Breathe Cycle/Mindfulness The exercise begins with everyone in a circle. The facilitator guides the participants to slow and deep breathing all the while reiterating a monologue about existing in a safe space and to be mindfully and bodily present.
Outcome: Ease with fellow participants, comfort and mindfulness
Passing The Buck Everyone sits in a circle with their right hand under the left to the person sitting on their right. All participants are blindfolded (or eyes shut). One person transfers an action from his/her/their right hand onto the left hand to the person sitting in the right. The circle is only deemed ‘complete’ if the action has returned to the person who started it in the first place. This exercise will take practice to create a group harmony. Facilitator will be present to take notes if a circle breaks.
Outcome: Engagement, trust building and physical awareness
Good day Especially useful when starting a Forum Theatre session with lots of people who have never met before: everyone has to shake hands with a stranger and say their own name; they can only let go of the other person’s hand when they have grabbed another hand – to whose owner they will say their name and so on. Variation If the number of people is small, in the second part of the game each person has to say the other’s name rather than her own.
Outcome: Warm-up introductory to Forum Theater
The Blind Car (Boal,2002)
One person stands behind another, who is the car. From behind, the driver guides the movements of the ‘blind car’ by gently pressing a ﬁnger in the middle of the back (go straight on), on the left shoulder (turn left – the nearer the shoulder, the sharper the corner), the right shoulder (similarly), or with a hand on the neck (reverse). As there will be a number of blind cars driving round at the same time, it is important to avoid crashes. The cars stop when the drivers stop touching them (as with the accelerator on bumper cars).24 The speed is regulated by harder or softer pressure with the ﬁnger
Outcome: Trust building exercise
Walk Pause (Boal, 2002)
Rules: Cell-phones are silent - no distraction, no eye-contact among any participants during this exercise/ no facial expressions unless facilitator directs/ no physical touch among participants while walking - being extra mindful about each other’s personal space, having a clear empty mind.
Participants walk in random haphazard directions and instantaneously pause at the facilitator’s clap.While everyone is paused, the facilitator takes in the image that everyone has created. With every successive clap the instructions would become complex over time so the participant is attuned to the facilitator’s instructions. If the facilitator feels the participants have a limited range of gestures, expressions and actions - they could certainly push the participants to further explore the same word three-four times with different actions. The facilitator also controls the speed of the walk in this exercise. IF they feel lethargy is taking over, they could encourage the participants to not lose pace of their walk and direct them to walk faster.The facilitator can alternatively also ask participants to do the following walks:
walk/ walk slowly/ walk fast/ jog/ hop (one leg, or two)/ wiggle/ jump twice/ crawl/ crawl like a soldier/ roll on the floor/ walk on knees/ tip-toe/ long leaps/ walk funny
If the participants are experiencing this exercise for the first time, then it’s best the facilitator starts with feelings, then emotional concepts, then objects and then role-based pauses. Below are a few examples for every category. The facilitators and participants are encouraged to explore more feelings/ actions/ thoughts/ objects and roles beyond the ones written below.
“Start walking… face looking forward.. Don’t make eye contact.. Forget everything about yesterday… Forget everything about today.. What you have to do later when you go home.. Empty your mind. Shoulders down.. Back straight and keep walking… On the first clap you are/become:”
Feelings: Sad/ happy/ angry/ confused/ embarrassed/ mad/ weeping/ wailing/ hurt/ skeptical/ bored/ disgust/ disapproving/ distracted/ terrorizing/ submissive/ dominant/ ecstatic/ anxious/ vigilant/ admiring/ surprised etc. Emotional Concepts: Anger/ friendship/ fear/ shame/ kindness/ pity/ indignation/ envy/ love/ grief/ devotion/ determination/ hatred/ disdain/ modesty/ hopelessness/ dejection/ reflection/ pride/ lust/ gluttony/ greed/ disease/ death etc.
Objects: chair/ table/ lamp/ tree/ sun/ moon/ sky/ clouds/ bicycle/ truck/ car/ tv/ hanger/ aeroplane/ bed/ spectacles/ red chilly/ bananas/ potatoes/ clock/ key-chain/ punching bag/ shoes/shovel/ toilet bowl/ painting/ book(s)/ rope/ a frying pan/ water/ sand/ wind/ pencil/ rock/ gold/ bulb/ clothes/ pillow/ house/ mosque/ church/ temple/ building/ swing/ see-saw/ ball/ perfume/ colour/ a mask/ hammer/ wrench/ gun/ knife etc.
Roles (participants can move for this exercise): a cat/ a dog/ a 7 year old schoolgirl/ a 11 year old school boy/ an angry old woman/ a laughing old man/ a person with a secret/ a person tripping over a rock/ a flamingo/ a horse/ a donkey/ mother driving her children to school/ a pregnant woman/ father cooking a meal for his family/ a woman talking to her fiancee or boyfriend/ a chef/ a man talking to his fiancee or girlfriend/ a father/mother-in-law looking at her son/daughter-in-law/ a mechanic fixing a car/ a boxer being defeated/ a politician giving a speech/ a pregnant woman crossing the street/ a little boy helping someone/ A child ridiculing and older person/ a grown man smelling flowers/ a woman selling flowers/ middle-aged man insecure about his manhood/ a 20-year old dreaming of clouds/ a photographer at a photoshoot/ an actor rehearsing/ yourself etc.
Note: There is no wrong way to perform any action. What’s important is the participants are able to capture the essence or visibly convey the said word.
Outcome: Activates muscular, sensory, imaginative and emotive sensibilities. Connection to the body with words, concept, how the body responds initially rather than the mind, let the body loose to prepare for ‘image making’.
Mirroring Done silently in pairs. Works best if the said pair are strangers. Partner a faces partner b. a begins movement slowly and b follows. The shift of ‘power’ comes silently with movement of b whenever he/she/they decide to take charge of the movements and flow of the physical dialogue. Facilitators moderate the pace of the participants.
Outcome: Emotional/physical intuitiveness, engagement, challenge, attentiveness. Anticipatory exercise.
Changing Rhythms (Boal, 2002) Using voices, hands and feet, all the actors set up a rhythm together. After a few minutes, they change it slowly, till a new rhythm emerges, and so on, for several minutes.
Variation Each actor does a different rhythm on their own till the Joker gives the instruction ‘Unify’; everyone unites into a single rhythm. After a few minutes, the Joker shouts ‘Disperse’, the rhythm breaks down into separate parts again, only to reunify later, and so on.
Variation At a given signal, each actor takes a particular rhythm and does a movement in time with it. After a few minutes, each actor tries to get closer to one or more of the others, choosing according to rhythmic afﬁnity. Little by little, those who have the greatest affinity homogenise their rhythm until practically the whole group has the same rhythm and movement. It may not happen – which doesn’t matter, as long as the subgroups which have formed have their own well-deﬁned rhythms and movements.
Outcome: Activates sensory/muscular sensibilities
Walk, Stop, Justify (Boal, 2002) The actors walk around the room in strange and unusual ways. Every now and then the workshop leader says ‘Stop’; everyone stops where they are, and each person must justify their strange position or say something which makes sense of it.
Outcome: Physical activation and rationality
Scream (Boal, 2002) A 30 second exercise which begins with everyone in a circle. The participants take in one giant breath as directed by facilitators and collectively scream into the circle for as long as their breath allows.
Outcome: Losing inhibition towards self consciousness. Confidence. Release. Catharsis.
Never have I Ever Prop: Chalk; use it to draw levels on the ground Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 etc.. This exercise is a warm up exercise to placing people and understanding group dynamics, to share information. Facilitators ask the group questions regarding their power, privilege and position and society. With every successive yes, the person takes one step forward. Facilitator decides the number of questions and levels for this game, below are a few examples of questions from categories like: gender, sex, social-class, pandemic, ableism, and religion
Statements If you live indoors. If you have home access to high speed WiFi. If no one you know personally has contracted and died from COVID-19. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters. I make sure I always have cab fare. When I am shopping, people usually call me “Sir” or “Ma’am”. Have a chauffeur to drive me. I always keep doors locked while driving, especially when I stop at stop lights. I vary my route to work and home. I avoid using public parking garages when alone. I park in well-lighted spaces and scan the area around me before getting out of my car. I take extra care in how I dress to avoid unwanted attention. I make sure my family knows where I’m heading. It is not assumed that I exist for the purpose of bringing human life into this world. I can use curse words publicly and be less negatively judged. I do not have to fight for and with the people of my gender, locally, regionally, nationally. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is. I go out in groups whenever possible. I avoid getting on an elevator with a group of men. I can do well in challenging situations very often without being told what an inspiration I must be to other able-bodied people. My religion was never a targeted sect in the society. My religion is widely followed in society. My ethnicity is never the butt of the joke. There are no vast generalizations about my ethnicity. I still identify as the gender I was born in. Use public restrooms without fear of verbal abuse, physical intimidation, or arrest. The decision to hire me will be related to my background and where I went to school. No stranger checking your identification or drivers license will ever insult or glare at you because your name or sex does not match the sex they believed you to be based on your gender expression. Having your gender as an option on a form. Expressing affection in most social situations and not expecting hostile or violent reactions from others regarding your partner. Learning about romance and relationships from fiction movies and television.
Trust the Drawing Depending on the number of participants, create rows of people (minimum 5), against a wall, one behind another. The person standing in front of the wall is equipped with a paper and a pencil/marker/crayon/pen. The person standing at the very back starts drawing on the back of the person in front of them with their index finger. The person in front will shadow the movements felt on his/her/their back and translate it forward until it reaches the person in front of the wall who will subsequently translate the image onto the paper. Once the drawing is complete, a group discussion will follow regarding what image was intended, and what image came as a result of this exercise.
Outcome: A visual understanding of how dialogue can be lost in translation.
The Wooden Sword of Paris (Boal, 2002) Two groups facing each other, with a leader in front of each group. They ﬁght a duel as if they bore wooden swords in their hands, taking alternate strokes. Each leader can give six different strokes: 1 as if to chop off the head of the opposing leader – in which case all the opposing team must duck, simultaneously; 2 as if to chop off the legs – all the opposing team must jump; 3 striking clearly to the left – the actors must jump to the right; 4 same to the right – the actors jump left; 5 a clear strike down the middle – the actors jump right if they’re on the right, left if on the left; 6 the leader thrusts his sword forward – the adversaries must jump back. The game starts with the workshop leader instructing each leader in turn to make a single strike at a time. The leaders are rotated. The workshop leader can suggest two blows at a time; then three, four, ﬁve. Then the workshop leader allows the leaders (who should change frequently) to ﬁght however they wish. Outcome: Presence of mind, builds team dynamic & activates participant
Cadavre exquis (aka consequences) (Boal, 2002) This game takes its French title (meaning ‘exquisite corpse’) from the Surrealist poets. It can be done as a drawing game or as a verbal game. In the former, each person draws something on the top twenty centimetres or so of a sheet of paper and folds it over, leaving only a couple of lines at the edge visible to the next person. That person then draws something joining onto the few visible lines, whatever these fragments suggest to them; he then folds it over, again leaving only a few marks or lines visible to the next person – and so on, till all the sheets of paper are full. Then they are unfolded and revealed. Variation In the verbal version, one actor starts telling a story, which is continued by a second actor, and so on till the whole group has contributed a part of it. This can be done in the same way as the drawn version, with half the group as an audience, half playing: one actor at a time comes into the room, speaks a couple of lines, and repeats only the last few words when the next actor comes in. Or with a tape recorder, the whole group can play at once, with the product being recorded to be played back at the end. Innocent as such games may seem, they can be very stimulating to the imagination.
Outcome: Introduces story-telling and engages the imagination
How many ‘A’s in a single ‘A’? (Boal, 2002) A circle. One actor goes into the middle and expresses a feeling, an emotion or an idea, using only the sound of the letter ‘A’ in any of its possible inﬂections, plus a movement or gesture that goes with it. All the actors in the circle repeat that sound and action three times. Then another actor goes in and expresses a different idea, emotion, or feeling, and again the circle repeats it three times. And so on. Then the same thing with ‘E’, ‘I’, ‘O’ and ‘U’. Then with a single word. Finally with a sentence Outcome: Sensory and emotive engagement
Warm-up games: The Space Series (Boal, 2002)
1) Without leaving a single space in the room empty All the actors must walk around very quickly (not running) trying to ensure that their own bodies are always more or less equidistant from everyone else’s, and that they are all spread out over the whole ﬂoor-space of the room. From time to time the Joker says ‘Stop’. At that moment, everyone must immediately come to a halt – it should not be possible to see a signiﬁcantly empty space in the room. The main thing is not to come to a halt before the ‘Stop’. Whenever anyone sees or senses an empty space, they go and ﬁll it with their body, but they can’t stay there, so a moment later it is empty again, except that someone comes to ﬁll it, but they can’t stop there either…. 2) Instead of simply saying ‘Stop’, the Joker says a number Everyone must get into groups of that number as quickly as possible – groups of three, ﬁve, eight, etc. As quickly as possible, the groups must site themselves so that they are all an equal distance apart, ensuring again that there are no empty spaces on the ﬂoor-space of the room. 3) The Joker says a number and a geometric figure The participants have to arrange themselves in that number of ﬁgures of the shape speciﬁed by the Joker – four circles, three diamonds, ﬁve triangles, etc. 4) The Joker says a number and a part of the body If the Joker says, for example, ‘Three noses, seven feet’, then seven feet and three noses must be touching. Again the ﬂoor-space must always be occupied by equidistant groups. 5) The Joker calls out a colour and an item of clothing The Joker calls out as speciﬁed – a part of the body (hair, eyes) may be used instead of clothing. The participants must form into groups accordingly, still trying to ensure that they are equally distributed throughout the room. (This seems unclear to me.) 6) The participants run slowly Running slowly is not the same as walking quickly. From time to time the Joker says ‘Stick’ and immediately the actors stick together in groups of three, ﬁve, or more, but without stopping. Everyone must keep running, which is extremely difﬁcult. Then the Joker says ‘Separate’ and everyone must separate. And then it starts over again, with the participants still trying not to leave empty spaces on the ﬂoor of the room. Outcome: This series also engages all the senses.
One Person We Fear, One Person is Our Protector (Boal, 2002) All the participants must be scattered around the room. Without saying anything, each person must think of one person in the room who frightens him (for the purposes of the game only). Everyone moves around the room, trying to keep as far away from the person who frightens them as possible, but also not letting that person be aware of the fact that they have chosen them as the one they fear. After a short time, the Joker asks everyone to think of another person who is their protector (who should also not be able to tell that he has been chosen as such). Now everyone moves around again, trying to keep their protector between them and the person they fear. Eventually, the Joker gives a countdown and everyone must freeze where they are – then the players find out who has succeeded in evading the one they fear.
Outcome: Understanding concept of fear/intimidation
The Invention of Space & the Spatial Structures of Power Furnish the empty space (Boal, 2002) Two actors face to face. One moves and the other ﬁlls ‘the empty space’; if one draws back her hand, the other pulls hers in, if one shrinks, the other grows taller, etc. The great game of power A table, six chairs and a bottle. First of all, participants are asked to come up one at a time and arrange the objects so as to make one chair become the most powerful object, in relation to the other chairs, the table and the bottle. Any of the objects can be moved or placed on top of each other, or on their sides, or whatever, but none of the objects can be removed altogether from the space. The group will run through a great number of variations in the arrangement. Then, when a suitable arrangement has been arrived at, an arrangement in which, by group consensus, one chair is clearly the most powerful object, a participant is asked to enter the space and take up the most powerful position, without moving anything. Once someone is in place, the other members of the group can enter the space in succession and try to place themselves in an even more powerful position, and take away the power the ﬁrst person established. Chairs in the empty space Each actor has a chair. One by one she is to place her chair and her body in such a position in the space as to obtain the maximum power for herself (power in this case meaning visual concentration of attention). In succession, everyone places their chair, with the same goal. When everyone is in, then, in the same order, they are allowed to change and try another position for their bodies and for the chair.
Where is my place? (Boal, 2002) Several chairs, tables, objects laid out chaotically around the room. The Joker asks in sequence: (1) where in the space would each of the actors regard as the best place, the place they would most like to be, and they place themselves accordingly; if two or more choose the same place, they occupy it together; (2) which is the worst place in the space, the place they would hate to be – as before, they take up those positions; (3) which is the place they believe belongs to them, their place? This game has an extraordinary capacity to reveal inner thoughts and feelings Six chairs Five or six chairs or cushions or pillows or flowers, in a semicircle. Each actor who wants to play the game goes into the space and has to show, using only the object and her own body, an illustration for a phrase such as ’I am in love . . .’. The others must say what they believe would be inside the thought bubble above that actor’s head (as in a strip cartoon). Then the Joker says ’. . . but’ and the actor must show in movement the whole sequence accompanying the phrase, ’I am in love . . . but . . .’ and the others must discover what he has said with his body.
Outcome: Understanding spatial structures of power
What am I? What do I want? (Boal, 2002) Very simple, terribly difﬁcult. Each person writes down on a piece of paper three deﬁnitions of themselves; they should not add their names. What am I? A man, a teacher, a father, a husband, a friend, a Brazilian, a writer, a director, a playwright, a traveller, a politician? Which comes ﬁrst? What does each person choose? What do I want? To be happy, to travel, to be rich, to win elections, to swim, to make people happy, to play, what? The Joker collects all the pieces of paper and analyses, systematises and reveals their contents to the group without identifying anyone.
Daily Issues Theatre 1) Facilitators ask participants to create groups of three. From the group of three, one person chooses to become the Joker, and creates 3 images for the audience. These images will represent a scenario in which the other two people will be assigned roles of oppressor/oppressed. The stereotypical role/scenario (of the oppressor/oppressed) What you would personally like to see change in the scenario Ideal scenario free of personal bias For example: Role of Employee/employer, Police/prisoner, husband/wife, bully/victim, victor/vanquished, student/teacher, Politician/citizen, Army man/citizen, hawker/buyer, beggar/giver, giver/taker etc. 2) Ask the other group participants to observe the image (body language, dynamic) Each group showcases their images and discussion ensues after each image. Group discussion: Rules of Joker applied for the facilitator to moderate the discussion. 3) Facilitator asks groups of 3 or more to be made with a topic on the daily issues faced in their lives. This could be stress from work or school, incidents at home. (a) Once the image is created from one group, the other groups observe the image (b)At the facilitator’s clap, the individuals in the image group repeat a word they feel represents the image they have created one after the other (c) The non-image group observes the image and a discussion ensues over their interpretation of the image The image group creates the ‘ideal’ situation Discussion ensues after observing the ‘ideal’ situation 4) One of the participants creates a scene from his/her personal experience or story. For example witnessing a mob lynching. At the facilitators clap, he/she/they can individually change the gesture of each person creating the still image to recreate the scene into his/her/their version of the ideal scenario. A discussion ensues over the experiences of the individuals who created the image according to the Joker’s experience. The joker also discusses his/her own feelings or interpretation on the shift in image.
Outcome: Awareness, discussion of oppression, shared experiences
Yes Group No Group Example Question presented by Facilitator: Can people of different cultures live peacefully? Yes group creates an image of how they see themselves No group creates image on how they perceive Yes group as Vice versa Some examples for this exercise are:
Can people of different cultures live peacefully? Can societies exist without religion? Can women feel safe among men, and vise versa? Is disobedience a bad thing? Are family elders always correct? Can people live in harmony despite disagreements? Can men live without women, and vice versa? Can the bonds that you’ve made by choice, be more important than the bonds bound by blood? Should we/Would you question the status-quo? Can varying ideologies co-exist in one space? Can women be aggressive? Does class matter for marriage? Can one express political freedom here (here can be subjective)? Should human sexuality be a concern of the society/anybody else’s besides a person’s own? Is liberalism/conservatism a bad concept for a Pakistani society? Is equity more important than equality? In your opinion, do you think there is a hierarchy of ideology? [Participants and facilitator(s) can continue creating more questions] Each group brainstorms the image they have to make, remember it, and then take turns presenting while the other becomes the audience and observes and discusses the observation.
Outcome: Critical analysis and understanding differences
Power (Ganguly, 2017) Props: Paper, marker and tape
Step 1: Participants make a circle and think deeply about power relations within the city: For example:
- Bureaucrats, 6. mayor/politician, 5. law enforcement, 4. CEO/industrialist/merchant,
- white-collar person, 2. blue-collar person, 1. beggar/outcasts. Step 2: Numbers between 1 and 7 are given to the participants. These numbers are given randomly and denote characters within the society who if it is a higher number are more powerful than the lower numbers. For example number 1 and 2 would be the least powerful people in society. Step 3: After the explanation is given to the participants, the facilitator asks them to visualise the characters in their mind. Once the characters have been visualised, the participants can raise their hands when they are ready.
Step 4: The participants enter the space acting out their characters without a dialogue. They can interact with ‘invisible’ characters’. Step 5: Actors will start speaking to their invisible characters in their native tongue. For example ‘an actor with number 2 is an agricultural labourer, so she/he/they would speak to his/her/their boss, who may be a middle farmer’. Step 6: The facilitator asks the participants to interact and relate with others in the space. There will be ‘seven different classes of people’ with ‘even and uneven; interactions among the participants acting out as their characters, The interactions and dialogues among participants with the same number such as a 5 with another 5 will have a similar dynamic, but participants with different numbers such as character 4 and character 5, or 3 and 2, etc will have different interactions. Each participant has to keep switching to another participant after two minutes. Every participant will have had a chance to interact with all the participants in the space. Step 7: Once all of the interactions have happened, the facilitator will ask the participants to take a brief break and then create groups of five or six. The groups are divided so that the participants within the group have characters of all hierarchies in society. Step 8: The groups brainstorm together how to present an image that shows power in society. These images are shown one by one by each group to each other.
Outcome: Hierarchies and power dynamics are explored
Dissociation – Thought, Speech, Action (Boal, 2002) Someone provides an image of oppression. This image can be realistic, symbolic, surrealistic…whatever; the important thing is that for that person, the image speaks. He/She/They can use the bodies of other participants, two, three, four, as many as necessary; equally she can use objects – chairs, tables, sheets, mattresses, pens, paper, anything to hand.
1) Over five minutes (which is a long time), all the people in the image must voice their interior monologues, at low volume and without stopping. Everything that comes to mind, as characters, not as individuals; in other words, everything that that body, in that position, could think. The body thinks. There can be a contradiction between the person playing an image and the image he is playing – the idea is to think what the image thinks. For example: if I am put in an image where I am trying to strangle someone, I must express all the thoughts of the person trying to strangle someone, even if I personally am incapable of such an action. The only rules are that people must not stop the murmured delivery of their thoughts and they must not move, everyone must stay frozen in their positions. The participants should try not to listen to what others are saying. In this way, each person starts to descend deep into the interior monologue of their character, to root the character in themselves, to bring out all the thoughts which could belong to that character, who, for the moment, is no more than a body thinking out loud (quietly).
2) In the frozen image, the participants must talk to each other for another ﬁve minutes. Interior monologue gives way to dialogue. Internal roots give way to social structure. People speak to each other, but no one moves; there will sometimes be a considerable disparity between what people say and the positions they are holding while saying it. There can also be a discrepancy between the monologue and the dialogue, between what people were thinking and what they end up saying. These are alternatives.
3) Now, without speaking, you put into action everything you have thought (monologue) and everything you have said (dialogue). Movements should be done in slow motion, to allow each individual continually to take stock, to think, to change her mind, to hesitate, to have second thoughts, to choose between several alternatives. Extreme slow motion.
Outcome: Creating & understanding elements of oppression
Newspaper Theatre (Ganguly, 2017) Depending on the number of participants, groups are made of four or five people.
Step 1: Each group chooses a story from the newspaper and begins their respective group discussion. The task is to create a statue or ‘still image’.
Step 2: Groups form a circle to view the image in a 360. Each group takes turns in presenting the images.
Step 3: Observations of each group image done in a circle. Groups guess which news story the images stem from. News stories can also be created if the group can not pinpoint which one it is.
Step 4: The groups can then interpret the images of the other group. Once the interpretation is done, they create a new image out of it.
Step 5: The groups showcase their new image and on the facilitators first clap, can also add movement. On the facilitator’s second clap the groups include words and sound to the image.
Step 6: The participants can discuss the news stories presented in the images and the issues that were explored.
Outcome: Similar to Daily Issues, exploring the meanings we associate individually or as a collective with the media and society
Invisible Friend (Ganguly, 2017) Done in pairs. One pair takes stage one at a time and does the exercise for the participants or spec-actors.
Step 1: An imaginative scenario is created where a chair is placed near the audience and one of the participants engages in a conversation with an ‘invisible friend’. For example pretending the ‘invisible friend’ is a character from a movie, or a person they know.
Step 2: The space is open to allow a participant to enter and engage with the ‘invisible friend’ with their own perception of what character they have created.
Step 3: Both participants can mime and engage with the ‘invisible’ person without using words. More participants can enter one step at a time, interacting and miming with one another adding depth to the scenario.
Step 4: On the facilitator’s clap, the participants can add words or a dialogue.
Step 5: On the facilitator’s second clap, and the participants should create a ‘still image’ (without any movement).
*The exercise can include additional props such as including a water bottle which could be used literally as a water bottle or as another object, pretending it is a mug, phone or another item.
Outcome: Playful creativity, imagination
Soundscape & Images (Ganguly, 2017) Step 1: Participants are divided into two groups, minimum six participants. The task the facilitator gives them is to think of a soundscape based on a situation. The groups have six minutes to brainstorm the soundscape. When brainstorming a scenario, participants are encouraged to think of all elements that could support the scene. For instance, if the prompt is that of a busy street, what would the street have? How many people? Sound of the wind? Is it stormy? Is it raining? Is there a dog passing by? A car trying to start? Cars driving by perhaps? A mother scolding her child? Or a couple fighting in a distance?all the immediate and background elements that could help create the scene should be put into consideration.
Step 2: A circle is made with all of the groups together, The participants shut their eyes and listen to the group presenting the soundscape.
Step 3: As soon as the participants hear the noise, they interpret the sound into a still image. Limited discussion is permissible so that each image can be viewed by every group.
Step 4: Once the soundscapes have been showcased, and the interpreted images created, the participants can give a detailed explanation of their interpretations of the soundscapes. This way, the ones who created the soundscape can determine whether their creations were interpreted correctly. Another discussion takes place critically going over the images and whether they can be improved further.
Step 5: The groups that improve their work further share their images and the final discussion or critique happens.
Soundscapes that can be created: A child crying/ A conclave of birds/ rustling of leaves/ an office full of people/ A busy street/ A party/ a school play yard/ a busy bazaar/ conversations on a public bus/ a political riot/ players and audience at a cricket match/ a man trying to catch a rickshaw/ a dog chasing a boy/ A woman is abandoned by her husband at a train station/ There is a storm the night before a bride’s wedding/ When she leaves in the morning, the family are sad/ A woman is raped on a boat and no one else on board notices because they are singing/ A woman giving birth/ a father dying on his deathbed and his children are fighting over his will in the next room/ two lovers realizing they will never see each other again/ father rejecting his son’s wish to marry/ etc.
Outcome: Activate sensory memory and how we interpret sound separate from body language/image.
Character Stories (Ganguly, 2017) Rules: Use of voice is prohibited. Only the use of gestures, body language and facial expressions are allowed. When performing a role, participants are required to be sensitive and empathetic to the role. Mockery of any form is strictly not allowed or else they will be disqualified from the exercise. The workshop is a breeding ground for respect, kindness and utmost empathy towards the actions and roles of fellow human beings to whose actions/choices/beliefs we agree or disagree with.
Probably one of the more/most challenging exercises in this segment. At the end, the group has a small discussion explaining and talking about their thought process about what they felt and/or imagined while performing this role. With the passage of time, the facilitator increases the level of complexity of each role to the participants. It is direly important that participants take on roles even if they oppose their said gender. It’s better to have prompts ready beforehand.
Step 1: Participants stand in a circle.
Step 2: Character prompts are written on pieces of paper and placed in the middle of the circle
Step 3: Whomever the Joker throws the pillow to, the actor picks up the paper and based on the character written they have to create a 30 second act. The Joker times each act and says ‘End’ at the end of every 30 seconds. The actor returns the ball back to the Joker and it starts all over again.
Examples of the characters: A beggar on the street asking for money desperately/ a woman in an abusive home/ an innocent man gets arrested/ a farmer drinking water under the scorching heat of the sun/ A husband goes to market, leaving his wife and cleaner at home/ A transwoman buys jewery in a market/ A boy gets drunk and meets a man who is very promiscuous/ A thief steals the necklace of a woman by force/ The husband catches the thief and discovers that it was his wife’s chain/ A farmer works hard all day and gets home to find his son watching television, he scolds his son/ Man finds out that his wife has becomes pregnant and scolds her and leaves the house to fume on the street/ A woman scared she gave birth to a girl/ a transgender person arrives, intending to bless the baby, but got turned away/ A political leader comes and appeals to the farmer, who has no money to give him/ The baby is born. A woman is seriously ill but she and her family can’t get to the hospital due to traffic jams in the city caused by a political rally/ The minister comes to an agreement with an agricultural company about their production of seeds/ The minister asks a bureaucrat to distribute the seeds in his area/ The bureaucrat doesn’t comply, so the minister pays hoodlums to beat him/ a gay man about to be married to a woman on the main stage in the wedding hall/ a teenage girl pick-pocketing out of neccessity/ A man contemplating suicide because he cant support his wife and parents/ sisters distraught over the choice of each ther’s lifestyles/ a girl suppressing her anger over her father’s insolent behaviour/ a son turning a blind-eye towards his mother’s harsh behaviour towards his wife, etc.
Outcome: Empathy towards diverse people & situations, broadening perceptions.
Moving as a Still Image (Ganguly, 2017) Step 1: Participants stand together in a circle. They close their eyes. The facilitator asks for the individuals to create a moving image with their body on ‘oppression’.
Step 2: Participants move around the space only with their feet, with their eyes closed.
Step 3: The participants should try to spatially find the other person and create groups of six this way.
Step 4: Once the groups are created, participants can open their eyes and showcase their ‘images of oppression’. The favourite image is then chosen.
Step 5: The chosen image is used as an inspiration to create a short silent scene. The duration for this is 15 minutes.
Step 6: The groups can start sharing their short scenes with each other, one at a time. After each of the scenes are viewed, the participants can start a critical discussion on the subject matter and the stories.
Outcome: Spatial awareness and embodying oppression on a personal level
The Puppeteer (Miramonti, 2017) Final Grounding Exercise) The participants join each other in a circle. The facilitator asks each person to visualise themselves as puppets, with each of their limbs attached to a thread that is pulling them upward. They stretch their entire limbs, from the shoulder to the arms to the hands until the ‘puppet’s threads’’ are freed towards the ground. The participants roll back up slowly, the ‘threads of the puppet’ stretching out again til they are trying to reach the ceiling. Then the final stretch is repeated till they wind down for the end of the workshop. Breathing is incorporated in this process.
Outcome: Calm, grounding exercise that releases the tensions of the mind and body to conclude the workshop
Boal, A. (2002). Games for actors and non-actors (2nd Edition). London: Routledge Ganguly, S. (2017). From Boal to Jana Sanskriti (pp. 13-15, 69, 70, 73-80). NewYork: Routledge. Miramonti, A. (2017). How to use Forum Theatre for Community Dialogue - A Facilitator’s Handbook. (p. 192). Lulu.com