Theater of the Oppressed JOKERS Conference 2015

Call for participation
Theater of the Oppressed JOKERS Conference 2015
Theatre of the Oppressed Festival 2015, ASHTAR Theatre, Ramallah Palestine


Title of Conference


“The Joker is the ‘midwife’, assisting in the birth of all ideas, of all actions!”

Augusto Boal

ASHTAR Theatre will hold the Fifth International Theatre of the Oppressed Festival in Palestine 2015. The Festival will launch its activities between the 30-4-2015 until the 16-5-2015. The local and international theatre groups will actively engage in tours and workshops across the West Bank in Palestine. The motto of the festival this year is: ‘Together for a dignified life’. Stemming from this perspective, ASHTAR Theatre perceives a necessity to create a platform for the Jokers of the theatre groups participating in this festival to dialogue and reflect on their experiences in a conference held at ASHTAR Theatre.  The conference will focus on the theme of “the political role and impact of the TO Jokers’, the conference aims to investigate the various ways and tools where theatre of the oppressed currently is affecting or affected by the political spheres in various countries.

Jokers engage in the process of stimulating the audiences towards change and actively work to transforming the audiences from spectators to ‘spect-actors’. Hence, this process of creative thinking and acting in a world of chaos, conflicts, and deprivation makes the role of the joker a very challenging one which ultimately engages with the needs and aspirations of various communities in various political world-wide conflicts. However this role is not static, it continuously adapts to the communities needs’ and aspirations’ for a dignified life.

ASHTAR Theatre has foreseen the need for dialogue, reflection, exchange of experiences and learning from each other from the Jokers perspectives and experiences in the Theatre of the Oppressed. A conference platform which gives voice to the Jokers to share and reflect will create this space to investigate what role and impact can TO play on a social and political level.

However, the main focus will address how Jokers in the interaction sessions of the theatre of the oppressed plays relate to the political spheres around them. The political spheres may vary from local to international conflicts which necessarily affect the social spheres in every community; hence affecting the topics of these plays and solutions audiences address for a dignified future through their interactions. For example the Arab World lately has been challenged by the so called ‘Arab Spring’, indeed the uprising and revolutions had a direct or an indirect impact on theatre making and theatre makers. Whereas, lately the Western World has witnessed the escalation of violence, racism and the emergence of ‘Islam-phobia’ no matter what example can be raised in the conference to be discussed in relevance to the Jokers backgrounds and theatre experiences.

In this platform, we as Jokers aim to see our relation to the wider political contexts we live in and how we play the role of the ‘midwife’ assisting the birth of actions and ideas of change.


Four Hours from 11:00-3:00 pm (Jerusalem Time)

ASHTAR Theatre - Ramallah

The conference not only will allow a verbal and intellectual exchange of experiences and tools of TO Jokers worldwide to be shared and learnt from, but also this opportunity will allow all TO practitioners to see closely how the world is truly interconnected and the cycle of oppression and future transformation is all interlinked no matter where we live. The outcome of the conference will be drafted in a conference paper summarizing these experiences, challenges and the recommendations of international jokers. This paper will be available online on ASHTAR Theatre webpage and will be a resource for theatre practitioners, academics and non- academics.

Eligibility to Apply:
All Jokers participating in the Fifth International ASHTAR Theatre of the Oppressed Festival are eligible to participate in the conference. As well as local and freelance artists who had an experience in jokering.

As joker we expect your openness to share your experience and your challenges in response to the title of the conference: ‘Jokering in a political context’. However, at ASHTAR Theatre we highly appreciate if you share demos, photos or any visual material to be shown in the conference to give a visual framework when you present your theatre companies and experiences in the social and political contexts you work in.

*Please note, if you wish to share any visual material, we recommend that you hand it on a CD/DVD form two days prior to the conference to Mr. Edward Muallem.

Topics of Conference: Open Panel and dialogue between Jokers/Participants

Session One: The relation between Theatre of the Oppressed and the political context from the Jokers’ perspective

Time:  One hour and a half

1-      Share your example: This session will aim to draw upon specific experiences, examples and plays (themes of plays and type of forum) where Jokers had to emphasize a political topic or impact change. What political atmosphere do you live in and how does it affect theatre of the oppressed theatre making?

2-      Perspective of Joker: A direct or indirect political impact of the Theatre of Oppressed? Does Theatre of the Oppressed echo, reflect, re-act or interact with the political reality based on experiences of Jokers?

Break 15 minutes

Session Two: share your style and share your games!

Time: One hour and a half

1-      Aspirations and challenges towards political change: How can TO impact political power/authorities- share specific experiences of legislative theatre and forum plays working with or against political authorities. How was it received?

2-      What types of games do you chose for preparing the audience in the opening session of your play? How political can a Joker be? Is there space for creative political games? If so, share your experience and let’s try it together in the symposium!

3-      How do jokers react or deal with challenges or political obstacles? During the interaction sessions with communities? Is political confrontation a ‘Magical Solution’? If yes or no- open for discussion.

4-      How and who do you target as audience for political TO theater? Do you involve political authorities in your communities as audience- do you set an agenda that includes playing for politicians on your tours? Does TO impact concrete change? Do Politicians adapt TO suggestions and recommendations for change? If Yes, share your experience and if not; why not and what can be developed in’ TO Jokering’ towards more affective political change? What do you recommend?

Session Three: ‘Together towards a dignified life’

Time: 15 minutes

Game: all participants split into groups of five (depending on number of participants) and create images of: ‘Together towards a dignified life’

Time: 15 minutes

Wrap Up: all sit in a circle; reflections, final thoughts shared, and closure of conference.

Download Call for participation