Augusto Boal

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Augusto Boal

Augusto Boal (Rio de Janeiro, March 16, 1931 – ibid, May 2, 2009) was a playwright, writer and director of Brazilian theater, known for the development of the Theater of the Oppressed , method and theoretical formulation of a pedagogical theater that makes social transformation possible, was nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

Augusto_Boal’s Biography

First years

He was born in the Penha Circular district of Rio de Janeiro, the son of Portuguese peasants who had emigrated to Brazil. At the age of 10, Boal began directing cousins ​​and brothers in small assemblies, and in 1948, when he was 17 years old, he began a degree in Chemistry at the University of Rio de Janeiro, which ended at the age of 21.

At age 22, to continue studying Chemical Engineering, he moved to the United States. However, once there, he decided to study Dramatic Art at the University of Columbia, where he had John Gassner as his teacher and mentor, when he began writing and staging plays with the Writer’s Group, an association of young writers, among them “The house on the other side of the street, where the characteristic features of his work are shaped.

Later years

In 1955, he returned to Brazil and took on the artistic direction of the Arena Theater in São Paulo, where he founded, together with Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, the Sand Theater Dramaturgy Seminar (1958-1961) .In 1960, he writes Revolution in South America, a play staged in 1961 at the Arena Theater, in which the protagonist, José da Silva, a man of the town, is the victim of all kinds of exploitation by the ruling class. From this time are José, from childbirth to burial, the adaptation of the work of Lope de Vega The best judge, the king (Boal, Guarnieri, Paulo José), Judgment in the new sun (Boal and Nelson Xavier) and Blow to gallop (adaptation of Condenado by distrustful of Tirso Molina). In 1965, together with Guarnieri, he began the series Arena Conta, in which he narrates the struggle for the liberation of the people through Brazilian historical figures.

The direction of the show Opinião aroused its interest in musicals, and thus emerged, Arena canta Bahia (with Maria Bethânia, Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé and Piti), Tiempo de guerra and Sergio Ricardo in question. From 1968 are Tío Patinhas e a Pílula and Luna pequeña and the dangerous walk dedicated to the struggle of Che Guevara in Bolivia. In 1969, in the middle of the dictatorship, writes Bolivar, farmer of the sea.


He was labeled as a cultural activist, which is why the Brazilian military of the 1960s considered him a threat. At the beginning of 1971, he was imprisoned. After his release, he went into exile in Argentina, where he wrote Torquemada, a piece in which he talks about the systematic use of torture in prisons. In Buenos Aires, he assembles theater plays, lectures and conducts research on the Theater of the Oppressed throughout Latin America.

From the 70s are also Miracle in Brazil and Chronicle of our America, the adaptations of The Tempest (Shakespeare) and Women of Athens (Aristophanes) with music by Manduka and Chico Buarque, respectively, and the adaptations of some stories of Chronicles of Our America – The golden shit or The man who was a factory and The immortal mortal. In 1976, writes Jane Spitfire. In this year he moves to Portugal.

In 1978, Boal is invited by the Sorbonne to teach Theater of the Oppressed. He moved to Paris where he founded the Center d’etude et dissemination des techniques d’expression, dedicated to the study and dissemination of the Theater of the Oppressed. In 1979, Boal founded the Center du Théâtre de l’Opprimé in Paris, directed since 1998 by Rui Frati (son of a childhood friend from Boal).

Boal directs Boses Blut, by Griselda Gambaro, at the Schauspielhaus in Nurngerg, Das Publiku by García Lorca, at the Schauspielhaus in Wuppertal and, at the Schauspielhaus in Graz, Mit der Faust In offener Messer (authored by you), Zumbi (co-author with Guarnieri and Edu Lobo) and Nicht Mer Nach Calingasta by Julio Cortázar, Cândida Erendira by García Márquez, at the National Theater of the Perisien Est, Latin-American Fair of Opinion in New York.

In New York he runs a theater production workshop where he would have among his students the playwright and director of Venezuelan theater Levy Rossell.

Return from exile and death

In 1986 he returned to Brazil to direct the Factory of Popular Theater, at the proposal of the State of Rio de Janeiro, whose object was to make accessible to all the theatrical language, as a pedagogical method and form of knowledge and transformation of the social reality . But this project is truncated with the change of government. Surge, then, the C.T.O. (Center of Theater of the Oppressed of Rio de Janeiro) with the objective of carrying out theoretical-practical studies of the Theater of the Oppressed. The discussion about citizenship, culture and its various forms of oppression are expressed through the theatrical language.

In 1990 with the show We are 31 million and now? The CTO-Rio is definitively consolidated. Since then, Boal and his group worked together with organizations that fight for freedom, equality and human rights. That same year he edited Méthode Boal de Théâtre et de thérapie l’arc-en-ciel du désir where he showed the new introspective techniques of theater-image.

In 1992 he was elected councilor with the proposal to work theatrically on the problems experienced by ordinary citizens and to discuss the laws of the city of Rio de Janeiro on the streets. After transforming the viewer into an author with the TO, the Legislative Theater project begins, transforming the elector into a legislator.

In 1999, he assembled a sambópera on Bizet’s opera Carmen, at the CCBB, and in 2000 he represented it at the Palais Royal in Paris. In that same year he intensifies, with the CTO-Rio, work within the prisons of Sao Paulo.

His book Teatro do Oprimido and other political poetics has been translated into more than 25 languages.

Shortly before his death, Augusto Boal was chosen by the ITI (International Theater Institute) to write the message for World Theater Day. Circumstances could not be more propitious: months ago, the Western world had suffered one of the most serious financial crises of recent decades and for Boal, this should not be overlooked.

Augusto Boal, died on May 2, 2009 around 2:40 am at the age of 78, in the Intensive Care Unit of Samaritano Hospital, in Botafogo, in the South Zone of Rio due to respiratory failure. . I suffered from leukemia.

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