forum theatre

“Theatre is a form of knowledge; it should and can also be a means of transforming society. Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it.” Augusto Boal

Forum theatre derives from the work of Brazilian man Augusto Boal, a theater practitioner, drama theorist, and political activist. The strategy uses theatre as a tool to engage and to provoke thought and discussion by breaking through the barrier between performers and audience. It enables participants to try out courses of action which could be applicable to their everyday lives. Originally the technique was developed by Boal as a political tool for change but has been widely adapted for use in educational contexts.

Training etc.uses forum theatre for the same outcome – to engage audiences/participants and provoke thought and discussion. It uses reflective narrative to reflect the audience’s current experience and then asks the audience to rewrite the narrative to create a different outcome. The process is often as important as the finished product. Here is a rough guide for the process:

Step 1 – BRIEF

We meet with the client to understand the objectives of the planned training or event.  This will involve understanding context as well as any barriers to the learning objectives and any content earmarked for inclusion.

Step 2 – PROPOSAL

We send a proposal to the client outlining program and costs.

Step 3 – RESEARCH

We conduct research through interviews with major stakeholders including some of the participants to whom the training is being delivered. The purpose is to understand the range of issues and perspectives. Confidentiality is ensured to allow people to speak freely and honestly and get to the heart of the issues.

Step 4 – DEVELOPMENT

Using material from the research we write a short play (average length 15-20mins) reflecting the diversity of opinions and perspectives expressed. While the characters and conversations in the play are fictional, they reflect the real views of the people interviewed. Great care is taken to protect the anonymity of the interviewees.

Other relevant program content also designed at this point to compliment forum theatre e.g. theory, models, activities, etc.

All content development is done in collaboration with client and interviewees to ensure relevance and accuracy.

Step 5 – CONSULT & APPROVAL

We consult with the interviewees and the client and make any necessary adjustments to the script and seek sign off for script and other program content.

Step 6 – REHEARSAL

Training etc. has a rehearsal with the actors. Client is welcome to attend a run through of the forum theatre piece. Typically this rehearsal would be for ½ or 1 day duration. The number of actors is determined by the budget and the number of different perspectives that need to be expressed in the forum theatre piece.

Step 7 – DELIVERY

Delivery can be discussed in detail with consultant. Delivery is adjusted to match the learning outcomes of the audience/participant. Numbers can vary between 10 and 200 people. The length of the session can be between 2 hours and 2 days. Forum Theatre is flexible enough to be adjusted to suit almost any program.