Professor Carla¬†M. Guerron-Montero teaches Africa Diaspora, the study of movement of people from Africa to other places around the world either forcibly or voluntarily. ¬†This semester the focus is on movement from Africa to countries around the Mediterranean.
In order for students to actually experience some of the concepts of oppression and migration she teaches in class,¬†Guerron-Montero took her students to the Theater of the Oppressed, in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Theater of the Oppressed was founded by Augusto Boal in 1971. It‚Äôs based on the principle that each person has knowledge that can, and should be, shared. In order to allow people of all backgrounds to participate, he created an interactive theater where people are not actors or spectators, but rather, spec-actors. He believed this forum would help humanize humanity and establish dignity for everyone.
On this day, Guerron-Montero‚Äôs students become spec-actors themselves. They perform a series of exercises that each relate back to specific readings they have done in class. Her students describe some of the scenes that impacted them most; a scene that demonstrated how names change and get lost over time, one that allows each spec-actor to change a scene from oppressive to their own version of ideal, and one in which each spec-actor is required to quickly think outside the norm to utilize something common in an uncommon way. All agreed that the Theater of the Oppressed was an experience they will never forget, and one which brought to life the emotions of diaspora.