Memory Theatre


Students will access memories—share them and receive them in great detail by creating and presenting “memory gifts” to one another.



Materials Needed:

Copied instructions from Boal’s Memory sequence, steps one and two, from Games for Actors and Non-Actors (attached)

Lesson 4 Supplement.Textbook




Ask the question “Who’s feeling brave today?” The first hand to shoot up will be the subject in the game “The actor as ‘subject’: the Greek exercise”. Everyone goes up to the stage and explain the rules of the game. One actor is in the middle of everyone else. She starts a movement, and everyone else must use their bodies to help her complete this movement. If she lifts a foot, someone immediately places his body under this foot so that the actor’s foot is supported. The protagonist extends a limb here, a limb there, leans this way or that, twists on her back, stretches on her side, climbs through the air—does whatever she wants. The rest of the group helps her, using their bodies to support her as she does all of this, inserting themselves into the relevant space. She must move slowly so other participants—who must move quickly—have time to discover her intentions, which should not be spelt out. The most important thing is to avoid manipulating the protagonist’s movement. The activity ends when she is safely on the ground.




Step One—TRANSITION: How was the protagonist supported? Ask the protagonist what possibilities of movement she experienced with help from the group? Ask her if she trusted the group? Ask her if that was important? Tell the class that today we will be remembering things that might be difficult to share, and ask how we can support one another. Point out that as the group helped the protagonist move, there was no manipulation, but rather communication. We protect one another by also being careful to only share things that are appropriate and will not wreck the class emotionally.


Step Two—GUIDED PRACTICE: Have actors sit quietly with their eyes closed on chairs. Take them through the succession of step one in Boal’s Memory sequence, “Memory: remembering yesterday.”


Step Three—DISCUSSION: Have students open their eyes and compare. Ask students to share specifics in the five senses—touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound. Ask how this experience is different from how they generally remember such experiences. Ask students to choose a partner they have not yet worked with. Have them find their own spot in the room.


Step Four—INSTRUCTION: Give students instruction the need for step two in Boal’s Memory sequence, “Memory and emotion: remembering a day in the past”. Direct students specifically to an experience that falls into one of the categories recorded the previous day.


Step Five—INDEPENDENT PRACTICE: Allow students time to relay their experiences to one another with an attentive co-pilot. During this time, feel free to walk throughout the room and offer general coaching. Remind the co-pilot that they more details they can get, especially sensory, regarding this memory, the more dynamic the next step will be.


Step Six—DIRECTIONS: Students will now create gifts for one another. They will create these gifts using the memory they have received from their partner. The gift consists of three components. 1. A gesture accompanied by a word that encompasses the emotion of this memory. 2. A physical display of the most profound sensory experience of the memory. This is done without showing specifics, but rather by experiencing specifics. (ie: smelling the rain, the movement is not showing the rain, it is recalling and smelling the rain). 3. A movement accompanied by a “line” from the script of this memory.


Step Seven—INDEPENDENT PRACTICE: Give students five minutes to create and practice their gift. Then allow students time to present their gifts to each other. If there is time, and with the partner’s permission, the student may present the gift to the rest of the class.




Ask students to share the experience of receiving their gift. Ask students to share the experience of creating the gift, and sharing in a memory that wasn’t originally theirs. Ask students to bring sweaters or blankets to class tomorrow.