Augusto Boal

(1931 – 2009)


© Fabian Boal


Augusto Boal was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1931. He studied drama and chemistry at Colombia University and between 1950 and 1960 developed a new form of acting, O Teatro do Oprimido (“Theatre of the Opresssed”), which soon became famous all over Latin America and later in Europe. He also created a series of new acting techniques, which are explained in Jogos Para Atores e Não-Atores (“Games For Actors and Non-Actors”). O Arco-íris do Desejo (“The Rainbow of Desire”) summarises both the theory and the exercises and has become a standard work in theatre pedagogics worldwide. The author received innumerable prizes for both his plays and his textbooks, including the Pablo-Picasso-Medal from UNESCO for his work in 1994, and he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008. Augusto Boal is internationally considered the most important contemporary drama educator.


Boal’s most important work, O Teatro do Oprimido (“Theatre of the Oppressed“), explains the basic idea of this new form of politically and socially motivated acting techniques. Above all, Boal wanted to contribute to diminishing injustice and defend Human Rights. Together with the Forum Theatre system, the Theatre of the Opressed is trying to initiate a democratic process, “using the stage to empower the disempowered”. Acting groups and initiatives worldwide work on the basis of Boal’s methods


Jogos Para Atores e Não-Atores is a collection of Boal’s most important exercises and games, in which the participants consciously recreate and confront problems such as sexual harrassment, homophobia or racism. After a short introduction to his theory, illustrated with stories and examples of his work with different groups in Europe, Boal describes the exercises he has found most useful, dividing them into body monologues, body dialogues, techniques from Image Theatre and rehearsal techniques. These “gamesercises” can be used by both professional and amateur actors, by teachers and therapists, in political, pedagogical or social areas. Their main aim is to convert the spectator into a spect“actor”, contributing ideas and converting roles. While dealing with problematic topics, it is of great importance to Boal that acting should always be fun, leaving out any negative notions like competition, envy or rivalry.

This classic has already been translated into numerous languages and updated several times, now including over 400 exercises. The latest edition comprises Boal’s experiences with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1997 for the creation of various characters from Hamlet.


Boal's analysis of the art of the Actor makes [Games for Actors and Non-Actors] compulsory reading.

Plays and Players

This is an inspiring and powerful book, a lucid account that will be of substantial use to people already using Theatre of the Oppressed. It should also act as an excellent introduction for those new to the system.



This is a useful handbook for those who want to explore Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed and as such is greatly to be welcomed. Boal's work deserves and demands emulation.

Theatre Research International



O Arco-íris do Desejo is a handbook of exercises split into a theoretical part explaining the basics of Boal’s understanding of theatre, and a practical part presenting some of his newer acting techniques. Starting again from the principle that by acting we can free ourselves from external oppressions we have internalised, Boal’s aim is to reduce inner restraints and inhibitions and to alert a consciousness for the actor’s surroundings and his own person, which might ultimately lead him to change his life. In the exercise The Rainbow of Desire, for instance, a participant is asked to improvise a conflict from his daily life, represented by five different emotions and desires to be expressed with his body. Subsequently, the other participants assume his poses, while the improvisor steps back to see how others perceive him. He then has the chance to reflect on his behaviour and his reactions to others and possibly even change his demeanour. Other exercises are: The Cops in the Head and Their Anti-bodies, The Screen Image and The Image of the Future We Are Afraid Of. O Arco-íris do Desejo is one of the standard works of therapeutic theatre worldwide.


More information on Boal’s acting methods can be found on the homepage of the International Theatre of the Opressed Organisation:



Augusto Boal was for the theatre what Paulo Freire was for education: Both learned while teaching, both listened while talking.

Eduardo Galeano


Rarely has a dramatic adviser and stage director left such a deep and lasting impression in the lives of so many people around the world as the Brazilian Augusto Boal.



Boal has managed to realize what Brecht only dreamed of and wrote about: a joyful and instructive form of theatre. A kind of social therapy. More than anyone else in the world of living theatre, Boal is having an enormous impact worldwide.

Richard Schechner, director of The Drama Review


Augusto Boal reinvented the political theatre. On an international level, he is as important as Brecht or Stanislawski.

The Guardian



Rights (selection):


Books on acting techniques:

A estética do oprimido, Rio de Janeiro: Garamond 2009; 254 p.; São Paulo: Editora 34, forthcoming

Argentina: Interzona 2016 Italy: La MeridianaSpain: Alba Editorial 2012 UK: Routledge 2006


O teatro como arte marcial, Rio de Janeiro: Editora Garamond 2003, 2011, 204 p.

Denmark: Drama 2004


Jogos para atores a não-atores, Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira 1998;

São Paulo: Cosac Naify 2015, 408 p.; Editora 34, forthcoming

Argentina: Interzona China: Beijing Normal University Press Germany: Suhrkamp 1989, 2013, 2018 France: Éditions François Maspero 1978; La Découverte 1997 Greece: Sofia Publications 2014 Norway: (publishing house unknown) 1992 Poland: Cyklady/Drama Way 2014Spain: Ediciones de Crisis 1975; Alba 2004 Taiwan: Bookman BooksTurkey: Boĝaziçi University Press, 2003 Ukraine: Theatre for DialogueUK: Routledge 1992


Teatro legislativo, Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira 1996, 150 p.

Lithuania: House of Art and Education 2014 UK: Routledge 1998


O arco-íris do desejo: método Boal de teatro e terapia, Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira 1990, 220 p.

China: Beijing Normal University Press 2019 Germany: Suhrkamp; Kallmeyer 1999; Schibri-Verlag 2006 Denmark: Drama 1995 France: Éditions Ramsay 1990; La Découverte 2002 Lithuania: House of Art and Education Norway: (publishing house unknown) 1995 Spain: Alba Editorial 2004Ukraine: Foundation for Tolerance InternationalUK: Routledge 1995


Teatro do oprimido e outras poéticas políticas, Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira 1975; São Paulo: Cosac Naify 2013, 224 p.; Editora 34 2019, 229 p.

China: Beijing Normal University Press France: La Découverte 1985 (4th edition) Germany: Suhrkamp 1979 (actually in its 12th edition), Schauble 1982 Indonesia: Kelola Foundation Italy: La Meridiana 2011 Japan: Shobun-sha 1984 Kyrgyzstan: Foundation for Tolerance Lithuania: House of Art and Education Mexico: Teatro sin paredes Norway: (publishing house unknown) 2001 Poland: PWNRomania: Nemira Spain: Ediciones De La Flor 1974, Alba Editorial 2009  Thailand: Suan Nguen 2019 Turkey: Boĝaziçi University Press 2003, 2014 UK: Pluto Press 1979, 2008 USA: Theatre Communications Group 1985, 2011 Vietnam: Alpha Books 2017


Técnicas Latino-Americanas de teatro popular: uma revolução copernicana ao contrário

São Paulo: Hucitec, 1975, 175 p.

Argentina: Ediciones Cepe 1972, Corregidor 1975, 2014 Spain: Arte Acción




Teatro reunido, São Paulo: Editora 34, forthcoming


Teatro de Augusto Boal Vol. I: Revolução na América do Sul ; As aventuras do Tio Patinhas ; Murro em Ponta de Faca, São Paulo: Hucitec 1986, 261 p.


Teatro de Augusto Boal Vol. II: Histórias de nuestra América ; A lua pequena e a caminhada perigosa ; Torquemada, São Paulo: Editora Hucitec 1990, 152 p.


Teatro de Augusto Boal: Colecção de peças de teatro, São Paulo: Cosac Naify (forthcoming)


Hamlet e o filho do padeiro, Rio de Janeiro: Record 2000; São Paulo: Cosac Naify 2014, 350 p.

Austria: Mandelbaum 2013UK: Routledge 2001; Taylor & Francis, Inc. 2001


Aqui Ninguém é Burro!, Rio de Janeiro: Revan 1996, 142 p.


O Suicida com Medo da Morte, Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira 1992, 258 p.


O Corsário do Rei, Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira 1986, 132 p.


Stop: c’est magique, Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira 1980, 163 p.

France: Éditions Hachette 1980


Milagre no Brasil, Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira 1979, 291 p.


Categorias do teatro popular, São Paulo: Hucitec 1979, 212 p.

Spain: Ediciones Cepe 1972


Murro em Ponta de Faca, São Paulo: Hucitec 1978, 195 p.

Argentina: Interzona

Germany: Verlag der Autoren 1990


Mulheres de Atenas


A Tempestade: duas peças, Lisboa: Platano editora 1977, 204 p.


A Barraca Conta Tiradentes, 1977


Jane Spitfire, Rio de Janeiro: Codecri 1977; São Paulo: Moraes 1977, 204 p.


As Aventuras do Tio Patinhas, in Teatro de Augusto Boal, São Paulo: Hucitec 1986-88

Argentina: Interzona


Tio Patinhas e a Pílula, 1974


Crônicas de Nuestra América: O "Gato," a mulher de Johnny e a bicicleta a motor.--O homem que era uma fábrica.--Processo ao macaco ou ser animal não é atenuante. Nossa Senhora dos Oprimidos.--O cachorro da Rainha e outros cachorros.--O coronel de Maracaibo.--Os ratos e o altar do marido morto.--Acabou a censura.--A gente acaba se acostumando.--A morta imortal, Rio de Janeiro: Codecri 1973, 167 p.

Germany: Verlag der Autoren 1993


Torquemada, La Habana: Casa de las Américas 1972, 310 p.

Germany: Verlag der Autoren 1971; Henschel Verlag 1975


Arena Conta Bolivar, 1969/1970


A Primeira Feira Paulista de Opinião


Tempo de Guerra

Germany: Verlag der Autoren 1967


Arena Conta Tiradentes, 1967, São Paulo: Cosac Naify (forthcoming),


Arena Conta Zumbi

Germany: Verlag der Autoren 1965; Eirich Verlag 1965 (1985)

Germany: Alexander Verlag 2019 (Anthology)


Revolução na América do Sul

Argentina: Interzona 2018

Germany: Verlag der Autoren 1960


José, do Parto à Sepultura

Germany: Verlag der Autoren 1961


Marido Magro, Mulher Chata

Germany: Verlag der Autoren 1957