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Focus on Latin America Seminar Series

Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and Latin-American Drama

Dr Mike Ingham

23 Nov 2021 (Tue)

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

CRT 5.41, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

Also available via Zoom

This talk will focus on the pioneering work of Brazilian theatre practitioner and drama theorist, Augusto Boal, with his Theatre of the Oppressed. Together with fellow-Brazilian Paulo Freire’s groundbreaking work, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968), Boal set out to develop a way of critically understanding social reality, with a view to changing it for the benefit of ordinary people. His key method of forum theatre was designed to engage spectators, by inviting them to become so-called ‘spect-actors’, i.e. active participants in real-life problem-solving through theatre. Boal explored possibilities of achieving social empowerment among poorer communities of Brazilians at a time when the country was still recovering from the pernicious effects of the military dictatorship of the 1960s and 1970s. His transformative work echoed throughout other Latin American countries and inspired many other significant figures in Latin American theatre including Ariel Dorfman (Chile/Argentina) and Sabine Berman (Mexico) who are similarly engaged with the idea of learning from history and social reality to pursue social justice and human rights through more conventional play-writing approaches. However, Boal’s participatory theatre method, now internationally practised, is more radical, in calling on its spect-actors to ‘rehearse change’.

Mike Ingham has taught Drama in Education and Theatre Studies, as well as Literature in English, in Hong Kong since 1993 in the Institute of Education and at Lingnan University. He now teaches as an adjunct professor in the Dept. of English at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and will teach a course on Latin American theatre at HKU in January 2022. He is a founder member of Theatre Action, a company specialising in action research on dramatic texts, and has directed many drama productions, both in university and high school contexts and in Hong Kong English language theatre more generally. His research and publication fields are related to stage and screen drama and Drama in Education, including adaptation for stage and screen, early modern drama, documentary and feature film in Asian and Western contexts, and Hong Kong Anglophone writing.

Discussant: Dr Daniel Elam (Comparative Literature, HKU)

Moderator: Dr Bárbara Fernández-Melleda (Latin American Studies, HKU)

All welcome



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