The following exercises are helpful in deconstructing the play you choose to work on. It is an adaptation from one of Augusto Boal's workshops, where a story is told through photographic images.

The stories were romantic sagas where, in most cases, the son of the boss falls in love with one of the girls working in his factory. The genre was hugely popular in the early 1900s when women made up a large part of the work force. It allowed poor girls to dream and at the same time taught them to read. Not surprisingly, the foto-romanzo is an Italian invention.

I am using Aristophanes' comedy Lysistrata as an example of what I would highlight.

Five chairs, maybe a small table, placed randomly around the stage.
They are moved according to the needs of the image; to sit or stand on or to use as a barrier.
Props optional: a newspaper...

Break the story down to at least five photographic images that best describe the plot. Once the actors have decided which images they want to use they must find the best way to move from one to the next. 

The group decides how long it will take to get to each frame, with a couple of seconds pause on each image.
The actors must play both roles, male and female, back and forth.

Actors divide into two groups, husbands and wives

The groups first rehearse their images independently. Only after the movements are well rehearsed do they unite.


1- The actors form a line along the back of the stage depicting battle scenes in Greek pottery.
2- The tiring journey back to their wives.
3- They discover their wives have abandoned their homes to barricade themselves at the Citadel.
4- They look in the distance and see their wives at the citadel. They're outraged, confused, self-righteous and worried.
5- They gather outside the walls to convince the women to come home. They cajole, plead, bribe, threaten, moan or wallow in self-pity.
6- They agree to sign a peace accord, officiated by a mediator.
7- Official portrait.


The wives sit on the chairs or stand, staring in front of them, waiting for news of their husbands in a war that was lasting way longer than planned; dreading and at the same time resigned.

1- Lysistrata appears center stage, one woman stands and Lyistrata speaks to her.
2- The women place the chairs to one side of the stage, and exit.
3- They are back to put out a fire some old men set to get them out of the Citadel.
4- They see their husbands and form a wall.
5- Some women are tempted by their husband's words and the others have to hold them back, reminding why they are doing this. Capture the best image.
6- They put two chairs on one side, two on the other side and one in the center. Lysistrata invites the men to sit and sign.
7- Official portrait to document the agreement.

Choose an image, possibly the first but not necessarily, and improvise the scene. How does Lyisitrata convince the women to stop the wars between the Greek city-states. In how many ways can her friend react? Is she cautious, calling the plan too risky? Is she afraid of her husband's reaction? Lysistrata tells her they have no choice, otherwise all the men will come home dead or maimed.

Actor C, a spy, appears looking for directions with an imaginary map. How does C draw the attention of the two women?

C agrees with everything the two women say, and tries to find the right moment to ask for directions.
C disagrees with everything the women say.
The women solicit C, who tries to stay out of the conversation.

Variation: Several women are gathered, discussing the pros and cons. C appears looking for directions when in reality s/he has been hired by city officials to look into some rumors about an uprising. He is just pretending to be lost but the women quickly figure him out and catch him by the collar as he tries to leave.

One woman wants to burn him over a slow fire. What other punishments? Finally one woman wisely suggests they put the scoundrel safely in a locked room. C does not dare move and only shows his reactions to what is being said with his eyes.