Augusto Boal was a Brazilian Writer and Politician, he founded a series of methods including Forum Theatre, Imagine Theatre, Theatre of the oppressed and many others. Theatre of the oppressed was established in the 1970’s, he first started his work in brazil and later spread to Europe. Boal uses Theatre as a tool to evoke social and political change in society. He was influenced by the likes of Bertolt Brecht, Karl Marx and Paulo Fiere a Brazilian educator and Philosopher
After studying in America, he came back to Brazil and he was invited to work in a small theatre in Sao Paulo he was director there for about 15 years. Boal developed the idea of the ‘Spec-actor’ this is where the audience are encouraged to comment and take part in the pieces that they were watching rather than just spectate, they could suggest a new direction or a way to solve a solution or even to show the actors how they think something should be portrayed, they would literally be moulding theatre as they watched which was a revolutionary idea in the theatre world in1970s Brazil. This method (Theatre of the oppressed) was inspired by Bertolt Brecht a German practitioner who wanted theatre not to be a time to get lost in a fantasy but a time to think and question what the audience were watching, so this is where Boal came up with the idea to make watching theatre inclusive to the audience and for them to get involved he was a big supporter in using interactive methods. Boal strongly believed in the power of theatre and how it could bring about change and that was his aim to bring about change in Brazil. He was a cultural activist and the Brazilian military who had just illustrated a coup,they felt Boal was a threat to the new regime as he could start an anti government move and influence to join, they then arrested him tortured him and Exiled him to Argentina.
Boals techniques require a neutral party to make sure that all goes well and runs smoothly Boal referred to this person as the ‘joker’ in reference to the neutrality of the joker card in a pack of playing cards. The person can’t comment on the piece or the direction that its going in they must simply make sure that the storyline includes a situation of oppression that needs to be overcome mainly including social problems that affect the community, it should be a decision made collectively as a group as thats how problems in real life society get solved when people group together to make solutions and Boal wanted to mirror this in his work.
In the same way the German practitioner Bertolt Brecht