Students will explore meaning and communication in what they see rather than what is said by participating in Boal’s Mirror Sequence, and using what is gained to describe on paper a moment in their day when such communication took place
Copied instructions of Boal’s Mirrors Sequence from Games for Actors and Non-Actors (attached)
Read and clearly understand the sequence and its purposes so that you are not dependant on his notes in leading. They can be used as a reference, but a thorough understanding should already be in the mind.
Ask students if they can think of a time when so much was communicated without words. Feelings of love, antagonism, depression, hope, attraction, animosity, loyalty. Ask if anyone has an experience they would like to/feel comfortable sharing. (Have a relatable experience prepared to help generate thought if necessary). Ask students to think of what was used as a means of communication. Would the addition of words have strengthened or cheapened the communication?
Step One—DIRECTIONS: Read this quote from Boal; “There are three preliminary series of exercises which help us see what we are looking at—the mirrors sequence, the sculpture or modeling sequence, and the puppet sequence. The exercises develop the capacity for observation by means of ‘visual dialogues’ between participants: obviously the simultaneous use of spoken language is excluded. In Image Theatre the use of words would interfere with the language of images and superimpose itself on top of that language. Symbolic gestures, such as those used to signify ‘OK’ or ‘yes’ or ‘no’, should be avoided, as should any sign corresponding exactly to the word(s) it replaces.”
Step Two—CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING: Discuss with the class what these instructions mean, why they’re important, and what limitations are set on these exercises. Explain to the students that you will take them through a series of mirror exercises. As you do, you ask that students remain silent and try to “listen” to the conversation that will begin and develop throughout this sequence.
Step Three—GROUP PRACTICE: Lead students through steps 1-12 of the mirror sequence. The theme of this particular sequence will be trust. Leave it at that, and open to their interpretation. If time is limited, consider which steps to omit, but try to ensure enough time to do them all. Each step can last one, two, three minutes, or even longer depending on the degree of participation by the group—the important thing about the work is that it be as meticulous, detailed, exact, and rich in discoveries as possible.
Step Four—DISCUSSION: After the sequence is completed, discuss with students what took place. What did they see? What was communicated? How did what was seen affect what was felt? What was a powerful moment in this sequence? Explain in details what happened. Etc. What, if anything, was thought, learned, or gained about trust? How did this activity offer new insights?
Discuss once more the power of communication without words. In the following 24 hours (or until class meets again) the students are to look for a moment in their day when communication takes place in what they see and without words. Ask them to write one paragraph about what happened and bring it to the next class.