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Theatre Of The Oppressed

Image Theatre

Lesson 5 - Image Theatre

Objective: Students will demonstrate their understanding of using and analyzing images to tell stories by creating and responding to Story Gifts

Essential Questions:

  • What is Image Theatre?
  • Why is ambiguity important?
  • How do images encourage ambiguity?
  • How do images tell complete stories?


  • Large space
  • A chair for each student 
  • Picture of Board Talk from last class


Creative Walking

  • Purpose is to warm-up bodies, minds, and creativity
  • Invite students to begin walking around the room. Then invite them to start playing with levels (high, middle, low). Speed (Slow, medium, fast). Lines (Straight, curved, zig zag, spiral). Lead with different parts of the body (arm, elbow, knee, toe, nose)
    • Side-coaching: Take risks, challenge yourself, do movement that you are not used to doing, play!
  • Discussion
    • How can this activity help us in Image Theatre?


  • We will continue exploring Image Theatre and how we can use images to tell stories and gain empathy for others


Complete the Image

  • Review instructions with students
  • Divide class into partnerships. The two actors go in for a high five and freeze. Partner A leaves the images and immediately returns to create a new frozen image with their partner. Then Partner B leaves and returns to create a new image. Begin by telling each partner when to move and freeze. After a time, allow partnerships to move at their own pace.
    • Side-coaching: Don’t think, just move. Play with different levels and connections. React immediately. Don’t overthink it. 
  • After students show understanding of this activity, add prompts to inform their images.
    • Prompts (Draw from words written on board during the Board talk from last class)
    • After each prompt is given, find a time to have some partnerships freeze so others can observe and discuss the images.
      • Discussion: What story is being told? Why do you think that?
      • What prompt was the most engaging?
  • Discussion
    • How can images be tools to discuss oppression?
    • If images are reflections of ourselves, what did you learn about yourself looking at images?
    • What is ambiguity?
      • There can be multiple correct interpretations of an image.
    • Why is ambiguity important in theatre or discussion about oppression?

Partner Image Stories

  • We will continue using the techniques of Complete the Image to create short stories with partners
  • With your partner, start Complete the Image. After a few switches, decide which images you created are the most engaging. Work together to create 3 distinct images that tell a story. This can be a literal story about two people or a more abstract story that centers around a concept or theme.
    • Give students time to practice
  • Now, create transitions for the images. Transitions are helpful to further or clarify the story. Each transition should be rehearsed and intentional. How do you get from one image to the next? When you get to an image, freeze there for at least 7 seconds. Practice these images and transitions and memorize them. Be prepared to share them with the class.
    • Give students time to practice
    • Students perform their stories with the class
  • Discussion
    • What kinds of stories did you see?
    • What stories stood out to you? Why?


  • This final activity. We will be applying the skills of complete the image and image stories to create Story Gifts

Assessment - Story Gifts

  • As a class, choose one word from the Board Talk as a prompt. (Ex. Parents, gender,etc)
  • Begin by sitting across from your partner and tell a story relating to the prompt (A time that you felt oppressed or hurt by your parents). Each partner takes 2-3 minutes to tell their story.
  • Afterwards, each actor moves to their own space in the room with a chair. Their objective is to create 3 images that help tell their partner’s story. Encourage actors to use the chairs and their bodies in engaging ways to create these images.
  • After actors have practiced and memorized their images, invite them to create short transitions between each image that is artistic and enhances the story.
  • Finally, have partnerships perform their story gifts for each other


  • What did you experience while watching your story told by someone else?
  • What role did empathy play in this activity?
  • How effective were images in telling a story?
  • How did ambiguity come into play during this activity?

Remind students to complete a self-reflection online and continue A Raisin in the Sun.