Invisible Theatre/Boal Forum Theatre


Students will demonstrate an understanding of Invisible theatre by writing a script for a possible invisible theatre performance in their community.



Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook
While students are working on their journal activities, invite two students out of the classroom. They will be actors in an invisible theatre activity. Student 1 will be sent back to the classroom first; as soon as he or she comes back to class, he or she will complain profusely about the journal activity. “Can you believe it? I’m failing because I haven’t turned in any of my stupid journals. I come to class everyday, isn’t that enough.” After a few minutes, the second student comes back to the room in a passion. As he or she enters, he or she should scream, “That is so unfair, you can’t do that to me.” Etc. The teacher then comes storming in and responds with equal volume and passion, “You can’t talk that way to me.” Then the teacher storms out, and the two disgruntled students are there to engage the class in conversations about journals ruining their grades. After a minute or so, the teacher steps back in the room, and says, “Can we give our actors a round of applause.” Take a bow with the two actors.




Step 1: Discussion/transition: Invite the students to share their general responses to the occurrences. Did they know they were watching a “play”? If so, how did that change the meaning of the exchanges, and if not, how did the events of the play affect your mood? Ask the actors for their feelings about being part of the “play”?


Step 2: Instruction: Introduce the term: Invisible Theatre. Invisible Theatre is a type of theatre developed and used by Augusto Boal. Boal is from Brazil, and began his career in traditional theatre. He grew disenchanted with tradition theatre because it left out an important aspect of the theatrical process: the audience. Boal created three major types of theatre that fit under the umbrella term “Theatre of the Oppressed.” And central to that idea is audience involvement. In Invisible theatre, actors stage an event that could happen in real life that touches on issues that are particularly controversial in a particular region or city, and they plan out a scene to perform to an audience who does not realize they are an audience. At this time share some of Boal’s experiences with Invisible Theatre as found in his book, Games for Actors and Non-Actors.


Step 3: Guided Practice/Checking for Understanding: Everyone in the class will create a small script that could be used as a piece of invisible theatre. Begin this process by brainstorming locations and types of oppression. You will see if students are understanding oppression by their answers. Some oppression a high schooler might face includes teachers, grades, peers, etc. Invite the students to get very specific. Take this opportunity to discuss the difference between oppression and the rule of law.


Step 4: Independent Practice: Have the students take five minutes to create a very short Invisible Theatre piece. It doesn’t need to be perfect or complete, but it should include the location, what example of oppression would be addressed, an outline of the events, and if time permits, some possible dialogue. A few students will share their pieces at the end of the time.


Step 6: Discussion: How can Invisible Theatre help with our children’s theatre assignment? How could you use Invisible Theatre with children? What are ways you can address oppression in your pieces?


Step 7: Any remaining time can be spent further working on the project. The script will be due next time.