Happy Theatre of the Oppressed Day!

Posted on: 16 March 2012

Written by: Adrian Jackson MBE

A thought for Augusto’s day, and vaguely in response to questions people have been asking about jokering, the role of the joker. Augusto was wonderfully himself as joker in workshops and performances, no point in others trying to imitate him in that, find your own joker and work on that.

But someone in Hong Kong (sorry I don’t remember who) reminded me recently of a story of how they approached Augusto after a show and suggested he could only achieve what he did in public shows and forums in terms of generating participation because he was Augusto Boal; i.e. he could be that joker because of his fame and distinction. And he answered that the questioner was wrong: ‘it is not because I am Augusto Boal, I am not Augusto Boal; you just think I am Augusto Boal and that is why it works.’

I have paraphrased and abbreviated and probably mis-remembered, but the point is well made, in typically playful Boalian style. The joker’s skill is at least partly about appearing to be completely confident of the spect-actors’ participation, allowing the audience to project this confidence onto him or her, and this in turn is likely to turn the projection into a reality. Good tip.

Happy Birthday Augusto. The work goes on, in all different ways in all different places, no-one will ever replace you as the great joker and inventor, no-one owns your work except you and all of us – and we will all work on, jokering in our diverse ways and contexts and continents, to ensure that Forum Theatre and The Theatre of the Oppressed attract the maximum amount of participation, to reinforce the great platform for true debate and democratic participation that you created for us. Viva Boal!


With thanks to

Arts Council England Lottery funded