Forum Theatre

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A type of inter-active theatre created by the innovative and influential Brazilian practitioner Augusto Boal as part of what he calls his "Theatre of the Oppressed", under the influence of his colleague and friend the radical pedagogue Paolo Freire, whose book Pedagogy of the Oppressed provided the inspiration (and title). Boal created Forum Theatre as a forum for teaching people how to change their world by allowing them to focus on and solve their own social and political problems in a theatrical setting.

Basically it consists of play or scene, usually indicating some kind of oppression, which is shown twice. During the replay, any member of the audience (what Boal terms a "spect-actor") is allowed to shout "Stop!", step forward and take the place of one of the oppressed characters, showing how they could change the situation to enable a different outcome. Several alternatives may be explored by different spect-actors. The other actors remain in character, improvising their responses. A facilitator (Joker) is necessary to enable communication between the players and the audience. The strategy breaks through the barrier between performers and audience, putting them on an equal footing. It enables participants to try out courses of action which could be applicable to their everyday lives.

Originally the technique was developed by Boal as a political tool for change (part of the Theatre of the Oppressed), but has been widely adapted for use in educational contexts.

The political and educational ideas generated by Boal and Freire had an enormous impact on the political and educational theatre movements in South Africa, notably so also after 1994.

South African practiioners of Forum Theatre

People who have used the techniques over the years include Ivan Abrahams, Johan Esterhuizen, Gay Morris,


"Forum Theatre" in Wikipedia[1]

David Farmer: Drama Resource [2]

See also Augusto Boal Theatre of the Oppressed (London:Pluto, ) and The Rainbow of Desire. (New York: Routledge, 2005).

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