Playing the Game of Power at the Campbell Club

A few days ago I had the opportunity to facilitate at the Campbell Club again, this time using Augusto Boal’s Game of Power. In the Game of Power, we use image theater to explore how we and others exert power-over in social situations. While I usually offer this game as part of my Exploring Leadership, Power, and Consensus, workshop, it can stand quite well on its own.

The object is to create a situation where one chair has all the power.

The object of the first half of the game is to arrange six chairs, a table, and a water bottle so that one chair has all the power. The game is done in silence. While many scenes are quite obvious (like the one above), others leave one to ponder. Some scenes will be ones we know of through the media, but others will hit deep visceral chords.

The second part of the game involves taking the position of most power in a scene. Each additional person has to find that place of power, responding to whatever is in the scene before them. The larger the group, the more creative the last few folks have to be. But there’s always a way to take power.

At the Campbell club the game started off very different than at many communities–from the beery beginning the scenes were intensely political. In fact, the more obvious (yet often subtle) student-teacher and parent-children arrangements that most groups start out with were entirely left out. Instead we had street scenes, clear scarcity of resources, and other highly geo-political scenes. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times or perhaps that’s what you get with keenly aware students, but it was very different than working on the intentional community or permaculture circuit.

We didn’t play long enough to get into the subtler aspects of the game–that will come next time when we get a change to do the full LPC workshop. But this was a great taster and the folks who hadn’t worked with this kind of material yet got excited to do more.

Playing the Game of Power in Maui

Using statues in the Game of Power

The Campbell Club, one of the three student housing co-ops at the UofO, is a fantastic place to be, both in terms of just hanging out and in terms of working with participants that are deeply engaged with what’s going on in the world today and excited to make change.

The purpose of the game? For me, it’s creating an understanding of how we use power to get our way when functioning in group dynamics. Once we understand that, we can then move towards creating dynamics that are more power-with than power-over or under. That’s why it’s an especially powerful game when placed in the context of learning how to do healthy leadership, power-with, and true consensus. (Hence my LPC workshop.)

Want to explore leadership, power, and consensus in your own community? Email info @ All workshops are offered on a gift economy. This particular workshop works great with any group who really cares about improving their interpersonal dynamics and/or helping to our culture to one of power-with than power-over. Come play with us!



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