The applications of Augusto Boal's “Theatre of Oppressed” in Turkey

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By Hilal Demir and Ferda Ülker

Two books by Augusto Boal have been translated into Turkish and various periodicals have discussed his work and "Theatre of the Oppressed". We generally use his methods in nonviolence trainings, especially 'sculpture theatre' and 'simultaneous dramaturgy' and we also use them in our personal life. Boal's techniques offer simple and creative responses to stereotyped situations. If someone stares at you like a sex object, how about you simply picking your nose?

Sculpture Theatre:(Or Image Theatre) This method uses body language to explore concepts. Participants are asked to 'sculpt' their bodies - or those of others - to express an idea, and then they move into a group to form a group 'sculpture' or image. We have explored concepts such as 'war' and 'peace' - the form of the bodies and their relation to each other in the group sculpture of war expressing different aspects of conflict of the dynamics of war. Next we ask the group to create a group sculpture of 'peace' which includes all participants. The last phase is to ask the group to reform the group sculpture of war and 'dynamize' it, transforming into peace. This stimulates an enjoyable and active atmosphere in which to discuss the obstacles we face during the transition from “war” to “peace”.

Forum theatre: (Or 'simultaneous dramaturgy') One method is to act out a scenario in which something happens that you want to prevent or to change. Then it is re-enacted, but this time members of the audience can interrupt, calling out 'freeze', and make a suggestion for something that one of the characters might do differently. The person who calls out then takes over the role of that character and tests out their idea. We have used this with groups of up to 20 women using the scenario of sexual harassment at a bus stop and then during bus trips. Participants are asked "what can she do to prevent the harassment?" and they take over her role to test their ideas. We personally practice a course of action that we learned from this study, and share this experience with other groups and people.

Invisible theatre: This is a performance either in the streets or somewhere it might not be expected - not the theatre. A good place to do this in Izmir is on the ferry, especially at rush hour. One year on 25 November - the international day against violence against women - we dramatised a scene of a man harassing a women. Others of our group mingled with passengers and started a discussion - which we concluded, at the end of the short ferry trip, by explaining that the male harasser was playing a role and was really a friend, but that this is a situation that women confront daily. After our second experience of invisible theatre, We repeated this on another occasion, inviting passengers to a press conference afterwards and some women who attend wanted to keep in touch. Once we did "invisible theatre" about children and violence but when we finished one of the participants protested that we had exposed him to a disturbing dramatisation against his will.

Newspaper Theatre: this method is generally used during the street actions, especially while we are making press statements or petition desk to protest especially human rights violations. This creates an opportunity for us to attract the attention of the people around. When we did one of the newspaper action, we created our own newspaper which looked like an ordinary turkish newspaper and read it on a stage to the public. We used this technique to show and get the attention of the public about our daily life, that there is still war and even media werent leave any space to this, we have to be aware of this war.

For more information in many languages go to:
http://www.theatreoftheoppressed.org/