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GALLERY 2010/2011


Global Invisible Theatre


Description of campaign/project

Global Invisible Theatre is a strategy and technique that subverts Market-style communication and offers participants a way to escape capitalist social reality and to viscerally challenge its manipulative and dehumanizing modus operandi. Global Invisible Theatre is a user-based concept whereby co-operating players can challenge oppressive situations through dramatic interventions and the creation of alternative realities.

We selected “COPPERTONE JAM” as a project to illustrate how the technique works. In this case a community street fair inside a historic site (where supposedly “intrusive elements must be minimal”) was somehow infiltrated by a highly manipulative piece of Stealth Marketing (presented by Coppertone Sun Screen). A tent full of marketers costumed as doctors and nurses advised passers-by that they might have skin cancer, and hence should be photographed for “skin damage”. The result of the test was always the same – people were advised to use Coppertone Sun Screen to protect their damaged skin. The “market culture and its devices” had somehow co-opted a community event in a historic site to take advantage of people’s health fears with their dramatic performance of doctors testing skin and recommending Coppertone. All of this corporate manipulation, really a form of psychological harassment, was done to promote questionable, and even dangerous, products.

In response, we at the Optative Theatrical Laboratories devised an Invisible Theatre scenario to challenge the corporate Coppertone Stealth Marketing scene. We invented our own characters, gathered a team of videographers, and created a counter-hegemonic script to their corporate message. Re-appropriating the Stealth Marketing technique to criticize the unethical corporate methodology and the dangerous product, our dramatic team of players conducted a theatrical intervention to expose the situation. To amplify our critique, we applied cultural production techniques and added our counter-memes into the Global Invisible Theatre matrix we are developing.

Using “COPPERTONE JAM” as an example, we have created a video to illustrate how the Global Invisible Theatre technique works to destabilize and overturn the “market culture and its devices”.

We begin with the premise that Market-style communication is inherently theatrical; in order to jam it, we re-appropriate dramatic expression as a tool for intervention. We create a piece of Invisible Theatre and proceed to infiltrate their performance, overturning their original intentions to expose them and question their product and unethical approach. Performance activist techniques such as culture-jamming, Viral Theatre, Sousveillance Theatre, meme-warfare, Radical Dramaturgy, Electronic Disturbance Theater, and ontological shock are often used before, during, and after the intervention.
The intervention is always recorded as a form of cultural production, and after being edited and remixed into blogs, online videos, and other mediums, it is then broadcast globally over the internet to expose and critique the “market culture and its devices”, and to inspire activists elsewhere to consider similar approaches. The Invisible Theatre performance, now mutated and online, continues to haunt Market-style communications, multiplying the critique. When this is made accessible online and connected to other networks, it essentially becomes a piece in the Global invisible Theatre, a matrix of similar players, projects, techniques and interventions.
This form of radical communication is designed to “theatrically challenge hegemonic thinking and oppressive systems”. It is theatrical in that it involves role-playing and creating dramatic alternative realities, whereas it can also challenge oppressive thinking, environments and situations. It is also inclusive, sustained and viral. Projects involve the collaboration of many players, often have lengthy durations (or are permanent), and can spread virally to include networks of other players or inspire similar radical dramatic interventions and communications elsewhere.

Firstly, Global Invisible Theatre empowers people by giving them theatrical tools to detect and potentially challenge oppressive situations on personal, social, and cultural levels.

Secondly, Global Invisible Theatre exposes the illusions of Market-style communication, both in terms of the medium (such as Stealth Marketing) and the product (such as Coppertone). In exposing such unethical corporate methodologies, spectators are taught to think critically, reject market-style communications, and to seek ethical non-corporate alternatives.

Thirdly, a global network of players is developing. As this network of dramatic cultural resistance grows, it’s capacity to challenge capitalist social reality and Market-style communication increases. In raising awareness, hopefully more people will demand protections for the mental environment.

Finally, while methods such as the Global Invisible Theatre are still in their infancy, within them exists a potential to subvert and overturn the entire consumer-capitalist structure and replace it with a human-centered alternative.

Creating the work was very rewarding. Instead of accepting the manipulative corporate performance in our historic site that was ruining our street festival, we challenged it viscerally using its own devices. The situation only confirmed the illusory nature of Market-style communication, but gave a satisfactory feeling of having détourned the “market culture and its devices” as signified by the COPPERTONE stealth marketing performance. The work gave me hope that if we continue to create more works like these, we may eventually convince politicians to protect our historic site. The site can be seen as a metaphor for the society, and if we succeed in protecting our site, maybe we can one day succeed in protecting our global mental environment.

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

Your proposed work is truly good. What I like very much in your proposed project “COPPERTONE JAM” is activation of the viewer or of the witness, the everyday people from the street. Such interface and interaction is the birth of the reader. And we know the reader is the one who think about, understand, consider and not only enjoy, get pleasure from or consume goods. Texts such as Barthes “The Dead of the Author”, Burger’s Theory of the Avangarde, and more recently Bourriaud’s “Relational Aesthetics”all point towards the concept of deconstructing the barrier between the viewer and the work which is close to the avant-garde goal of bringing art into everyday life. One of the pioneers was Allan Kaprow in US and Joseph Beuys in Europe, the artists who transform and change this subject. These artist were operating in the force-field between art and non art, between high art story and everyday popular culture, they were trying to achieve the transfiguration of the common place like wrote Artur C. Danto. For these artists in ‘60 and ’70 art should be a place where reality is reflected. In theirs views mediating between art and life or life and art count. But on the other hand we need the confrontation between the two, because these demonstrate and show the inner side of the society, how economy, politic rule. And you are not just pointing to it, I believe you are also make it understand and act different way.
Your explanation txt itself is as well very good. You obviously know what you are doing and you understand and reflect it and you present complex ‘common’ situation from different views. Economy today’s like you mention is “delivering people to the corporation” and you are illustrating how it’s work. You disorder everyday situation and wanted to achieve change. And I believe as is seen from the video that it’s happening. With “invisible theatre” you make thongs visible, you “providing new tools for detecting oppressions and challenging them”. I believe also that every day situations in society is a dramatic (economy, political, power …) game and battle and you are saying: ”drama is a powerful medium for enhanced expression and is ideal for making critiques”, which I agree and believe it is true.

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Entry details


Global Invisible Theatre


Donovan King explains Global Invisible Theatre using the Coppertone Jam to illustrate

Concept author(s)

Donovan King, Jay Lemieux

Concept author year(s) of birth

1972 (King) 1981 (Lemieux)

Concept author(s) contribution

The culture jam was conceived by Donovan King and Jay Lemieux. The video presentation was written by Donovan King and the Camera and Editing was done by Jay Lemieux.



Competition category


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

Theatre activism usually relating to consumerism, heritage & culture and anti-war causes. We are based in "The Plateau" area in Montreal but we have taken our work to numerous cities in Canada, United States and Europe.