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Collaborative Latin American Popular Theatre

From Theory to Form,- From Text to Stage

Elena De Costa

Since the latter part of the 1960's the pedagogic philosophy of Paulo Freire and the theatrical techniques of Augusto Boal have been reflected in the theatre first in Brazil, then in Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and other countries. This study traces the emergence of the collaborative popular theatre movement in Latin America, as the teatro de concientización espoused by Freire and Boal revolutionized the content and structure of the Latin American performance text. Few attempts have been made to define this dramatic form and to accord it the recognition it so well deserves, since it speaks to the specific concerns of regional target audiences. The present analysis offers new insights into the evolution of collaborative popular theatre as an artistic form and, perhaps even more importantly, it addresses its sociopolitical implications.
The uniqueness of this dramatic form is its ability to unite a populace in the task of codifying reality into symbols that can generate critical consciousness, empowering the spectator-participant to alter his relationship to nature and social forces and to fulfill his historical «vocation» of becoming part of many transforming agents of social reality in his community.
The text includes the artistic contributions of groups such as Libre Teatro Libre, Teatro Experimental de Cali, Teatro La Fragua, and the dramatic movements of the Chilean Teatro Poblacional and the Nicaraguan Teatro Comunitario, among others.