Organisers: Esmen Foundation and uTOpia Barcelona.

Collaborating organisation: Ramon Molinas Foundation.

Dates of implementation: 01/11/2017 – 06/07/2018.


The Theatre of the Oppressed, a social tool for the integration of people with intellectual disabilities

The Ramon Molinas Foundation is collaborating with the Esmen Foundation and uTOpia Barcelona with the objective of encouraging the social integration of people with intellectual disabilities by using the benefits of performing arts. A total of 40 residents at the Esmen Foundation’s home residence Albatros will benefit from the initiative, part of a theatre movement called Theatre of the Oppressed created by Augusto Boal in the 1960s. The theatrical movement analyses the oppression experienced by people with intellectual disabilities and uses teaching as a means of liberation and as a tool for social transformation. Through a variety of techniques such as games and group dynamics, participants are able to reflect on and analyse the oppression which they are subjected to, in order to combat it and become the protagonists of their own lives.

The theatre workshop, which splits the participants into two groups according to their level of personal autonomy, is nine months long and gives a voice to people with intellectual disabilities using theatrical techniques. This environment allows them to discover new ways of sharing, communicating and generating ideas, helping them with decision making and personal autonomy. It also gives them the opportunity to address conflict resolution from self-control, self-confidence and self-esteem.

The members of the Albatros home residence have already shown their creative and artistic capabilities in the 12 previous workshops, consolidating the initiative as one of the pillars of their recreational activities.


Photography, music, rhythm and visual arts form part of the scene to put the scene together

The theatrical creation of the workshop is multidisciplinary. Various techniques are employed with the aim of maximising art as a tool to encourage participation and social transformation. Photography, music, rhythm and visual arts are vehicles which are fundamental to the process of artistic production. Every week, the participants work on improvisations, drawing out themes for the final performance.

Each participant experiences their own day-to-day life and reality with a unique, personal perspective. This point is particularly relevant to photography, where each participant can capture their unique perspective on film and transform it into an artistic product. Music and rhythm are also useful for exploring the oppressions of the participants. Through different sounds and beats, participants are guided through different moods to create various atmospheres which put together the performance. Visual arts are expressed through the investigation of different materials, colours, textures and shapes which can be found in the residence’s immediate environment. Paper, sand, leaves, acrylic paint, and other recyclable materials encourage the participants to explore ways to express their oppressions.

The theatre workshop looks to innovating ways to open up creativity and the capacity to produce art in the participants. Some of the themes of past editions of the initiative emerging as a result of this method were work instability, the relationship between family and violence, and interpersonal relationships between members of the group, among others. The performance will finish next July with a theatre performance in front of an audience of 300 family and friends.


Albatros home residence, accommodating people with intellectual disabilities who need a home

The Albatros home residence offers a permanent care service designed for people with intellectual disabilities who require a home, after it has become unadvisable for them to live alone due to complications derived from their disability, lack of family support or inadequate available care.

The principal objective of the centre is to assure a good standard of living for all of its users, recreating the family home environment as much as possible. The centre is a tailor-made environment adapted to care needs, and along with day-to-day activities, attends to the individual needs of each person keeping in mind the treatment and pathologies of each one of its users.

The Albatros home residence is made up of a comprehensive interdisciplinary team including a technical director, a social worker, direct care professionals and a health and hygiene manager. The centre’s professionals are careful to encourage the maximum maintenance and recuperation of personal and social autonomy of its users. This is achieved through acquiring good habits in personal autonomy, abilities in social and contextual relationships, and the development of creative and personal initiative.

The multidisciplinary team at Albatros take charge of organising activities which provide assistance with both the individual and social needs of its users. These range from support in daily activities –personal care, organising communal living, or habits and rules– to the programming of character-building activities, leisure and free time. As part of the performing arts workshop, the members of Albatros home residence can participate in dance and cooking workshops, cultural trips to museums and the theatre, board games or sports.


The Esmen Foundation and uTOpia Barcelona, working together to bring performing arts to people with intellectual disabilities

The Esmen Foundation is a private non-profit organisation dedicated to the care of people with intellectual disabilities. Formed in 1997, its principle objective is to promote, encourage and foster comprehensive rehabilitation, and to treat and protect adults with psychological problems, personality disorders and those with difficulties with social and familial integration due to problems with the development of their intellectual and human faculties. The aim is to strengthen their personality, develop their emotional state and encourage sociability.

Apart from the home residence Albatros, the Esmen Foundation also runs the La Gavina Occupational Centre and the Pingüinet Special Work Centre. The La Gavina Occupational Centre is a daytime care centre which offers an alternative to the labour integration of people with intellectual disabilities who have difficulty entering the labour market. The Pingüinet Special Work Centre is also a daytime service which works towards the social and labour integration of people with intellectual disabilities. Pingüinet is a group of people with disabilities, supervised by qualified staff, who offer dry or wet cleaning and ironing services to the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

uTOpia Barcelona is a performing arts organisation which trains and brings Theatre of the Oppressed into the public eye. It is a space for artistic creation and dialogue for people who want to generate social change.


Links of interest:

Esmen Foundation website.

uTOpia Barcelona website.