This week had someone asking us if forum theatre meant we had to perform our drama workshops in a forum theatre space, so we thought we would try and explain some of the terms thats we take for granted which other people may not know the meaning of.
Forum theatre was created by the innovative and influential practitioner Augusto Boal as part of his “Theatre of the Oppressed.” Originally the technique was developed by Boal as a tool for political change but since then it has been widely adapted and used in educational and training contexts.
A scene is shown, usually containing some kind of oppression, for example Act On Info would show a scene during an anti-bullying drama workshop showing someone being bullied or an adult training session showing bad practise at work. We would show this scene twice. During the replay, with we ask the audience to put up their hands when they see behaviour that they do not agree with and the facilitator would shout stop. The actors freeze at this point, we describe it like pressing pause on a DVD. We use these freezes to take a deeper look at what is going on in the scene, the facial expressions, body language and emotions of the characters in the scene.
The facilitator would then ask for suggestions as to how the audience would change the characters behaviour, and invite the audience to volunteer to take the role of the characters to see how effective their suggestions are. Different suggestions can be tried out by different volunteers showing how they could change the situation to create a different outcome. This way of working breaks down barriers between the audience and the situation – it puts them directly in the action and enables them to try out alternate ways of behaving in a safe environment that they can then apply to their own lives or work. This is why it is such an effective learning tool.
We use forum theatre in many of our drama workshops for more details click here.