Training in service march 2010 - Documenti dai conduttori / documents from trainers





26-29 JUNE 2007


by Roberto Mazzini



1ST DAY – Tuesday 26th June





In this first part we tried to create a group atmosphere among the 40-42 participants before entering the creating embryos process.

Roberto’s comment: in our practice is essential, before entering the atmosphere of searching for oppression, creating a nice group atmosphere that allows everyone to feel good within the group and free enough to express him/herself.

First exercises are easy to do and permit to know a little bit more each other.


  • Map of cities

People gather together if from the same town and every group places in a map of Romania.


  • How are you?

Answer to this question making an image with your own body, all together. Then approach similar images and create groups of images.


  • Who are you?

I ask the Jokers to come in the middle of circle to be recognised and to give them information about what we’re going to improve with them.

Then I ask “hwo do you feel in this role?”, make an image of it. Look at the images.

Then the same with Antagonists, Protagonists and the remained people.


  • Evaluation

How do you evaluate the project untill now?

Answer by placing yourself on this line between the “excellent” to the opposite pole.

    • all positive, some were on so-so

How do you evaluate the Jokering?

    • most positive, some on so-so

How do you evaluate the audience’s reactions?

    • most positive, someone on so-so

How do you evaluate the quality of solutions the spectators gave to you?

    • a part 5 so-so, the group moves towards the positive pole

How do you evaluate the quality of your Models?

    • everybody extremely positive.






Roberto’s comment: this second set of exercises recalls what Boal names “de-mechanisation”. In order to be able to act, everybody should release and make more flexible his/her own social mask, enriching his/her sensitiveness by doing different games as explained in the Boal’s book “Games for actors and non-actors” also translated in Romanian by Anca Rotescu.


  • Hypnosis

Pair, hand face the partner’s face. Drive...


  • Walking

Plus “stop 2, and create un image”, “stop 5...”


  • Duble circle

Two circles one inside another; rotations, stop, make pairs.

The internal people are all policemen, the external are drivers... improvise!

We have explored different roles, with different power or similar, different gender, age, profession, status...

Roberto’s comment: improvising is a crucial skill in Forum-Theatre, also taking on a role is an essential capacity for doing theatre in general.


  • Policemen and manifestants

One line of policemen faces a line of activists. They try to make policemen to smile or move. Policemen should stand up with no reaction at all.


  • Self-presentation

One step forward and an image, one by one.


  • Chain of images

Circle. First person starts making an image and then goes back. The second takes this image then creates his own image and goes back. The third copies the second and then creates his own image...






Goran shows the Boal’s schema of Model with:

    • counter-preparation

    • escalation

    • chinese crisis

    • defeat of Protagonist


Explains the difference between pedagogical theatre and Forum-Theatre, asks about questions, doubts...


  • Drunk bottle

Groups of 7-8. Who wants, comes into center and, eyes closed, falls down in different directions; the group sustain him/her...


  • Transportation

In groups like before, one person is lying on the others’ hands and curryed on in the room.










  • Vampire of Strasbourg

Eyes closed, everyone is walking in the room. One-two of them are vampires and look for others’ blood...



Then we divide in two main groups of about 20 people, 6 cities each.

Roberto takes the groups who has some Model about domestic violence, Goran who has discrimination as issue.

From now we proceed separately.





  • Impro game by images

Circle. A pair improvise in the middle using also body. Roberto says stop, one gets out, one remains in image. Third person enters and completes the image, then starts improvising about an other subject with the partner... Stop from Roberto, last person remains, his parter gets out, a 4th person enters... Every time the subject should be changed.

Roberto’s comment: Important to improvise in Forum theatre, without thinking in advance and accepting what the spectator brings onto the stage.


  • Passing through the room

4-5 persons cross the room with stable rithme of walking. The group try to feel the space crossed and when feel the right moment start walking, without stopping or modify the rithmechoosen and cross ortogonally the room.

It’s important to feel the space and rithm as it’s important to find the right moment to start acting, entering the scene, speaks...


  • Two lines in Sentilij

Group split in two lines face to face.

One starts walking in between, then stops. Immediatly a second from the opposite line starts and stop, immediat a third from the opposite line starts... untill the end. Then everybody, one by one, goes back to his/her place in the opposite order than before.

There are several level of this exercise focused on attention and time. First you know the order of starting. Second time, you don’t know and you must feel your group and start when you feel it’s the right moment. Third, you improvise something during walking. Forth, you improvise and get a reaction from other people...

Important to feel the right time of a scene, an action, a speech and also to feel the team of actors.







Roberto asks people to divide into three groups with some jokers inside and creating a small embryo about domestic violence, both taking ideas from their old plays and inventing new scenes.

Important role: the Joker is not a theatre director telling people what to say or to do, is but a facilitator who helps the group to set up clearly its own idea, clarifying the steps, helping to pass to action, avoiding monopolisations...

Roberto’s comment: I saw you much more working as theatre director then facilitator/joker in this phase.


  • Group’s work



At the end we have three short scenes:


  1. A family where the father is indifferent, the wife is weak and their daughter is aggressive ad arrogant.

  2. A family where the father is a kind of dictator, his wife humiliated acceptes everything but at the end she discovers his mistress and is beaten up by her husband. Their daughter and his mother don’t intervene.

  3. A girl is playing with a cousin and breaks down a glass. Her mother comes and accuses, blaims her, who starts crying beacause she knows will be beaten up as usual. A neighbourg intervenes weakly while the mother’s brother doesn’t want to interfere.




In circle, by talking.

Many people satisfait, some didn’t learn any new things but liked the group atmosphere.
















  • Dance

Circle. Count from 1 to 7. Numbers 1 start to dance on music, then stop. Immediatly numbers 2 start and stop... and so on.





  • Social mask of carachter

Walk normally.

Put attention on your walking.

Modify your walking.

Find your carachter’s attitude and stand up. Give a look like your carachter does. Make a gesture. Walk. Meet the others. He’s sad... how? He’s nervous... how? How does he/she think? Make a gibberish of his voice... talk in gibberish (grammelot), dialogue...

Roberto’s comment:according to Boal a carachter is basically a social mask, so this game strenghts the immersion in the caracther phisically.


  • Power line

Everybody in the carachter stands on one line. Answer to questions in this way: “yes” is a step forward, “no” is standing up.

Different questions were given, related to power: has your carachter the power to study at university? To go in holidays? To change home?...


We divided in the two groups as yesterday.






Discussion on the polarisation between Brecht and Stanuslavskij about the distance between actor and carachter.

People say Brecht’s idea is that actor should criticize his carachter in order to help the audience to be critical and avoid catharsis.

Stanislavskij’s system try to help actors to believe deeply into carachter so that audience could be brought to empathy.

For Boal actors should immerge into the carachter so that the audience could feel empathy for the Protagonist and be emotionally involved. He avoids catharsis leaving audience to intervene with action onto stage and pushing them towards dynamisation.

So we can say that in Theatre of the Oppressed actors should be more stanislavskijan, creating empathy among spect-actors and caracthers, mainly the Protagonist oppressed.

But also we could say that how objects are used, for instance, and also the Joker’s role, are much more connected with Brechtian style.


Discussion also about what is social mask according to Boal: a whole of mechanisations that social structures give to everybody. Moreover, a carachter can be created from his social mask.




This phase is crucial. The early embryos need to be cleaned up in order to be ready for Forum session.

In Italy Giolli association uses to analyse 5 different areas:

    • the main question (is the question given by the scene clear and important?)

    • the reality (is there in scene enough real elements connected to the problem showed?)

    • the structure (is the structure of embryo coherent with Boal’s instructions? See Goran’s schema)

    • the carachters (are they enough rich and deep?)

    • the theatricality (is the piece boring or emotionally touching?).


Every area can be cleaned up with different “so-called”rehearsal techniques.

Comment: I saw that you mainly prefer to give to actors direct instructions on how to behaviour and what to say instead of saying them <improvise, following this rehearsal technique> and then keeping what good emerges from the improvisation). This tendency brings you to be more director then Joker and ‘cause you don’t work with professional actors limit your results and can frustrate actors. Moreover you don’t profit of richness coming out from improvisations.



We work in the 3 sub-groups as yesterday to clean the embryos.


Then every group show its own scene and I ask the audience to make comments in order to analyse the embryo. Mainly about the first area, about the main question.


After comments I ask the Jokers how would they clean the scene, following the remarques, and with which technique.


On the second scene we try to do it practically and one Joker starts to lead the actors’ group to clarify the “main question”; she works on mother’s carachter giving instruction, questioning her...


  • Forum of the Joker

When a participant has a better idea about how to proceed to clean up the embryo says “stop” and replaces the Joker.


Remarque: you play more as director than Joker, directing the actors.


On the second scene I ask what kind of technique would you use and then we have to end the session because of the time.


Comment: this day I have missing the work on “will” and “counter-will” I had planned.

According to Boal a carachter is someone who wants something important for him/her. The Antagonist opposites to his/her desires. But within the Protagonist oppressed carachter there is a conflict too, between a dominant will and something against (an other important will, a duty, a moral rule, a fear...). By building in this way a carachter you become more able to react in a more complex way, because some spectactor could touch your counter-will, in so doing he/she has an internal alley and you could change more, not only because forced by outside, but also because changed inside.

Boal talks also about the “Lochness of carachter” something deep inside, that contains fears, aggressive thoughts, extreme strategies to react...; also this work can help an actor to be more creative during the Forum session..















  • Unbalance

In pairs, foot aganist foot, shake your hand and try to unbalance the partner.


  • Sitting down the floor

Pairs. Back to back, slowly goes down and sit. Pushing your back, without hands, try to get up together.


  • Balance

Pairs, keeping the others’ hands, foot against foot, release your arms and balance feeling the other’s weight. Then, go down and up together. Then one goes down and the other up, alternatively.




In this case we chose to have a presentation of six embryos and some free comments from the participants.


Every sub-group show its own scene, so we see 6 scenes.


    • discrimination against Rom

    • discrimination against homosexuals

    • discrimination against poor people

    • aggressivity in a family made by a daugther

    • mother’s violence against daugther

    • hausband’s violence against wife.


The Joker had the task to introduce shortly and then asking audience for comments about the model.

Someone presents the carachters, someone not.

Many comments have been given on model, Joker’s attitude, technical questions, etc.

It’s too long and not usefull to repete every comment, but we underline some crucial points; Roberto’s remarques

  1. some were technical remarques like: voice is not enough laud, face is not visible, the driver has not the phisical attitude of a person 50 years old... These are normal theatre elements that should be precised.

  2. Some comments about the oppression: not clear. This is crucial because if the oppression in unclear audience’s intervention will be unclear or in different directions and the Joker will get tired or confused.

  3. Some comments about carachters less clear. Sometimes we can leave them so, in order to discover better who they are with the audience’s interventions, sometimes is better to clarify from the beginning. In every case it’s crucial that actors had a clear knowledge about their own carachter to be able to react to the spect-actors.


As a meta-observation, the Jokers’ tendency was to replay to every comments from the audience instead of facilitating the dialogue among spectators (for instance asking: <anyone agrees with this comment or disagrees?>).

Worse, some of the Jokers made comments instead of being neutral. In our style, following Boal, the Joker doesn’t express his opinion or evaluation of intervention, but always give back to the audience.

A second common tendency was to watch the play while it was ruling, instead of observing the audienc and its reaction to the play, that is important in order to identify those spectators more easily touched by the performance and who reacted most.

Some Joker has the tendency to ask directly to one person to speak. I find this to much aggressive and risky, it can block the rest of the public. Be carefull if you use it.

Sometimes some Joker or actor distract the attention of the public from the focus to himself. This is crucial, every time the attention of the audicne should be focused on what it’s important that moment and all the group (actors+Joker) should be work as a whole.

Suggestion: do not explain what will be seen clearly in the scenes, do not say something obvious, try to make the public curious, by saying only something... try to make jokes in order to create a good atmosphere in the room. Do not replay to criticisms directly but deal with that, give them back by asking <What do you think about it?>.



After three scenes we vote to make a choice.

One criterium is the issue more suitable for Sulina’s people.


Among the first 3 scenes participants voted for the “Discrimination against poor people”.

Among the second 3 scene “Violence made by the father” was voted most.




We try an internal Forum in order to train the Jokers and also to check the chosen embryos.


Roxana starts first as Joker about the “Domestic violence” scene.


In short some Roberto’s remarques:

  1. too many questions to the audience and therefore an unbalance between speaking and acting.

  2. Sometimes it’s useful to let more time to the action in order to see the consequences of an intervention

  3. If an intervention seems negative, try to support the spect-actor frustrated asking how to do better next time, or suggesting some real positive element in his intervention.


Roxana from Timisoara about “Discrimination against poor”



  1. Minimalism (interfering rarely with the process) is a possible style; the risk is to loose the Joker’s power and in this sense do not help a shy audience to intervene because they do not trust you enough. On the other side this way let more space to the audience to speak, compared with the first Joker.

  2. Father-Antagonist could react in several different ways in order to be creative and keep the attention high (when the spect-actor daughter says <Borrow me some money, I go to work and give back to you> Antagonist could ask <Where do you go to work? Who accepts you so young? A lot of people are ununployed, what kind of work you could do? Have you any idea where to adress? Show me where are you going to work and then maybe I would trust you!).

In this case it’s crucial to know as actor why the father doesn’t give money (egotism, poverty, shameness, a kind of rigid education for children, education received by parents...) in order to react properly and creatively.

  1. If the audience don’t hear the actors, the Joker can ask them to approach or to speak louder.


General comment about the approach of integrating effective interventions from the audience into carachters’ behaviour.

As we explained during the work I disagree about this way because:

    • the actors are pushed to change too quick the carachter and/or they create a superficial one in order to change easely

    • it’s not possible to copy a solution. Actors can copy a large strategy (like: to convince, to menace, to make the oppressor to feel guilty, to find alleis...) but not the solution that is personal, because based on personal features, maily on personal communication; we know that human communication is very complex, implies levels like verbal, para-verbal and not-verbal and within them there several other elements. Moreover one solution depends also on what is the context and how are the other people within. So it’s hard to say that a solution works in general. Finally, a good solution could be difficult to apply for some peopl,e due to psychological o cultural reasons. For these analysis we prefer to search for several possible solution, let the application at the personal, or group, responsability.

    • the tension provoked by the first oppressive Model, more and more goes down and do not stimulate more the audience to find solution (in our experience the first solutions are often “as usual” and only after a period of frustration other richer ideas come up)

    • audience is broght to think there is only a good solution, instead of thinking that in every situation you have many alternatives, that you can adapt to yourself as well.

    • The “happy end” that you reach in this way seems too close to the catharsis that Boal wants to avoid, because he argues it brings people to go out theatre satisfait instead of dinamysed. Boal is against all theatre didactic or of propaganda.

Only if you must start an action tomorrow you need to choose one solution and to prove it.

If you like, you could play at the end of the session the most popular solution proposed by the audience (the one that Boal calls “rehearsal for future action”).


Let me say also that you have every right to follow your own style, because in T.O. movement there are a lot of researches, variations, critical points, but be aware you are doing a special thing that only a Dutch professional group, as far as I know, is doing.

Maybe you can call it: “the Chance for life Forum style”.






We are in the school, preparing the performance.



Cristina plays as Joker about the “Discrimination against poverty” scene.


Nellu as Joker.


Ala as Joker.



  1. Stops from the Joker should be done when spect-actor is becoming boring or successfull or dangerous. In your system you let the spectator stops, but anyway you could ask him if he/she could proceed a little bit more, to see the consequences of his action. Otherwise people don’t take enough in account the counter-reaction of the Oppressors. In Sweeden most of practitionners use this style, to have as many interventions as possible, stopping just before the Angonist is going to replay.

  2. I didn’t well understand what you have said about bad words used by actors. As I understood you say <do not use bad words> in order to not push the audience to use them as well. I’d like to understand better your motivation.

  3. Long discussion about wether the spect-actor adding a carachter to the scene: “the cool student”. In our approach it’s possible to add a carachter in order to solve the problem if this can really happen, wether not the Joker should ask <Is this intervention possible or magic?>. I guess that a “cool student” rarely can pass just at the right moment when an oppression occurs and more rarely he wants to help the marginalised girl. More easy than a normal student passes at that moment and intervene.



After this rehearsal for Jokers I ask the 5 Jokers of today to stand up and the group choose the 2 most suitable for the evening Forum.



Pause and preparation of space and jokering.




  • Forum-theatre

Roxana and Cristina both lead the Forum, speaking together.



  1. very good collaboration, fluent passages from one to another, good rithme of leading, right maieutic attitude, good questions to the audience, good management of interventions.

  2. The order of scenes should be the contrary, first the less emotional one, and as last-one the more touching, so that the audience is waked up and the emotion/involvement increases.

  3. When the audience don’t stop one situation that is important I prefer to stop by myself as Joker and asking the audience, because maybe they are still afraid or not ready to intervene, so I stimulate them with question.

  4. I rarely focus the attention on one spect-actor sitting down, pressing him/her to intervene. Even wether you succed the risk is that the audience feel menaced by you as Joker. Only if I see a person willing to come I invite him/her, but carefully observing his/her reactions.

  5. In general I found the stop of spect-actor on the scene too quick, I would ask as Joker if they could proceed in order to face also the consequences of their actions.

  6. Ok to support the spectator, also touching, but be carefully how much and how long.

  7. Antagonist should be more creative, reacting in different ways, being sensitive to “nuances-sfumature” of every spect-actor and kind of intervention. That makes the forum more rich and shows to the audience how small details can be powerfull. In order to do that, the actor should know better his carachter, motivations and biography. A good work that wasn’t possible ‘cause the time, is about will and counter-will.

  8. Attention when the children take too much attention not to solve the problem but only to make an exibition. Stop gently them.




On the ship.

Evaluation and feedback to the Jokers and actors.



Performance on the boat.


Remarques: very good performance and Jokering. Attention to focus to one spectator (the woman) who can feel ashamed and in trouble.

The antagonist was more creative and that gave more energy to the audience too.






Giolli association based in Italy

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ITOO (international theatre of the oppressed organisation)






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