Posted by: mistyj | December 17, 2007

Image Theatre

Image Theater was developed during the 1950s and 1960s by a Brazilian director named Augusto Boal.  His goal was to create performance without monologue, focusing specifically on dialogue between the audience and stage.  He called this “Theatre of the Opressed”, as he believed oppression arrised when a dialogue became a monologue.  He felt that dialogue was the healthiest connection between humans and that everyone was capable of doing it.  Image Theatre is meant to make you feel empowered.  It is about creating change and taking charge of your own life.  The process of this theatre is to give people the chance to develop emotional intelligence, using a symbolic language, while investigating topics that are hard to talk about. This helps to open up communication about difficult topics in an active and entertaining way.  During Image Theatre, “Actors are manipulated as visual elements on the stage”.  This type of theatre starts with movement but ends with a static result.  Usually there is no dialogue. The images are are accompanied by music and sound while the actors or participants try to represent specific ideas, emotions, or situations by sculpting their bodies or those of others. The individuals then form a group to create a picture or “image”, of what they are trying to represent.    With this type of theatre it is encouraged not to think about the image, but to create one immediately in order to express completely raw and unfiltered perceptions on ideas or issues.   There are three ways the image can be altered to express different facets of the issue: 1.  “For the first dynamisation, the participants move back to form the image, but simultaneously rather than separately.  In this way, they are aware of each other, and of the image as a whole, rather than their own, individual pose.” 2. “For the second dynamisation, the participants alter their images slightly so that they interrelate with the other people on the stage.  Their poses must relate to each other in a way that creates a single perspective that encompasses all views.” 3. “For the third dynamisation, the participants transform themselves from depicting the oppressed to posing as the oppressors.  As participants are often victims of oppression, this vision is highly subjective, yet gives real insight into the attitudes of the participants.” 

Today there is an Image Theatre company in Prague, called  Black Light Theatre Image.  This company has a style of its own with modern dance elements, unique costumes, mime and non-verbal theatre, combined with usage of sound, originally composed music and contact with the public.

You can also find an Image Theatre company called Headlines, based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, in Vancouver.  You can find one in California called American Image Theatre Company.  

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