On burning ground: theatre of the oppressed and ecological crisis in Bolivia

Cole, A., Fontana, L. , Hirzel, M., Johnston, C. and Miramonti, A. (2023) On burning ground: theatre of the oppressed and ecological crisis in Bolivia. Cultural Geographies, 30(4), pp. 639-648. (doi: 10.1177/14744740231154259)

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In this essay, we report on a 2022 creative research collaboration in which we deployed Augusto Boal’s models of Theatre of the Oppressed and Forum Theatre to generate community dialogue and action on issues sparked by ecological crisis in Bolivia’s Chiquitanía. Extremely fragile to anthropogenic action, the Chiquitanía is home to one of the world’s largest dry forests, which is experiencing profound and recurrent wildfires. Responding to this ongoing crisis, the project brought together participants from migrant, indigenous and campesino communities to share their lived (and sometimes-conflicting) experiences of wildfires. Theatrical techniques and exercises were utilised to elicit narratives and embodied testimonials, which were developed by participants into a series of short Forum Theatre plays performed throughout the Chiquitanía. We posit that Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed offers researchers and artists dynamic ways of working with narratives and bodies, while Forum Theatre presents a rich public sphere in which communities can not only stage dialogue but also explore, imagine and rehearse collective action.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by an Arts and Humanities Research Council/Global Challenges Research Fund grant (AH/T013265/1).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Johnston, Dr Caleb and Fontana, Dr Lorenza
Authors: Cole, A., Fontana, L., Hirzel, M., Johnston, C., and Miramonti, A.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:Cultural Geographies
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1477-0881
Published Online:15 February 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Cultural Geographies 30(4):639-648
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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