Invisible theatre is a form of theatrical
performance enacted in a place where people would not normally expect to see
one; for example – the street, bus or shopping centre. Actors disguise the true
nature of the performance; the unwitting audience is viewing is a scripted,
rehearsed act. This leads spectators to view it as a real, unstaged event.
The form never seeks to be recognized as active
theatre, often done in order to gather the audience’s spontaneous responses
regarding significant social causes. Usually, the art form takes place in
crowded public locations in order to inspire an interactive audience.
originated from the Theatre of the Oppressed, pioneered by Augusto Boal. The Theatre of the Oppressed is a form of
popular community based education that uses theatre as a tool for social
change. It seeks to promote awareness of everyday oppression through
performances that seem spontaneous, but are actually well-planned.
Invisible Theatre requires a significant amount
of preparation. The form requires actors to remain in character even when the
action goes in challenging directions. Performers are encouraged to expect the
unexpected from the public. Invisible Theatre can thus achieve things that most
other forms cannot, as it seeks to remove the barriers between performer and
spectator by creating very accessible conflictual situations in which people
can rethink their assumptions and engage with sensitive issues they might
concept of Invisible Theatre works because it is easy to walk into what you
know is a stage performance, give it half your attention, then walk out
experiencing a false, foggy sense of realisation and feeling ready to change.
Invisible Theatre, on the other hand, provokes a much more realistic response
from your part to whichever situation had been depicted.
It calls attention to the actual approach
humanity has to issues where someone is oppressed or downtrodden. It gives
people the liberty to properly reflect upon their instantaneous actions in an
uncomfortable scenario. Every reaction, even ignorance, or no reaction – is of
absolute importance as it is a direct reflection of societal mind-set.
Augusto Boal, a Brazilian dramatist, writer
and politician, is best known for his immense efforts in the field of theatre.
He adopted the profession to address and incite awareness for social issues. He
created the Theatre of the Oppressed, a form of interactive drama envisioned to
transform spectators as performers.
Boal began his career with the
Arena Theatre in São Paulo in 1956; he was its director until 1971, during
which time he developed his theories. One of his tactics
involved the use of Invisible Theatre. Boal believed each individual possessed
the capacity to act in the theatre of
their own lives. These actors remain viewers as well as reactors, which carries forward the
possible direction for the project. He encouraged his audience to take part in
demonstrating their suggestions, eventually leading to
the term, spec-actors.
When made aware of the empowering
influence the practice often left on his audience, he was able to transform
theatre as a medium for fundamental activism. Unlike conventional theatre, his
practices allowed the audience, conjoined with the performers to provide space
to carry the performance in a variety of directions.
Jailed for his political activities, Augusto
Boal showed impressive commitment to the art and his efforts will always be
appreciated. His concepts contradict the idea
that theatre is merely naive entertainment, but rather, a potential to create a
new future together. Augusto Boal used to say “the theatre itself is not
revolutionary; it is a rehearsal for the revolution.”
A few observational takeaways from these
performances were that actors portray every-day people. There rarely
fantastical, mythological or unrealistic characters involved. Secondly, performers
are required to act casually and naturally – as if it were real life itself –
in order to sell the act.
must remain in character, completely regardless of the audience’s
interventions. Next, it is important to note that volume of dialogue is tricky.
While it is integral for the performers to be heard, it needs to be just enough
to attract attention without appearing staged. Lastly, improvisation is a
technique that plays an integral role in the presentation of Invisible Theatre.
Theatre of the Absurd
Established in the 1970’s, the Theatre of
the Absurd stated itself to be of, by and
for the people engaged in the struggle for liberation. It refers to a literary movement in drama popular
throughout Europe. Originating from post-world war two, it was written
largely by European writers dating back to the 1950s. It was largely influenced
by the political turmoil, scientific breakthrough, and social upheaval that
were going on in the world at the time. The
atrocities of WWII are considered influential events to the movement,
highlighting the precariousness of human existence.
Laughter and fantasy were a few of the many
tools utilized to satirize our absurd world. The absurd stands for that which is devoid of purpose. It is theatre
that seeks to represent the absurdity of human existence in a meaningless
universe by bizarre or fantastical means. It is drama that utilizes the
abandonment of conventional dramatic form; in order to portray the futility of
human struggle in a senseless world.
Theatre of the Absurd uses distorted, abstract or illogical speech as it
focuses on the philosophies of existentialism, frequently discussing the
meaning behind human existence and the purpose of life. These stories are
repeatedly based on a world without meaning, or the actors being controlled as
puppets by outside forces. It uses dark humor, with the use of repetitive
actions, cynical plots and parodies with attempts to dismiss reality.
Absurdist works rarely follow a
clear plot, and what action occurs serves only to heighten the sense that
characters (and human beings in general) are mere victims of unknown, arbitrary
forces beyond their control. Dialogue is often redundant, setting and passage
of time within the play unclear, and characters express frustration, confusion,
fury or resignation with deep, philosophical questions, such as the meaning of
life and death and the existence of God.
The absurdists suggest that
life is so illogical, just trying to make sense of it is absurd.
These playwrights adhered to the theories of
French-Algerian philosopher Albert Camus, in particular his essay The Myth of Sisyphus, published
in 1942. In this essay, Camus introduced his Philosophy of the Absurd, in which he
argues that man’s quest for meaning and truth is a futile endeavour; he
compares man’s struggle to understand the world and the meaning of life to Sisyphus, a famous figure in Greek Mythology condemned to an
existence of rolling a heavy stone up a mountain only to watch it roll to the bottom.
plays of Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, and Eugene Ionesco have been performed
with astonishing success in France, Germany, Scandinavia, and the
English-speaking countries. This reception is all the more puzzling when one
considers that the audiences concerned were amused by and applauded these
plays; whilst being fully aware that they could not understand what they meant
or what their authors were driving at.
A few key elements in absurdists performances
were that plays categorized in this movement typically represent human
existence as nonsensical and often chaotic. Additionally, absurdist works
rarely follow a clear plot, and whatever little action occurs, serves only to
heighten the sense that characters (and human beings in general) are mere
victims of unknown, arbitrary forces beyond their control. Thirdly, dialogue is
often redundant; and lastly, the setting and passage of time within the play
Becket was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre
director, and poet, who lived in Paris for most of his adult life. He wrote
in both English and French and is considered one of the last modernist writers. He was also one of the key
figures in what Martin Esslin called the Theatre of the Absurd.
Beckett’s work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human existence, often coupled
with black comedy and gallows
humour. Early on, he realized his writing had to be subjective, coming from his
personal beliefs and experiences. He became increasingly minimalist in his later career but his work
always served to break conventional boundaries through the form of
setting in order to display characters and objects from an unexpected
In one his most famous works – Act Without Words, Becket was possibly
depicting the correlation of one’s various materialistic wants and their
inability to achieve it. This often leaves them completely restless and
His work could also be interpreted as an impossibility
of escaping fate. The mime presents a number of possible interpretations – and
this makes a statement in itself. The piece provides his audience with the
illusion of choice, reflecting how every opportunity is a possibility; but nothing
work is filled with allusions to other writers. Beckett’s plays are not written
along traditional lines with conventional plot and time and place references.
Instead, he focuses on essential elements of the human condition in dark,
He is best known for a piece called Waiting for Godot – his most
controversial work so far. The characters of the play are strange caricatures with
difficulty communicating the simplest of concepts to one another as they bide
their time awaiting the arrival of Godot. The language they use is often
Following the cyclical patter, the play seems to
end in precisely the same condition it began, with no absolutely real change
having occurred. In fact, Waiting for
Godot is sometimes referred to as the
play where nothing happens.
Reflect upon how each form distorts, abstracts or blends
space and time
to mislead the audience
Invisible Theatre attempts to ‘distort’ a
viewer’s perception of space and time as it’s purpose is to mislead the
audience into believe the performance enacted was their real life. It is an
extremely abstract form of theatre, because the spectators are unaware of the
existence of the performance itself.
It uses the surrounding areas as a stage, unlike
methodical theatre, usually set on a in an auditorium with an audience watching
the performance. Invisible Theatre misleads the viewer into believing the rehearsed
event was a daily example of social injustice.
The performers are required to be more aware than
ever of the space in which they are performing. They have to keep in mind the
audience and judge their responses accordingly.
Each actor and unwitting audience often leaves
the situation feeling a tangled mess of emotions. This distorts their
perceptions toward the incident that just occurred – as after they react, they
often reconsider their response as they can analyse how helpful it was by
reflecting upon the situation.
A vital aspect of Invisible Theatre is the
audience’s participation. The element of spontaneity and
unexpectedness blends interactions between the audience and spectators was
natural, and what was scripted.
Conversely, the Theatre of the Absurd adopts
usage of abstract imagery and ideals. This is done in an attempt to ridicule
common notions, effectually blending what is commonly accepted as the purpose
of the human life with existentialism.
Absurd Theatre came into being around post WWII
times. The harsh realities of everyday life and the terse political and social
atmosphere played an important role in sparking the concept of this kind of
theatre. It is a prime example of how a distorted cultural climate in society
can influence its citizens.
Absurd Theatre serves to feature the absurdity
of human nature through extremely repetitive, disjointed, meaningless or
confusing situations. Absurd Theatre has plots lacking logical and realistic
development; depicted through highly distorted speech and dialogue.