Tableau vivant


A tableau vivant is a group of people in a carefully crafted, still composition, arranged to represent an idea, scene or moment. For example you may want to depict a scene from a novel or play that you are reading in class. You could create several tableaux for your portfolio entry, from different scenes or moments in a text, showing your understanding of multiple parts of the text. For your portfolio entry, you may work in groups and submit identical entries. Be sure to make photographs of your scenes / tableaux. You can wear costumes. For each photograph that you take, write an analysis or rationale, which explains why you placed the characters or figures in this composition in this way, showing these expressions. Your WHY, HOW and SO WHAT may include between 50 and 1,500 words, depending on your aims.

Model portfolio entry

WHAT: Here is the tableau vivant that we created. We wanted to explore the very violent scene on page 42 of The Bluest Eye, in which Mrs. Breedlove hits her husband, Cholly, with a stove lid. I am Sammy, the son, shouting 'Kill him! Kill him.' Alex is Mrs. Breedlove, who is striking Cholly with two silencing blows, after she threw cold water on him for not getting coal to heat their house. He is too lazy and drunk and Mrs. Breedlove won't stand for it any longer. Sammy, the son, has no respect for his father and wants to see him killed.


WHY: We decided on this passage and scene, because it says a lot about the Breedloves. They do not breed love. Rather, they breed hate. And they fight frequently. This scene is part of a larger chapter that describes their ugliness. It seems that their ugliness is not only a physical feature, but it also describes their family relationships. They seem to be in a downward spiral, which is important for the reader to understand. Morrison seems to show how they are caught in web where ugliness begets ugliness, poverty begets poverty and violence begets violence.  

HOW: We decided on this passage because we all thought that it was easy to act out. It had so much action! We had only read up to the end of chapter 1 (Autumn) and agreed quite quickly that this scene would work best. We Googled the phrase tableau vivant to get an idea of what it meant.

SO WHAT: I found this activity short, fun and meaningful. I worked with two classmates whom I usually don't work with, but it worked out all right. I'd like to do more of these in class in the future.


This activity is good for working together with others to talk about your understanding of a passage from a novel or play. Do this to help you visualise a scene or character.

Last modified: Sunday, 21 April 2024, 1:28 PM