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How bodies reveal the inequality? Some experiences of Theater of ‎oppressed in Iran

Journal article
Authors Leila Papoli-Yazdi
Published in The International Journal of Humanities
Volume 26
Issue 1
Pages 29-43
ISSN 2538-2640
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Historical Studies
Pages 29-43
Language en
Keywords Body, Archeology, Theater of Oppressed, Docile Bodies, Theoretical Dilemma, Social Pattern
Subject categories Performing Art Studies, History and Archaeology


“You are able to consume everything but your bodies…”. This stereotypic phrase is a very repetitive one, endorsed in most of the workshops on “body and archaeology”. The workshops, I am holding for three years is various cities of Iran are actually based on Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed and the very concept of Docile Bodies of Michael Foucault. My very goal in these series of workshops is to clarify the process of oppression for students of anthropology and social sciences using a method more than describing the theoretical dilemma. Over the last couple of years, it has been more clarified to me that over half of the youths attending the workshops have no motivation to move or present their body and voice abilities. They prefer to remain the silent audiences of an instructor’s monologue. The rate of such a desire increases in larger cities representing the increasing rate of body control. To manage Boal’s plays, I usually conduct the machine play to warm up minds but surprisingly, more I practice, more these are female participants who share their experiences of body oppression while male students remain silent. Is there any recognized pattern which shapes their exception of presenting the bodies? Are they fearful of losing their social agency towards playing new Avant-garde roles? I believe that the answer is positive. There are patterns of docile bodies which are objectively observable in the process of playing Theater of the Oppressed in Iran and mostly these patterns are gender-based. In this article, I intend to describe the body patterns derived from the workshops on Body and Archaeology in order to a better understanding of docile bodies based on acts and practices.

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