Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Speech Communication

Document Type



In this study, I document and analyze how I applied Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) techniques in introductory Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication (IPC) courses. In the first chapter, Boal's democratic praxis is discussed in terms of critical performance pedagogy and Brecht's social aesthetics. I identify the qualitative social scientific method of data collection and analysis I used and base the significance of the study in my testing of TO in non-performance educational contexts and in the integrated communication studies curricula that resulted. In Chapter Two, I summarize Boal's career as an interactive theatre practitioner. My review includes synopses of his practices and the books he wrote. In Chapter Three, I document and discuss the two Boal based assignments I developed for the Public Speaking course. In the first, Boal's newspaper theatre exercises and Gregory Ulmer's "mystory" method are applied to a self-introductory speech assignment. In the second, Boal's "cop in the head" exercises and Joker System are adapted to a group project titled The Persuasive Speech Forum. In Chapter Four, I document and analyze my application of TO to three IPC course assignments. In the first, Boal's concept of Image Theatre informs an assignment in which students show their understanding of IPC concepts of selfhood in a shadow box they create and present. Boal's Invisible Theatre practices are used to test nonverbal norms in the second assignment. In the third, a fusion of Boal's Forum Theatre and Joker System techniques are used by students to investigate interpersonal conflicts and management strategies. In Chapter Five, I summarize the study and my findings, applying myself to the merits, drawbacks and possibilities of the assignments I developed. Lastly, I discuss the role and function of the educator as a Joker figure. The Appendices offer course handouts and representative examples of the students' work which I draw on throughout the study to discuss and evaluate the merits and limitations of the assignments.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Ruth Laurion Bowman