8th Conference of Doctoral Studies in Theatre Practice and Theory

Politics and Community Engagement
in Doctoral Theatre Research

Book of Abstracts

Keynote speech - abstract





Against Theatrical Community:
The Theory of the Joker in the Engaged Political Theatre of Augusto Boal – a Dialogue

Augusto Boal’s ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ is both a celebrated theory, and an influential set of practices which seek to harness the pedagogical, political, and emancipatory powers of theatre in the service of a transformation of social situations and their structures of domination. In this contribution, taking the form a dialogue between two characters, we situate Boal within an engaged political theatre tradition, in contradistinction to the more common deployment of his theories and practices, where they exist as a model for the application of theatre to community contexts, assimilating a once-radical dramaturgical methodology to serve social and governmental policy agendas. Central to this is Boal’s figure of the ‘Joker’: while in ‘applied’ and participatory theatre practices this figure has been cast as a facilitator, we seek to recover the Joker as a dramaturgical actant, responsible for the identification and intensification of antagonism – the very thing suppressed by consensual politics (but yet that without which there can be no politics). Through the dialogical form, we analyse the stakes of political theatre today, its relationship to the state (or what Alain Badiou has called ‘the state of the situation’) and propose precepts towards a theory of the Joker as not only the vector of dissensus, but also the guarantor of spectatorial autonomy, the tester of truth within the theatrical situation, and the means by which political theatre might resist the closure of representation.


You can download the full version of Book of Abstracts here: Politics and Community Engagement in Doctoral Theatre Research_Book of Abstracts