Catharsis in Kabul?

August 5, 2010 | Leslie Knott

From Women, War & Peace Field Producer Leslie Knott:

The Theater of the Oppressed is an interactive performance in which the audience’s stories become short plays. Founded by Brazilian Augusto Boal in the early 1970s as a way to address local conflict, this form of theater is now performed in 70 countries throughout the world. Just last month, fellows at the World Economic Forum — who hail from across the world and are in their mid-20s to mid-30s — gathered for a week in New York to study the acting methods pioneered in the Theater of the Oppressed, in an effort to learn how to better connect with audiences.

The Theater of the Oppressed first came to Afghanistan in 2008 in an effort to help heal the wounds people have endured during 30 years of war. Women, War & Peace Field Producer Leslie Knott documented a recent performance, held outside Kabul. Knott explains that the Theater of the Oppressed is an on-going experiment in Afghanistan. While the country has a strong arts tradition, particularly with poetry, acting has typically been reserved for men. The Theater of the Oppressed is one of the few ways in which women’s experiences of war are addressed.