Art And Culture

Opdebeeck’s Workshop at Tehran City Theater

Formaat works with marginalized groups at the grassroots levels by organizing events to support the inclusion of people who participate insufficiently in society
Luc Opdebeeck at a participatory theater
Luc Opdebeeck at a participatory theater

Formaat theater group from the Netherlands will hold a special workshop on theater methods and approaches at Tehran’s City Theater.

The workshop is an international masterclass to be conducted by Luc Opdebeeck, 56, executive and art director of the Rotterdam-based organization, Formaat Workplace for Participatory Drama, reported.

Formaat has a long-time experience in various forms of participatory drama. It works with marginalized groups at the grassroots levels by organizing events “to support the inclusion of people who participate insufficiently in society.”

The workshop will be held on Saturday, December 10, at 2 pm at the theater’s Rehearsal Hall.

Opdebeeck will introduce ‘Theater of the Oppressed’, a theatrical form founded by the Brazilian theater director, writer and politician Augusto Boal (1931-2009) and used in educational modules.

The masterclass will review the working methods used by Boal. It will also introduce the latest approaches in participatory theater adopted by various groups across the globe.

  Participatory Theater

Participatory Theater, also known as Forum Theater, is stimulated by the desire for creative solutions and capacity-building vis-à-vis social issues.

It is designed by first developing a conventional play that reflects the community’s experience of a chosen topic. The play is then presented to the broader public who are encouraged to participate and explore viable solutions on the stage. Members from the audience are invited to stop the play at any point and attempt to change the course of dramatic action.

While practicing in South America early in his career, Boal applied ‘simultaneous dramaturgy,’ a process in which the audience could participate in the performance.

This way, spectators are transformed into ‘spect-actors’, not only observing but truly acting to change the scenes they are presented.


In an interview with Robert Klement, a practitioner of ‘Theater of the Oppressed’, Opdebeeck who came from Belgium to live in Rotterdam, said he initially worked in a Moroccan project where “we were doing research on why the Moroccan youth were not as involved in society” as young people in other communities.

He said it was always a challenge to understand how to involve young people, and bring them on board. “We wanted to understand why they were dropping out of mainstream society.”

Around the same time, he went to a Moroccan community center where there was a forum theater play on racism.

Suddenly, he saw in the show a pedagogical tool. Two months later, “I had the chance to go to Switzerland and meet Boal in a workshop. After 5 days with Boal, I came back and knew this was what I wanted to do. I quit my job and got involved in participatory theater.”


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