This essay aims to discuss the potency of political theatre in causing communal change, looking specifically at the practice of the modern political playwright Augusto Boal like the influence of cultural theorist Karl Marx on Boal's work and how Marxism affected Boal's design of theatre. This article will get started by looking at the origins of theatre and exactly how it's been used since then as a medium of promoting political thought. However, in order to understand politics theatre we should first have the ability to know very well what is indicate by politics, the Oxford Reference point Dictionary (1991:647) describes something 'political' as "affecting the State or its Federal; of public affairs. " Out of this definition we are able to deduce that politics theatre is theater that is stated in order to have an impact on or influence the community and the ones in power with regard to public affairs. This sort of theatre has been used and liked since the very beginning of theater as we know it today, which commenced in Old Greece in the party of the celebration of Dionysos, the God of ecstasy. The festivity included prayer and procession as well as singing and dance, there could also have been groups of performers who would answer the other person through the medium of melody or dance. It really is assumed that it was Thespis who stood away and performed first with no chorus, and so creating that which you understand to be a protagonist. (GREEK THEATRE 1) Tournaments then began to occur during the celebrations where playwrights would get into their takes on to be performed, the tragedy, or a funny and satyr play. The Greek playwrights would present the audience with ideas to think about and reveal over; during the works a Parabasis, or 'stepping besides' would happen, this was an opportunity for the playwright to comment after the state of city affairs or anything else that he so wished. Aristophanes thought that, "the dramatist should not only offer pleasure but should, besides that, be considered a tutor of morality and a political advisor. "(in Boal 2008:xiii) In his plays, Aristophanes would satirise the most crucial people of the day, among the displays the chorus would perform brief, satirical pieces of song and party always attacking well known individuals by name, for example he ridiculed the demagogue Kleon in his play 'Babylonians'. However, a takes on success depended on the money from the wealthy aristocracy ay the time, the choragus which means works produced may be seen to reveal the view of the choregus rather than that of the playwright, because without them a play wouldn't normally have the financing to be performed. Greek world was much controlled by the financial minority, the Bourgeoisie, but little or nothing was done to improve this. This situation in Old Greece is nearly the same as the sociable situation that Karl Marx was preventing against when he released his communist manifesto; the alternative to capitalism. Marx thought that human beings have been conditioned throughout history to act a certain way by economic institutions and that in order for an equal population without a communal hierarchy then your proletariat must seize electricity from the bourgeoisie by way of a social trend and place everything in collective ownership.
In his publication "Theatre of the Oppressed" Augusto Boal writes how Marx thought that artwork is a key way of offering knowledge, but this knowledge is conveyed from the perspective of the musician, social environment or whoever provides sponsorship or repayment. Mainly, it is the part of contemporary society that maintains economical power that contains control over any means of communication. Bordwell and Thompson (in Woodson, no time frame) again this up:
Each art form is operated, not by the music artists, but by much larger social institutions. In a very capitalist world, an designer may believe they're using the talent for personal manifestation, but they're actually producing items of a kind suitable to the contemporary society.
It is merely from the entrance of Karl Marx and his ideas on socialism that playwrights and experts have begun to work with theatre as a means for change. Bertolt Brecht was greatly affected by the Marxist theory because he too wished to create change, "the major goal of the historical avant-garde was to task the establishment of bourgeois fine art" (Kistenberg 1995:29); Pescator defined Brecht's work as a Marxist-based analysis of social relationships. Brecht agreed with Marx that it was the capitalists that created the bourgeois modern culture, and that drama can be utilized as a medium of didacticism. It had been from this opinion that Brecht adopted Piscators form of avant-garde theater known as epic theater. Epic theater has many parallels with Cartesian traditions in which people are motivated into rational thought; it underlines the socio-political content of play rather than striving to control the feelings of the audience. Brecht explained that there should be a "transformation of internal 'issue' into traditional condition" (in Basuki no day) in theatre in order release a the 'home' and create rational thought. This Cartesian notion is necessary so that neither the audience nor the acting professional will try to empathise with the action and character types on stage and have the ability to view the action with a crucial mind. To carry out this Brecht suggested that theatre needed to give to the audience a process of alienation because "alienation is necessary to all or any understanding" (Brecht in Basuki no particular date) in order that they are able to form an judgment unfettered by empathy. The word Brecht used to describe this distancing of the audience is Verfremdungseffekt, which when translated, means alienation. Inside a information about epic theater Brecht gives an explanation about the difference between a spectator watching dramatic theatre and one observing epic theater:
The remarkable theatre's spectator says: Yes, I've felt like this too-Just like me-It's only natural-It'll never change-The fighting of this man appals me, because they're inescapable-That's great art work; it all seems the most clear part of the world-I weep when they weep, I laugh when they laugh.
The epic theatre's spectator says: I'd never have thought it-that's not the way-That's astonishing, hardly believable-It's got to stop-The sufferings of this man appal me, because they are unnecessary-That's great fine art: nothing obvious in it-I giggle when they weep, I weep when they laugh (Brecht in Basuki no day)
This quotation from Brecht shows us how he planned epic theatre to work and its own acceptance among playwrights and directors is a great example of how successful epic theater is as a form of didacticism. However, in Brecht's plays the separation between the stage and the audience continues to be present. The spectator is persuaded to believe the thoughts and opinions that offered to them through the action on stage since it is the playwrights who condemns the personas or the incidents that have occurred; the audience's thoughts are merely pointed in the right way by the dramatist (OPPRESSED xx) Augusto Boal, though highly inspired by the likes of Marx and Brecht had taken the format of epic theatre to a new level. He found means of merging Marxist theory with new ways of writing and evaluation. He assumed that in order to liberate the audience from the constraints of level and spectator, they themselves must be part of what is going on on stage "To transform is to be altered. "(Boal 2008:xxi) and thus becoming spect-actors. Out of this idea Boal created ' the Theater of the Oppressed' in which the audience are asked to intercede, and suggest another course of action for the actors to perform or actually perform themselves, whilst the stars assist and persuade the audience to take the role of any spect-actor. For example, in forum theater, the actors perform a short play with which ends with unresolved oppression and then it is conducted again but this time the spect-actor can become involved and suggest ways to fix the oppression. Boal noticed the spectator's invasion of the stage as a symbolic moment in time in their change, "This invasion is a symbolic trespass. It symbolises all the serves of trespass we must commit in order to free ourselves from what oppresses us. " (Boal 2008:xxi) By doing this the spect-actor is manufactured aware of what he must do to be able to change the situation in his real sociable setting, and by wearing down the wall structure between spectator and professional, Boal also breaks the wall membrane between the oppressor and the oppressed. (BOAL ESSAY)
English Theater company Cardboard people is one of the leading companies of Forum Theater in the UK, this company comprises of homeless people or those vulnerable to becoming homeless. Cardboard People tour the united kingdom, accomplishing for other Homeless people, so that it states on the website, looking to "problem-solve together". (CARDBOARD WEBSITE) Although this is a fantastic way of endeavoring to create cultural change, it could be the case that the business perform to the audience who already are aware of the situation being shown to them, and are therefore 'preaching to the transformed'. In 'The Transparent Wardrobe: Gay Theater for Straight Audiences', Richard Hall (in Kistenberg 1995:76) suggests:
Theatre is inefficient as a musical instrument for social change. It either speaks to people already in support of its views, or even to those who are so secure in their electricity that they don't really mind hearing themselves abused, as long as the mistreatment is compelling.
Although theatre is an outstanding form of communication, it struggles to access the parts of society in which people do not watch theater that sometimes appears to be anything other than mainstream entertainment i. e. Musicals etc. This then puts a stop to the theater from being its most effective. Aswell as this, political theatre may become an outlet for people to confirm their opinions, for example, David Hare's play 'Products Happens' was written as a a reaction to the Iraq Battle, anyone who has negative beliefs relating to this event may watch the play just so their views are confirmed. This again may stop the theater from coming to its most reliable. Although Cardboard People' use of forum theatre has helped many homeless people's situations which is working to gain understanding of the problems homeless people come across, Elizabeth Burns claims that the audience ". . . view themselves as part of a performance alternatively than performance within their lives" (in Kistenberg 1995:32) She feels that the audience are simply just props for the actors and that because they're in a state to be neither fully part of the performance nor full individual then it is not much not the same as their standard role as spectator. If this is the case then the spectators of Cardboard Individuals' performances, even if indeed they could actually present their theater to a much wider and assorted kind of audience, wouldn't normally be much transformed by what they have observed.
Boal's next thing in creating cultural change could be observed to have a great impact on society, he made a kind of theatre called 'Legislative Theater' where theatre is utilized to create a dynamic and sensible change in society.
Boal ran for election and was voted directly into be one of 42 vereadores of Rio, (BOAL Article) he used his new politics position to set-up 'Legislative Theater'. In this type of theater Boal attempted "To use theatre in just a political system to create a truer from of democracy" (Boal 2008:i) This sort of theatre uses all the techniques of the theatre of the oppressed to be able to create new regulations, Boal would take his theatre to the streets of Rio and asked folks what they thought of certain issues then proposed his studies to the council chamber. In this manner he could put forward laws and regulations to be passed that had a significant effect on the people of Rio, for example, one regulation that was exceeded was one that protected the witnesses of crimes. (LEGISLATIVE Theater 104).
Theatre is not simply about compelling the masses; it provides a means in which to get a concept across. Although all of theatre could be reported to be politics in a broader sense, it is politics theatre that is established as building a theater that is remaining wing which expresses the need for radical change. Political theatre has thrived under oppressive governments as a means of communicating political opinions; however this has not necessarily been the case. In spite of how seemingly political Greek theatre appears the censorship of the works provides data towards the actual fact that it had not been and it does little to task and change the cultural hierarchy of that time period because it was managed by people in electric power. Greek theatre started out when you are interactive and an open form of communication; nevertheless the right to speak was recinded when the citizens were put into chorus and audience. It really is apparently ironic then that it was someone speaking out of change that first created this form of theater but by being designed to be the audience the others were stifled.
Looking back again at how political theatre is rolling out over time it is clear of the relevance of each individual specialist at the individual times where they were writing, for example, in the years of extreme censorship by the Bourgeoisie when Brecht was writing he was main practitioners to make use of theatre to make people aware of their situation therefore enlightening them because it was the first time they had been shown the truth. But now, in the 21st Century when people have the ability to gain access to, via the means of the internet for example, all sorts of imformation without censorship they are given the opportunity through procedures such as Boals to actively change modern culture. Boal's Legislative Theater encapsulates the purpose of political theater. As Brecht used Epic theater in order to build cultural change, Boal needed his format and actually created change through the keeping new laws. This is ultimately the aim of political theatre, to release the oppressed from the oppressor.
Zortman (2) says that "The avant-garde music artists were denounced as 'breeders' of the proletarian world revolution"
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