Publication Date

Summer 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies


Deanna L. Fassett


Boal, critical communication pedagogy, critical pedagogy, forum theatre, graduate teaching associates, GTA training

Subject Areas

Communication; Teacher education


The Communication Studies Department at San José State University adapts Boal's Forum Theatre to provide its graduate teaching associates (GTAs) a space for cooperatively re-imagining their way through challenges and concerns they may (or do) face during teaching. This research fills a gap in our disciplinary understanding of how new teachers experience forum theatre and the substantive differences and difficulties that arise when implementing it in trainings that are not focused on challenging oppression. Chiefly, participants risk conflating forum theatre with role-play and losing Boal's theory; while fusing its ideas this way might appear as a way to problem-pose with students, there is danger of new participants taking misguided actions in reality without considering the complex underpinnings of their performances. Thus, instructors trying forum theatre without adequate knowledge of critical pedagogy may oversimplify it and jeopardize these interactions.

Using grounded theory, this study identifies emergent key themes in GTAs' understanding and applied lessons from this exercise. Drawing upon Boal and Freire, this research bridges instructional communication and critical communication pedagogy to appraise its potential to prepare or hinder professional development. The study also considers broader implications of forum theatre's execution and assessment in higher education contexts and offers recommendations for employing it in future trainings.