeiro. The questions were framed collaboratively by this book’s editors, who edited the text together. We would like to thank Mariana Gomes (for the transcription) and Maria Manuel Rola (for the collaboration on the translation from Portuguese to English). 2 Mafalda is a very famous and popular comic strip written and drawn by cartoonist Quino. It features a 6-​year-​old girl always concerned about humanity and the world. 3 Hector José Cámpora was an Argentinian politician who exiled to Chile in 1955 to escape the dictatorship. He was a member of the Peronist Resistance. He was presented as a candidate supported by Perón in 1973 (Perón was forbidden to run) and became President of Argentina for 49 days, between May and July of 1973. His government became known as the “Camporist Spring.” 4 The Popular Centre of Culture was an organization associated with The National Union of Students, created in 1961 in Rio de Janeiro, by Left-​wing intellectuals aiming at the creation of a revolutionary popular art; it was extinguished by the dictatorship in 1964.

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26 THE DIALECTICS OF THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED DURING AUGUSTO BOAL’S PORTUGUESE EXILE Paulo Bio Toledo

As soon as the Portuguese Revolution broke out on April 25, 1974, Augusto Boal’s reflections on theatre and society began to be read with great interest there.1 Less than two months after the military captains of the Armed Forces Movement (MFA, in Portuguese) entered Lisbon and put an end to 48 years of fascist dictatorship in the country, Boal’s text Categorias de teatro popular2 was published in the Revista Cinéfilo magazine in Lisbon. That same year, theatre critic Carlos Porto began a long exchange of letters with the Brazilian director (then exiled in Argentina) inviting him to collaborate with Portuguese theatre amid the revolutionary process. The interest was mutual. After a brief period of uncertainty about what was really happening in the small Iberian country, Leftists around the world celebrated the Portuguese uprising as a “response to the bloodbath beneath the boots of Latin American and Asian military dictatorships.”3 Boal quickly grew eager to participate in such a process, which produced an inspiring spirit of reinvention of life and culture. His experiences with a theatre in which the workers controlled the production process would have special poignancy in a place where the people had gone to the streets in droves and taken history into their own hands. According to Portuguese historian Raquel Varela, the overthrow of the fascist regime unleashed Europe’s final revolution of the twentieth century, “to question private ownership of the means of production.”4 Between April 1974 and November 1975, waves of strikes broke out in all sectors of the economy, in addition to successive occupations of land as well as factories and businesses that often evolved into experiments in workers’ control of production (including radio and newspapers). It was a process that “shook the structure of the form of capitalist accumulation”5 by enacting what was perhaps the most massive transfer of income from capital to labor in the twentieth century: “amounting to an impressive 18%.”6 In the first days following April 25, posters and slogans demanding a new attitude from art became common—​the motto “A poesia está rua” (“Poetry is the street”), coined by the poet Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, was seen on walls, in paintings, posters, and songs. In the world of theatre, amateurism gained special strength. Dozens of groups appeared on the scene, disconnected from the professional art world. Theatre was made freely available in factories, barracks, and agricultural cooperatives;7 amateur theatre groups came together in gatherings where they promoted radical positions such as the “aesthetic and ideological break 255

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with bourgeois art” and “reformulation of the means of production.” Amateurism in theatre was no longer seen as an aesthetically dubious area or a stage preceding professionalism, and was now defended as an “exemplary space […] free of capitalist production structures” in search of a true “connection to the working masses.”8 Theatre was also a key part of the Cultural Revitalization and Civic Action Campaigns (Campanhas de Dinamização Cultural e Ação Cívica), promoted by the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) beginning in September 1974. These were campaigns that traveled throughout the country’s backlands, holding information sessions, theatrical interventions, and attempting to build health and popular education structures. Independent theatre groups performed in village squares for hundreds of peasants, changing the logic of company touring and forcing them to rethink their ideas and the popular theatre techniques they used.9 For Augusto Boal, Portugal was the ideal refuge for exile, as he witnessed the political situation in Argentina move toward a bloodthirsty dictatorship. At the same time, the revolutionary environment connected directly with his work around the earliest formulations of  Theatre of the Oppressed in Latin America. But despite his strong desire to leave for Portugal as early as 1974, the Brazilian dictatorship made his life in exile difficult, preventing him from renewing his passport until the beginning of 1976. It was only in May of that year that Boal was welcomed at the Lisbon airport by Carlos Porto. Although he was given red carnations as he entered the country, the truth is that, when he arrived, the Revolution practically no longer existed. The PREC (Ongoing Revolutionary Process) had ended with the reactionary counter-​coup of November 25, 1975, putting an end to the period of the most revolutionary transformation Portugal had ever seen, as well as the experiments with popular democracy. In the country’s streets, the Brazilian director saw the ruins and debris of a brief moment that had outlined another possible way of life. Shortly after his arrival, he began to give acting classes at the National Conservatory. Despite the ebb of revolution, his position remained firmly in favor of the radicalism of turning the social aspects of work into art. In mid-​1977, he proposed a new curricular structure for the school around the question: “for whom are the Conservatory’s artists preparing themselves?”10 In the middle of the reformulation process, however, Boal was summarily fired. A circular from the Ministry of Education addressed to the Conservatory outlined questions submitted to the National Assembly by member Nuno Krus Abecasis11 on the hiring of foreign nationals for public teaching positions in Portugal.12 The protests made by the conservative deputy responded to pressure from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, which, since February 1977, had questioned the Portuguese government about the public post Boal occupied.13 With the conservative about-​face of November 1975, Portugal’s relationship with Brazil was reestablished and strengthened with reciprocal gestures of friendship between Mário Soares and Ernesto Geisel. Boal was an international public figure whose willingness to denounce the arbitrariness of the Brazilian dictatorship was a significant nuisance to the generals. The impasse culminated in Boal’s expulsion from the faculty of the National Conservatory. It was, after all, a reflection of the conservative crackdown taking place throughout the country and, consequently, of the unease over having cadres affiliated with the Marxist Left still occupying public positions in the once revolutionary country. Boal had been arrested in Brazil for his association with the National Liberation Alliance (ALN), one of the main armed resistance groups in Brazil from 1967 to 1974. In Latin America, he had participated in radical experiments in Peru, in Argentina, and in Allende’s Chile. Even in Portugal, despite the breakdown of the revolutionary process, Boal seemed to have approached groups that still supported the positions of the radical Left, such as the Frente dos Artistas Populares e Intelectuais Revolucionários (FAPIR, the Popular Artists’ and Revolutionary Intellectuals’ Front). 256

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It was with FAPIR that he managed to carry out his only experiment with Theatre of the Oppressed in Portugal. During the April 25 celebrations in the city of Porto in 1977, FAPIR organized an event with several artists linked to revolutionary positions.14 These were the so-​ called Jogos Florais (Floral Games).Together with students from the Conservatory, Boal prepared some Forum Theatre sessions. The performance on agrarian reform, which was to be held in a closed theatre, after imposition by the participants, moved outside and took place in the street with an audience of almost a thousand people.15 During the forum, when “the spectators who disagreed came onstage and improvised new actions,” at one point “there were only spectators acting.”16 The scene became occupied entirely by workers who were participating in the April 25 celebrations. Despite the enthusiasm and the “fascinating experience,” however, the event was an isolated and extemporaneous one in the unfolding of the country’s history. In general, Boal found himself unable to move forward with more radical work. Concurrently with classes at the Conservatory, he was invited to direct the newly founded company, A Barraca (The Warehouse). The name of the company refers to La Barraca, a popular theatre project created by Federico Garcia Lorca in Spain in 1931: “Una cosa que se monta y se desmonta, que rueda y marcha por los caminos del mundo” (“Something that you put up and take down, that rolls and marches along the streets of the world”).17 Just like its Spanish counterpart, when it arose, the Portuguese company’s program was closely linked to a decentralization project of the theatre. But soon after the group’s first performance,18 the work of connecting with workers and peasants became an afterthought, just like all the other more radical experiments in the country. When Boal arrived at the company at the end of 1976, he proposed a work on the techniques of Theatre of the Oppressed. The group, however, was not interested in those19 practices. Despite Boal’s insistence, they were interested in growing aesthetically, developing a repertoire—​that is, they wanted to build a trajectory within the area of culture. The day after the counter-​revolutionary coup of November 1975, the MFA’s cultural dynamization campaigns had all but been shut down; the amateur theatre movement ebbed along with the social struggle, and independent Leftist companies considerably shifted their sphere of interest. If before the debate had been about new productive ways of thinking about art, now these groups were coming together to defend and reclaim the state’s policy of cultural subsidies, a type of debate that obviously excluded non-​specialist amateur groups and experimental attempts at productive contact between workers and theatres. Discussion and practice amid the class struggle was supplanted by the aesthetic stabilization managed by the state. Despite all this, Boal would work enthusiastically, directing the group in the staging of plays which had been decisive during his work at the Teatro Arena in the 1960s. The play Arena Conta Tiradentes (Arena Tells of  Tiradentes), which he had written with Gianfrancesco Guarnieri in 1967, debuted in Lisbon in 1977 under the name Barraca conta Tiradentes. That same year he organized and directed the event Ao Qu’isto Chegou—​feira portuguesa de opinião (What Has It Come To—​Portuguese Opinion Fair), inspired by the Primeira feira paulista de opinião20 (First São Paulo Opinion Fair). Especially for the Portuguese fair, several authors wrote short plays and scenes about the regressive moment of the Revolution.The larger goal that united them was signaling the defeat of the revolutionary process. In fact, demarcation of the defeat was the guiding principle behind Boal’s work as a director with the group. What seemed like a melancholy goal was actually yet another battle he faced in Portugal. After all, it was a time when many of the instruments of popular power that turned April 25 into a revolution were being dismantled or weakened.21 Despite this, the consolidation of representative democracy in 1976 was fallaciously billed as the legitimate heir of the revolutionary movement that had defeated fascism in 1974.22 For many years, the legacy of the Revolution would still have significant influence on the country’s 257

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politics (perhaps to this day), but its most radical side was cut short in 1975. For Boal, pointing out the defeat was a way to demarcate the difference between the time of revolution and the time stabilized by bourgeois history. Not coincidentally, the image that arose from the play about Tiradentes is that of idealistic revolutionaries who dream and talk about the revolution, but who steal away from any connection or proximity to the workers, to the people. Delusions of an enlightened elite. Tiradentes was a reminder of the daydream of social struggle separated from the workers. The atmosphere of defeat was, in fact, the opposite of what Boal imagined he would be putting into practice in his formulations of  Theatre of the Oppressed. Curiously, to the very extent that such setbacks were accumulating in the social struggle, the techniques surrounding Theatre of the Oppressed began making waves around Europe. Julian Boal sums up the paradox in a recent work: “Theatre of the Oppressed apparently did not suffer the ebb of the revolutionary political situation that spawned it. On the contrary, its expansion was dizzying.”23 In this strange dialectic, the triumph of the project is precisely the prohibition of its primordial and dynamic conditions. Still living in Portugal, Boal made long trips across Europe between 1977 and 1978. He participated in conferences, workshops, and festivals, always working on the demonstration, practical experiences, and defense of the techniques of  Theatre of the Oppressed.24 In his descriptions of these trips, however, the shift in class of those involved, now mostly students and theatre people, is noticeable. Although it still occurred sporadically, contact with struggling workers was residual during these trips across Europe and after Boal moved to Paris in 1978. This inevitably changed, little by little, the methodological assumptions and objectives of the practice. After all, one of the foundations of the first formulation of  Theatre of the Oppressed was precisely defined by the moment of connection it proposed: transferring “the means of theatrical production” to the people. The new social strata of the practitioners, as well as the new historical reality, began to transform the concept of  ​​Theatre of the Oppressed. “The people” was now to be replaced by a more generic concept like spectator. And as Carvalho points out in a recent text: “the struggle against oppression is converted into the search for an analytical consciousness about various oppressive situations that can be individually represented.”25 This may have been the frontier that Theatre of the Oppressed crossed (or was forced to cross) shortly after the last revolution of the twentieth century was defeated in Portugal. In the Forum Theatre experiment in Porto in 1977, an elderly peasant woman who was playing the landowner shouts out, in the middle of the session, “Long live socialism!” Boal quickly interrupted:  “I explained to her that she was playing the part of a landowner, and therefore she could not raise a cheer for socialism.”26 Boal argued that the older woman should speak and act like a landowner. She looked him in the eye and said,“Well, then I refuse,” and left. Her refusal, which may sound like an obstacle for the technique, is also a grand gesture of autonomy. It precisely outlines that the moment of connection with the workers always transforms one’s initial presuppositions, the techniques, the theory. Deprived of this encounter, the techniques shift toward a strange aesthetic stabilization. The paradox is that such stabilization in the form of a cultural system was what enabled Theatre of the Oppressed to be become universal, its triumph.

Notes 1 Editors’ note: This chapter was translated from Portuguese by Multilingual Connections professional translation service, Evanston, Illinois, USA, and revised by the editors with the permission of the translation service.

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TO during Boal’s Portuguese exile 2 Revista Cinéfilo, issues 35 and 36, June 8, 1974 and June 15, 1974. Shortly before, the article was published in the French journal Travail Théâtral (Catégories du théâtre populaire, Travail Théâtral, no. 6, January–​March 1972). In that same period the text was included in the book Técnicas Latinoamericanas de Teatro Popular –​Una Revolución Copernicana al Revés (Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1975). 3 Raquel Varela, História do Povo na Revolução Portuguesa. (Lisbon: Bertrand Editora, 2014), 159. 4 Ibid., 110. 5 Ibid., 159. 6 Ibid., 318. 7 Critic Carlos Porto gave special attention to the amateur movement in his writing in the Diário de Lisboa between 1975 and 1976. He writes about the amateur gatherings and festivals organized by Grupo Lídia, APTA, and Grupo Veto (“Teatro de mãos dadas,” 02/​18/​76); about performances by the Grupo de Teatro dos Trabalhadores da Caixa-​Geral de Depósitos; about the performance of Chekhov’s The Bear in a Republican National Guard livery by the Grupo de Teatro da Manutenção Militar (“Tchekhov entre cavalos,” 06/​28/​1975); about the Teatro Amador dos Bombeiros (Amateur Firemen’s Theater) (“O povo informado jamais será levado,” 05/​24/​1975); about the popular theater of the Grupo Amador de Mem Martins (“Mãe Carrar’ de Mem Martins,” 02/​07/​1975), among others. 8 All quotes refer to a report on the Gathering of Amateur Theater Groups (Encontro de Grupos de Teatro Amador) organized by Grupo Lídia in Algés one month after April 25, 1974. José Gil, “Encontro de Grupos de Teatro Amador no 1º Acto,” Revista Cinéfilo. Lisbon, no. 35, June 8, 1974. 9 The model for the campaigns was comprised of several references, but primarily the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) in Cuba and the cultural democratization programs promoted by the CPC and MCP in Brazil from 1960 to 1964. On this topic see: Sônia Vespeira Almeida, Camponeses, Cultura e Revolução: campanhas de Dinamização Cultural de Acção Cívica do M.F.A. (1974–​1975) (Lisbon:  Edições Colibri, 2009)  and Ramiro Correa, et. al. MFA Dinamização Cultural Acção Cívica. (Lisbon: Ulmeiro, s.d.). 10 Augusto Boal, “Finalmente a Escola Vai Mudar.” Revista Opção, Lisbon, no.  72, (September 8–​14, 1977), 48. 11 Abecasis had been with the Right-​wing PDC (Christian Democracy Party) and was elected as a member of the National Assembly in 1976 by the CDS (Democratic and Social Center –​People’s Party). 12 Circular No. 17/​77 of the General Directorate of Higher Education under the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research, on August 31, 1977. 13 Rodrigo Pezzonia, Exílio em Português: política e vivências dos brasileiros em Portugal (1974–​1982). Dissertation (PhD in Social History) –​FFLCH/​USP, São Paulo, 2017, pp. 142–​143. 14 FAPIR newsletter. Lisbon, no. 3, March 1977. 15 Augusto Boal: as contas de 10 anos de exílio. Suplemento Sete ponto Sete, Lisbon, January 20, 1981. 16 Augusto Boal, “Uma Experiência Fascinante.” Revista Opção (May 1977), 55. 17 Federico García Lorca, Prosa, 1 –​Obras,VI (Madrid: Akal, 1994), 520. 18 Cidade Dourada by Colombian popular theater group La Candelária. 19 In an interview from 1981 Boal says, “Barraca wanted to continue to develop the line of its theater and therefore was not interested in these experiments […] If I had arrived in Portugal two years earlier, perhaps things would have been done another way” (Augusto Boal: as contas de 10 anos de exílio. Suplemento Sete ponto Sete, Lisbon, January 20, 1981). 20 Before leaving Portugal, Boal directed A Barraca conta Zé do Telhado, written by Helder Costa, in addition to also having organized an independent performance of Zumbi. 21 In addition to interruptions in the area of culture, popular instruments such as Workers’ Commissions (TCs) also lost their autonomy to become representative groupings in factories. The same went for the Resident Commissions (CMs) and more radical agricultural cooperatives. In parallel, virtually all experiments with worker control in factories and companies were halted by 1976. (See: Miguel Pérez, Contra a Exploração Capitalista –​comissões de trabalhadores e luta operária na Revolução Portuguesa. Thesis (Master’s in History)  –​FCSH, UNL. Lisbon, 2008). The soldiers’ movement would also be harshly repressed in favor of the immediate reestablishment of the hierarchy in the Armed Forces and its role as armed branch of the government. 22 The subject of the interruption of the Revolution still raises open debates. Fernando Rosas, one of the most important historians of Portuguese history in the twentieth century, is categorical in saying that “the Portuguese revolution was not ended by 1975’s ‘Novemberism’ ” (Fernando Rosas, Ser e Não Ser: Notas Sobre a Revolução Portuguesa de 74/​75 no Seu 40º Aniversário. Revista Vírus. No. 5,

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Bio Toledo pp. 4–​12, April 2014). For Rosas, despite the halting of the PREC in November 1975, the counter-​ revolution that grew thereafter failed to impose its reactionary agenda as it would have liked. The 1976 Constitution is an example that the Revolution “left behind, on the parliamentary democracy that succeeded it, the genetic mark of its political and social achievements, the rights and freedoms it had fought for in the revolutionary struggle” (p.  11). The text:  “it would consecrate the objectives of socialism, the irreversibility of nationalizations, agrarian reform, workers’ control and the role of workers’ commissions.” On the other hand, historian Raquel Varela, in a work already cited here, contrasts representative bourgeois democracy with the moments of direct democracy experienced during the PREC: April 25th was the period of greatest democracy—​extending and broadening citizens’ power—​in the history of Portugal and this period was defeated not by a dictatorial coup but by a counterrevolutionary process whose linchpin was the constitution of a representative democratic regime. (Varela, História do Povo na Revolução Portuguesa, 461) For Fernando Rosas, on the contrary, democracy was an achievement of, not an obstacle to, the revolution: the schematic equation that is sometimes made between the counterrevolution and parliamentary democracy is unaware that, in the case of Portugal, it is the result of a commitment to a revolutionary process that profoundly influenced it […] political democracy does not exist in Portugal despite the revolution, but because there was revolution. (Rosas, Ser e Não Ser, 11) I thank José Soeiro for the considerations and recommended reading that led me to think about this passage more dialectically. 23 Julian Boal, Sob Antigas Formas em Novos Tempos: o teatro do oprimido. entre “ensaio da revolução” e adestramento interativo das vitimas. Dissertation (PhD) Postgraduate Program of the School of Social Service of UFRJ. Rio de Janeiro, 2017, 4. 24 Between 1977 and 1978 Boal was a theatre critic for Revista Opção, a periodical with socialist leanings. He used several of his texts to report on some of these trips and experiences in countries like Sweden, France, Spain, and Italy. For example, “Aventuras do Teatro Invisível.” No. 65, July 21–​27, 1977, 51; “Em Estocolmo, festival de teatro foi festa.” No. 70, August 25–​31, 1977, 48; “O problema moral de um tipo de teatro.” No. 98, March 8–​15, 1978, 50. Regarding these experiences see also: Fernando Peixoto, “O ‘teatro do oprimido’ invade a Europa,” in Teatro em Movimento (São Paulo: Hucitec, 1989). 25 Sérgio de Carvalho, “Dialética da atuação,” In Augusto Boal, Jogos Para Atores e Não Atores (São Paulo: Edições Sesc São Paulo and Cosac Naify, 2015), 394. 26 Carlos Porto, Interview with Augusto Boal. Revista sete ponto sete. January 20, 1981.

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27 THE BEGINNINGS OF THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED IN FRANCE Jean-​François Martel1 Translated from French by Ralph Yarrow

The story I tell here covers three periods and is based on my personal experience; it does not claim to be a sociological analysis. The periods are: i) 1978–​1985: the “pioneers,” with Augusto Boal present throughout; ii) 1986–​1990: CTO (Centre du Théâtre de l’Opprimé) organized under the leadership of a director who liaised with Boal, who had returned to Brazil; iii) 1991–​1997: the attempt to establish a collective. I round off briefly by listing local groups and describing the network which subsequently took shape.

1978–​1985: The pioneers alongside Augusto Boal This period is characterized by a high degree of political intensity. Nearly ten years after May 1968, the exiled Boal arrived in Paris. The small group which formed around him saw themselves as pioneers. This is a decade in which many radical trends developed in France. These included anti-​sexism, anti-​militarism, opposition to energy policies, and support for emancipatory educational methodologies, self-​determination, workers’ rights, factory occupations, and others I  can’t remember. These struggles (LIP2:  workers’ rights; Larzac:  anti-​militarist, non-​violent resistance; Plogoff: anti-​nuclear; campaign for abortion rights) were often led by movements which welcomed TO and were supported by the radical Left, which dated back to 1968. But during the same period, the PS (Socialist Party) and the PC (Communist Party) entered into an agreement, which led in 1981 to a government of “the union of the left,” headed by François Mitterand. Many of the campaigns were ultimately successful, not least because of this coalition. The government nationalized large swathes of industry and banking, instituted a 39-​ hour working week, set the retirement age at 60, increased paid annual leave to five weeks, and introduced the Auroux laws, which formalized workers’ rights to representation and participation in decision-​making.3 However, militant action to promote popular causes ceased and radical political groups progressively lost ground.The “big public service education” project stirred up massive resistance from 261

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the Right and from the Catholic private education sector. In 1983, Mitterand bowed to pressure and ushered in the “turn to liberalism,” which brought with it the end of wage indexation in line with inflation and the advent of austerity. The Communist Party quit the government in 1984. The first two years of TO in France are notable for three important workshop events: i) La Cartoucherie de Vincennes, hosted by Ariane Mnouchkine (Théâtre du Soleil);4 200 participants, many of them actors; Augusto gave instructions through a megaphone. ii) Bolène (referred to in Stop! C’est Magique5), which brought together people who belonged to the movement for Freinet education.6 iii) A workshop for militant feminists from the Mouvement Français du Planning Familial (French Movement for Family Planning), in Paris; following this, Boal launched Invisible Theatre in France. During those years, the “Boal group” also held open workshops once a week. In order to learn how to construct a Forum Theatre event, participants brought along their own stories and engaged with the concrete artistic difficulties of turning them into plays. Some of these people then formed themselves into Boal’s Paris team. In the beginning, Boal was welcomed by activist networks from social movements (feminists, campaigners for alternative educational models …) and by practitioners of physical theatre. (Later, he worked with trade unions and political activists, as we will see.) He clarified techniques, worked out new ones, trained “jokers.”7 The “Boal group” became CEDITADE8 in 1979. This acronym stands for Centre for the Study and Diffusion of Active Techniques of Expression (Boal method). Its logo is a little man with multiple limbs. We should note a similarity with the name “Centres for Training in Active Education Methods”: the organization which hosted Boal’s team in Paris. CEDITADE used three strategies to deliver the methodology:  Boal led workshops and conferences, mainly abroad, and he continued working as a theatre director in several European countries. Four or five very enthusiastic jokers delivered extended training workshops in France, particularly under the auspices of and located in venues run by Education Populaire (People’s Education), and put on Forum Theatre events in the towns they were working in.These training workshops were about 40 hours in duration. Participants tried out games, exercises, mask-​work, ritual practice, Image Theatre, Forum Theatre, and Invisible Theatre. Sometimes a group which had grown out of these events asked to take things further and requested us to provide further training in the method (my group from Beauvais was one of these). In these cases, the joker would return and help the group to identify the central issue which engaged them, then help to shape this into a Forum play and assist the group to stage it. The original, much reduced, team was still much in demand. It created its own forums. Among the first were Badache’s new hit is out (teenagers in conflict with parents) and But I love him (sexism in relationships); others followed (on racism, exploitation at work), and the team relied on the network of former workshop participants to set up opportunities to stage them. A bulletin published by CEDITADE from 1979 enriched the process of reflection on and systematization of the method. It contained accounts of projects and workshops, descriptions of games and exercises, adaptations of strip cartoons, commentaries on forum performances, and in-​depth interrogations of the method and its application to political action and theatre. It also invited comments and questions from well-​known personalities from the theatre world, and it was an important tool for the pioneers. We devoured it as soon as it came out! 262

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“Cops in the Head” Boal said, “If the cops are on the streets in Brazil, here they have perhaps got into our brains!” In 1981 and 1982, Boal led a weekly workshop over several months, where people were able to tackle personal problems in more depth. These problems seemed to be very distinct from those Boal had encountered under dictatorship in Brazil, but they nevertheless represented examples of genuine human suffering: loneliness, lack of love, timidity, misunderstanding, etc. Boal started to develop a systematic model of “introspective” techniques, which brought together theatre and therapy: the Rainbow of Desire, Cops in the Head, ways of representing chaos and breakdown through image, ritual processes, and many others. At the same time, he was invited to work in various psychiatric institutions.

Links between TO and other forms of theatre Note that Boal never stopped working as a director of classical or contemporary theatre in several countries. At the beginning of 1982, at Théâtre Présent, Paris, the group put on an extract from Bertolt Brecht’s The Jewish Wife,9 developing it into a forum. Here then is a play written by a well-​known author but which now offered the possibility of intervention by the spectators. “Is this still theatre?”—​asked a critic in an article published in the Bulletin. The Bulletin also relayed the debate around the question:  should we perform in theatres or beyond theatres? CEDITADE was not based in a theatre: we performed a lot in community halls and sometimes, also, in theatres, usually to a specific audience with an interest in the issues treated in the play. The groups who invited us to perform were responsible for getting an audience to come, usually to a venue which they knew or had already used. But in 1979, a “TO fortnight” was held at the Théâtre Présent. Subsequently, the team performed at the TEP (East Paris Theatre), and in 1980 they spent six weeks at the Théâtre du Soleil giving workshops and forum performances. In addition to our work with the big social movements referred to earlier, we ran projects with trade unionists and activist sections, and we received invitations to work with local, often politicized, groups on specific issues, and others from psychiatric institutions, from groups opposed to racism, or those who welcomed people from the “Third World” or offered support to migrants.

1984: Forum performances in connection with the centenary of the trade union movement in France At the request of the CFDT (French Democratic Confederation of Labour), Boal and his group created two new forums and performed them in a marquee in Paris for over a month, at the site which became the Parc de la Villette10: one scene about lay-​offs in a factory, another about male domination in a relationship. This trade union played a major role at the time in workers’ struggles and agitation in France, prior to adopting the “reformist” stance it still maintains. Large numbers of trade unionists and other people interested in TO filled the marquee every evening. Boal and his team took turns to act as jokers in the forums. Members of groups from all over France contributed to the forums and discussions, and some stayed on to take part in militant action as well as to engage in sessions on Image Theatre. 1984 also saw the first Rainbow of Desire workshop (it was followed by further workshops). Here Boal tried out techniques which he had developed during his previous lengthy workshop. Over the next few 263

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years he led at least one workshop of this type per year. CTO members regularly played a part in developing and delivering these activities, and jokers were able to propose collaborative projects. This created a collective research atmosphere which was very inspiring. Boal always trusted us and let us take charge of the game or technique he had asked us to lead, while it was in progress. He kept his comments until the evening. When he was leading a technique himself, he would ask us discreetly, “What do you think? Maybe I should try such and such a variation?” So we could follow the development of his thinking in this way. Some techniques or variations were still being worked out, and we would discuss with him how the different stages fitted together. The outcome of all these reflections was the book Méthode Boal de Théâtre et Thérapie, which came out in 1990. To mark its publication, there was a demonstration of the method attended by 400 people in a Paris theatre, which was illustrated by exercises that the whole company had worked on very enthusiastically.

Supporting local groups There was a very optimistic feeling: we were the precursors, and TO groups sprang up in several regions in France. These groups mostly started in two ways: some formed around an individual who had trained in TO and then had gone on to establish a group in their own region. Others, like my group in Beauvais, emerged from a workshop which took place in their area. The participants were keen to learn and to tailor their development to this new mode of action. The original team was now called the Centre for the Theatre of the Oppressed and was renting a beautiful old ballroom. Here the CTO offered masterclasses to people who had participated in earlier workshops, usually by invitation: • • •

Trainee jokers were invited to watch a CTO joker at work. CTO members were able to help local groups with staging or to assist the joker. A new group which wanted to put on a forum event could ask a CTO joker to help them with their research, direct the actors, or take charge of improvisations. Lastly, this supervisory work opened up a further unique and valuable form of support. Two trainee jokers would lead a workshop, observed by a CTO joker, who would offer comments at the end of each day and help them to prepare for the following day.

1985: Festival of local groups at Amiens Four CTO jokers organized a festival bringing together local groups for the first time. Groups from Amiens, Beauvais, Brest, Caen, Troyes, Vendôme, etc. presented forums each evening to an audience.The days were given over to sharing experiences from discussions and workshops.These very stimulating exchanges allowed us to acknowledge our disagreements and learn how to resolve them without relying on Augusto’s natural authority—​he was conducting a workshop elsewhere.

1986–​1991: Boal’s return to Brazil, reorganization of the CTO An amnesty was declared in Brazil in 1986, and Augusto decided to return to the country. The full-​time personnel at this time consisted of a small team of jokers who worked with Boal. CTO was going through a financial crisis which necessitated drastic economies, which included terminating the administrator’s contract. In addition, we had to leave the ballroom; we were hosted after this by the French Family Planning Movement. Two of the CTO jokers took over both

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administration and artistic direction. Around these two full-​time jokers there were four circles, as we called them: •

• • •

the leadership team, made up of four or five jokers who looked after workshops, performance projects in response to requests from groups, and the development of Forum Theatre pieces; the support group, which met and engaged in discussion with the leadership team each week; the “core team,” made up of actors who took part in Forum Theatre pieces, but didn’t want to train to become jokers; “the movement,” which consisted of local groups and a few jokers who undertook work in their own areas.

As with any group, there were issues around status. These had to do with recognizing each person’s abilities, acknowledging their commitment and availability, and thus validating their contribution and how it should be remunerated financially. Up to then, Augusto Boal had been very much present and was the uncontested figurehead. There was no need for a title to designate his position (Director? Artistic Director? Founder?) He was “Augusto.” His goodwill and his encouraging attitude underpinned our exploration of new areas to engage with. He let us lead exercises without intervening and was happy to engage in discussion afterwards. And in addition, every session ended in an evaluation with him. Who would now be considered a qualified TO joker, and above all by whom? Was there a need to formalize the process? Boal had insisted on avoiding questions of copyright so that as many people as possible could make use of his method. But the issue of making decisions on behalf of the CTO was a different matter. The two full-​time jokers started to designate people as jokers, but very few people were happy about this form of validation. The desire to put an organizational structure for the movement in place continued to increase. But the proposal that local groups should ally themselves to CTO-​Paris was viewed with suspicion, partly due to the traditional dominance and centralizing role of Paris in relation to the rest of France. In fact, a few jokers from other groups (Beauvais, Lille, St. Raphaël, Vendôme) did come to CTO meetings. This did produce a degree of integration within the CTO team, while these jokers continued to run their own groups at the same time.

Large-​scale project to mark the centenary of the French Revolution: consolidating the team In 1987, the one full-​time joker remaining (the other one had left to set up his own movement) proposed a clarification of this situation: the major focus should be on the CTO as an association made up solely of “those who were doing the work.” He invited accredited jokers and those who were in the process of training to join. The team which resulted from this was made up of old and new members, people from the theatre, from education or social services, among them three people from Latin America who had known Boal. About 15 people joined the full-​time joker for a big project for the bicentenary of the French Revolution.11 There was a year of fascinating research, punctuated by training workshops, geared toward the creation of a Forum play entitled Bastilles to be Stormed (a reference to the Bastille, the royal prison which the people attacked and captured in 1789, which has become the symbol of the Revolution). Each of us devised a scene focusing on an oppression which we

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were experiencing and were familiar with. The project culminated in a highly original Forum play with nine scenes, which was performed about 40 times throughout France. Our interface with the public worked in the following way: we would do a forum on two or three scenes, then the actors went into the audience to collect stories of oppression. We improvised one or two of these straight away, using the technique known as “simultaneous dramaturgy.” This was a direct and immediate way of showing how a group from among the spectators could put on its own play with us. The tour led to the establishment of about ten groups in densely populated parts of France. The participants were young people, for the most part daughters and sons of immigrants, hungry for the chance to articulate their situation and claim their rights. They created their forum pieces with us and then performed them in their local areas and further afield. In conclusion, the whole CTO team and representatives from the various groups came together to work on a ten-​scene Forum play. This play was performed at the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris on the anniversary of the Réunion des Etats Généraux (Meeting of the Estates General12) on May 4, 1989. The day of commemoration began with a street demonstration at the Place de la Bastille, led by Augusto Boal, followed by a fraternal gathering of about 800 people who had come from all over France to participate in this forum event.

1990: Further reorganization of the CTO The full-​time joker promoted himself to “Artistic Director.”There were disagreements between him and a large proportion of the team, mainly over the way in which he exercized his directorial function, frequently excluding other peoples’ initiatives. Things came to a head when he entered into a contract with a multinational, which aroused a lot of suspicion. In another situation we might have been able to resolve this, but given the state of his relationship with Boal and the team, Boal asked him to leave. Two other members departed with him.13 After this, the group opted for a different management style, with one part-​time executive officer, in order to guard against instances of appropriation of control. We re-​adopted and re-​ affirmed the title “CTO,” abandoning the designation “Forum Theatre” which the ex-​director had considered “less provocative” and had instituted two years previously. Soon after this we also added Boal’s name, so the group became known as “CTO-​Augusto Boal.”

1991–​1997: International encounters and the attempt to establish a collective Early 1991:  Training workshop in India. An Indian woman, an activist, requested Boal go and train 80 agricultural worker-​actors in the Calcutta area. But he chose to entrust this workshop to our group, so five of us left, not without trepidation, for three weeks in a village surrounded by paddy fields.Would we know how to do TO in an environment where everyday habits, attitudes toward the body, material conditions of life, seemed so different from ours? Our English was not very good, and that of the workshop participants was mostly non-​existent! One person from their group translated from English to Bengali. The experience had a profound effect on us. The “Boal method,” which had originated in one country in the “global south,” was now arriving in another, thanks to our mediation. When the time came to leave—​it was still very difficult then to telephone from Calcutta to Europe—​there was an emotional exchange of promises and postal addresses, but not much real hope of seeing each other again. So it was a great delight to meet up again in Paris a few months later! May 1991: The first major international festival of TO in Paris-​Massy. Buoyed by its success, the team collaborated with Boal in organizing this festival. There was a very festive 266

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atmosphere.We reconnected with young people who had taken part in the bicentenary project, with groups and jokers from France and beyond: Estonia, Burkina Faso, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Italy, the UK, the USA … and Jana Sanskriti, the group we had met in Calcutta a few months earlier! They performed Shonar Meye (Golden Girl), a Forum play which is still staged 25 years later. There were public forum events in the evening, debates, workshops, and lectures during the day.14 In 1992, the team acquired a more professional status and gained confidence. The skillset of its members had improved, and several of them were making Forum plays for the company. We participated in the TO festival organized by the Workshop Theatre Burkinabé in Burkina Faso. We had developed strong ties with several local groups;15 our workshops attracted participants from many countries. 1993:  At last, an international TO festival in Brazil! This festival was organized by Boal and CTO-​Rio. Not only had the dictatorship come to an end, but Boal had also just been elected as a vereador to the Legislative Council in Rio, standing as a candidate on the Workers’ Party list under the leadership of Lula.16 About ten people from CTO-​Paris took part, performing four pieces. We returned home the richer for critical observations which helped us to learn a great deal. During a seminar with Boal, we drew up a chart which set out organizational structures and responsibilities across the board for our group. It specified responsibilities and allocated them among members, served as a visual planning tool for projects, and built in a weekly group meeting. At these meetings, we divided up the work to be done between us and selected jokers to work on new forum productions. It was then up to each joker to form his/​her team as they saw fit. In 1994 the CTO was able to rent and refurbish a large room in a theatre, close to the Gare de Lyon in Paris. At last we had a permanent space for our workshops, our rehearsals, our play-​ development work, our performances! At the same time, of course, we carried on, giving forum performances in other venues, going outside our own space to make contact with different audiences. In 1995, Boal put on Iphigenia in Aulis, a big production which looked likely to receive support from the Ministry of Culture.17 It was followed by two forum pieces which we devised in order to pick up resonances with the play, on the theme of the young woman as sacrificial victim. One scene was about incest; the other dealt with a disabled adolescent who had been rejected by her family. The play and the forums ran for six weeks and inaugurated our venue at the beginning of 1996. But the cast included only some of the CTO team plus actors from elsewhere, which upset the team.

From the end of the CTO to the creation of the French TO Network 1997–​1998 was a very painful period, difficult to live through, during which the members of the CTO gradually split up, more or less voluntarily, after working with a mediator and having a long meeting with Boal. Six groups emerged from this split, operating differently in terms of decision-​making and choosing areas to focus on. Some of these resulted in very dynamic new groups. Some jokers devoted themselves to facilitating the local groups which they had been working with. The group which remained in Paris still used the name CTO, but without the addition of “Boal” at his request. Gradually, other groups made contact, exchanged expertise and helped other groups to form. They now became part of the TO Network. On March 27, 2009, many people joined Boal at the UNESCO Day in his honor in Paris. Shortly after his death on May 2, and in the wake of the many tributes paid to him, some CTO 267

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members went to Brazil in July 2009 for the “International Gathering of Jokers” which he had planned with CTO-​Rio. Today there are about 20 old and new groups which make up the French TO Network. They are in good health, linked by the desire to cooperate and by the conviction that “the goal of Theatre of the Oppressed is to fight against oppression.”18

Notes 1 As an activist teacher and trade unionist, I met Augusto Boal and his company in 1980. Straight away I started to train with them, took part in their workshops and collaborative events, and set up the group “En Vie—​T.O.” in Beauvais, as part of the educational movement I was involved with as an activist. In parallel, I helped to bring together the group “CTO-​A. Boal” in Paris and was a member until 1998. Following that, I established a professional company in Lille, “T’OP–​Théàtre de l’Opprimé.” I have now handed on responsibility for that group to the jokers of the next generation. Finally, along with several others, I initiated the foundation of the TO Network in France in 2013, for which I serve as president. 2 A watch-​making firm in eastern France. 3 Les Lois Auroux (1982) were designed to encourage workplace participation and contractual partnership between unions and management. 4 Mnouchkine, Le Théàtre du Soleil, and their base, La Cartoucherie, have been major players in the establishment of innovative and cross-​cultural theatre practice in France in the decades since 1960. 5 Some of the sources quoted in this chapter are out of print, but others can be consulted by applying in writing to contact@reseau-​to.fr. See Augusto Boal, “Invisible Theatre:  The Story of the Woman who Couldn’t Shout,” in Games for Actors and Non Actors (French edition: Jeux pour acteurs et non acteurs) (Paris: La Découverte, 2004). Augusto Boal, Stop! C’est Magique (Paris: Hachette, 1980, out of print). Bulletin du CEDITADE-​Méthode Boal (the network is proposing to make these bulletins available online). Augusto Boal, Méthode Boal de Théâtre et Thérapie (Paris: Ramsay, 1990, out of print). Metaxis No. 2: “TO et psychiatrie à Cherbourg” (Rio de Janeiro: CTO). 6 The Freinet methodology places emphasis on the agency of the learner (cf. Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed) and on creative and collaborative classroom activities. 7 The term “joker” has a particular meaning in Theatre of the Oppressed. During a Forum Theatre event, it refers to the person who moves between the actors and the spectators, who is at the meeting point of these two spaces. S/​he is tasked with facilitating exchange between the auditorium and the stage during the forum. The term comes from the deck of cards where the joker can replace any other card. By analogy, the TO joker needs to be familiar with everyone’s role in the play. The term has been extended, and now people talk of the “joker on stage” and the “workshop joker,” rather than of an “animator.” 8 Centre de Diffusion des Techniques Actives d’Expression. 9 Part of the cycle of one-​act plays in Fear and Misery in the Third Reich. 10 The Parc de la Villette, in northeast Paris, includes three concert venues and the Conservatoire de Paris. 11 We were still in the first period of François Mitterand’s government (1981–​1988)—​the first Left-​wing government in the 5th Republic. The project was funded by the City Interministerial Delegation, which was the forerunner of various state initiatives to support the most densely populated quartiers in Paris. 12 This meeting marked the beginning of the French Revolution. 13 One of them went so far as to write that he had progressed a step beyond TO; according to him, although it was no doubt useful in Latin America, it was “inappropriate in Europe where we suffer more from problems of communication than from oppression!” Unfortunately, we subsequently met many groups who drew inspiration from TO techniques but without accepting the fundamental concept of oppression. These groups often restricted themselves to dealing with communication issues or were content to stimulate “theatrical debate” without clearly positioning themselves on the side of the oppressed. 14 See the article in Metaxis 2, “TO and Psychiatry.” 15 Some of the groups active at this time were as follows: En Vie-​TO, Beauvais, worked initially in education and then extended its remit and became more professionalized; TO Brest, combated sexism and worked with local employment agencies; Enjeux, Vendôme, against sexism; En Acte, Lille, work with adolescents in densely populated areas and on leadership training; Théâtre Sans Frontières, Toulouse,

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The beginnings of TO in France work against racism and xenophobia; Entr’act, St. Raphaël, a professional company working on a variety of issues; and in Cherbourg a group composed of psychiatric nurses. 16 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil from 2003–​2011. 17 In the end, no subsidy was forthcoming. 18 The Réseau du Théâtre de l’Opprimé (RTO), France, is made up of big and small, professional and activist groups (see www.reseau-​to.fr for listings and details). They share expertise and research, aiming to collaborate with each other rather than to compete. Since 2013, the Network organizes two general meetings per year, runs workshops and develops contacts with TO groups throughout the world: contact@reseau-​to.fr.

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28 THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED, NOT THEATRE FOR THE OPPRESSED Origins of Jana Sanskriti and evolutions of TO in India An interview with Sanjoy Ganguly

Kelly Howe: What can you tell us about how Theatre of the Oppressed reached India? Why did TO adapt so well in that context? Sanjoy Ganguly:  I think it could have worked in all contexts in the same way … It’s not specifically in India where Theatre of the Oppressed has more opportunities and more scope … or where the situation is more favorable for Theatre of the Oppressed. In each context, it could have been applied. It could have been done if applied with the required political mind. I think something went wrong [in other places], and that is the reason why we see this question coming up, about how it worked so well in the context of India. Howe: This question arises from a particular section of the book where we are trying to give people a sense of the early spread of Theatre of the Oppressed to various regions … Ganguly:  Particularly in India, it was first applied among the marginalized people. Julian, you would say working class … Basically, people on the margins, among the peasantry, among the agricultural workers, so it was sincerely Theatre of the Oppressed from the beginning. It was not Theatre for the Oppressed. I  had been in the Communist party, which was regimented and centralized, and which could not actually offer a real alternative democratic practice to the people. I did not find any democratic spaces, so propaganda and cultural monologue were experiences of mine in the party. Everything was very dogmatic. Everything was very fixed. There was a clear line of intellectual/​non-​intellectuals, first-​class citizens and second-​class citizens. There were always distinctions: you could always sense a second-​class and third-​class coalition inside the party, even though—​theoretically—​we were practicing equality. That actually inspired me; that actually provoked me to go outside the party and think of an alternative, so from the very beginning of Jana Sanskriti, the propaganda and dogma were some things we always wanted to avoid.We wanted to avoid this line of intellectual/​non-​intellectual. 270

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We wanted to explore the intellectual capacity we have within, so we went into the villages. We did not accept the view that only elite, educated people can lead. The other thing was this, which I can articulate today but I could not articulate during my party life: the problem with considering European history as a way of understanding our society. I used to always ask questions about the history we had before 1757, before the British intervention started.We were not taught these things in the party. It was simplistic analysis, always European history. But at that time, I somehow read some books that wanted to analyze Indian society from the Indian perspective, which actually Marx also wanted, so my sincere commitment towards the village culture, towards traditional art, towards traditional thinking, was very genuine. The party thinks European history can explain world history and thinks we can learn everything from the West. This is a very colonial construction of thoughts. Such thoughts, along with the way they divided people between intellectual and non-​intellectual, did not make me happy. Everywhere you saw the domination of the elites. These are the things that actually directed me to go to the people on the margins and to understand their way of thinking, their conception of life, and my sincere commitment was to understanding our traditional culture. That is the reason why it started with the people on the margin, for them to have a space where they could speak freely, where they could enjoy democracy, where they could argue, where they could debate. And they could sense that they were evolving as intellectuals, as thinkers. That is the reason why TO worked very well in India. And we came to people, like Boal says, handing the aesthetical means to the people, equipping them with our resources. Then they started performing in their own communities. Theatre of the Oppressed came through Jana Sanskriti to India. We were the first exponents, and, you know, because of this experience in the party, I was looking for an alternative. One chapter of Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed—​the chapter on political poetics—​that was the Xeroxed chapter I had initially to understand Boal. We also established contact with CTO Paris in 1990. In 1991, we met Boal in Paris in a festival where Boal acted as Joker for our plays. In the long history, we have changed, but it was basically some of us who experienced this authoritarianism inside the party and were looking for a true democracy, looking to understand traditions. These things actually helped Theatre of the Oppressed develop here in India. … And by the time other TO groups started here in India, Jana Sanskriti was a well-​established Theatre of the Oppressed group in the country. Now Theatre of the Oppressed is in the hands of lots of activists here. Julian Boal: You said that TO could be applied with the same success everywhere, if applied with the right political mind. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the village structure specifically. To what extent did it help or not help the spread of  TO? I remember you saying to me that, when you first left the Communist party, your first step was not to go directly to the villages but to go to the slums, and that, in the slums, you found people who were coming and going because of seasonal work. When you went to the village, the population was not so much coming and going. It was a population that was settled around the village, so within ten kilometers, fifteen kilometers, everybody was there. How did the environment of the village shape the TO? Ganguly: Yes, it was basically a slum in Kolkata, where we started working as activists, not as theatre people. The slum had 129 households. The people came and settled, 271

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some temporarily, some permanently in the Kolkata slum from the villages of South 24 Parganas, where we went and started our work with the help of these slum dwellers. The people, who actually were migrated workers from the villages—​at one point of time, they said, “Why don’t you go to our villages? There we will get a section of the population that continuously stays there.”The question was: How can you go? Who will take us? We hired someone from the slum who actually took us to his house. It was a mud house in those days. Now, you can see that the village house is changing.You don’t see those mud houses with straw roofing. Now it’s all cement and brick. In those days, most constructions were mud constructions, with straw roofing. In any case, we lived in the village context. We were in a small room. Seven of us used to live in that room together. There were no toilets, no roads. During the monsoon, it was horrible because there were not toilets, so the children would defecate at the side of the road. The stool and mud mixed, which meant we had a lot of worm problems, occasionally malaria and gastroenteritis, so these were our occupational hazards. There was no telephone, too, so we were completely disconnected from Kolkata, from each other actually … Electricity, there was no electricity. So life was not really comfortable. Even today’s agricultural workers cannot imagine the kinds of conditions in which we were living then.This generation of agricultural workers can’t even imagine the kind of discomfort. We had to walk all the time. To have a cup of tea, you had to go one hour and fifteen minutes to a market to have a cup of tea, and then come back one hour and fifteen minutes. Two and a half hours walking for a cup of tea. We used to walk from village to village, sometimes a three-​hour walk. In between, there would be a river; you would have to cross the river. We would go perform, and after performances, we would talk to the people. Then we would go back to the riverside, but the ferry would be closed, so we would have to wait at the bank of the river throughout the night. The next day, in the early morning, we would cross the river and go back and do work. Sometimes we wished to go by cycle. In the middle of the night, if someone’s cycle tire got punctured, the whole group would have to walk. So this was the life, actually … We had only one team, so the operation area for that one team was bigger at that time. And now the villages have changed. We have roads, we have electricity … And there are many teams of Jana Sanskriti—​satellite teams—​so the operation area for each team is much smaller in scope. They don’t have to walk so many hours a day. So that is how actually Theatre of the Oppressed started here … We started living together. We had no money. We had no institutional support from 1985 to 2001. We did not have any institutional support in those times. Our lifestyle was very difficult. And in this context, Kelly, I would also respond to your question: We went to the village, and Theatre of the Oppressed worked better in the village because of the folk art. It’s the traditional art we saw in the village, like foreigners because we were from the city, and in the city we did not have any experience of watching traditional art, particularly in West Bengal. It was a British capital, and the British understood that, through guns, they could not rule the country, so therefore they came up with universities. University of Calcutta1 is the premium university: 1857. From these universities, there was a group of reformers, and they were to bring reform in religion. They wanted to think in Western thought. They had only Western ideas and philosophies, so their idea of reform did not go to the rural masses. They also addressed a lot of middle class issues, and it was done through laws, by changing laws, by negotiating … In this sense, the reform did not take 272

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care to understand what we had before the British came, what our society was before that.To a large extent, they westernized us.We started thinking in terms of English logic. In any case, when we went to the village, we were actually completely uprooted from our own traditions.We went and found traditional art. Our tradition changed, so we saw the traditional art where characters are given complex portrayals. Even god characters were very complex.That was finally very convincing to me because in the party we also had gods, but our gods could not make any mistakes. Those gods cannot be criticized, but, in our traditional theatre based on epics or ancient texts called Puranas, the gods are criticized. The god character is being criticized. When I went to the villages, I saw a lot of temples in them, so I noticed: What are these temples doing? What are these festivals doing? Are they bringing people together? I found a lot of interesting culture of acceptance and tolerance in the rural … We were until this moment actually unaware of all this rural socialism or rural culture, so when I saw the traditional art, it primarily convinced me because it was very Brechtian. You cannot empathize with the characters. That inspired me to learn … My idea of traditional literature and philosophy was challenged. I  thought it only preached a moral. I  was not aware of the argumentative dialectical growth of Indian philosophy. I  owe traditional arts a lot. At this point, there were two major things I had to combat. One is that actors were not literate in those days, at least my very first group. This was before many members of our group came. It was very difficult in those early days for them to remember the text, so I had to adopt a methodology that I call scripting plays instead of playing the script. As a result, people had no problem remembering the lines because they were actually developing the text. It was their own text, so they could remember. Later on, we documented the play in written form, but none of our plays were actually written first and then produced. They were produced first and then written. Also, because of the infrastructural problems, we had to walk two hours, three hours, to go to a village, and that meant I had to develop props that were light, able to be carried while walking, so they could be available in the villages. Those were basically the challenges that helped us to develop a different kind of theatre aesthetics, which was very much liked by Augusto Boal. When he saw our first play, Golden Girl, he was fascinated. When he saw our second play, Where We Stand, he was fascinated then as well, and he did not mind jokering those plays in Paris. And then again when we were in Brazil, he was the joker for both of these. Those two plays were very interesting to Boal because he understood that we were actually cultivating a very high level of theatre aesthetics. For me, it was a challenge: I did not want to copy the established street theatre in India. They didn’t take care of the aesthetic aspect, meaning the structural beauty of the play … I applied some moments of traditional art to our plays, using dance, using songs, using images. These basically came from the graceful, structurally beautiful traditional art. In this respect, we created a new theatrical aesthetics, which actually was an uncommon intervention in Forum Theatre. In terms of the question about specifics of the village structure affecting the spread and growth of TO, yes, that is true, but there were other things, too. Why didn’t we see another Jana Sanskriti? It’s because of our life in the village, the kind of life we accepted, and the problems … Whenever people had problems, people called us to be by their side. If someone is having problems and they might lose their house, we would be there to 273

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help. If someone is being held by the police, we would be there. People had seen us being part of their lives, and that initially opened the path. If that relationship was not there, it would not have been possible for those people to come and join Jana Sanskriti, so we were always part of it. When the people of the village decided to include us, it became easier, but why did they feel like including us? Why did they feel like considering us their members? Because of our construction of relationship. And in this relationship, we were educated, we were from a higher caste, we were rich, relatively, at least richer than the people in the villages. And to break down these constructions was no joke, actually. And so even in the beginning you could see that the help we had is truly a very fortunate thing for Jana Sanskriti, but people came because we were very sincere about breaking down this construction, and we succeeded in being part of their lives. So, yes, people in the villages, they came and joined us, and it strengthened the movement. And even today, those families, all those families, still they remain.They don’t see Jana Sanskriti as different from them. When we had no financial support in the last eighteen months, even our rice supply came from those members. But it is a 32-​year-​ long relationship. Boal:  I agree that it’s a special relationship for many reasons; it was only that I was thinking about how it is a special relationship that happens in a particular place … Ganguly: But actually, this relationship is more important, the most important in the practice of Forum Theatre and the practice of Theatre of the Oppressed. It’s not the model or the techniques that are most important. I don’t see how a joker is capable of jokering unless he or she understands the relationships. We don’t think that techniques can make a joker. It is actually understanding the relationship with my comrades, my friends in the audience, that matters. Howe: What would be an example you could give us of Jana Sanskriti’s work in the early days? Ganguly:  Our first play Gayer Panchali (The Story of the Village) dealt with unemployment primarily but with some other issues as well. It helped us to get connected with many villages and sporadic struggles.At that point, we came across a peasant movement in Andhra Pradesh. They helped us connect with a unified activist movement at the national level, a movement demanding an employment guarantee act for rural workers. We performed The Story of the Village in hundreds of villages within four districts: South 24 Parganas, Midnapore, Birbhum, North 24 Parganas.We collected more than 50,000 signatures from spectators in support of our demand of the Employment Guarantee Act for rural workers. After the performances, we used to request that spectators sign a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister of West Bengal and Prime Minister of India. We also used to visit doors of the villagers to campaign for our demand. In 1989, 50 of us cycled from the villages to Delhi. It took 55 days. Each day, we were hosted by organizations who were part of this struggle.We used to perform The Story of the Village everyday.We used to host street corner meetings, we used to collect money from the people in the street, from the shops, for our expenses. Everyday, new organizations, NGOs, and activist movements would join us. Finally, we reached Delhi with representatives of many movements and submitted the memorandum to the president of India. This work had a national impact. Jana Sanskriti became known to the activist movements of the whole country. The struggle continued. It’s interesting that in 2005, actually, a similar event was organized by many political activist movements of India, and we also joined them. We went to Delhi by cycle then, 274

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too; this time it took 38 days to reach Delhi. But in any case, partly as a result of our work in those earlier years, the government of India came up with what was called the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, under which workers in rural India can have 100 days of work from the government for their family.We feel pride that we were an active constituent of a national level movement that finally won. For a theatre group, it is phenomenal … Boal:  Have there been any developments in TO in India—​or more broadly within an Asian continental context—​that you are afraid of? Ganguly:  I would like to say some things about Theatre of the Oppressed vs. Theatre for the Oppressed. In many cases in Southeast Asia, Theatre of the Oppressed is being used—​ or has been used—​ by NGOs (non-​ governmental organizations) who never listen to people, except their donors. Theatre of the Oppressed in the hands of NGOs has become petty development role-​play kind of theatre. Even though we sometimes see the presence of actors from marginal or under-​privileged sectors in NGO-​related performances, in those cases, typically the actors do not determine the oppression they want to deal with. From choosing the issue to how they will use TO onstage and offstage, these things tend to be determined by funded NGOs and their economically rich leaders. Theatre of the Oppressed ends up here as propaganda theatre in Forum format … This situation is perhaps not dominant, but the dynamic is often visible in Theatre of the Oppressed in which actors are not coming from the actually oppressed people. Workers, farmers, and women from truly marginalized families are too rarely included in the performances. Related to this point, often people say spect-​actors are to search for a solution. In some cases, the solutions are politely imposed on the spectators. If condom promotion is the objective of a play addressing HIV, then the joker will lead the audience towards that end. Here the questions of patriarchy and of the aggressive intervention of pharmaceutical industries disappear from the discourse between actors and spect-​actors. In the name of participation, this sort of didactic way of moderation or jokering makes Forum Theatre a propaganda art. Most important in Forum Theatre is to understand the oppression and the internal and external reasons for it. In most cases, the internal is the effect of the external. Understanding the sociology of the problem is important. Therefore, the joker should keep himself or herself away from the tendency of taking people to the solution, which can make it Theatre for the Oppressed. Solutions are not so easy for all the problems. Searching for solutions is actually an easy solution for how to make Forum Theatre ineffective. Forum Theatre and all other techniques in the arsenal of Theatre of the Oppressed are there to create an intense intellectual participation between actors and spect-​actors. This kind of involvement of actors and spect-​actors constructs a convergence that leads people to act off the stage to change the situation in real life. The convergence happens because everyone among the spectators wants to understand the cause of the problem; they share a common goal, which brings them together. Theatre is a means to fight alienation … In Theatre of the Oppressed, the action comes from a sincere urge of actors and spectators, both. Actors here are not interventionist; they also live the same oppression being examined … The work should construct intellectual power in both actors and spectators … Theatre of the Oppressed is all about understanding the problem as it is known by the spectators. A script cannot say something that spectators do not experience in their life. It is a journey from knowing 275

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to understanding, from being to becoming, through an intellectual evolution. This evolution is an aesthetical experience that transforms actor into activist and spect-​actor into spect-​activist.

Note 1 Editors’ note: The city of Kolkata—​as it is pronounced in Bengali—​was referred to as “Calcutta” under British colonial rule. Consequently, many institutions still reflect that spelling, though West Bengal’s government officially changed its capital city’s name back to Kolkata in 2001.

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29 EARLY CONFERENCES IN THE US PTO and its roots in the academy Douglas Paterson

If the organization Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. (PTO) is one of the reasons Augusto Boal’s work has been distributed across the United States, then that “multiplication”—​ as Boal called it—​is partly rooted in the US academy of higher education. The 1991 conference of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) was held in August in Seattle, Washington, and I had been asked by the leadership to head up the 1992 conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I was feeling under-​the-​weather in the days leading up to the ‘91 Seattle conference and during the pre-​conference board meetings even considered leaving. But for remarkable things to happen, sometimes remarkable recoveries are needed, and I stayed for the start of the conference. On the second morning, I happened to see something about a group giving a breakout session in Theatre of the Oppressed, using the techniques of Augusto Boal. I knew of Boal, having read Theatre of the Oppressed and included it in a class on People’s Theatre. But I never did “get it.” Indeed, I went to the session to see what “it” was. The presenters showed a Forum scene about racist language; the audience lit up and yelled “stop” continuously, and I began to laugh. This was great! This was revolutionary! I simply must get this Boal guy to come to Atlanta. In a sense, I “got it,” even though I barely knew what “it” was. When I returned to Omaha I got Boal’s number from Jan Cohen-​Cruz, called him—​a call I will never forget—​and asked him to come to the Atlanta ATHE Conference in August, 1992. He agreed, and gave three five-​ hour workshops—​one each in Image, Forum, and Rainbow of Desire—​and gave the conference keynote address. On reflection, I have said that this conference carved out a new channel of theatre practice in the US. Augusto then invited me to take part in the 7th International Festival of the Theatre of the Oppressed in Rio de Janeiro in July 1993, which I did. That is a story in itself. In turn, I invited Augusto to come to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in the late winter of 1994 so that the university and region might see what he did. We organized one five-​ hour Introduction to Theatre of the Oppressed at UNO in which, with Boal’s permission, we had 120 people sitting in bleachers watching. Afterward, there was so much enthusiasm, especially from Mary Macchietto, head of UNO’s conference office, that we determined we would organize a conference specifically around Pedagogy of the Oppressed (PO). This focus 277

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(on PO rather than TO) made some sense because Paulo Freire was at that time substantially better known in the US than was Augusto Boal. The conference was scheduled for February 1995.We had hoped for 50–​75 participants, with a three-​day workshop preceding the event and a Thursday–​Saturday papers-​and-​workshops “academic” conference.We attracted something like 200 people. Boal was amazed. I was thrilled! When I talked to Augusto about a second conference, he urged us to invite Paulo as a, or “the,” key presenter. Part of his concern, I  believe, was because Freire was in failing health. All of the timing seemed prescient. With the help of the UNO conference office, we began to organize a second event, still and, perhaps because of Freire, importantly called Pedagogy of the Oppressed. With the announcement in the early fall of 1995, the proposals and calls began to pour in. In March 1996, then, UNO hosted what was rumored at the time to be one of the largest academic conferences ever held in Nebraska. Over 850 people attended, we swamped downtown hotels, and Freire—​frail indeed—​powerfully addressed sessions of a thousand people at a local theatre and signed autographs way past scheduled times. Boal conducted a pre-​conference that was filled to overflowing by December, and again we kicked off the event with Forum Theatre. It was in many ways a rough conference. We were not prepared for the numbers, and not sufficiently aware of how objectionable it would be to have three white men—​Freire, Boal, and Peter McClaren—​as featured presenters. Some of these ruptures have likely never been healed. Somehow we got through it and began planning a third conference. The 1997 UNO Pedagogy of the Oppressed Conference was more manageable with merely 400 attendees. An extraordinary confrontation happened in a proposed “mass dialogue,” something that we asked Boal to address in a closing session. TO tends to call proposals that invoke impossibility “magic.” If that’s a useful definition, Boal performed some magic with 300 participants. His Image Theatre was in fact the real mass dialogue, and by the end of it people who had been yelling at each other were talking in earnest. Regrettably, Paulo Freire passed on May 2, 1997. That the conference formed in time for him to be a guest remains one of the brilliantly shining stars of PTO’s growing constellation. Freire and Boal remain to this day among the most revolutionary of educators in both theory and practice. It is not surprising then that I—​a university professor for all but two years from 1972 to 1991 (when I  encountered TO)—​would be drawn to PO and TO. In 1999, I organized a tour for Boal to US higher education campuses: New College in Sarasota, FL; Vassar; Dartmouth; Colby College; University of Georgia; Florida State; Kansas State. Following years saw tours going to colleges or universities in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Omaha, Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Toledo, Toronto, New  York City, Boston, Peoria (Illinois), Worcester (Massachussetts), and Bowling Green (Ohio). The objective was always to leave behind at least a core of people wh