Rainbow of Desire

As a Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) practitioner, I have found myself most attracted to the techniques of Rainbow of Desire, the term used to refer to Boal's body of "therapeutic" techniques. These techniques (also colloquially referred to as cop-in-the-head techniques), which focus on internalized oppressors, are the ones that best demonstrate the merits of ambiguity and imprecision. They tend to exploit Boal's notion of resonance [Boal 1995: 69]. Within the aesthetic language that he created, Boal discusses his notions of identification, recognition, and resonance.


When presented with an image, identification occurs when someone can say, "I am exactly like that" [68]. The viewer's own personality animates the image being seen.


In recognition, one says, "This is not me, but I know who he is, I know people like him" [97]. In these instances, the mobilizing factor is knowledge of an other he or she knows well.


Resonance is the most diffuse of the relationships between person and image, but in Boal's lexicon, of no less import. Resonance encompasses a wide range of reactions inspired through a range of feelings and emotions and associations that can only be vaguely delineated. When relating through resonance, ambiguity and imprecision are foregrounded and given as much pedagogical, therapeutic, and pragmatic value as identification and recognition. Boal employs resonance in order to exploit the ambivalences and polysemies that mingle with our perceptions of an event. There are times when superpositions, double meanings, the nebulous, and the hidden guide our senses to an understanding that would otherwise remain indiscernible. It is a way of allowing approximation to steer us out of the oppression of overdetermined categories whether they be of racial, sexual, criminal, or medical types. A way of allowing us to recognize ourselves in others who are positioned in more or less privileged groupings with more or less power to determine the boundaries of those very groupings.

My favorites include Kaleidoscopic Image, Circuit of Rituals and Rashomon.