Staging Stories that Heal: Boal and Freire in Engaged Composition

Nichole Lariscy


This article discusses the successes and vulnerabilities associated with combining the pedagogical methods of Theater, Composition, and Community Literacy in the Composition classroom. It examines how the ideas of Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed can be combined to support an innovative approach to Composition teaching, one that additionally employs engaged scholarship and service learning. The essay describes how methods and cycles of story gathering, playwriting, and rhetorical analysis have been used with various community partners, including an adult day care for dementia patients, an HIV/AIDs clinic, and Public Health outreach programs that address Health Disparities. The article explains how the ready audience of community-written plays and the inherent characteristics of theatrical production enable finite and clearly definable communication moments and products—especially in the autobiography-fantasy fused genre I have termed magical memoir—while engaging and empowering the voices of students, teachers, community partners, and audience members alike. 

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Publication of the Community Literacy Journal is made possible through the generous support of the English Department and the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Florida International University. The CLJ is a journal of the Conference on Community Writing.