20 Better?


Better? brings together themes that we have explored in all of the scenes thus far. Because of this, we think that it makes an excellent final scene and can be used as a way of helping learners synthesize their learning from this workshop.

In this scene we use the Image Theatre technique as a person tries to re-sculpt statues for the sake of making them ‘better.’ But what does it really mean to be better? This scene invites exploration of possible motivations behind making things better and raises the question “Better: for whom?”

Topic Risk Level: Low to High
Dramatic Skill Difficulty: Low

In our experience, depending on both the group and the jokering techniques that are used, participating in this scene could be low to high topic risk.

Watch the Scene:

Facilitation and Jokering

Image Theatre

  • Create a new sculpture and have learners re-sculpt to make it ‘better’, articulating and questioning the rationale behind every choice.
    • Discuss the choices people made for changing certain positions or expressions to make the statue better.
    • For the person being the statue, did you feel any better based upon how you were re-sculpted?

Initiating Questions

  1. What are the implicit assumptions that underpin what is ‘better’?
  2. Why might something be perceived as better than something else?
  3. How does power play into who gets to decide what is better and what is not?
  4. Who gets to decide what is better for an individual? Who gets to decide about what is ‘better’ for a society as a whole?
  5. Are there limits to individual choice? Do individuals always have the right to decide what is better for themselves?
  6. What happens when what is perceived as ‘better’ for one person is potentially harmful for another? How do our collective responsibilities contribute to deciding what is better? What happens when individual rights and freedoms appear to collide with collective responsibilities?
  7. Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, philosopher and Holocaust survivor. In his bestselling book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Frankl chronicles his beliefs that freedom must be tempered by responsibility. He writes “That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast” (Frankl, 1963, p. 209-210). What do you think such a  statue might look like?
  8. What are different ways that the phrase “for whom?” could be interpreted? How does this interpretation change the way we interpret this scene?

Facilitators who choose to use this scene should be prepared for discussion and opinions about how collective responsibilities relate to individual rights. This can be a very emotionally charged and contentious discussion. We provide some readings that may useful to combine with this scene.

Mahlin, M. (2010). Individual patient advocacy, collective responsibility and activism within professional nursing associations. Nursing Ethics, 17(2), 247-254.

Looker, K. J., & Hallett, T. B. (2006). Individual freedom versus collective responsibility: too many rights make a wrong?. Emerging Themes in Epidemiology, 3(1), 1-3.

Loewenson, R., Accoe, K., Bajpai, N., Buse, K., Abi Deivanayagam, T., London, L., … & van Rensburg, A. J. (2020). Reclaiming comprehensive public health. BMJ global health, 5(9), e003886.

Spotlight on Jokering:

Watch the conclusion of a virtual workshop and the jokering of this scene in the video below.


Haunting our Biases: Using Participatory Theatre to Interrupt Implicit Bias Copyright © 2022 by Kevin Hobbs; Michael Martin Metz; Nadia Ganesh; Sheila O'Keefe-McCarthy; Joe Norris; Sandy Howe; and Valerie Michaelson. All Rights Reserved.

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