Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Theater of the Oppressed


Theatre of the Oppressed: Save the Drama
A Festival of Forum and Legislative Theatre Addressing Issues Faced by LGBTQ Homeless Youth in NYC.
Performances created by ensembles from The Hetrick-Martin Institute, The Ali Forney Center, and The Door.

Augusto Boal, a Brazilian director/playwright and Marxist, developed the Theatre of the Oppressed as revolutionary art. Theatre of the Oppressed New York recently staged scenes from three gay organizations, collectively called Save the Drama. They were conceived and performed by gay and lesbian youth, illustrating the real-life problems they faced. The situations they presented were very disturbing indeed, particularly one in which a young boy was honest and told his parents he's gay.
After each sketch the audience was invited to suggest behaviors that would have helped the subject individual to cope. Then after certain scenes we made proposals for legislation that would respond to, for example, police harassment. As a group, we voted our support or disapproval of the legislative proposals by holding up cards of different colors. 
The really terrific fact of the production was that state and city legislators attended. One responded to the audience suggestions at the end of the set. The concept is brilliant- theatre as direct political action, teaching rather then merely entertaining.

But the politicians present were already in the progressive camp, This process worked within the movement, but changed no one's position.  


The work was, strictly as theater, clumsily directed. The actors were on a dimly lit stage instead of in the audience. And someone should have taken more care in directing the scenes.

But we applaud the talented young performers. They’re a relief from New York's careerist actors.

Let’s hope for more from American companies that from the American Theatre of the Oppressed.