Being civically engagedConsciously provides space for dialogue and interaction taking into account learners' valuesSkill to use the diversity of opinions and beliefs as a source of learningSupporting learners in developing critical thinking

Forum theatre

“A morally and civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate.” –Anne Colby and Thomas Ehrlich, introduction, to Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, edited by Thomas Ehrlich (Oryx Press, 2000)[1]. Civically responsible individuals involved in community or structured dialogue to contribute to a better society. EU is making large efforts to increase the structured dialogue. William N. Isaacs defined dialogue as ”a sustained collective inquiry into the process, assumptions, and certainties that compose everyday experience.”[2] Community dialogue can be in many forms. One tool for community dialogue is Forum theatre.

As a UNESCO-recognized educational tool for implementing social change, Forum Theater has been acknowledged as an effective method to trigger discussions around sensitive societal topics, such as oppression, discrimination, and equality. It is unique in its way of engaging the views of participants freely instead of simply “teaching a lesson”.[1]

Forum Theatre (also known as Boal’s Theatre, ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ or ‘Theatre for Development’) is an interactive theatre form invented in the early 1970s by Augusto Boal. Boal aimed to help audience members identify their “internal oppressions”‘ to begin to overcome them.

The audience is shown a short play in which a central character (protagonist) encounters a form of oppression or obstacle which s/he is unable to overcome. The subject-matter will usually be something of immediate importance to the audience, often based on shared life experience. The UK Forum Theatre has been used to tackle issues like family relationships, homelessness, employment, and health.

When the play has been performed members of the audience can take to the stage and suggest alternative options for how the protagonist could have acted. In this way, the event can be used to rehearse for an imminent occasion, or to uncover and analyze alternatives in any situation, past, present or future. The actors explore the results of these choices with the audience creating a kind of theatrical debate, in which experiences and ideas are rehearsed and shared, generating both solidarity and a sense of empowerment.[2]

The trainer has to prepare for the theatre before the session. Namely has to prepare the scenario of the theatre. The scenario should be short and connected with the topic of the session. It would be even more powerful if the theatre scenario is connected with some “hot potato” that is ongoing in the socio-political context. In the session, the trainer can ask for several volunteers from the learners. The volunteers will go in a separate space and explain the scenario. Usually, because the scenario is short and clear actors do need much time to prepare to perform it. After that in the room with the rest of the learners, who will be the audience now, the trainer will give an intro about Forum Theatre. The trainer will be the “Joker”, the person that will enable the dialogue. Now the Forum Theatre is ready for performance.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbYx01re-ec

Step one: choose 3 volunteers from the group.

Step two: With the volunteers go into a separate room.

Step three: Give (the already prepared) short scenario to the volunteers.

Step four: Explain the concept of the forum theatre to the volunteers.

Step five: Practice the performance of the scenario.

Step six: Go into the room where the rest of the learners group are. Explain to them what Forum theatre is.

Step seven: Invite the volunteers to perform the scenario.

Step eight: Now play the theatre once again but tell the public that now they can stop the performance and change the “victim” in the performance.

Why did I choose this tool?

I choose Forum Theatre because the learners have the opportunity to be the spectators instead of actors. This tool will raise awareness and encourage learners to raise their voices and come up with different solutions. More important overviewing different solutions allows learning from different experiences and different mindsets how would accept and react to the same situation.

Reflection questions

Discuss the scenario of the Forum theatre. Who was the oppressed? Why?

What feeling triggered this theatre?

Do you have the power to change the situation in the theatre?

What was the main dilemma that appeared?

Being in the shoes of the others and not enough powerful to change the situation, how makes you feel?

For a moment be with your-self. What do you learn from this tool?

Exercise

The exercise is described in detail. However, it can take a lot of time to create the scenario and prepare the people to perform the theater. To master this part of the tool on a daily basis, think about life situations and try to put in paper, defining roles and responsibilities. Thus you will see things from different perspectives.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” – Martin Luther King Jr

“Theatre is the art of looking at ourselves.” — Augusto Boal

Author of the article: Vafire Muharemi

Vafire has been working as a project coordinator in a Macedonian NGO (Volunteer Centre Skopje) for 2 years. She has been managing local, national and international projects, mainly funded by Erasmus+ program. As a trainer she has delivered seven international TC on creative writing and emotional intelligence as her field of expertise. Vafire has been mentor of ten volunteers coming from vulnerable communities from Belgium and she has also been a coach of twelve national volunteers from EVS/ESC projects abroad. At the moment she is working in the NGO Go Green (www.gogreen.mk) where she is managing the Erasmus+ projects and the training program for the membership.

Editor: Antonio Jovanovski

Antonio Jovanovski has extensive experience of training and facilitating diverse groups all over Europe. His training and facilitating experience started during his AIESEC years (www.aiesec.org) where he served as President of AIESEC in N. Macedonia and France. Currently, he is a director of a youth environmental NGO (www.gogreen.mk) where he works on the topics of climate change, youth eco-activism, greening of economy, greening of education and jobs. He is also a member of the Pool of trainers of [email protected] partnership on employability and entrepreneurship (www.youthatworkpartnership.org)

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What is the definition of civic engagement? Peter LevineCommunity Dialogue Design ManualForum Theater a tool for participatory community engagementFORUM THEATRE

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