I became interested in performance art while searching to be destroyed, to be challenged. I was searching for a space to explore physical theater as a way to achieve empowerment both within myself and without. Performance art offered me ways to constructively - as opposed to just conceptually - link collective and individual physical performance with the collective political consciousness. The performative aspect of it is physical and body-based - bodies are personal, and the personal is political. Art is about connecting ourselves with our humanity and to do this, art needs to be connected with reality.
Performance art allows us to explore expressing the essential questions of the human condition through staged actions. Because of this, theater can and should be used for community organizing, as a medium for self and collective discovery. Theater has the potential to create anything from scratch by using our bodies. That potential is not only beautiful but also empowering. And that potential is also the mystery of physical theater as a form of existence.
Theater for change has three main branches: the educational, the social, and the therapeutic. Theater allows people to reimagine reality, to explore alternative solutions to particular issues, as is the case with the Augusto Boal's Forum Theater game, in which people explore different aspects of their day-to-day life which otherwise would not be allowed. When theater exercises are used to solve problems within a community by staging issues and asking members of the community to participate by offering ideas of how the performance should end or develop, the members of these communities become the protagonists of their collective story. This also requires community members to improvise during the process; improvisation is a quest for discovery. Improvisation requires trust - trust in oneself, in the group, and in adversity. Participatory theater unites people by allowing them to become part of the solution. The advantage of using theater games among people to bring them together, is that it allows individuals to take risks, experiment, and discover aspects of themselves, the space, and the group within a safe space. It provides spaces for people to empower themselves and their communities.
Boal, Augusto. Games for Actors and Non Actors. Routledge, New York.1992.
Boal, Augusto. The rainbow of desire: the Boal method of theatre and therapy. Routledge, London. 1995.
Spolin, Viola. Improvisation for the theater: a handbook of teaching and directing techniques. Northwestern University Press. 1963.