- Workshopping the revolution? On the phenomenon of joker training in the Theatre of the Oppressed
- Research in Drama Education
- Volume | Issue number
- 18 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
The article brings together observations and insights on the emerging phenomenon of training the trainers, also known as joker training in the Theatre of the Oppressed (TO). The concerns raised in this article are twofold: first, how does the modularised, workshop format of joker training affect the core principles of TO? Second, what are the implications of professionalising the work of the joker? These questions relate to the critique of ‘creative industries’ and debates around precarisation that profoundly impact arts and humanities education in contemporary Europe. They also serve as a call to interrogate concepts central to TO, such as participation, empowerment and community, in terms of how these concepts are appropriated and made docile in the increasingly neoliberal environment of European cultural and educational policies. The article proposes that a training in TO must view the dissemination of techniques and methods of joker practice as inseparable from a deep commitment to a ‘conscientised’ understanding of the complex social problems that the theatre seeks to address. The focus on a technical training alone bears the danger of reinforcing Freire's ‘banking method’ of pedagogy, which is counterproductive to the political objectives of TO. The article observes that professional jokers work in precarious conditions far removed from the promises of the economic rewards of creative enterprise. The proliferation of project-based freelance work creates a situation where jokers tend to become de-territorialised and alienated from actual problems, thus propagating biographic and short-term approaches to systemic contradictions. The study aims to problematise these issues and contribute to a debate that might lead to politically and professionally viable paths for the future of TO.
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