chapter
8 Pages

AESTHETIC SPACE Aesthetic spaces/imaginative geographies

BySHARI POPEN

Augusto Boal originally developed Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) to address a world of oppressions and forces exterior to us, an environment of cops on the street. But during his European exile, Boal tells us, “there also appeared oppressions which were new to me: ‘loneliness,’ ‘fear of emptiness,’ the ‘impossibility of communicating with others’” (Boal 1995: 8). Deciding to “work with these new oppressions and to consider them as such” (Boal 1995: 8), his task became to find out how these cops got into our heads and to find ways to remove them. This gave rise to Rainbow of Desire techniques and to a different notion of struggle against power. When the cops in the street become the Cops-in-ourHeads, forms of opposition require new categories and analytical frameworks. These new forms of oppressions require interventions of a different sort because they attack epistemological foundations themselves, the spaces of our thoughts and imaginations. In Rainbow of Desire, it is common sense itself, as it has been constructed, that must be escaped and reinvented. But because our common sensibilities, or the tools of our reason, are fully encoded in our lives and languages, there is no full escape. We are at risk of becoming dispossessed of the ability to venture beyond proscribed limits of thinking and acting. The task then is to find openings, slippages, fissures, spaces that can provide footholds onto different ways of thinking and acting. As TO practitioners, we seek aesthetic spaces to conjure alternative images and possibilities for those of us who are in the world but not of it in many ways.