n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - Evasive manoeuvres : participatory theatre in the facilitation of counter-disciplinary action/inaction in a South African female correctional centre

Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1020-1491



Over the past fourteen years in my capacity as facilitator of popular participatory theatre interventions (PPT) (Freire 1970; Mda 1993) in the Westville Female Correctional Centre, I have observed how this form has been able to transform the panoptic agenda (Foucault 1977) of the prototypical prison space into a dialogic space able to transcend space/time physicalities (Massey 1993). This paper theoretically explores how, in some instances, these interventions were able to invert the panopticon and thus divert the 'disciplinary gaze' (Foucault 1977 : 174) for the renegotiation of power. I propose that, through their form and intention as 'rehearsal for change' (Boal 1979), the interventions were able to extend the gaze beyond the prison walls, symbolically and momentarily dissolving them. I argue that this, coupled with the popular tactic of 'evasion' (Fiske 1989), which the interventions also enabled, created the opportunity for counter-disciplinary operations which facilitated degrees of personal and institutional change.

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