Thursday 24th May, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Theatre of the Oppressed workshop with Frances Rifkin, May 2012

As part of artist-in-residence Margareta Kern’s series of events, theatre director Frances Rifkin ran a one-day workshop on the Theatre of the Oppressed.

The theoretical basis for this practice is the work of the Brazilian director Augusto Boal (1931-2009), whose conception of the ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ explicitly challenges the divisions between active and passive states or subjects. In his work, Boal says we are all spect-actors – spectators and actors who shape and reflect on the world around us.

Through embodying ideas in images and minimal though useful speech, the workshop will create a transition for the group into a visual, image-producing space, Boal’s “aesthetic space”. This creates the basis for communicating through the range of human faculties and for being able to reflect on the process. Working with highly entertaining, metaphor-generating, games and exercises takes participants out of everyday situations and relationships, makes things new and strange, lets them experience each other and themselves in different ways, recognise what they share and what separates them. Boal calls this a process of “de-mechanisation”. The image can reveal and explore feelings and experiences, which remain unspoken most of the time. The process then takes the group back into daily life with a potential to apply the work to making change.  Boal called this a process of making an image of reality, working with the reality of the image and then extrapolating into living the actions rehearsed in the aesthetic space.

This is an introductory workshop for people with different levels of knowledge and training, who may want to use interactive theatre practice in their work with communities and to reflect on how this might impact on their research practice. Whilst the workshop involves physical movement, it is for people of all abilities, and all languages. Please wear comfortable clothes.

This workshop is primarily for the members of the working group and SSAS students and staff.
The workshop is for 15 participants.

Frances Rifkin, artistic director of Utopia Arts is a cultural worker and director in Political and Community theatre. In the 1970s she was director of Recreation Ground Theatre Company and in the 1980s she was director of Banner Theatre, Birmingham and participated as a theatre activist in the anti-fascist movements, disputes and strikes of the time. She trained extensively with Augusto Boal in the early 1990s and works as a workshop leader. Between 1992 and 1997, she was lecturer in Community and workshop theatre in Theatre Studies at Warwick and Lancaster Universities. Currently she is working with the Centre for Possible Studies at the Serpentine Gallery on a project that explores the relationship between political speech and action through a series of experimental theatre workshops. She is also working with the artist Laura Malacart on a project with autistic adults funded by the Welcome Institute.

See Frances Rifkin at: http://www.serpentinegallery.org/2012/03/direct_speech_acts_free_cinema_salon_march2012.html


And here you can download her document on the ethics of participatory theatre:http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/subjects/palatine/ethics-of-participatory-theatre


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