Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Cardboard Citizens and Augusto Boal 'The Family'

Group Discussion about Cardboard Citizens and 'The Family' by Augusto Boal 16/10/08

The class had group discussion about The Help which brought up different views within the group. To begin with we talked about the name of the company. Cardboard Citizens: this was taken from a small community of homeless people who lived on the streets near Waterloo. This has since been Stopped and therefore communities of homeless people has disappeared, now they tend to be isolated and alone.

The main discussion point was about 'offending' the cast due to their situations, such as homelessness. Of which stemmed a debate within the group. Personally I understand why people were worried about offending the cast because I myself was concerned about offending them. But on reflection I can see how patronising that can come across, because you can only offend someone if you consider yourself more fortunate or better then that person? such as feeling better than the homeless people acting? which I doubt anyone felt. But people are still scared of offending people and as Mark said it is very British Manner to be polite and politically correct. However I feel that in the process of not trying to offend someone you often do, as you tend to make a divide by stating a difference, in this case the fortunate Vs the less fortunate (ie homeless people).


  • No Drama training or background in performance- We talked about the difference between professional and armature acting. Does it matter? Does it change the performance? The majority of the class said that due to this aspect it felt real and i think this is due to the element of truth within the production. The cast have all been homeless or facing homelessness at one point, they all have stories, they all have been through the things they are acting. which allows the audience ti engage better and care for them. As in a Musical or production at The National Theatre I as an audience don't care for the actor? I may relate to the character they play but because I no its acting I don't feel compassionate towards the actual actors whereas I do with The Help.

  • Stereotyping- We talked about the dander of stereotyping someone and then paradise them? such as NIE, who joke and mock but in a controlled and pleasant manner such as allowing everyone yo join in on the joke and making the audience aware hoe ridiculous the Paradise actually is.

  • Divide socially- cultural differences, status difference ect. If start to see yourself as different or better, it is then you run the risk of offending people.

THE FAMILY by Augusto Boal

The Family is 'a playscript used durning the mandate as a basis for Forum sessions.' Which is play involving six characters:

MARIA DA GRACA (youngest daughter)

MARIA DA GLORIA (elder daughter)


BETO (brother to Graca & Gloria)

ORLANDO (father)

GRANDPA (grandfather)

The play tell the story of a lower-middle-class household who discover the youngest daughter Graca is pregnant. The play raises many issues such as:

  • Teenage pregnancy- Graca

  • Gender struggle- The men in the family do not seem to work or help the women.

  • Family valves- Christan family with a teenage girl pregnant before marriage. birth control, abortion.

  • Favouritism- Gloria studies hard whilst Graca is pregnant with a married man's child.

  • Money issues- poor family

  • Disappointment- family disappointed, pregnancy will effect the family name "..never happens in our family...".

  • Abortion- wrong or right thing to do?.

We discussed who's story'the play belongs to, of which it is Graca story. we then looked at points of intervention looking at how the situation could changed/adapted, we came up with the following ideas:

  • Choice of who to talk to? maybe talk to her father as opposed to her mother

  • Try to talk to sister abut how she feels

  • Tell her mother in a better situation

  • How the play is structured

The interesting point in this play is that all of the characters hold a certain values and opinions towards her pregnancy. Therefore there is five different angles and opinions in the play such as father disowning his daughter, brother suggesting abortion, mother against abortion, money worries ect. The main area is ABORTION, which is only mentioned once towards the end of the play and the idea is dismissed within three lines :

BETO: "...she can abort. Take out the baby and that's that."

Sebasitana: "What- abort the child? It's a mortal sin!"

BETO: "what sin? It's perfectly normal in these situations. Loads of girls do it.

ORLANDO: " That's enough..."

Which then opens up an area of debate both in the play and for the audience as the play is set in a deeply Catholic country and the idea of abortion would most differently stimulate debate and difference in opinions. We then had a group discussion about is this an accurate representation of how a family would react? Asking the question:

How would your own mother and father react if you became pregnant?

Various people in group said their mothers would be disappointed, others said they think there mum's would be supportive. Some said they would abort whilst some people were against. There was a mixed response within the class, personally to me I think my mum would be supportive yet if it was done in the same way Graca announced her pregnancy along with the situation(mistake with a married man), that my mum would be disappointed with me and express her upset.


Eleven people(half of the class) wrote down what they are like at their worse. The pieces of paper are then given to the remaining eleven people to act. The aim of this exercise was to see if you could spot yourself. What was interesting is that the majority of people spotted themselves and could see the representation of themselves. We then carried out the same exercise but using what are you like at your best. Of which was harder to spot yourself as the tendency of connoting happiness were very similar.

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