In Image Theatre, still images are used to explore abstract concepts such as relationships and emotions, as well as realistic situations. This technique was developed by Augusto Boal and is described fully in his book The Rainbow of Desire.
Participants rapidly sculpt their own or each others’ bodies to express attitudes and emotions. These images are then placed together and ‘dynamised’ or brought to life. The method is often used to explore internal or external oppression, unconscious thoughts and feelings.
Why use it?
Image theatre is a flexible tool for exploring issues, attitudes and emotions both with groups who are confident with drama and those with little or no experience. No one has lines to learn or has to ‘act’ in front of others. Imaging can enable students to explore their own feelings and experiences in a less forbidding way than that offered by improvisational techniques.
How to do it
In a circle, students create physical images in response to a given theme, for example, bullying. They should do this quickly, without pre-thought. They are then invited to step into the centre of the circle and remake their image. Other students can now add in their own still images. This could lead to an abstract group image or a tableau that is “dynamised” or brought alive through thought tracking or by adding sound or movement.
Pairs or small groups can also create their own images, where they take it in turns to “sculpt” each other into a shape and then find a way to put these shapes together. This is most effective if done without talking.