TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr. Juni 2010

Section VS 1 The multitude of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques: From Theory to Practice
Sektionsleiter | Section Chair:
Birgit Fritz (University of Vienna), Matthias Thonhauser (Art in Progress/Austria)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Section report VS 1

Youth and Society in Asia: Creative Paths of Democratization and Development

International Conference with participation of ITO practitioners and building of a drama-pedagogical and cultural centre for TO methods in Kyrgyzstan

Birgit Fritz (University of Vienna), Matthias Thonhauser (Art in Progress/Austria)

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1. Background

In 2005 and 2006 two method training workshops series of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques were carried out in Kyrgyzstan. During this time the usefulness of these methods for pedagogical work in Central Asia became clearer and the wish to intensify these trainings arose.

The funding parties in 2005 were LED (Liechtenstein) and in 2006 Austrian-Development-Cooperation, KJ-OÖ (Austria) and OSCE. The contact to the rehabilitation centre for youth with difficult family background and homeless children in Janyjer village (Lyceum 43) was crucial. It became visible that by using these methods, young people, students of the Lyceum, could enter into a dialogue about their daily lives and problems (alcoholism, violence etc.) with a variety of people around them and find alternative ways in search of solutions for these situations. The feedback of Janyjer’s pedagogues was extremely positive.

As to now, there are very few platforms of dialogue on such topics (violence, alcoholism) in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia, if any at all. The traditional means of negotiation and problem solving concerning such problems are limited.

Based on the growing interest of social workers and pedagogues in contact with Lyceum 43, the Lyceum initiated the idea of creating a permanent centre for TO techniques and to start a process of spreading the method to other interested trainers and facilitators.


2. Goals. Events. Means 

The methods of the Theatre of the Oppressed have been developed by Brazilian director and artist Augusto Boal; the most acknowledged of them being Forum Theatre and Legislative Theatre, which have been used as highly sustainable and participatory means for supporting democratic decision–making (www.theatreoftheoppressed.ord). UNESCO acknowledged and recommended TO as method of social change and development.

In cooperation with several partners in KG (as the Professional Liceum 43, DialectIcon and the youth movement KelKel) there were two TO workshops in 2005 and 2006, with the aim of method-training to a group of highly motivated and engaged young persons. Workshops were designed in a way which included several performances of conflictive scenes and sketches in villages and schools of the region. Through the performances there were possibilities of dialogue between youth and audience about daily life’s problems in search of solutions (interactive theatre).

As a result the professional Lyceum 43 decided to initiate the process of creating a permanent centre for TO methods and a professional exchange platform for practitioners. As a starting event for knowledge transfer and exchange the conference, which is being presented here was carried out in September 2007.

Participants from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Pakistan were trained during the workshops by TO experts from Turkey, India, France and Austria.


3. The KCTOS Conference Section

The target groups of this conference section were: pedagogues, social workers, NGO representatives, students and participants of the TO workshops, students of the Lyceum at Janyjer, artists, experts in human rights work, youth workers.

The goal of the section was on one hand an introduction to the most authentic and direct idea of what the nature of Theatre of the Oppressed work is, on the other hand the intention of the conference was both of a theoretical and a practical nature. The theoretical, academic part was to present and understand the Central Asian context of the pedagogical, social and developmental work and on the other to create and establish a functioning network of experts within the area.

Djusupova Bakyt Musaevna as host and director of the Lyceum at Janyjer where the conference took place opened the conference welcoming all the national and international guests. In her presentation she gave an introduction on the difficulties and challenges of the integration of homeless children into society through the development of communicative skills.

Her presentation was followed by that of her colleague Nurjamal Djakubova (Every Child Organisation), who spoke of the problems of homeless children in the Osh region (South Kyrgyzstan). The problem of homelessness amongst children is one that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which caused great poverty and disruption of families.

Tekenova Ainura Shamshievna, also a representative of the Every Child Organization, presented the principles of work with street children as they are applied in her organization. The youth workers tackle child prostitution, crimes and misdemeanors, gang formation, narcotics and drug abuse. In accordance with the United Nations Organization (UNO) Convention on a child rights their aim is to secure the safety and rehabilitation as well as integration of children living in the streets.

The Social Education Consultant J.J. Omusheva, an experienced practitioner of integrative work spoke on the potential of art therapy when applied with disabled children. She also emphasized on the increasing social-orphanage of children whose families cannot keep pace with the changing modernizing society. In her presentation she presented also the method of projective drawing which can serve both as a diagnostic tool as well as a psychotherapeutic path of healing.

Jamilya Jeenbaeva an NGO -representative spoke on her understanding of the Theatre of the Oppressed from a Kyrgyz perspective.

Peter Felch, a former OESCE member, in a written contribution asked the question whether art has the capacity of changing societies in post-soviet areas? In his report he shed light on the historical, social and cultural context of the Theatre of the Oppressed project in Central Asia.

Julian Boal, the son and co-activist of his father Augusto Boal, introduced the philosophical and ethical background of the Theatre of the Oppressed and its international applications. He further explained the concept of Oppression as the Theatre of the Oppressed sees it, that is as a set of power relations between different social groups. He also presented the global aspect of the Theatre of the Oppressed.

In his contribution A Space for Empowerment: The Jana Sanskriti Experience with ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ in India during the last twenty years Sanjoy Ganguly explained how TO could be adapted to the Indian context and what the social and political impact of the work of his network in India came to be.

Jale Karabekir, the Turkish TO Practitioner who is also a known feminist activist theatre worker, gave an example of sustainable experiences of Theatre of the Oppressed and Turkish Youth.

In his contribution Matthias Thonhauser reflected on the European-Asian cooperation and the challenges of working in transcultural contexts. Especially the many meanings of language, the significance of translations and the definitions of terms, that is, the unknown, create spaces of uncertainty that need to be overcome.

Birgit Fritz’ presentation was on the basic principles of the Theatre of the Oppressed, the International Network and the challenges of the TO project in Kyrgyzstan as pioneering work of a wonderful team of pedagogues.

During the second conference day working parties discussed the application of TO techniques in different social fields. Due to political reasons the conference ended there.

VS 1 The multitude of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques: From Theory to Practice

Sektionsgruppen | Section Groups | Groupes de sections

TRANS   Inhalt | Table of Contents | Contenu  17 Nr.

For quotation purposes:
Birgit Fritz, Matthias Tonhauser: Section report 9.1.: The multitude of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques: From Theory to Practice - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

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