Why Forum Theatre?
What Is Forum Theatre?
Forum Theatre is an interactive form of theatre that is used to explore social problems and issues. It was invented by theatre-maker Augusto Boal in the 1970s and is sometimes also known as ‘Boal Theatre’ or ‘Theatre for Development’.
I like to think of it as ‘Theatre for Change’.
Forum Theatre is often used by socially excluded groups as a means of empowerment. It can help people to understand themselves, the world and their relationship to the world. It can generate a change in thinking or behaviour.
How Does Forum Theatre Work?
A short play is performed, or read, in which the main character (protagonist) is faced with a problem, or an obstacle. This problem or obstacle will be something that is relevant to the performers and the audience. Examples could include ‘bullying’, ‘cyber safety’ or ‘prejudice’.
When the play is finished, it is then performed again (this might be the whole play, or selected scenes). During the second performance or reading, anybody from the audience (or the cast members) can say “Stop!”.
Those who say “stop” are invited to step in and take the place of any character they wish, to play the scene again with the other actors, and show how they think the character could have acted differently.
Through this process, spectators or performers can suggest alternative options for the situation, to bring about a different outcome.
The facilitator is necessary to communicate between the actors and audience.
Why Use Forum Theatre?
Forum Theatre can be a powerful and exciting tool for children. It encourages children to explore solutions to different problems, to find a voice, to express their opinions and to be heard.
It is also a valuable shared experience. In Forum Theatre, the audience are just as important as the performers. A problem is looked at collectively, and all those taking part have the opportunity to ‘change’ the outcome of a situation that is relevant to their lives.