Collaborative Latin American Popular Theatre: From Theory to Form, from Text to Stage

Collaborative Latin American Popular Theatre: From Theory to Form, from Text to Stage

Collaborative Latin American Popular Theatre: From Theory to Form, from Text to Stage

Collaborative Latin American Popular Theatre: From Theory to Form, from Text to Stage

Synopsis

Since the latter part of the 1960's the pedagogic philosophy of Paulo Freire and the theatrical techniques of Augusto Boal have been reflected in the theatre first in Brazil, then in Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and other countries. This study traces the emergence of the collaborative popular theatre movement in Latin America, as the teatro de concientizacion espoused by Freire and Boal revolutionized the content and structure of the Latin American performance text. Few attempts have been made to define this dramatic form and to accord it the recognition it so well deserves, since it speaks to the specific concerns of regional target audiences. The present analysis offers new insights into the evolution of collaborative popular theatre as an artistic form and, perhaps even more importantly, it addresses its sociopolitical implications.The uniqueness of this dramatic form is its ability to unite a populace in the task of codifying reality into symbols that can generate critical consciousness, empowering the spectator-participant to alter his relationship to nature and social forces and to fulfill his historical vocation of becoming part of many transforming agents of social reality in his community.The text includes the artistic contributions of groups such as Libre Teatro Libre, Teatro Experimental de Cali, Teatro La Fragua, and the dramatic movements of the Chilean Teatro Poblacional and the Nicaraguan Teatro Comunitario, among others.

Excerpt

The theatre has always been a social phenomenon par excellence; it is a dynamic, simultaneous exchange of communicative signs between performers and spectators. Historically, theatre has played a very important educational role in Latin America from the indigenous mostly dance dramas and ritual ceremonies to the Spanish and Portuguese conquerors and colonizers to the independence movement and theatre utilized as a means of creating a national awareness among the "newborn" nations. In more recent years student and noncommercial or independiente groups have used the dramatic arts as a weapon in their struggle for social reform. The experimental theatre or talleres, in particular, has gained significance in recent decades due to its attempts to create a more modern and more socially responsive art form. Denunciation and protest against social injustice, microcosmic visions of Third World urban and rural realities, and the consciousness-raising role of the dramatic art form are all acute manifestations of the experimental theatre.

However, the restoration of the theatre's original function as socially purgative and didactic is not the most significant aspect of contemporary Latin American popular theatre. It is true that some playwrights have assumed the traditional role of seer and conscience of their people and, in such capacity, embark on a crusade-like task of exposing the weaknesses and imbalances in the social milieu while implicitly suggesting correctives and alternate ideological paths to follow. But the popular dramatist who interprets his art as collaborative or participatory with co-participants as opposed to an audience, interacts with his . . .

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