Forum Theatre: a tool in social development
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I want to talk to you today about taking action and making changes. We all know most of the problems we are confronted with, but we never do anything about it.
Why? Maybe because we weren’t taught how to make changes and so we can’t see where they can take place or/and what we actually can do. This way, we end up frustrated and disappointed with humanity, not even imagining what we can do to heal the wounds it created.
But lately I found a possible solution to this issue, and last week, I even experienced it. It is called Forum Theatre. You may have heard of it, or not, but I want to tell you about it.
So, what it is?
Forum Theatre has, as its name states, two parts: the Theatre and the Forum. The first one aims to present a problem or difficult situation encountered by a certain community (it can be a town, an high school or youth in a country) and the second one is about solving the problem with help from the spectators.
For example, I was in a camp with 4-500 students from all over my country, aged 11-19 and I worked in a team of 5 actors and a teacher to present to the interested ones a Forum Theatre play. We focused on the problems we have encountered, because we had to be familiar with it, to easily relate to it. Also, we tried to choose from the difficult situations we knew students in Romania were part of. In the end, we chose discrimination based on clothes, make-up and physical appearance, in general.
We first played for 10 minutes, showing protagonists of this issue provoking and living it. Of course, it ended badly. Next, we started playing again and when the audience felt there was something to change, they could clap and come on stage, playing the role of one of us for 2 minutes or so. Often, the spectator would change the character in order to help solve the issue and to change the course of action. Then, the audience voted the change to be realistic or not, and if it was, the actor in that role had to keep the spectator’s attitude. And at the end of the play, the issue has been solved.
Why is it helpful?
There’s a lot to answer to this question. Firstly, because it helps raise awareness of what each one of us is capable of. When you see on stage, the injustice taking place and you know that those characters are puppets in your hands, you start thinking about how they could be changed to help the victim. You may find yourself, in real life, being like one of these characters, and this way, you experience and learn what you can, with your own powers, do.
Secondly, the play also contains some neutral characters, initially not being part of the issue. But you, as the spectator, can change them and make them act to solve the situation presented in the play. This way, Forum Theatre, points out less-known problems and helps you envisage what you are capable of, even if you are not involved directly in the issue.
In the end, Forum Theatre is about changing attitudes. About leading people from: “I don’t know what to do.” and “Not my business” to “I can actually do something” and “I have something to say about it”.
What about you? Have you ever watched or ever played in a Forum Theatre play? If not, are you interested in it?
A cool video of a Forum Theatre play, just to capture the idea:
The posted photo is owned by myself.