‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ is an initiative first elaborated in the 1970s by the Brazilian theatre practitioner Augusto Boal who was influenced by educationist Paulo Freire. It is a liberal methodology used to impart knowledge and raise awareness using expressions and creative interventions. A session typically consists of a ‘facilitator’ who directs all activities and ‘spect-actors’ who follow the facilitator.
On August 4, ‘To Be Human’, The Medical Humanities Initiative under Medical Education Department of KMC organized a seminar following this initiative. The event took place in the Health Sciences Library. It was the third seminar organized by TBH. The facilitator of the event was Dr Anitha Guru, a faculty member of MMMC, Anatomy department. About the theme of the day, she explained “when we hear the word ‘oppressed’ a certain group of people comes to our mind. It could be economically or socially backward classes or some other underprivileged group. What we need to acknowledge is that in reality everyone around us is oppressed. Anyone who is not able to express for any reason whatsoever is oppressed.” She further elaborated, “the group of activities that we perform in this seminar are a means of reconnecting with ourselves and ‘re-humanizing’ our lifestyle.”
The seminar comprised of innovative activities and games. Each activity was followed by a ‘de-brief’ session allowing participants to share their thoughts and opinions. According to Dr Anitha, “this workshop does not aim to provide solutions to issues, rather it helps in formulating a way to address them.” Since the concept was first introduced in Brazil, it has undergone some major changes to be better adapted to Indian perspective and circumstances.
The seminar ended in an open-ended fashion with all participants taking home different messages. Anshika Saini, a fifth-semester student of KMC described her experience, “the workshop made use of exercises, games and discussions to let the participants put forward themes which promote awareness pertaining to their social situation and its limitations. This served to heighten our senses, explore outside our habitual behaviour and introspect better. It provided me with a platform to freely speak my mind on issues I feel strongly about. It was a perfect blend of fun and self-analysis.”
-Written by Aparna Bharadwaj