A convention in which the members of a group use their bodies to make an image or picture capturing an idea, theme, or moment in time, also called a group sculpture or freeze-frame or still image.

What makes an effective tableau?

  • Focus – each member of the group should be focused on the moment.  No movement.  No talking.  Your freeze should last for at least 5 seconds.
  • Expectation – the audience should want to know what is going to happen next.  Make the scene exciting.
  • Levels – levels will help establish power in a scene.  Higher levels = higher status.  Use different levels to establish a center for your tableau.
  • Expression­ – use every part of the body to create the mood for your tableau.  Don’t forget about facial expressions.
  • Timing – make sure that the tableau is held long enough for the audience to absorb everything in the picture (a good suggestion is a minimum of 7 seconds).  The timing of your tableaux can add to the mood you wish to create.  All members of the group should break the tableau at the same time.
  • Clarity – the object of a tableau is to show your audience something, not to make them guess what they are seeing.  Make each tableau clear and understandable.
  • Placement – be aware of your audience.  Each part of your tableau should be visible to the audience.  Make sure nothing is lost because you are hidden by another actor.
  • Practice – rehearse what you are going to present and make sure that everyone knows what they are doing and where they are supposed to be.
Tableau: Types, History, Tips & Tricks
Tableau: Types, History, Tips & Tricks

What are transitions?

  • Tableau presentations are usually made up of more than one image.  This allows the audience to get a clearer picture of what you are saying.  Transitions are the spaces between each individual tableau.  Here are just a few suggestions for transitions:
  • A complete break from character and purposeful movement into the next pose.
  • Slow-motion movement into the next pose.
  • Blackout (not recommended)
  • Add and subtract – remove one part of the tableau at a time adding a new element to the scene.

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