What is Interactive Theater

In between audience

Interactive theater disrupts the traditional divide between actors and audience, both physically and verbally. Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.), a type of interactive theater, was developed by Brazilian theatre practitioner and activist Augusto Boal and was greatly influenced by educator and philosopher Paulo Freire. T.O. uses theater as a vehicle for promoting social and institutional change; the audience becomes activated “spect-actors” and engages in collaborative dialogue, reflection and problem-solving to transform their realities.

Why Interactive Theater?

Have you ever witnessed or experienced an act of oppression—sometimes overt, sometimes subtle, and yet always powerful? When these situations take place, many of us do not intervene or respond, or perhaps we do something that, later on, we wished we had done differently or more effectively.

As learner-educators, we do not have many opportunities to collectively generate strategies with our peers to create more inclusive and just academic environments, nor do we often get to practice or rehearse what we do or say in challenging situations involving oppression and privilege. ITPP uses interactive theater—with a focus on Theater of the Oppressed methods—to create collective spaces that promote engagement in difficult dialogues, critical thinking, and taking action for change. Research shows that using interactive theater as a vehicle for institutional and faculty development can increase audience awareness of key social justice issues and enhance instructors’ knowledge and sense of self-efficacy as educators (Using Theatre to Stage Instructional and Organizational Transformation, Kaplan, Cook, Steiger, 2006).

What ITPP Offers the UW Community

As a co-sponsored program of the CTL and Memory War Theatre, ITPP provides a variety of pedagogical and instructional support to academic units as well as individual faculty, TAs and staff educators.

ITPP offers free consultations, and a range of fee based services, including:

  • Interactive Workshops for faculty, staff educators and student leaders
  • Performances

Examples of past programs and services:

  • Campus-wide/ tri-campus performance event
  • All-day workshop and performance
  • Workshop series (two or more workshops)
  • Professional development workshops with departments on issues related to inclusivity and diversity
  • Class visits
  • Collaboration with graduate student groups
  • Learning communities
  • Workshops at local, non-UW campuses

For booking inquiries or questions about our program, email ctlitp@uw.edu.

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