The Center for the Theater of the Oppressed (CTO), in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin, is set to host the Theater of the Oppressed Symposium from October 21 to 29 in Austin, the capital of Texas in the U.S. The program includes Theater of the Oppressed (TO) and Teatro de las Oprimidas (TA) workshops, presentations of stage productions, artistic performances, panel discussions, and the launch of the book Teatro de Las Oprimidas in English, by the methodology’s creator, Bárbara Santos. The event will present discussions on art and activism in Brazil from an intersectional perspective.
Currently, the CTO is led by an executive team of Black Brazilian theater professionals and activists, who also lead community theater groups exploring themes of racism, machismo, LGBTQIAPNphobia, social class, and mental health, among others, through the liberationist Black aesthetics of the Teatro de Las Oprimidas. At the symposium in Austin, the artists will provoke discussions around central themes from the concept of intersectionality, an analytical tool that considers the distinct categories of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, and nationality – among others – as social characteristics that shape each other, thus presenting the oppressions interconnected with the various layers that shape life, as opposed to viewed in isolation. The CTO team will share their vast knowledge of the TO methods, and contextualize the political history of art activism in Brazil.
Resistance Theater to Transform the World
The program features various CTO theater groups, including Grupo Cor do Brasil, CIA CTO, the Madalena Anastácia Collective, and LAB. Cor do Brasil, composed of Black artists, will present the Forum Theater play “Suspect”, addressing institutional and diffuse racism, which, despite being pervasive in the daily lives of Black individuals, yields concrete consequences for racial inequality in the country. Often, this racial inequality remains imperceptible, concealed within discourses of camaraderie and meritocracy.
The Madalena Anastácia Collective, composed of Black women, will present their most recent Forum Theater piece “What is her place?”. This question that gives the work its title sets the tone for the show, in which pre-established and ratified societal power dynamics, shaped by socio-cultural forces, are challenged by Black women. The piece works through the contradictory nature of the social advancement of Black women, who, as they climb the social ladder, are forced to detach themselves from their Black identity.
The CIA CTO, composed of a team from the institution, will present the Forum Theater piece “Gêneres”, which explores how adhering to the gender binary can impede social progress and foster intolerance and violence in everyday life. How do we learn to play certain social roles based on this concept of gender? What mechanisms of “persuasion” or coercion operate in social spheres (family, school, religion, etc.) to place everyone into one of two boxes: he or she, pink or blue? How do women learn to “be women”? How do men learn to “be men”? How do men learn that the language of violence is acceptable for them?
The LAB, composed of members of the LGBTQIAP+ community, will present the performance “By a thread”, portraying the pain and struggle against depression and suicide, shedding light on the trivialization of the psychological experiences of LGBTQIAPN+ individuals within society.
For the complete schedule, which will soon be available on the official event website, click here.
The Birds of Praxis
This partnership is the result of the strategic and political connections made by multiplier Laura Rose Brylowski, master’s in Ethnic-Racial Relations from CEFET/RJ and PhD student in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas, who participated in the CTO Artistic Residency in 2015. The ongoing residency program offers practical, theoretical, and systematized experimentation with the Theater of the Oppressed and Feminist Theater of the Oppressed methodology, aimed at foreigners as well as Brazilians. The program includes activities such as: accompanying ongoing CTO projects, taking part in rehearsals and presentations by popular theater groups, collaborating with open workshops, trainings, seminars, study groups, and theoretical research through books and video, among others.
Since 1996, the CTO has welcomed students from various continents: (America) Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, United States, Canada; (Africa) Mozambique, Morocco, Egypt, Cameroon, South Africa; (Europe) Germany, France, Spain, Norway, England, Italy, Denmark, Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland; (Asia) India, Japan and Nepal. Several students were part of the UNESCO Exchange Program, which formed an alliance with the CTO, the only institution in Latin America hosting individuals from countries in Africa and Asia. Upon returning to their home countries, many of these students initiated projects and established Theater of the Oppressed networks that are still growing to this day. Laura Rose, having been part of this training, now brings the CTO to Austin, in the U.S., to strengthen methodological practice and the multicultural exchange between the two countries.
About the Center for the Theater of the Oppressed
The Center functions as a research and dissemination hub, actively developing the Theater of the Oppressed methodology through laboratories and dramaturgy seminars. This ongoing process involves the revision, experimentation, analysis and systematization of exercises, games, and theatrical techniques. The CTO was directed by Augusto Boal throughout the last 23 years of his life and, today, his team continues the work. The institution’s philosophy and actions are aimed at democratizing the means of cultural production, fostering intellectual growth among participants, and propagating the Theater of the Oppressed and Teatro de las Oprimidas as a means of activating and democratically strengthening a sense of citizenship. The CTO conducts projects that stimulate active and protagonistic participation of the oppressed segments of society and aims to transform reality through dialog and aesthetic means.