I was stunned to receive this email today from Carla Estefan, with whom we had quite a lot of contact during our World Theatre Day celebrations. Augusto Boal was the given the honour of writing this year’s World Theatre Day International Address.
The playwright and theater director, Augusto Boal, died in the early hours of today, at 78 years, of respiratory failure in the Samaritan Hospital in the district of Botafogo, Rio. He suffered from leukemia and was hospitalized since April 28. The location and time of the funeral have not been disclosed.
The work of Boal, who was also essayist and theorist of theater, gained prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, when he created the Theater of the Oppressed, which was internationally recognized by combining drama to social action.
Boal graduated with a degree in Chemistry fromthe Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in 1950, but then traveled to the United States, where he studied dramatic arts at Columbia University. Back in Brazil, his first piece as a director was Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, which garnered him an award from the APCA (São Paulo Association of Art Critics). He directed of the show Opinião, with Zé Kette, João do Vale and Nara Leão, which went down in history as an act of resistance to the military coup of 1964.
From Boal’s WTD International Address:
Weddings and funerals are “spectacles”, but so, also, are daily rituals so familiar that we are not conscious of this. Occasions of pomp and circumstance, but also the morning coffee, the exchanged good-mornings, timid love and storms of passion, a senate session or a diplomatic meeting – all is theatre.
Participate in the “spectacle” which is about to begin and once you are back home, with your friends act your own plays and look at what you were never able to see: that which is obvious. Theatre is not just an event; it is a way of life!
We are all actors: being a citizen is not living in society, it is changing it.
Boal was a man who truly used theatre to change the world. A bright light has gone out today, and he will be sorely missed.
Read the entire WTD address.
Read my interview with David Diamond, Boal’s colleague here in Vancouver.