UCLA Travel Study

World Arts & Cultures/Dance:

Theater of the Oppressed

  • Dates


  • Location

    Rio de Janeiro

  • Program Fee

    UC Undergrads: TBA

    UC Grad Students: TBA

    Visiting Students: TBA

    Fees are subject to change by action of the UC Regents: View full fee disclaimer

Spend your summer connecting with the Center for Theater of the Oppressed (CTO) learning about their ongoing projects in Rio de Janeiro and the methodology now used around the world for social action through theater.

Work directly with CTO’s “jokers”/educators, trained by Augusto Boal, who today are developing the methodology in different social contexts. Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) is a humanist methodology based on the belief that every human being is capable of making art.

T.O. invites people to become “spect-actors,” capable of taking action and using theater as a rehearsal space for social transformation. Theater of the Oppressed has been an important instrument in the fight against oppression, the mobilization of social resistance, as well as the creation of new laws.

During the UCLA-CTO program, you will connect with Groups of Theater of the Oppressed (GTO’s) that work in various locations with a wide range of issues, such as domestic workers fighting against sexism and for union worker’s rights (Marias do Brasil), mental health patients fighting against stigma and discrimination (Pirei na Cenna), black artist-activists fighting against racism (Cor do Brasil) and youth from favelas (slums) dealing with varying issues (T.O. na Maré).

During the program, participants will also partake in a T.O. intensive, having the opportunity to experiment with and apply the methodologies they are learning about.

Alongside T.O. training, students will have the option to either learn about Brazilian dance in depth, or study a range of Brazilian art forms such as poetry, music, visual art, etc.

To learn more about the Center for Theater of the Oppressed, visit www.ctorio.org.br.


Program Courses

All students will enroll in two required courses while participating in the program:

  • All students will enroll in the core course: WL ARTS 174B (4 units)
  • Students will then choose 1 of 2 options for their second required course:
    • WL ARTS 120 (4 units) or
    • DANCE C145 (4 units)

*Courses will include some pre-summer preparation to introduce students to the Portuguese language and Brazilian culture.

Course Descriptions

WL ARTS 174B: Introduction to the Theater of the Oppressed (4 units)

Prerequisites:  None

In this participatory course, we use theory and practice to explore Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) through intensive study at the Center of Theater of the Oppressed (CTO).  Over the course of the month-long study, we take part in numerous workshops online with CTO to learn about the techniques, methodology, and practical application of this activist theater form in the place where it was codified.  We will also have the opportunity to interact virtually with various community theater groups around the city.  These groups may include domestic workers (Marias do Brasil), mental health patients (Pirei na Cenna) and a youth group from a local favela (T.O. No Maré.)

WL ARTS 120: Arts and Culture of Brazil (4 units)

Prerequisites:  None

This accelerated course offers an immersive introduction to the Afro-Ameríndio (African and indigenous based) cultural practices of Brazil in one of its most vibrant cities, Rio de Janeiro. Such practices include Capoeira Angola (martial art/dance), Roda de Samba (music), Candomblé (Afro-Brazilian religion), and Afro-Brazilian culinary arts. Students will learn a strong theoretical framework of these practices through texts and online discussions, while experiencing them through workshops. In addition, students will explore contemporary issues and contradictions of Rio de Janeiro as they pertain to social equity, political power and artistic expression.

DANCE C145: Dances of Brazil (4 units)

Prerequisites:  None

This is an intensive and immersive course meant for students who are Dance Majors, Minors and/or people interested in deepening their movement practice and knowledge of Brazilian dances. Students will participate in active dance workshops taught by internationally renowned Rio-based dance artists, including Juliana Manhães (Samba de Roda, Jongo, Coco), Aline Valentim (Afro-Brazilian dance & dances of the Orixás), and Mestre Rogério of the FICA organization (Capoeira Angola). To compliment their remote physical practice, students will build a strong theoretical framework of Brazilian cultural practices through texts and class discussions; dance and embodied practices will be the lens through which students learn about the history, politics and culture of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil as a whole.


TBA.  Syllabus and schedule are subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.


Travel Study courses must be taken for a letter grade.  Grades will be based on class attendance and participation, written responses to readings, journal entries, and contributions to arts-activist workshops performances.  Grading criteria is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.


TBA.  You are responsible for purchasing your own textbooks and workbooks. We strongly suggest you read as much of the text material as possible before you depart. Textbook information will be available at a later date.

Budget and Financial Aid

Budget Estimate UC Undergrads UC Grad Students Visiting Students
Program Fee TBA TBA TBA
Textbooks (estimate)  $100  $100  $100

Program fee includes registration, course fees, virtual cultural components and engagements with local partners.

Textbooks are additional.

Fees are subject to change by action of the UC Regents. View full fee disclaimer.

Document Fee

Non-UCLA students will be charged a $50 Document Fee.  This is a one-time document fee which covers fees for first-class mailing of official transcripts, diploma and much more. Please visit the Registrar’s Office Website for more information.  Matriculated UCLA Students: Please visit the Registrar’s Office Website for document fee information.


All undergraduate students will be charged a $61 IEI fee per summer. The IEI (Instructional Enhancement Initiative) fee is a course materials fee that is charged in order to support the use of technology in undergraduate education at UCLA.

Financial Aid

Financial aid for Travel Study programs is available to qualified UCLA students. All other students should inquire about financial aid at their home institution. For details about the financial aid application process, please visit the Financial Aid section of this website.

On Location

All classes will take place in partnership with the Center of Theater of the Oppressed (CTO) in Lapa or the various community groups we will be working with.

Santa Teresa (the area where we’re planning on staying) is near CTO, which will serve to cut down on travel time and distance, increase safety, and offer various opportunities to take part in the bohemian arts community. It is also very near the metro, one of the safer and easier means of public transportation around the city.

Cultural Program Components

More information is coming soon!   


To learn more about Rio de Janeiro:



To learn more about the Center for Theater of the Oppressed: