Augusto Boal: The Art of Legislation
27 November 1998
Archive image from inside the debating chamber
Former GLC Debating Chamber
County Hall, London SW1
A series of workshops with activists from different groups in and around London culminated in a one-off performance at the former Debating Chamber at County Hall. Writer, performer and social engineer Augusto Boal, well known for his Legislative Theatre practice, 'passed' proposals for changes in London housing, education and transport.
Augusto Boal, who died in May 2009, was in the United Kingdom in the Autumn of 1998 on a lecture tour coinciding with the publication of his book Legislative Theatre. Artangel invited him to present a project applying his theories and experience in the pursuit of change within three major areas of public life affecting London: housing (where we live), education (how and what we're taught) and transportation (how we get from A to B). Boal introduced his ideas and this project for London at Conway Hall, 28 October and then conducted a series of workshops to generate debate and to contrast opinions within a mixed group of practitioners and activists for change in these areas. The final event was the United Kingdom's first glimpse of legislative theatre in action as an animated event in the resonant setting of the former debating chamber at County Hall, a location devoid of political debate since Margaret Thatcher abolished the Greater London Council in 1986.
“Hamlet says in his famous speech to the actors that theatre is a mirror in which may be seen the true image of nature, of reality. I wanted to penetrate this mirror, to transform the image I saw in it and to bring that transformed image back to reality: to realise the image of my desire. I wanted it to be possible for spectators to transgress, to break the conventions, to enter the mirror of a theatrical fiction, rehearse forms of struggle and then return to reality with the images of their desires. This discontent was the genesis of the legislative theatre in which the citizen makes the law through the legislator.”
An ‘INNERCity’ commission. Supported by the National Lottery through the A4E scheme administered by the Arts Council of England. This project was supported by Arts Council England, Artangel International Circle, Special Angels and The Company of Angels