Panel Announcement “Theater of the Oppressed”

Towards New Forms of Activism

Place: Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Munich
July 5 to 7

After the Arab spring, faces of social and political unrest are still apparent and the different emotions fluctuating between frustration, hope and anticipation are in constant flux. Such faces of social, political, cultural and emotional instabilities unveil the different forms of activisms in the region and give vent to new voices to incubate, develop and emerge articulating different forms of powers. This panel deals with relatively a new form of activism that is fostered by the performance of bodies and realities on stage.

In the Theater of the Oppressed we are pushed far away from the precincts of culture, literature and Arts in general into the arena of politics and ideology. An arena where the notion of art for art’s sake fades away and where the spectators become “spec-actors” or active agents who ponder about their performances, bodies and existence. The theater of the oppressed imbibes from Augusto Boal’s techniques to involve the audiences in an active reading, analysis and transformation of reality. The theater in this case becomes a kind of paraphernalia that is used and abused by the performers to foster not only the social, political, and cultural awareness but also change.

The panel aims at creating awareness of a new form of activism and also at establishing a platform on which activists from North Africa and Germany change their points of views and seek venues of collaboration and academic exchange. In this panel, our artists and activists reflect on the issue and attempt at answering the following questions: Can we still talk today about the notion of art for art sake? Can we consider the theater of the oppressed as a new means/form of activism? What are the strategies and techniques that performers use to address issues of violence, oppression and revolution? Can performance motivate people to restore a dialogue by substituting a catharsis for an action? Can performance lead to a kind of healing/therapy? All these questions and others will be addressed in the panel.

The panel is financed by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds of the German Foreign Office within the framework of the Transformation Partnership Program “Change by Exchange”.

For further information, please contact Dr. Omar Moumni (

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