This technique is used to encourage participants to reflect, exchange ideas and experiences upon a realistic issue. Through the process of building the “image” that represents such situation and its alternative – the possible solution – participants both explore the issue within the group and show their vision to the public.
Image theatre is very diffuse during team building activities, since it allows participants to get to know each other by reflecting together upon the given situation and try to represent it through an easy technique. In fact, despite its name, image theatre does not expect particular acting skills: participants are asked to represent the situation as a still image.
The trainer could organize the activity following this scheme:
- Split the group in smaller groups (4-8 people) and assign to each of them a different issue.
- Ask the groups to discuss about the issue and create 2 images with their bodies: the first one representing the given situation, the second representing its possible solution as the participants conceive it. The groups have 30 minutes to design and build the two images.
- The groups form a semicircle and, in turn, each group is asked to take the stage and represents the first image in front of the other groups. Participants can move around the “sculpture” to observe each character’s pose and discuss about what they see. Variation: the facilitator can ask each character to shout a word to the public describing its role before allowing participants to circulate around the sculpture.
- After the first round, each group again takes the floor and, in turn, represents the first scene and then switches to the second one, the solution. Again, participants can move closely to the image, observing how the relationships within the group changed.
- Discuss with participants about the process that lead to the construction of the image (how did they choose the characters? How did they identify the solution? Etc..)
How To Implement It
This technique can be used to reflect upon environmental justice, inviting participants to represent first a real conflict situation and then asking them to think outside of the box and depict a social change by changing their poses.
After splitting participants in small groups, ask them to include the following characters in the representation/image: the helper, the advocate, the organizer and the rebel. All these roles are necessary to activate a social change process.
- International policy forum;
- Land grabbing, etc.
International policy forum
- President Trump pulls out US of Paris climate agreement and asks for a revision of US goals.
Advocate: second guy from the left, he represents one of the signatory states, he claims for the respect of Paris Agreement – reached after many years of negotiation – as it is, with no renegotiation.
Helper: First girl on the left, she supports signatory members asking for the agreement respect.
Organizer: girl in the middle, trying to coordinate the advocates and the rebels.
Rebel: first guy on the right, very disappointed for the withdrawal, doesn’t want to re-open the discussion with President Trump.
- Signatory states and civil society organizations reject Trump from the international decision making process.
- Deforestation attempt of Amazon rainforest
Rebel: Guy with the cap, he is an environmental activist protecting the forest (girl with a green bow) from deforestation for land conversion to cattle ranching, represented by the girl with the stick.
Advocate: Guy standing at the back of the girl with the stick, he tries to discourage the destruction of the tropical rainforest.
Helper: girl with the copybook, she supports the fight for the Amazon protection by helping media diffusion.
Organizer: guy with the yellow t-shirt, he tries to ease the communication between the helper and the advocate.
- Cooperation between civil society organizations, citizens, local farmers and government start a re-forestation and restoration process.
- People are still not interested by climate emergencies and information overload, particularly on social media, crushes on the general public (represented by the 2 guys shoulder to shoulder).
Advocate: the girl in the front shows alternative information and explains why it is important to know about it.
Organizer: the guy in the green t-shirt allows the organisational coordination and communication of the combined actions.
Helper: the guy in the black top supports both the rebel and the advocate.
Rebel: Girl in the back in blue tries to disrupt the disinterest of the general public
- The general public has better understanding of pressuring issues and access to different sources of information including non electronic
Land grabbing in Africa
Rebel: third girl from the right with the hand raised, she claims for the immediate stop of land grabbing practices.
Helper: second girl from the right, she supports local farmers and activists to tackle land grabbing.
Advocate: second girl from the left, she tries to discourage the government from accepting money from transnational investors for land grabbing.
Organizer: third girl from the left, with the copybook, she observes the situation on the ground and reports it to the advocate.
- Governments find different investors and fund local farming.
Session “Building an international climate justice campaigns’ strategy”
Thor Markussen – Friends of the Earth Europe
Climate Justice – Download
- Image theatre by Beautiful trouble: a toolbox for revolution an example of Image Theater utilization to explore environmental justice (Chevron oil industry conflict)
- Image theatre by Drama Resource
- Image theatre: opening a dialogue through our bodies