Article Title

School for Democracy: Interactive Theater in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

The notion of “interactive theater” was introduced by Augusto Boal in the 1960s. As Bruce Weber notes, Boal “was especially intrigued by the relationship between the spectator and the actor, and his career was a steady march toward a greater partnership between the two. In his philosophy, life and theater are related enterprises; ordinary citizens are actors who are simply unaware of the play, and everyone can make theater, even the untrained. In his work the audience often became an active participant in the performance itself.” Boal called this sort of theater “the Theatre of the Oppressed,” whereas today such theater is usually referred to as “interactive.”1 In Russia this term was first used at the beginning of the 2000s with the development of the so-called new drama and theater of verbatim, as well as the spread of talk shows, and teaching, therapeutic, and entertaining programs, especially for children. However, this phenomenon has not yet been fully analyzed in Russian theater or social studies. Here we trace the main stages of its development beginning in the 1910s.


1Bruce Weber, “Augusto Boal, Stage Director Who Gave a Voice to Audiences, Is Dead at 78,” The New York Times, May 9, 2009, http://theater.nytimes.com/2009/05/09/theater/09boal.html?_r=1&ref=obituaries.

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