Title page for ETD etd-0612103-170849

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Burleson, Jacqueline D.
URN etd-0612103-170849
Title Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed in the Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication Classrooms
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Speech Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Ruth Laurion Bowman Committee Chair
Andrew King Committee Member
Michael Bowman Committee Member
Nels Anderson Committee Member
Stuart Irvine Dean's Representative
  • forum theatre
  • critical pedagogy
  • interpersonal communication
  • public speaking
  • invisible theatre
  • performance studies
  • interactive theatre
  • image theatre
  • instructional education
Date of Defense 2003-05-22
Availability unrestricted
In this study, I document and analyze how I applied Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) techniques in introductory Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication (IPC) courses. In the first chapter, Boal's democratic praxis is discussed in terms of critical performance pedagogy and Brecht's social aesthetics. I identify the qualitative social scientific method of data collection and analysis I used and base the significance of the study in my testing of TO in non-performance educational contexts and in the integrated communication studies curricula that resulted.

In Chapter Two, I summarize Boal's career as an interactive theatre practitioner. My review includes synopses of his practices and the books he wrote.

In Chapter Three, I document and discuss the two Boal based assignments I developed for the Public Speaking course. In the first, Boal's newspaper theatre exercises and Gregory Ulmer's "mystory" method are applied to a self-introductory speech assignment. In the second, Boal's "cop in the head" exercises and Joker System are adapted to a group project titled The Persuasive Speech Forum.

In Chapter Four, I document and analyze my application of TO to three IPC course assignments. In the first, Boal's concept of Image Theatre informs an assignment in which students show their understanding of IPC concepts of selfhood in a shadow box they create and present. Boal's Invisible Theatre practices are used to test nonverbal norms in the second assignment. In the third, a fusion of Boal's Forum Theatre and Joker System techniques are used by students to investigate interpersonal conflicts and management strategies.

In Chapter Five, I summarize the study and my findings, applying myself to the merits, drawbacks and possibilities of the assignments I developed. Lastly, I discuss the role and function of the educator as a Joker figure.

The Appendices offer course handouts and representative examples of the students' work which I draw on throughout the study to discuss and evaluate the merits and limitations of the assignments.

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