Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Theatre & Dance

First Advisor

Beth Osnes

Second Advisor

Lawrence R. Frey

Third Advisor

Oliver Gerland


This dissertation examines how theatre for development methods, developed and influenced by Augusto Boal, were employed to provide energy-oppressed people with opportunities to reflect and take action to improve their lives. Specifically, this research study examines two theatre for development interventions conducted in Chajul, Guatemala, where I worked with indigenous citizens of Chajul and a host nongovernmental organization, Limitless Horizons Ixil, to create theatre pieces that confronted people‘s home energy-use habits, focusing, specifically, on the dangers of indoor air pollution caused by the use of open fires in homes. The first intervention occurred during a seven-day trip to Chajul in July 2009, and involved devising and staging an original play, ―Life with a Cookstove/Life without a Cookstove,‖ that was presented to more than 300 community members. The second intervention, which took place over ten days in June 2010, consisted of staging original theatre pieces in people‘s homes around their open fires. In addition to using theatre as an educational tool, information was collected about people‘s attitudes and behaviors related to indoor air pollution and cookstoves. Additionally, the theatre interventions gave people the opportunity to practice taking action to reduce dangers associated with indoor air pollution in their homes through the proposed use of cookstoves.

This investigation provides insight into common theatre for development practices that can be used in Latin America, a portion of the world that has been significantly understudied, and with other underrepresented populations around the world that are not accustomed to using theatre to reflect on their home energy use or other significant issues of concern in need of action. Additionally, this research assisted Limitless Horizons Ixil to achieve its development goals of reducing indoor air pollution in Chajul through the introduction of cookstoves in an ethical and sustainable way. As the only study on using theatre for development methods to introduce, investigate, and promote cookstoves as an appropriate and sustainable energy technology, this research serves as an example of employing participatory and ethical theatre for energy justice methods to provide people with opportunities to reflect on and take action to solve their energy needs.