ACTING against Oppression: Notes from the other América

Most Latin American countries have weathered political and social traumas—dictatorships, coups, mass violence, political disruptions, and severe economic disparities. (Sounds familiar?) Through all this instability and struggle, theater artists have reexamined and reimagined the use of theater to challenge and criticize structures, and to empower those who have been the most oppressed.

In this course, we will closely examine the ways different theatermakers from Latin America have chosen to tackle social/political theater from the ‘60s to the present. (We clearly cannot cover all of the countries or movements, but will note, among others, Peru’s Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, Argentina’s Workshop of Theatrical Investigations, Guillermo Calderón’s work in Chile, and others.) Our main focus will be on Augusto Boal’s seminal “Theater of the Oppressed”— analyzing and deconstructing what has traditionally been considered a well told story or play, identifying how that idea operates as a tool for an oppressor, and exploring other options that Boal proposes. We will investigate how Boal’s theories and practices have spread around the globe.

Each class will incorporate theories and practice including improvisations and games from the genre. (NO ACTING experience necessary! Almost preferred). Class will include readings, analysis, discussion, and watching interviews, events, and performances. The seminar will culminate in a project (script, happening, play, structure) that each student will create addressing a social/economic/political issue within a community of their choice.

Content Warning: Please be aware that we are studying nations that are in great transition and flux. There will be material and history of violence, sexual violence, tactics of oppression and suppression, and other crimes against humanity. It is the goal of the class and the work to enable action and healing against such crimes. Please be aware that the material may be sensitive for some.*


Application required. The application process for fall-term Freshman Seminars opens Wednesday, July 7 at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) and closes on Monday, July 19 at 12:00 noon (EDT). Apply for a Freshman Seminar




Mondays, 1:30-4:20 PM


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