Why Theatre

David Diamond wrote in his book [Theatre for Living] that if we bottle our emotions up inside us – if we do not express ourselves – we get sick. A community is the same. Just as a person is a collection of individual cells that make up one’s body, a community is a collection of individual people that make up the living organism of the community.

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He further wrote, “Like a person, if a community does not express itself it gets sick. The way communities used to express themselves was through songs, dance, drama, painting etc. In our modern society, culture has transformed from something that people do as natural part of everyday life into something that people consume. Now we buy tickets to cultural events. We sit passively in the dark while experts deliver us a cultural experience that most often has very little to do with our lives. This is one of the reasons our communities are sick – because we do not give our selves permission anymore to express our selves as community.”
Expression is important. From the time when man learns to interact with each others to the present age when communication has transformed the societies, the common factor is expression. In theatre the expression becomes more evident.

Interactive Theatre

Interactive Theatre was born in Brazil in late 60s and early 70s. Agusto Boal initiated this technique in order to voice the rights of the oppressed citizen. He was inspired by the Paulo Freire dialogic philosophy of education (Pedagogy of Oppressed 1970). Initially it was called newspaper theatre to address local problems. Its changed forms continued to spread all over the Latin America. Later on the theatre came to Europe and presently it is being practiced in about 70 countries of the world.He wanted to add local experience and sensibilities rather than foreign. In this technique the people are not spectators rather they are spec-actors. 2

In interactive theatre play the protagonist -lead character – deliberately makes a political or social error at the conclusion. This error is usually practiced in the community. At the end of the performance, audiences are asked whether they agree with the solution, presented by the protagonist, or not. As people always have different opinions, the answer is usually no. The play is performed again, exactly as it was performed before, and at the point where anyone amongst the audience feels that play must be changed with some other solution, he/she has the freedom to stop the play. The actors perform again and amongst the audience the one having some other solution to be presented in the play regarding a particular situation shown in the play is then requested to come onto the stage and take the role of the protagonist and present his/her solution for the problem.
But when anyone from among the audience comes on the stage then all the characters of the play turn into the agent of oppressors and opposed the new-presented solutions. By doing so it does not mean that the characters do not accept the given solution, rather it means to generate debate on the issue and to find out more and more options and solutions for the problem. And when a solid reason or a suitable solution is given by the spec-actor it is accepted and then more people are invited for the same process.

[1] Diamond David; A Joker’s Guide to Theatre for Living; Pg 7; April 1999

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