Theatre of the Oppressed was born in 1971, in Brazil, under the very young form of Newspaper Theatre, with the specific goal of dealing with local problems–soon, it was used all over the country. Forum Theatre came into being in Peru, in 1973, as part of a Literacy Program; we thought it would be good only for South America–now it is practiced in more than 70 countries. Growing up, TO developed Invisible Theatre in Argentina, as political activity, and Image Theatre to establish dialogue among Indigenous Nations and Spanish descendants, in Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico... Now these forms are being used in all kinds of dialogues.
In Europe, TO expanded and the Rainbow of Desire came into being – first to understand psychological problems, later even to create characters in any play. Back in Brazil, the Legislative Theatre was born to help the Desire of the population to become Law–which it did at last 13 times. Right now, the Subjunctive Theatre is coming slowly into being.
We discovered that all those forms, independently where they had been created, could be developed and used all around the world, because they are simply a Human Language.
TO was used by peasants and workers; later, by teachers and students; now, also by artists, social workers, psychotherapists, NGOs... At first, in small, almost clandestine places. Now in the streets, schools, churches, trade-unions, regular theatres, prisons...
Theatre of the Oppressed is the Game of Dialogue: we play and learn together. All kinds of Games must have Discipline–clear rules that we must follow. At the same time, Games have absolute need of creativity and Freedom. TO is the perfect synthesis between the antithetic Discipline and Freedom. Without Discipline, there is no Social Life; without Freedom, there is no Life.
The Discipline of our Game is our belief that we that we must re-establish the right of everyone to exist in dignity. We believe that all of us are more, and much better, than what we think we are. We believe in solidarity.
Our Freedom is to invent ways to help to humanize Humanity, freely invading all fields of human activities: social, pedagogical, political,
artistic... Theatre is a Language and so it can be used to speak about all human concerns, not to be limited to theatre itself.
We believe in Peace, not in Passivity!
Above all, we believe that the Theatre of the Oppressed is of, about, by and for the Oppressed, as it is clear in our Declaration of Principles. If you agree with this, we certainly agree with you.