Improv and Theater Techniques
Straight Up interactive workshops involve what we call Reality Improv and social change Theatre — improvisational theatre that allows the participants to explore social issues and examine alternative solutions. Through the use of improv and theatre techniques, teens and young adults can become aware of the depth of an issue and identify realistic solutions. We draw upon the techniques and formats of Theatre of the Oppressed, as well as Image Theatre and Forum Theatre.
Social Change Theatre
Straight Up leaders are professional improvisors and educators trained to facilitate Social Change Theatre with non-actors of all ages. We provide training and opportunities for youth to serve as spokespersons and advocates for the changes they envision for their world. Through Social Change Theatre techniques — live performances, unique interactive events and video production — young people use their creativity to spark community dialogue about the problems, increase awareness and understanding of the issues, and present their ideas for moving to action and making change.
- The Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) was developed by Brazilian theatre directorAugusto Boal during the 1950s and 1960s. In an effort to transform theatre from the “monologue” of traditional performance into a “dialogue” between audience and stage, Boal experimented with many kinds of interactive theatre. From his work Boal evolved various forms of theatre workshops and performances which aimed to meet the needs of all people for interaction, dialogue, critical thinking, action, and fun. While the performance modes of Image Theatre, Forum Theatre, Cop-In-The-Head, and the vast array of the Rainbow of Desire are designed to bring the audience into active relationship with the performed event, the workshops are virtually a training ground for action not only in these performance forms, but for action in life.
- Image Theatre uses the human body as a tool of representing feelings, ideas, and relationships. Through sculpting others or using our own body to demonstrate a body position, participants create anything from one-person to large-group image sculptures that reflect the sculptor’s impression of a situation or issue. From simple techniques such as Image of the Word (where participants are asked to sculpt themselves into a statue representing their reaction to a given word) to more complex techniques such as Image of Transition (where the technique studies the possibilities of change), Image Theatre harnesses the simplest form of self-representation to arrive at the deepest form of debate.Image Theatre exercises and discussion lead to the development of realistic scenes about the specific issues found to be most compelling to the group.
- In Forum Theatre, the images come to life. A group presents a short play dealing with the specific issue of concern to participants and/or the audience. When the crisis of the action is reached the drama stops, a Straight Up Facilitator then asks the audience, or as Boal calls them, the “spectactors”, to intervene. They can only do this by coming up and making the intervention in role. They can either take over for a character or play a new role, but they make their suggestion through action and the rest of the players accept and integrate the intervention. In any one forum there may be many interventions reflecting different viewpoints and possible solutions, but the emphasis is on showing, and after the forum is complete the “spectactors” are invited to discuss what they have seen.The Forum Theatre Pieces used in the Straight Up program are ideally created and performed by participants in a workshop.
When there is not time for a full Straight Up Reality Improv workshop, a Straight Up Troupe can bring in a previously created Forum Theatre performance. The audience or class members become “spectactors” who will step into the scene and the discussion of the issues and exploration of solutions begins that point.