Invisible theater

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Invisible theater or “hidden theater” was developed by communist theater groups in the 1920s and 1930s and rediscovered by Augusto Boal in the 1960s for the situation of the Brazilian military dictatorship. It is a political or artistic form of action , which is about not staging plays on a stage , but in public places without the knowledge of the audience . The invisible theater is one of the methods of the theater of the oppressed and is a common form of street theater .

But there are also forms of “invisible theater” that are only intended to make the audience feel insecure and have a provocative character and are among the methods of communication guerrilla. The "hidden theater" is also associated with Dario Fo , because some of his plays are very suitable for this form of theater and he was involved in such actions.


There is no stage in the invisible theater. Any location can become a stage. The spectators do not know that they are spectators and that a theater is being played; they initially experience the event as a normal everyday situation. Only the “right” actors know, but the audience is included as actors in the play - without their knowledge. Likewise, the actors become spectators who watch the actions of the actual audience. There is a written text for the actors, the conflict situation is clear from the start, and it has to be planned down to the last detail, not only with regard to the scene and the actors; the possible reactions of the audience must also be anticipated and planned so that the actors are as well prepared as possible and can continue the drama quickly and authentically. As a rule, public places with a large number of people are chosen as the performance location in order to secure the necessary audience. The purpose of this theater is not chaos, but to direct the view towards certain goals.

Invisible theater is subversive in the sense that it questions existing social orders and habits. The goal setting is mostly politically or socially critical, in the original Boal form as a hidden, but still visible expression of protest.

An example illustrates the purpose of the invisible theater: It is the premiere night of an event, a thin man with torn clothes sadly walks past the elegant men and women and looks at them. Other actors are inconspicuous. As the crowd moves to take their places, the skinny man collapses. This happens in slow motion in order to attract everyone's attention: First he mimics malaise, looks for support on the wall, asks for help and then sinks to the floor. Some people may come to his aid. After a "doctor" appears, the other actors talk about misery reports in the daily newspapers and about famines in Africa. Then the doctor makes his diagnosis: a fit of weakness because the man would probably not have eaten for days. Some actors then ask the visitors to provide their tickets to buy the man some groceries. They list everything that could be bought for a ticket: how much meat, salad, eggs, etc. The aim is for each viewer to convert the price of their premiere ticket into meat, salad, eggs, etc., and each individual is asked whether it is he really needs to spend his money on the same arias over and over instead of donating it to poorer families. Then it is calculated out loud how much you can buy of each food. Not all visitors donate something, but they have been exposed in front of everyone and may have been made to think.


  • Augusto Boal, Marina Spinu (ed.): Theater of the oppressed. Exercise and games for actors and non-actors . Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt / M. 1996, ISBN 3-518-11361-5 .
  • Henry Thorau: Invisible Theater . Alexander Verlag, Berlin / Cologne 2013, ISBN 978-3-89581-276-7 .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. on this: Fritz Letsch: Dictionary of Theater Pedagogy Invisible Theater
  2. See on this: A. Boal / M. Spinu (ed.): Theater of the oppressed