Augusto Boal

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Augusto Boal

Augusto Boal (16 March 19312 May 2009) was a Brazilian author, playwright and director who served one term as city councillor in Rio de Janeiro from 1993 to 1997. He is most well known as the founder of Theatre of the Oppressed, a dramatic form of popular education, now used by social movements in more than 70 countries.


Games for Actors and on-Actors (1992)[edit]

  • It is forbidden to walk on the grass. It is not forbidden to fly over the grass.
  • [In] its most archaic sense, theatre is the capacity possessed by human beings—and not by animals—to observe themselves in action. Humans are capable of seeing themselves in the act of seeing, of thinking their emotions, of being moved by their thoughts. They can see themselves here and imagine themselves there; they can see themselves today and imagine themselves tomorrow. This is why humans are able to identify (themselves and others) and not merely to recognise.
  • Page xxvi
  • The Theatre of the Oppressed is theatre in this most archaic application of the word. In this usage, all human beings are Actors (they act!) and Spectators (they observe!).”
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  • Theatre is a form of knowledge; it should and can also be a means of transforming society. Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it.
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  • When does a session of The Theatre of the Oppressed end? Never – since the objective is not to close a cycle, to generate a catharsis, or to end a development. On the contrary, its objective is to encourage autonomous activity, to set a process in motion, to stimulate transformative creativity, to change spectators into protagonists. And it is precisely for these reasons that the Theatre of the Oppressed should be the initiator of changes the culmination of which is not the aesthetic phenomenon but real life.
  • Page 245
  • In truth the Theatre of the Oppressed has no end, because everything which happens in it must extend into life….The Theatre of the Oppressed is located precisely on the frontier between fiction and reality – and this border must be crossed. If the show starts in fiction, its objective is to become integrated into reality, into life. Now in 1992, when so many certainties have become so many doubts, when so many dreams have withered on exposure to sunlight, and so many hopes have become as many deceptions – now that we are living through times and situations of great perplexity, full of doubts and uncertainties, now more than ever I believe it is time for a theatre which, at its best, will ask the right questions at the right times. Let us be democratic and ask our audiences to tell us their desires, and let us show them alternatives. Let us hope that one day – please, not too far in the future – we’ll be able to convince or force our governments, our leaders, to do the same; to ask their audiences – us – what they should do, so as to make this world a place to live and be happy in – yes, it is possible – rather than just a vast market in which we sell our goods and our souls. Let’s hope. Let’s work for it!
  • Pages 246-247
  • Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a dance piece where the dancers danced in the first act and in the second showed the audience how to dance? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a musical where in the first act the actors sang and in the second we all sang together?...This artists should be—we should be creators and also teach the public how to be creators, how to make art, so that we may all use that art together.

The Rainbow of Desire (1995)[edit]

  • Theatre has nothing to do with buildings or other physical constructions. Theatre- or theatricality - is the capacity, this human property which allows man to observe himself in action, in activity. The self-knowledge thus acquired allows him to be the subject (the one who observes) of another subject (the one who acts). It allows him to imagine variations of his action, to study alternatives. Man can see himself in the act of seeing, in the act of acting, in the act of feeling, the act of thinking. Feel himself feeling, think himself thinking.
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Hamlet and the Baker's Son (2001)[edit]

  • Biographies smack of the end, the final utterances. Mission accomplished. I, by contrast, am always at the start of some new path or other. I want more. More, more. I am given to excess. It would be awkward to talk about myself: in what I do, the important thing is the deed, not the doer. When all is said and done, who am I? What use am I?

Aesthetics of the Oppressed (2006)[edit]

  • We must all do theatre – to find out who we are, and to discover who we could become.

"To resist, it is not enough to say No – it is necessary to desire!


  • I believe in democracy, but in real democracy, not a phony democracy in which just powerful people can speak. For me, in a democracy everyone speaks.
  • Enight, Robert. “To Dynamize the Audience: Interview with Augusto Boal.” Canadian Theatre Review 47 (Summer 1986): 41-49.


World Theater Day Message, Geneva, Switzerland (March 27th, 2009)[edit]

  • When we look beyond appearances, we see oppressors and oppressed people, in all societies, ethnic groups, genders, social classes and casts; we see an unfair and cruel world. We have to create another world because we know it is possible. But it is up to us to build this other world with our hands and by acting on the stage and in our own life.
  • We are all actors: being a citizen is not living in society, it is changing it."

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