The question of therapeutic goals and the goals of social change is a good one. Douglas Hundley raises the issue in his essay, "Theatre of the Oppressed: An American Tradition?" (Platform Vol. 1, No. 1, Autumn, 2006) where he writes about Augusto Boal's training in New York and how U.S. political and experimental theatre-makers during the Great Depression and Vietnam War helped shape the development of T.O. in South America. Hundley concludes in saying that when Boal's work was brought back to North America, "the potentially subversive edge was gone and replaced with techniques for coping with society rather than changing society." (Hundley, 27). This is something that T.O. Philly considers in the work that we do: workshops are often experiential and personally transformative, but they are only rehearsals for reality—real transformation can only come from taking action in the wider world.
We also recognize that in Theatre of the Oppressed there is the "theatre" side and the "of the oppressed" side and that both are important, which is why we offer a spectrum of events for a spectrum of desires. On the theatre of side of things this January, we are promoting a 3-day workshop with Donna Oblongata drawing on traditional puppetry techniques, Pochinko clown teaching, and the her own theatre company's method of creation and performance. Mason Rosenthal and Morgan Andrews will also be staging their new play "Nobody's Home", which was devised in part using T.O. techniques. See the T.O. Philly Calendar on the right side of this page for details.
On the "of the oppressed" side, we are teaming up with Mariposa Co-op to present a month of anti-oppression events, including a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop on January 11th. We are also working with Temple University's Institute on Disabilities, Bryn Mawr College's Education Program, and Haverford College's Student Leadership Office to bring anti-oppression pedagogy to students and faculty working both on and off-campus. More details soon!
Photos are from our Images of Transition workshop in December of 2013. The images above depict views on the mental health care system.