Augusto Boal

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Augusto Boal (16 March 1931 - 2 May 2009) was a Brazilian theatre director, writer and politician. He was the founder of Theatre of the Oppressed, a theatrical form originally used in radical popular education movements. Boal served one term as a vereador (the Brazilian equivalent of a city counselor) in Rio de Janeiro from 1993 to 1997, where he developed legislative theatre.[1]



Early life

Boal was born in Rio de Janeiro as the son of José Augusto Boal (a Portuguese Baker) and Albertina Pinto (a housewife). As an undergraduate, Boal got a degree in Chemical Engineering at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, UFRJ (then known as Urca). He took an interest in theatre at an early age, preparing skits for family members along with his three brothers, but he did not become involved in the theatre scene until after completing his masters degree. After graduating from the UFRJ, Boal went to New York, where he studied at the School of Dramatic Arts at Columbia University while also pursuing his masters degree in Chemical Engineering. Among Boal's theatre professors was John Gassner, who had also taught Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.[2] In 1956, shortly after graduating, Boal was asked to work with the Arena Theatre in São Paulo, southeast Brazil.[3] Boal was in charge of directing plays along with other dramaturgs such as Jose Renato, who was also the founder of the Arena Theatre. It was here that he began to experiment with new forms of theatre never before seen in Brazil, such as Stanislavski's 'system' for actors, with which he became familiar during his time at Columbia and when involved with the Actors Studio in New York. Boal adapted these methods to social conditions in Brazil, taking a leftist approach on issues concerning nationalism, which were very much in vogue at that time period since the country had just undergone a long period of military dictatorship.[4]

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