This essay explores some of the contradictions and paradoxes in the relation between performance and domination. In particular, it offers a consideration of some ways in which Applied Theatre succumbs to the dominant, despite its rhetoric of resistance, and how it might be co-opted afresh into the service of social and political transformation. The essay follows Paulo Freire’s dialectical method of “denouncing” and “announcing” in order to pursue its own utopia of performance strategies that might take us beyond the neoliberal impasse. The conceptual framework for these explorations is the classical Marxist analysis of dialectical materialism, revisited in order to supply a critique of current practices of domination. The core of the essay invites a reconsideration of Augusto Boal’s binary of “oppressed” and “oppressor” in order that an adaptation of Forum Theatre can be used to invite office-holders, traditionally where the oppressors are located, to examine their relationship to the bankrupt system they serve. To assist this process, the author argues that facilitators of theatre workshops need to reinvent the ancient arts of the fool so that their working space becomes a place where truth can be told to power without resort to the unreal separation of self from other. Instead, a dialogical relationship between self and other is proposed as a means of taking us beyond the bourgeois binaries of good and bad people into an analysis of our own roles within the systems we purport to excoriate. Whilst the essay constitutes a plea for applied theatre to apply itself to those who have made the world and who might be in a position to change it, it recognizes simultaneously the requirement incumbent upon each one of us to enter into a dialectical relationship with our foolish other.


Applied Theatre, dialectical materialism, domination, fool, Forum Theatre, neoliberalism, resistance, social and political transformation

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)