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. – Augusto Boal
The late Brazilian writer, politician and theatre director and innovator Augusto Boal was a visionary in drama, who reinvented political theatre and used theatre as a method of social change and reform. Boal trained as an industrial chemist in Brazil then studied drama at Colombia University, simultaneously completing his masters in chemical engineering. Whilst in New York he wrote and directed his first play The House Across the Street (1955).
On returning to Brazil, Boal became director of the Arena theatre, São Paulo, and pioneered new methods in agitprop theatre, taking plays into the Brazilian countryside and devloping audience participation. Arrested by the Brazilian military junta in 1971 and exiled to Argentian, Boal continued to practice his ideas and eventually in 1974 published his much acclaimed book, Theatre of the Oppressed.
Boal was a professor at the Sorbonne and a member of Rio de Janeiro's city council in the mid 90s, where he developed Legislative Theatre. He worked in the UK with the Royal Shakespeare Company and notably with Cardboard Citizens. In his lifetime he received many honorary doctorates and was awarded the Pablo Picasso medal by UNESCO and The Cross Border Award for Peace and Democracy by Dundalk Institute of Technology. Boal was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008, the year before his death.