Exercises in Games of Power and Leadership

        February 26, 2002 – Revised July 29, 2003

        By David M. Boje, Ph.D.

Exercises on this page | Brecht's Epic Theatre | Study guide for conducting Boal with bit of Brecht workshop 2003

This study guide is adapted from Augusto Boal’s pioneering work. This is pedagogy for transforming the Business College classroom (e.g. undergraduate leadership class or MBA organization theory class) into theatre for social change.

Dialectic Theory of Spectacle of Oppression and Carnival of Resistance. 

We all live in spectacles (situations) of oppression. With each spectacle, there is a carnival of oppression that emerges to counter the more oppressive aspects of each spectacle.  Spectacles of power appropriate and co-opt carnivals of resistance and make them part of the show; carnival becomes a side show attraction to the Casino. From time to time, out of this struggle of spectacle and carnival, a bit of festive dialog emerges between the opponents in spectacles of oppression. The oppressed and the oppressor engage in dialogic learning and festive liberation can result.  But, the cycle begins again, and the Festivalism becomes the thesis (just another spectacle of oppression).

Introduction to Theatrics of Spectacle, Carnival & Spectacle

We live in a time of global Spectacles of Oppression, from Nike and Enron to Wal-Mart.  Worldwide, the Spectacles of Oppression are being dialectically opposed by many Carnivals of Resistance. Carnivals of Resistance is people engaged in street theatre to get an unthinking public to think more critically and consciously about their complicity (their work and consumption) in a world of oppression.  Out of this dialectic, my personal hope is that the world evolves more Festivalism (See main site at http://www.zianet.com/boje/1/ ). 

 Figure 2 - Street Festival can be dialectic possibility when Spectacle is opposed by Carnivalesque resistance

It is important for Business College students and faculty to begin to alter mind-numbing dumb and dumber classes using mechanistic pedagogy and move to a social change approach Paulo Freire calls Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Augusto Boal calls, Theatrics of the Oppressed

What is Oppression? (Augusto Boal & Paulo Freire)

1.      Being without power, when you can get power

2.      Only doing what another wants you to do who has power over you due to their social position, rewards and coercions, their technical expertise or referent (attraction) that you lack.

3.      Not being able to VOICE what you want because you do not believe in your voice

4.      Not being conscious of the power game

5.      Not being conscious of the resources you have to transcend oppression

6.      Being temporarily without power (disempowered)

7.      A conflict of power between the oppressors and the oppressed

Examples of Oppression

I did some brainstorming on kinds of oppressions I faced as a student, and since then.  I want you to think of your own list, but here is a list of my types of oppression to get you thinking.  Build your own!

  1. Oppressive Interpersonal Relations

    1. The Girl friend who wanted to run my life and make me a slave to her passion
    2. A female student to kept missing classes because of bruises and black eyes her boy friend gave her
    3. A female student whose boy friend had her living on a piece of Styrofoam behind  his couch
    4. A College Dean (not this one) who harassed a black female secretary into quitting because he refused to protect her from a university employee that was sexually harassing her.
    5. A woman who tried to force me to have sex with her to keep my job
  2. Oppressive acts of Discrimination

    1. A racist Army Major who transferred a sergeant running a craft store to the gym to pass out jock straps because he hated blacks.
    2. A segregated neighborhood I moved into where Jews and Blacks were at war, and I was in the middle
    3. A death threat I received for daring to found a Vegetarian Club on an Aggie campus
    4. Being the only postmodernist in a College of non-postmodernists
    5. A friend I know who got beat up for looking like an Arab on September 12 (he was actually from India). 
  3. Oppressive Thought Control

    1. The spectacle of 3,000 TV, Radio, Magazine and bill board ads I see each day telling me how to be happy, how material purchase make me happy, what a society should be (greedy), and how the world will progress (through biotech, genetically-modified foods, diamonds, and cosmetic surgery). 
    2. Nike executives who blocked my publication of a chapter critical of Nike sweatshop contracting practices
    3. Being only postmodernist in a non-postmodernist College (again). I will add the story of the MBA who got pissed over getting an A- instead of an A (he did not merit) and while on the MBA curriculum committee lobbied to get my MBA course revised (and not one person asked me about it).
  4. Oppressive Employment Relations

    1. See story of black sergeant above
    2. Being told as life guard in Vietnam, that Vietnamese soldiers could not swim in the pool with with American soldiers.  Westmoreland's policy for a while.
    3. Supervising college students in summer jobs to mow the grounds of a Navy base, after an alcoholic supervisor had let them become slackers. 
    4. Student in my class the works at Wal-Mart and Target for most minimum wage, part-time so they do not pay him benefits, and sleeps in my class because he is too tired to learn.
    5. Kukdong Factory in Mexico I visited in spring, 2001 where young women were beaten and sent to hospital after daring to protest maggots in food, ask for bit of a raise, and organize an independent union action. Hey they succeeded and Nike and Reebok are scrambling to deal with the widespread student support for their effort. See http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/usas/ 
    6. Lap Nguyen in Vietnam See http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/nike/vietnam.html 
    7. Tiger Woods earns millions each month in Big Corporate endorsements, but workers who make his Nike clothing in Thailand get to work in sweatshops to make him wealthy. Lek is a brave women who organizes new employment relations in Thailand http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/nike/thailand.html 
    8. I love stories about Saul Alinsky - Like time he had busloads of poverty-strcken people from Chicago guzzle gallons of water and pee and pee at the urinals so the Airport opening dignitaries had to hold theirs. Or the time he took a bus load of slum residents to the Slum-owners' church so they could tell their story to his church (he also did this for Synagogues). See http://web.nmsu.edu/~dboje/TDcommunityorganizing.html 
    9. Wal-Mart has many examples of oppressive employment relations - How about that time Wal-Mart accounting auditors were deceived by sweatshop factory owners into assessing a dummy factory instead of the real one. See http://www.cleanclothes.org/codes/00-10-02.htm and more on monitoring as part of oppression see http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/AA/monitors.htm 
  5. Oppressive Corporate Moral Decay

    1. Enron's series of scandals concerning insider trading by executives, hiding the facts from employees, cheating on their balance statements by hiding debt in off-the-balance-sheet partnerships headed up (some of them) by Enron executives, and all that purchase of political influence to change legislation and deregulate markets that Enron would monopolize. What is the oppression? The loss by investors, employees, communities.. Add Arthur Anderson, who got paid many millions to engage in creative accounting practices, tried to cop a plea by putting up hundreds of millions of dollars of no class action would be brought against them.  This is moral decay, the preference for sticking one's head in the sand rather than saying, this is predatory behavior that oppresses others. See Cartoons if you still don't get it: see Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/web_exclusives/commentary/humor/kenny.html or 8 sets of cartoons at  http://cagle.slate.msn.com/news/EnronExtravaganza/main.asp and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and 8; More 1, 2
    2. An executive I know took over leadership of a company that was so corrupt, managers were giving sales perks and prizes obtained from vendors to their wives instead of the salespeople who had made the sales. 
    3. A company I know had so much sex harassment, the VP of marketing got fired (well asked to resign) after caught fornicating with the sales manager on the CEO's new leather couch.
    4. How about the new CEO I know who found out his VP's had some guy washing and parking their cars. He tore out the privileged parking signs for executives.
    5. How about the sales manager in Las Vegas, who intimidated verbally and sexually all the ladies in his office. 
    6. See above on Wal-Mart and accounting auditors who sometimes are fooled, but other times are complicit in helping sweatshops not appear to be sweatshops, which helps consumers say, I know nothing about the conditions of the workers who make my clothing, toys, computers, etc. 
  6. Global Oppression 

    1. Kukdong again (a Nike/Reebok garment sweatshop in Mexico)
    2. Wal-Mart again
    3. Tiger Woods in Thailand again
    4. I like the video, "Something to Hide" that shows students going to El Salvador to visit factories making sweatshop goods for Wal-Mart, Nike and other corporations who claim not to be in the sweatshop contracting business.
    5. Global racism of corporate executives and owners of the first world getting rich off the backs of workers from the third world. See Global Environmental Racism http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/jpc/echoes/echoes-17-02.html 
    6. Some 400 billionaire executives control more wealth than half the world's population - See http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/In%20The%20News/population.htm or Main site http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/In%20The%20News/ Median U.S. hourly wages in an era of globalization have been steadily decreasing since 1973 (from median of $11.61 in 1973 to $10.82 in 1997 and still falling. So if globalization is NOT oppressive, how come more people are working in low-pay, no-benefit, part-time McDonaldized jobs. See http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/388/leadership_theatre_event.htm#image_theatre 
    7. Out of the top 100 economies of the world over half are corporations, not countries.
    8. The top 20% of the U.S. population has 84.6% of the wealth, while the lower 40% live on half of one percent of the wealth 
    9. Sweatshop conditions persist in the U.S. because of the global oppressive practices of transnational corporations. See Root Causes of Global Oppression http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/usas/pages/page_14_rootcause.htm Main Site is http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/usas/ 


Explore one your own situations of oppression. 

Question 1: What are the types of Oppressions that you face at work (or in school)? ____________________________________  ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________     

Question 2: Pick one that you can share in class (Does not have to be most severe one; pick one you could share with one other person in class; You will not be asked to share the situation with entire class) - Describe it briefly:  ______________________________________ ______________________________________ ______________________________________ 

Question Set # 3: Answer following SEPTET - Theatrics of Oppression questions about the situation of oppression you picked - (If any question is not clear See short definitions or Septet Table that explains how questions relate to Aristotle & Burke):

  1. WHO? (the agents or characters - antagonist and protagonist involved in the oppression; who is involved) ______________________________ ____________________________________
  2. WHAT? (act or behavior that was oppressive; what) _______________________________ 
  3. WHEN/WHERE? (scene or spectacle situation of the oppression; when and where) ________________________ _______________________________________
  4. WHY? (What was their motive and your motive or purpose in the scene of oppression; why are characters acting this way) _____________________________ __________________________________
  5. HOW?  (By what means or agencies/instruments were you being oppressed; how) __________________________ ___________________________________
  6. DIALOG? (Write down a dialog/script between you and your oppressor that happened in one scene of oppression; they said and you said, etc.) ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 
  7. RHYTHM? (Describe one body rhythm [like a dance movement] and one sound [not a word] that expresses your inner feeling and emotion of oppression during one moment/act/scene of oppression. Next what body rhythm and sound rhythm express the feeling and emotion of the oppressor during same moment).  ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________
  8. FRAME? (See Definition - Describe the ideology/idea systems of the oppressor and the oppressed person; It can be a world view that legitimates the behavior of oppressor and another world view legitimating or rationalizing behavior of the oppressed person; Ph.D. students see Grand Narrative) ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Note: In Septet there are seven questions; In the above there are eight because Agency #5 for Burke is different from Agency for Aristotle #6 and #7. 

Review the above list of oppressions and answer the following question: 

QUESTION SET # 4 - What kinds of oppressive situations do you live in, work in, experience globally? 

1.      E.g. position power in hierarchy

2.      E.g. others who hold power of rewards

3.      Others who have power to coerce/punish you

4.      Others who have expertise power, such as technical knowledge that you do not have

5.      Referent power of their attractiveness or friendship that is held over you as power.

6.      Other forms of oppression, such as a valued racial, age, gender where you are in the marginal category of power (what you described in previous section that is not in first five answers).

What are Five Types of Power? (French and Raven).

  1. Position power (legitimate status in hierarchy).
  2. Coercive power (can punish people who resist; use of fear).
  3. Reward power (give grades, money, punishment, better assignments).
  4. Expert power (have competence or expertise).
  5. Referent power (use attractiveness or friendship to get your way).

 For Study Guide on Power consult POWER STUDY GUIDE

MBAs please look instead a Lou Pondy's process model of power/conflict -`Organization Conflict: Concepts and Models' Administrative Science Quarterly, June 1969

What are three types of Leadership-Theatre Games of Power?

1.      IMAGE – Rainbow of your desire – Your cop in your head that limits your power in a situation – Your internalization of oppression

2.      INVISIBLE  - Hegemonic power – power game whose rules are invisible to you – Do not see your own complicity in keeping yourself or others disempowered and voiceless – E.g. Elites do not want voiceless to speak.

3.      FORUM  - Learning to play games of power – Trying out solutions to oppression in simulated games of power – Practice events where you try out a solution to your disempowerment. Game rules can be modified, but they still exist, to ensure that the players are involved in the same enterprise of power, and to facilitate the generation of serious and fruitful solution attempts (Boal, 1992: 18).

  See Study guide on how to transform the Business College classroom - http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/388/leadership_theatre_event.htm

Warm Up Exercises

Rules of the Theatre

  1. Always protect the safety of partners (& community). Do not let someone fall.
  2. Always respect the body of other persons. Some people do not want to be touched. When posing characters, demonstrate (model) the pose you want and use sign language (hand & body gestures) to direct.
  3. Every story has many interpretations. It is about your impression, not getting the protagonist to bare their soul (or story) to you.
  4. Try to observe with an intellectual and critical eye, instead of taking the expected entertainment ride. Getting caught up in the laughter, and becoming emotionally empathetic to a character's portrayal, will distract you from seeing the effects of systemic oppression. Are you being a mimetic passive spectator or an active intellectually-aware spectator?
  5. If invited to be a character in someone's theatre, you may not refuse to play.
  6. Directors' role is to start and stop action, facilitate reflection and discussion. As in real life, always obey your director. A director is also a joker, a provocateur, a disruptor to mimesis, to help spectators from taking the entertainment ride.
  7. If anyone does not wish to abide by these rules, they may leave the theatre until the exercise is over.

First Exercise: Image Theatre - Story Sculpting Pairs Exercise - Pair off. No talking. No planning. Just improv (react). To begin, Director instructs Person A to shake hands with Person B. Both freeze into position. Person A unfreezes, walks around Person B, and imagines the next improv pose to make in relation to Person B; A strikes a pose in new relation to B. Next B is unfrozen, and walks around Person A; finds a new relationship that unfolds the improv-story. Continue until told to stop the story imrpov.

Discuss the exercise- how was it to tell a story without words? How was it to improvise the story? Were you able to improvise without planning ahead?

Second Exercise: Image Theatre - Story Sculpting Trios Exercise - Form trios. Repeat as above, but in trios. In this exercise two stay frozen, while the third unfreezes and forms a new relation.

Third Exercise: Image Theatre - McDonalds - Director picks spectators to be drive up window order taker, drivers of cars, customers lined up to place orders, order-taker, fry cook, meat cook, manager. This is silent theatre (no talking by characters). The director says animate, and the robotic humans perform the routinized customer, worker, & manager routines.

Stop action - ask the spectators how realistic are the efficiency, , calculability, predictability, and control (e.g. role-scripting & surveillance).

Resume action - with characters incorporating the advice.

Discuss the McDonaldization of the scene and its hegemony.

Fourth Exercise: Invisibility Theatre - Introduce some sexual harrassment oppression - This is still silent theatre. The fry clerk (male or female) begins to harass the meat cook (male or femaie). This need not involve touching; looks, gestures, violations of personal space norms are enough.

Stop action - ask the spectators how the oppression could be made more realistic?

Resume action - with characters incorporating the advice.

Discuss the harassment observed backstage, and its relation to sustaining the advertised front stage spectacle.

Fifth Exercise: Forum Theatre - Introduce games of oppression & power - Verbal dialog is now permitted (optional), but the action and meaning is carried by the annimated body images. The idea of a game of power is to set up a realistic oppression, and let spect-actors volunteer (or get selected) to try to resist and resolve the oppression. Several characters stay in their roles as oppressors (antagonists). Protagonists (volunteer spectators) after a bit of role modeling try out what they believe to be workable solution. The game rule is, you cannot revise the oppressors or exit them from the game by firing them or replacing them with passive personalities. The point is to let the volunteer work on their skills of resistance. If an oppressor's strategic power behavior is defeated, then the audience can define a new game to play.

Example - A customer chokes on McNugget and raises a storming tirade at counter person, then manager, and a police officer called to the scene. The customer is the oppressor. Other options are the manager who over-routinizes production, or becomes an efficiency Nazi; or continue the last exercise and let people work out of situations of sexism, and/or harrassment.

Director recruits characters to their script roles and gives command to animate the scene.

The oppression unfolds and plays out with a model giving one attempt at resistance.

STOP is called by a spectator (or director) and a new person enters the game, to play to role of the victim of oppression. Usually, some spectator will suggest a way to play the game differently, and sees some solution possible.

Discuss - how real was that? What would make it more real? Are there other solutions to try?



The following section is a set of Games of Power I have developed to teach leadership and organizaton theory using Theatre of the Oppressed pedagogy. 



Images of power balancing - Pick a pair of students to demonstrate. Run through the game, and then have entire class pair off. This is an exercise in helping others to overcome your force. It is an exercise where you use force without over-powering the other. Find a balance of coercion and resistance with a partner.  Place your palms on the shoulder of the partner facing you. Do not use thumbs to dig in. Use palms. Lean into them with your force. Help your partner be 100% forceful. Stay in balance.

Part 2 - Entire class does this, and we discuss.

Questions to Actors: It is time to dialog. What image of power do you imagine as the game is played? What situations of power and resistance does it recall? What situations of coercion and force and counter-force does it recall? 


Chaos Theory Rhythms - Pick three volunteers to model the exercise for the class. Person on their left is number 1, person in the middle is number 2, and person to their right is number 3.  Person #1 does a rhythmic motion with their body and makes a rhythmic sound (not a word, a sound).  When the director (joker) calls out “number 1,” the other two must immediately adopt that body rhythm and sound rhythm. When director says “# 2” then the other two must immediately do that. Then the director will say, “# 3” and the others will do that rhythm.  Do a couple of rounds of this. Next the director says “back to your own.” All three do their original rhythm of body and sound.  “Face each other,” says the director. Now homogenize.  That is, with your referent power and rhythm expertise convince the others to adopt your movement. And, also comply with the position power of the Director, and engage in homogenization. Either the trio adopts one of the rhythms of the players, stays with their own (non-compliance), or integrates two or three, or just evolves some new rhythms that the trio adopts. 

Questions to Spectators: It is important that we dialog about each game. How was that? What power and compliance did you see the trio players of this Forum game perform? This is an objective description. Switch to subjective questions. What subjective meaning did the game have for you in your life script?

Part 2 of HOMOGENIZING TRIOS GAME [FORUM THEATRE] – Bring four more trios onto the stage. Have the five trios form line. Person to their left is #1, at center is # 2, and to their right is # 3.  A director call out “# 1” and that person sets the body and sound rhythm for their trio.  All five trios are doing this simultaneously. Repeat same steps as Part 1.  The variation now in Part 2 of the game is that members may go to another group when director says, “You may change groups.” The rule is you cannot be alone. “You may change groups again.” If a trio becomes a pair, that works, but if the pair splits, you must join any of the other groups on stage. You are never alone. “You may change groups again.” Groups move around on the stage. Keep moving. Do not stay in same place.  Let this movement between groups go on until there are several or two groups.  Director says, “Go back to your own rhythm.” Stay in the group and homogenize. Try to homogenize. Go back to your own rhythm.  Next, form one circle on the stage. Try to homogenize.  What will you imitate? What will you resist?  Try to homogenize.

Questions to Actors and Spectators: Start with the Image Theatre aspects (cop in the head). How was that? Give an objective description of what you saw going on?  Describe differences. Give your subjective projections. What meaning did this recall into your own life? What did you project onto the images?

Switch to Forum questions? What solutions did people work out with regards to using referent or expertise or coercive power in this situation?  What other solutions would work in this game of power and compliance?


This game is for classrooms with those lots of rows and an aisle up the center.  This is a Forum Game in which spect-actors observe their use of position, expert, referent (attraction), reward, and punishment forms of power. 

PART 1 of LEADING OTHERS GAME  - Person sitting closest to the aisle in each row of classroom comes to the front of the room (the stage). Form one line at the front of the stage, facing the audience. Person # 1 at the left side of their line does a body rhythm and a rhythm sound that everyone else in the line, as they move down the line, must immediately imitate without hesitation and keep imitating until a new leader is in front of them. Person # 2 moves down the line and stands before each person getting them to adopt in turn their rhythm. When person # 1 gets to the end of the line, they take their original position (but keep doing their rhythm), and awaits each now person to instruct them in some new rhythm. Anyone who does not comply will experience a game of punishment, called the power line. Spectators and each person who is a leader in the game can decide this.  A power line is when the punished line up and get into a single line according to their level of non-compliant non-compliance.  The POWER LINE is an example of the hegemony or invisible pecking order in any given situation.

PART 2 of LEADING OTHERS GAME – Entire class stands. Those refusing to stand or to be compliant in the exercise become candidates for a POWER LINE. The row leaders go back to their respective rows and stand nearest the aisle, in their position of power.  The Director says, “Back to your own rhythm” and each row leader does the rhythm that was theirs on the stage.  This time all row members immediately comply with the row leader and imitate exactly the body rhythm and the rhythmic sound. Anyone who stops becomes a NON- COMPLIANT and is moved to the front of the room to await punishment in a POWER LINE (could form as two or more accumulate on stage or at end of the LEADING OTHERS game).  When all rows have their rhythm, Director says, “Remember this rhythm.” This is your original rhythm, when later on I say, “Back to your own rhythm.”   At the command of the Director, the row leaders, facing their respective row (aisle of seats), moves one aisle to their right.  As the row leader stands in position of power in front of the new aisle of students, those students must immediately imitate and keep imitating the rhythm presented to them (referent power plus position power and some expert power). Note: there is also reward and punishment power, in determining who is compliant and non-compliant (the in-group is compliant, the out-group becomes the non-compliant who will be punished).

QUESTIONS to Spect-actors- How was that? Reflect upon your strategies of power, and the tactics you saw in the game. What kinds of power and resistance did you see (objectively)?  What kinds of (subjective) meaning did you imagine in this game of power?

GAME FOUR – COERCIVE POWER GAME OF Friend or Enemy [Forum Theatre] – 

This is a leadership exercise in giving orders. 

Part One – Form demonstration trio. Person to far left is # 1, person at center is # 2, and person to their right is # 3. Person #1 tells # 2 to sit, stand, bend one knee, hop, spin, put hand on face, etc.  Person # 1 also decides before they begin if they are going to be a Friend or Enemy of person # 2. To make choice you can be Enemy if your birthday falls on an ODD day of the month or Friend if it falls on an EVEN day (or flip a coin). MOST IMPORTANT: Do not reveal your choice.  Be subtle in giving orders, so that the person cannot easily tell. That is, if you are Enemy, do not yell at them; that is much too obvious.  The role of # 3 is to begin the discussion phase after director calls the discussion time.  # 3 gives the first observation, “I thought # 1 was being a Friend or an Enemy because of these behaviors.”  Then, person # 2 tells how they experienced friend or enemy of person # 1. At end, person # 1 tells the trio if they were being Friend or Enemy. 

Director then the trio to rotate, so a new person gives the orders, another complies, and the remaining person collects observations in their head.

Part Two – Have five trios come onto center stage. In smaller classes, have entire audience participate in trios. 

QUESTIONS to Spect-actors  - How was that?  What did you (objectively) observe? What feelings, emotions, or meanings did the game provoke in you?  What experiences or feelings did you project onto the game?  Was there anything you refused to do? How did it feel to give orders to an obedient partner?


This is part of Rainbow of Desire (Image Theatre). Half the class will tell a story of oppression to a partner who listens.  It must be a story of oppression that still concerns the storytellers today. Must be some oppression you still worry about today. Half the class are protagonists (the storytellers or Pilots).  The other half are the antagonists (the co-pilots who listen). The pilots tell their story of oppression to the co-pilot.  Describe how you felt on one moment. Do not go into the history of it all. Just stay in one moment. Use Aristotle’s terms to describe the characters, the scene, purpose, theme, dialog, and actions (plot). What is the oppression? 

The co-pilot (antagonist) can ask questions to clarify the images in the story.  Your task is to get a very vivid image of the story being told to you and be able to picture the moment and its characters, and the oppression. 

Pilot and co-pilot must keep their eyes closed. Eye contact is a distraction to the image and counter-image building process. It is not about paying attention to their body language. It is an internal image, built with eyes closed.

Once pilot tells vivid moment of their story of oppression and the co-pilot understands a vivid image of the story situation, then we go to part two. 

Raise your hand when you have decided on a story of oppression you want to tell to another person. You will not tell the story to the entire class. Just to one other person. When you have a story come to the front of the class.  Director keeps soliciting pilot-volunteers until half the class is at the front of the class, on stage.  He calls out 1, 2, we need 33 more.  Ok two more; we need 31 more storytellers.  Keep going until half the class has their stories formulated.  Once this happens, the pilots are told they can pick anyone in the audience to be their co-pilot.   Pilot and co-pilot pairs go off to do the closed eye process of storytelling and listening. Everyone has closed eyes during the process. 


PART TWO of IMAGE AND COUNTER-IMAGE  - Put everyone back in their seats.  What couple has a strong and vivid image?  Both pilot and co-pilot have a strong image. What pair has this?   Check to see if the volunteer pilot and co-pilot have a strong vivid image.  They each form body sculptures of the story moment. They form two separate images. They can use chairs, tables, and pick bodies from the audience to be part of their model.  Pick as many people as you need.  They are to construct an image and counter image on the stage. 

There is no talking. All instructions must be non-verbal. Simply model the part, and then have the person selected assume an imitative and frozen position in the scene.  Express the story of oppression in the scene. Check the body-pose and facial expression of each selected actor. When both image and counter-image are constructed, the pilot and co—pilot take the protagonist character role in the scene. They become part of the moment depicted. Freeze both image and counter-image. No one moves at all.

QUESTIONS to Spectators – What do you notice (objectively) in the image and counter-image? Be objective and describe what differences you see. What does this image remind you of at a subjective level of projection?  Note: the pilot and co-pilot do not every tell the spectators the verbal story. It is not about verbalizing the story. This is not Forum Theatre; this is Rainbow of Desire, it is about the spectator’s projected images.

PART THREE of IMAGE and COUNTER-IMAGE  - The pilot and co-pilot will now get three wishes. Each wish is ten seconds. Pilot and co-pilot can modify their scenes, and rearrange character poses and expressions and postures and positions.  Director says wish # 1 and they have ten seconds. Wish 2, and wish 3 follow. Turn the scene into what you desire. Compete your desire!  It could be to punish. It could be to gain more power for yourself. It could be to exile someone. It could be to reconcile. It is up to pilot and co-pilot to carry out the Rainbow of Desire.

QUESTION TO SPECTATORS after WISH 1 - What did you notice in the images. How have they changes? What projections are you as spectators making on the image changes?  What is the meaning that strikes you?  Repeat discussion after wish 2 and Wish 3.  Note: do not interrogate pilot or co-pilot or any actor about what they do. The actors just stay frozen in the image.  The point is to describe the image and counter image that the antagonist and protagonist have built and note the differences and the spectator projections of meaning. What else do you see, says the Director after each observation by a spectator? Note: These are frozen poses. No taking by the actors.  Project onto the image.  We shall never know the story. The image is there to project upon, any desire we want. We project, we do not seek interpretations. 

PART THREE(cont'd) of IMAGE AND COUNTER-IMAGE – If appropriate grant 4th, 5th, and 6th wishes.



Think of an oppression and make the sound (rhythm) and the body-rhythm that represents for you the moment of oppression. 

PART 1 of OPPRESSION RHYTHM GAME - Do this first with about ten volunteers.  Have them do their own particular body and sound rhythm that conveys their moment of oppression, of being oppressed. Match up the similar sounds and body-rhythms in to pairs or small groups. Have actors discuss any similarities in their stories of oppression. Test afterwards to see if similar rhythms expressed any story similarities, in terms of the types of oppression.

PART 2 of OPPRESSION RHYTHM GAME – Have entire class express their sound and body rhythm all at once. Director, once everyone has their rhythm engaged, asks them to find one person with the most similar sound and body rhythm.  They homogenize their differences into an integrated rhythm, they both agree upon (consensually-negotiated and without words of instruction). They sit and swap stories.  Are their similarities?

QUESTIONS to Spect-actors?  How was that?  What did you observe about your similar images and similar story of oppression moments? 



Think about one situation where you are oppressed. It must be something that is not resolved for you. You have not figured it out.  You want more clarity about it.  Someone, for example, with whom things don’t go so well as you would like them to go. Ask for three volunteers to tell their story. The spectators will pick one story that is not the best, but has the most resonance for the class. Pick a situation you would like to analyze, where it is not very clear who is oppressing whom. Pick one that is not settled.  We will then pick five pairs that we will match to the selected story.  The three stories are shared. The spectators vote by raising their hands as often as they want, picking the story that has resonance for them.  Which story do we choose? Remember it is not the best story; it is about the meaning for you. If we do not pick the story, it does not mean we do not care about it or the teller.

PART 1 - The protagonist is directed to choose one person from the spectators to be the antagonist in their story of oppression.  The protagonist explains to them what they want from the character.  Because theatre is basically a conflict between characters (their emotions or states of mind) theatre must have conflict.  What does the character want from you? What is their purpose? What do you want from the character?  The antagonist can ask questions to get role clarity. How does this character behave? What is their mood? Are they superficial, serious, bubbly? What are the consequences of this situation for you? Where does this scene take place? When is this scene happening? 

Take questions from the spectators before the game begins. There are no questions during the drama.

Instructions: Both players start thinking out loud. Facing the spectators, not each other. Engage in monolog, before your slash. Speak the internal monolog, your thoughts, that come to your mind. Do not listen to the other person’s monolog. Prepare with monolog.

Next engage in your scene of conflict and contest. Start with monolog, and then keep going as you improv the scene. But, stay in your character. Do not resolve the situation. It is about images and desires, not about finding solutions.

PART 2 – of ANALYTIC IMAGES – Ask for five people who have a vivid image of the protagonist and five with one of the antagonist.  It is not an imitation; it is about bringing some small projection you have to the character to light on stage.  It is your projection into the character.  It is about showing the protagonist or antagonist some aspect that is hidden from their view –some blind spot you want to show (Like in Jo-Hari Window). Director tells spectator to strike a pose, make a frozen image of the character, as they want to project that character.  Freeze the images.

The spectators are asked by the Director to match the people on stage to form conflict-pairs. Which one goes with which one? Director tries out various matches and gets audience reaction. Is this a match?

PART 3 ­ Each pair now does on stage, on pair at a time to perform the scene in its new interpretation. The image body pose remains frozen, but can move around the scene. The dialog is improvised, but it is not about resolving. It is about staying in the character.  This is not Forum Theatre, is Image Theatre (Rainbow of Desire). 

PART 4  - The original storyteller (protagonist) is brought back on stage.  The director tells the protagonist they are to stand behind the protagonist in the last pair and imitate the image and the dialog exactly. The scene commences with the matched pair, and the storyteller is directly behind the protagonist in the pair, doing imitative work. When the storyteller has it, the Director says “You may come out” to the protagonist in the matched pair.  Then it is the storyteller with the antagonist of the pair, doing the scene in imitation.  As this settles in, the Director says, “You may change” or “you may stay with the pose and the dialog.” The storyteller can keep the solution if it is better for them.  Or, they can resist and reject both the pose and the dialog, and improvise something new. It is a choice point.

PART 5The scene is repeated with each of the other four matched pairs.

PART 6 ­ - Bring the original antagonist on stage with the five protagonist volunteers from the skits.  Have all five antagonists do their pose, and their dialog.  The original antagonist can move close to each one and dialog with them, and eventually settles in with a relationship that is strongest link for them.  Go to each and relate with them. Settle in one one. 

PART 7 – The five images of the protagonists repeat the last step.  The five images talk to the original storyteller (protagonist).  All the images at one time are part of the scene.  The storyteller goes to each, and settle with one.

PART 8 – If all five images were refused by the storyteller in the matched pair drams, then try this part.  The storyteller and original antagonist are center stage.  The five protagonists set up opposite the storyteller. The five antagonists set up opposite the original antagonist.  The outer ring can say something like, “OHHH, OHHH” to let the storyteller know they have fallen into one of the matched pair protagonist character images or dialog.  For the antagonists, the same signal and body motions clues in the original antagonist to try their pose or dialog. It is a game of influencing the images. The protagonist resists all the images opposite them in the outer circle. The original antagonist takes cues from the outer ring, and experiments with new poses and dialog.   The protagonist is now trying to resolve the situation. We are moving from image construction to a game of Forum Theatre. We are trying out solutions.

QUESTIONS to Spectators – How was that? And questions to actors, how was that?  Way what it feels like to go through seeing all sides of your self?  What did you learn?  Spectators, what power dynamics did you see exhibited in the scenes?  When did dialog happen?  Note: This discussion has parts that are about Images of Desire and the spectator projections. It has parts that are about solutions. Try to keep the two types of discussion separate. To the spectators – could you see that the scenes were about you?  Sometimes you are that character? Sometimes this is the tactic you use.

In some situations, both sides oppress one another. It is not always clear show is the oppressor? The point is that in the conflict, they have not established a dialog. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS - What kinds of power tactics were used in the scenes? (Position, reward, punishment, expert, referent, & coercive).

Why does the problem have to be solved by them? Can the problem be resolved by the social system they are in?  What is the systemic oppression in the situation? Is there a solution that would work? Or is this set of skits about the desires each person had? Is it about cops in the head or about solutions in the situation? What is the agent – scene ratio?

If this becomes Forum Theatre – we can replace the storyteller character with a volunteer and try out different solutions to the problem. If it is an Image Theatre, then we want to explore the analysis of the images in the scene.  If someone knows how to solve it as a Forum Theatre, let him or her take the stage and perform the solution. If it is more about Image Theatre, then let’s try pilot and co-pilot, or another Image Theatre game.

EXTRA CREDIT - Design your own Game of Leadership Theatre - send to dboje@nmsu.edu

BOJE Web Resources most relevant to this study guide:

NEXT STOP Revolutionary Pedagogy of Leadership http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/388/revolutionary_pedagogy_of_leader.htm