Boal readings

The dialectic that is represented in Boal’s non actors-actors reading is a powerful understanding that can relate to other global struggles or even domestic issues.  The imagery of both prisoners and prison guards participating together in theater and performance to better understand each other and express the humanity and struggles that exists in everyone’s lives through unique narratives.  Although the guards as not necessarily the oppressor within the binary of inmates and “rehabilitating” institutions, they represent structural components key to the development and maintenance of prison.  Having a collective engagement between the oppressed and the oppressor allows each group to have a view on the others’ personal stories and how the system of oppression ultimately dehumanizes everyone involved.  Boal highlights the idea of breaking barriers between the oppressor and the oppressed by eliminating the line between spectators and actors.  I believe that this notion is crucial to the Boal’s reading and the function of theater/performance in the context of social justice because it transforms the relationship from a simple transmission of meaning (like brainwashing) to a cyclic and interdependent relationship that transforms and consents to meanings.  This connects to his emphasis on both language and expression.  Illiteracy is an issue that contributes to different power struggles and oppressive situations.  Illiteracy in both literary language and artistic language constricts people from not only empowering themselves but from reaching out and understanding others.  Boal’s story of utilizing language in its many forms is truly amazing and comprehensive.  I kept thinking about our group issue during Thursday’s class, where stricter immigration laws are forcing both illegal and legal migrants to move away from Alabama from fear of being deported, having their family deported, or simply experiencing “justified” racial profiling.  Many of these people may not speak English, but many people are also unable to speak Spanish, which represents a dissonance that must be bridged.  Although both languages are readily available, people from two sides of the law do not and cannot communicate with each other.  By creating a space where people are empowered by both language and artistic expression, then each one can hopefully have a better understanding of each other.  This can further facilitate engagements in solutions and policies, such as the Theatre of the Oppressed, where necessary laws and reforms can be more effectively and humanly “imposed.”  This does not suggest that the oppressed needs the oppressor to become liberated, it is suggesting that liberation is dependent collective engagement and consciousnesses.  Narratives must be shared to realize the complexity of situations and change must exist on both sides for transformation to be effective and stable.


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