Image Theatre Workshop at Artscape 2014

In 2009, as part of the theater company The Saartjie Project, we used Image Theater techniques in some of our work, including the production “Deconstructing the Myth of the Booty”. I am in this photo with actress/poet/singer Marguax Delotte-Bennett

“Image theatre begins with movement to achieve a static result. Participants are asked to ‘mold’ and ‘sculpt’ their own bodies or those of others into individual representations of a particular situation, emotion, or idea, and then move into a group and re-form the images they have created to form a picture or ‘image’. Boal’s philosophy behind this form of theatre is that the body is the first and primary method of expression, and by using the body rather than speech, the normal ‘blockades’ and ‘filters’ of thought can be bypassed. Boal encourages the participants to immediately create an image rather than think about it, as thought would defeat the purpose of expressing raw, unrefined perceptions on an idea or issue. Generally, this form of theatre is also used to express oppressions.”Augusto Boal on

After you read the passage above, you should walk away knowing that Augusto Boal was a trailblazer in creating theater that has been coined “Theater of the Oppressed”. His work in creating different modes of theater, before his death the same year that he wrote the passage above, was fundamentally founded with the express purpose of telling the stories of the oppressed by the oppressed to audiences that most often included the oppressing class. I use techniques of Image Theatre in my Communication Studies classroom and I’m developing new ways to use the techniques in a way that will sustain conversations around culture, identity and privilege.

Augusto Boal at Harvard conducting an Image Theater workshop (photo from
Augusto Boal at Harvard conducting an Image Theater workshop (photo from

My workshop Expression without words uses the principles of Image Theatre as developed by Theatre of the Oppressed innovator Augusto Boal

The Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) was developed by Brazilian theatre director Augusto Boal during the 1950′ps and 1960′s. In an effort to transform theatre from the “monologue” of traditional performance into a “dialogue” between audience and stage, Boal experimented with many kinds of interactive theatre. His explorations were based on the assumption that dialogue is the common, healthy dynamic between all humans, that all human beings desire and are capable of dialogue, and that when a dialogue becomes a monologue, oppression ensues. Theatre then becomes an extraordinary tool for transforming monologue into dialogue. “While some people make theatre,” says Boal, “we all are theatre.”

Image theatre uses the human body as a tool of representing feelings, ideas, and relationships. Through sculpting others or using our own body to demonstrate a body position, participants create anything from one-person to large-group image sculptures that reflect the sculptor’s impression of a situation or oppression. In this workshop, participants will learn some Image Theatre techniques and then create 10-minute pieces intended to engage their audience with limited dialogue.

This workshop was created as part of a two-week workshop series called Liberated Muse: Evolving Through the Performance Arts. However, it can be scheduled as a single workshop. Click here for more info.

I will be presenting this workshop for free this summer at the annual Artscape festival in Baltimore, Maryland in July. Stay tuned to this website for details on time and location. You can learn more about Artscape here.


UPDATE 7/2/14

Please view the flyer below for details regarding the workshop

artscapeRSVP on FB here


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