The backbone of Boal's work.Participants create, with their bodies, a shape, a statue, in response to an idea or theme. Participants are encouraged to respond quickly to the idea or theme, without 'thinking too much'. The exercise works best in silence. Usually the facilitator chooses the themes from a list of issues already compiled by the group, as issues uppermost in their minds. This form of TO can be done singly, in pairs or in small groups. Images can also be dynamised, and movement and sound- words and sentences- added.Participants are often amazed at what they discover about themselves through Image Theatre.
Breaking mind-body dichotomy, discovering 'secret thoughts'.
A Forum play presents a problem, not a solution. It does not preach. It does not judge. It invites spectators to participate in the performance - not through suggestions, advice or discussion, but by replacing one of the characters in the play, and 'acting' in his/her place- that is, by becoming spect-actors. Spectators identify with or understand the character and the problem, and have a strategy to 'act out'- they are not 'acting' in the sense of 'performing', but simply 'taking action' as they do in real life. Forum is also an opportunity for people to try out strategies that they may not get an opportunity to put into practice in real life- thus it serves as a rehearsal, and with none of the risks of real life action- it's all happening in a play! And yet, it is all so real.
This is an extremely popular form of TO . The whole event is coordinated by an "anchor" who is referred to as the Joker in TO parlance.
Key concept: Power of a community and its collective wisdom, democratic processes, critical thinking.
Cop in the head:
Developed by Boal in response to his changing audience in Europe, and their experiences of "oppression" which were often internalised. This set of exercises helps us unearth the voices we carry inside, our own 'Cops', and explore the causes of one's internal conflicts. These exercises, which are considered by many to be therapeutic in nature, are firmly rooted in theater techniques.
Key concept: Analysis of internal conflicts
The Rainbow of Desire:
Typically used to understand and resolve conflicts in interpersonal interactions, the Rainbow refers to the full spectrum of colours lying hidden within a certain emotion. A conflict situation from personal life is 'offered' to the group by one of the participants for exploration through this technique. Using Image theatre, other participants come up to interact with the protagonist, and uncover the different hues, the multiple dimensions and meanings of the conflict. They also get opportunities to improvise and 'rehearse' the conflict situation. At the end of this usually very powerful and moving exercise, which takes more than a couple of hours, the original contributor of the story is likely to have derived useful insights from this deep exploration. The exploration can be therapeutic for both the individual and the group.
Key concept: Individual stories contain universal patterns.
A group of trained actors 'perform' in a public place, without announcing the event. Usually an argument develops between two or more of the actors, a 'problem' situation is created , and onlookers get involved, and a real dialogue takes place on the issue .
Key concept: What do people really feel, think, believe?
When Boal was elected as 'city councilman’, he used varying combinations of all the above techniques to discover what people's issues were and what they really wanted to see as change. This led to the enactment of new legislations - 13 such legislations were created during Boals's political tenure. This form of theater has also been practised in the UK and Canada.
Key concept: Participatory democracy.