Intro: Kelly di Bertolli

Olá pessoas queridas,

Segue um video curto sobre o trabalho que estamos desenvolvendo em escolas públicas na Zona Leste de São Paulo. Através das técnicas do Teatro do Oprimido buscamos criar espaços dentro das escolas para que hajam diálogos sobre os conflitos enfrentados pelos estudantes e outros atores sociais dentro da escola.


There is a small video about our work with Theatre of the Opressed in a public schools in SP.  I m writing a paper about this work and with Bader and Vicky help I wrote in english a resume about the paper. I m sending for all of you just to present the work. I m glad to share this space with all of you! Thanks!

Segue em ingles um resumo de um artigo que estou  escrevendo com a ajuda de Bader e Vicky sobre Teatro do Oprimido nas escolas:

Theatre of the Oppressed: reflections on a practice of facing conflicts with young people in state schools in São Paulo, Brazil.

The proposed article presents an experience over a period of three years of working with Theatre of the Oppressed, particularly the technique of Forum Theatre, to stimulate the creation of associated students groups in state schools located in the outskirts of São Paulo; the largest, richest and yet most socially unequal city in Brazil. The work was initiated by the local government in order to tackle the high rates of violence within local high schools, including violence amongst the high school students and violence between students and teachers. The work aimed to encourage the social and political participation of the young people living in this poor neighborhood.

The student council is spaces inside schools dedicated to the interests of students and that aim to develop democratic management of the school and encourage students to critically and reflectively exercises their citizenship and leadership. Forum Theatre was chosen as an approach for this work because this it is a theatre technique that works as a tool for discussion of social conflicts while also searching for strategies for collective actions. In this context, the approach worked to stimulate discussion of important issues within the school context and within the wider community.

The project has had a significant impact on both participating teachers and students, to the point that the organizers were forced to widen the project objectives to also include the training of the teachers in the Theatre of the Oppressed methodology.

The methodology within this project consisted of creating scenes involving conflict; these must be real situations experienced by the participants. In total, four scenes were developed by teachers and ten scenes made by various groups of young people, each group consisting of between eight to twenty participants. Alongside this, Forum Theatre also uses games and exercises from the Theatre of the Oppressed arsenal in order to challenge the mechanization of body and mind, including those as a result of trauma.

The project was facilitated and supervised by Theatre of the Oppressed practitioners whose role was to assist teachers and students in developing the methodology. Themes for scenes were developed collectively using theatrical dynamics and the resulting subjects raised by the young people and teachers revolved around the everyday conflicts in schools as bullying, violence, sexual abuse, harassment, abandonment and rejection by parents, and domestic violence involving drugs.

As the project developed participants began to identify the relevance of using theatre to promote ways to overcome violence in schools. Through the scenes developed within the groups it was possible to reveal the cycle of oppression within the school environment, where the oppressors and the oppressed occupy places that are fluid rather than fixed. The scenes revealed that often a person who is oppressive in one situation is oppressed elsewhere.

For example the same boy who is accused of bullying at school may suffer violence in different ways outside of the school environment. The work highlighted how a diverse range of trauma, rejection and abandonment emotionally affect young people who then find the language of violence as a way to protect them and to vent the anger that is exploding within them. For these young people not only does school not represent a space for the exploration of these conflicts but often manifests itself as a space of exclusion.

In this context, Forum Theatre was configured as a transgressive space; an emotional language to discuss silenced issues in everyday school life and enhance the creation of new democratic spaces within the school in which new connections were possible that move beyond the notion of a young person as the “problem student”.

Importantly it was found that young people who practiced oppressive acts in schools felt welcomed within Forum Theatre, recognizing it as a space where they could create links, feel important, and belong to a collective while at the same time reflecting on their lives and emotions. This led the organizers to reflect on the mistakes that classic forms to conflict control commit, rather than focusing on punishment or regulation of the aggression or protection of the assaulted this approach offered a safe space and emotional support through listening to everyone. Through enabling the young people to step outside of their assumed places they were then able to search for appropriate ideas and strategies to overcome their conflicts. It also became clear that it is important not to cultivate anger within the school community towards the offenders or to cultivate the anger of the young people who have offended, since these emotions only enable further violent attitudes. Further to this, the work demonstrated the importance within although then methodology prioritizes the collective construction of strategies for action for both those suffering oppression and exercising it; the work clearly demonstrated the role of other relationships established by the main actors with others from the school community. Theatre of the Oppressed brings conflicts into focus rather than hiding them and allows them to be seen in parallel as both subjective and objective questions.

But theatre is no magic wand to solve the problems alone. The project also evaluated the importance of networks to be created by each school (some schools already have the initiative) with other public health and social assistance services in order to provide services within school, as in the case of sexual abuse, for example.

The structure of the article will be:

  1. Background and context
  2. The methodology of Theatre of the Oppressed
  3. Project aims and objectives
  4. Examples of scenes developed
  5. Impacts/feedback/perceived changes
  6. Potential of methodology to be used in other social contexts/countries

Within the proposed chapter we will provide examples of scenes that were developed, focusing on how they developed and how consensus was reached. Through this the chapter will explore the potential of Oppressed Theatre as a method to be used in the fight for the transformation of the place that some young people occupy in society.