Study Guide Lesson 5

DVD Feature: Shadow Play
Chapter 5: Adrian's Ghost


Immigration Themes: Why borders exist, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and History of the US/ Mexico Border, Mexican wrestlers (El Santo), citizenship

General Themes: Stereotypes, Bullying, personal challenges, personal goal setting, making healthy life choices

Arts Expression: Personal Writing and Reflection, Group and Process Based Theater Activities 

Stereotypes: Fixed impressions including exaggerated or preconceived ideas about particular social groups, usually based solely on physical appearance

‘La Migra’: The Mexican term referring to officers of the U.S. Border Patrol who sought to arrest and deport illegal aliens. (

American Citizen: Citizenship in the United States is a legal marker denoting political membership in the United States that entails specific rights, privileges, and duties. Citizenship is understood as a "right to have rights" since it serves as a foundation for a bundle of subsequent rights, such as the right to live and work in the United States and to receive federal assistance. (

Ethnicity: Belonging to a group that shares the same characteristics such as country of origin, language, religion, ancestry and culture

Race: A concept used to categorize people into groups based on socially selected physical traits (often skin color). Although there are no proven biological markers for race, the social meaning that people have attached to it is significant

Bullying: Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. []

Bystander: A person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part. When bullying is taking place, helpful bystanders directly intervene or get help, and hurtful bystanders encourage, join or passively accept the behavior. [

This lesson explores stereotypes of immigrants in the United States by addressing student’s personal stories and experiences of judgment and misrepresentation. It includes performance and process based activities using Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed methodologies, in particular Forum Theater.

Theater of the Oppressed Background: 
The Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) was developed by Brazilian theatre director Augusto Boal during the 1950's and 1960's. In an effort to transform theatre from the "monologue" of traditional performance into a "dialogue" between audience and stage, Boal experimented with many kinds of interactive theatre. His explorations were based on the assumption that dialogue is the common, healthy dynamic between all humans, and that all human beings desire and are capable of dialogue, and that when a dialogue becomes a monologue, oppression ensues. Theatre then becomes an extraordinary tool for transforming monologue into dialogue. "While some people make theatre," says Boal, "we all are theatre." [© Douglas L. Paterson, Founding Director of Center for the Theatre of the Oppressed, Omaha Nebraska]    

●     Masking tape
●     “Adrian’s Ghost” Video of Play
●     “Adrian’s Ghost” Documentary Film Segment (optional)
●     Space without furniture to accommodate movement and theater activities
●     Digital SLR camera (still photography) 


This is an activity that builds diversity awareness within a group. The goals of this activity include helping participants learn about themselves and their classmates, while unveiling differences and similarities they share that may or may not have been obvious to them in the past.

Have students stand in a line on one side of the room, and make a line with masking tape on the floor in front of them.  Standing off to the side so as to not be the center of attention, instruct the group that this activity is “a workshop where we find ways in which we are both different from and similar to each other.” Keep it vague and be careful not to over describe it.

Instruct students that you will call out specific prompts, and all those who fit the description should walk across the line to the other side of the room and turn around, facing the rest of the group. As an example, name a category that only you would fit, and then walk to the other side of the room, and turn around. This is a silent activity that requires listening and respect. You should also let students know that there is no pressure at all - if for any reason they are uncertain about sharing something about themselves, they should feel comfortable not crossing the room.

Warm up prompts

(Feel free to create your own that you think fits your students best!):

“Cross the line if you...

●      ...take public transportation to school.”

●       ...have more than one sibling.” 

●      ...speak a language other than English at home.”

Content specific prompts

(These prompts are meant to spark ideas to be further explored after screening Adrian’s Ghost - depending on how much time you have, choose from the list below.)

“Cross the line if...

● have ever been judged on the basis of how you look or dress.”

● have ever been judged on the basis of the language you speak or your accent (how you talk).”

● have ever been judged because you live in a certain neighborhood or on a particular block.”

● have ever been judged because of who makes up your family or what your family looks like.”

● spoke up when something wasn’t right and people around you told you to be quiet or gave you a hard time for it.”

● can remember a time when you witnessed something that was wrong and you didn’t say or do anything at all to make it right.”


Discuss the following to debrief to the activity. Remind students this is a time to continue to listen respectfully and speak only for/ about you.

●      How did this activity feel? 

●      What did you notice or learn from participating in it? What stood out to you most?


“Adrian’s Ghost” video of play


Discuss the vocabulary words and their definitions listed in this lesson.

After talking through the terms, ask students to think back to the cross the line activity and journal write for 10-15 minutes on the following prompt:

Think of a time when someone made a strong assumption about you. How did it make you feel? Did it affect how you see yourself or how others perceived you? If so, how? 

Students should hold onto their writing, as it will be useful material after the following warm up theater activities.


This warm up theater activity requires an open space without furniture. Have students spread out throughout the room with space to move around. In this exercise all of the students are participating at once. Tell the students that they will be moving through the space in different ways and to put all of their physical and theatrical energy into their movement. This exercise helps the students combine exaggerated movement with theater, and prepare them for creating dance/theater work. The following is a sample list of ways that they can move that are done either in slow motion or in regular time, for no more than 20 seconds each. Transitions between the different ways of moving happen when the facilitator says something like: “Freeze. Now, all of a sudden you are...” Music can be played in the background during this exercise.

• Walk around the room like:

– You’re being followed

– You’re in a hurry

– You’re a police officer on a night shift

– You’re being chased/followed by a police officer

– You’re crawling through Jell-O

– You’re crawling through chocolate syrup

• You’re walking through a jungle with a machete in one hand and trying to keep the leaves out of your face with the other (feel free to add an encounter with an insect, reptile, or an animal).

• You’re walking on another planet where there is no gravitational pull


Break students up into small groups and ask them to share their writings on a time when someone made a strong assumption about them and how if affected them. After all students have shared their writing with the group, instruct students to create human sculptures or frozen scenes that depict these moments. Each student will have an opportunity to be the “sculptor” and mold the other students in their group like “clay” into poses and expressions that reflect their dream and challenges. Provide each student three minutes to create his or her sculpture and then move on to the next student.

Sculpting guidelines: Sculpting should be done quickly. The images can be realistic, abstract, concrete or symbolic. There are no wrong images! The sculpting process happens in silence, and the sculptor needs to be extremely respectful and gentle in the way they move “the clay”. She/he should be considerate about where she/he put her/his hands, and when it comes to sculpting the facial expression, the sculptor can demonstrate what they are looking for and have the clay imitate the expression. Sculptors should avoid touching the clay’s face.


When all students have had an opportunity to mold their memory into a human sculpture, each group can share out their sculptures. One at a time, call groups up to the front of the room and ask each student to silently re-mold their sculptures for the class. After viewing all sculptures from each group, invite the class to guess what each sculpture represents and ask questions.

Then, invite students from ‘the audience’ to come up and gently shift or change the sculpture shape to be one that represents a response to the stereotype or assumption it represents. This response may be of any kind, but can include self-empowerment or renewal. Invite the class to guess again what each sculpture means and discuss how the idea has shifted. What is the new sculpture's message?

Photograph the human sculptures in both stages for display in the classroom. Thank the group for their openness and participation. 

Teacher Note: If there is more of an interest in introducing a more performance based experience with this lesson, use playback theater, and improvisational theater technique also based in Theater of the Oppressed. Consider the following activity as an alternative.

I. Review with students what happened when Adrian was being pressured by the border patrol agent to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to ‘prove’ he was a citizen of the United States. Mundo, his friend, stood by while the officer was bullying Adrian. Invite students to consider a new ending to this moment in the story by reflecting on times when they witnessed bullying and either stood up for the person being bullied or remained a bystander.

II. Share the definitions of bullying, bystander and ally from the vocabulary list in this lesson. Make the connection that sometimes bullying can originate from stereotyping or discrimination.

III. Have students reenact the bullying incident from “Adrian’s Ghost”, and also perhaps other incidents of bullying or discrimination that they witnessed in their own lives, and invite them to propose a new ending to the scenario. How could Mundo have been a better ally to Adrian?

In Other News Today/ Additional Resources

Explore the concept with students that everyone besides Native Americans in North America are immigrants. Read the following article as a class and review public comments for discussion.

Obama's 'Native American' Reference During Immigration Speech Sparks Bering Strait Twitter Surge

Discuss the Arizona Laws and other similar state legislation that has taken effect across the United States, including the federal program Secure Communities

Bullying Resources for Teachers:

"Cyberbullying: The Definitive Guide"