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Forum Theatre

Forum Theatre originates from Augusto Boal's work developing 'The Theatre of the Oppressed' with communities, particularly in South America.  The objective of Boal's process is to move people from being passive observers into actively taking part in how things should be and ultimately empower them to take a greater amount of control over their lives.  In its more commercial form it can be used to develop buy-in to business change, empower people to take control of their own learning and continual development, it can also be used to develop new behaviours, adjust and develop existing behaviours and raise confidence to apply new behaviours within the workplace.  Forum Theatre is also a very powerful tool to use within Development Centres, as it focuses on the new behaviours relevant to the skills development being carried out. 

It is a process that uses improvisation and role-play to allow groups of participants to experience interactive role-play through observation. Teams are chosen and each team will control one of the characters involved in the role-play (usually an actor but can be a team member). Thus each team can have valuable input into the role-play action. The scene can be stopped, rewound, have its direction changed, character motives adjusted, language revised and body language focused.

This allows each team and their constituent members to try out a wide range of approaches, techniques and ideas on specific interactions between specific characters. It can explore the effects that certain decisions and actions of a person can have on others and can be targeted to address specific themes. It allows the group to be split up into appropriate teams to discuss the situation and the possible values they need to communicate to their character. It is a dynamic process that can raise a wide range of issues to be explored and discussed and can be linked to discussion and reflective elements so that reassessment can occur.

Forum theatre is a process is particularly useful when working in groups that, because of their size, may not allow everyone to experience the role-play process. They are also useful if groups find role-playing threatening as they are not required to get up and role-play. It can be a good beginning that introduces role-play and the benefits and gets people used to the types of dynamics involved, so that eventually, they will find the direct use of role-play less intimidating.

For an example of how Forum Theatre can be applied please have a look at the diagram showing how we apply its use in Development Centres.

Contact Nigel Higgs to discuss how Forum Theatre could work in practice for your organisation.

Actors Mean Business Ltd, 6 Penns Lane, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, UK, B72 1BD
Tel: 0121 350 1112   Email: Nigel@actorsmeanbusiness.co.uk