- To think about things participants would like to change in their schools and communities
- To think about how young people can participate and make a change in society
- To evaluate problems with different forms of participation
What to do
First, explain that you are going to look at different ways people can respond to situations they would like to change. Read out the problems (below) and ask for suggestions of what could be done.
You can write these down on flipchart paper and discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
Next ask the participants to get into smaller groups and choose one of the examples you have already discussed or another situation they can think of that they would like to change.
Give the groups some time to practice their scenario before they perform but remind them that the forum theatre method means that the audience can intervene at any point and they will need to improvise the changes that are suggested.
During the performance, members of the audience should be encouraged to participate. They can pause the scene at any moment by clapping, and then shout out proposals or solutions. They can also come on stage after pausing the scene, tap on one of the actor’s shoulders and replace them in the scene. The actors then have to improvise and act out the changes that are suggested. If there are multiple suggestions made, the actors can show each of the alternatives in turn.
Explain that there can be no magic solutions and the perpetrator cannot suddenly change into a nice person. After each scene, briefly discuss what happened:
- Which proposal for change do you like most?
- Do you think it is realistic?
- What difficulties are there with this change?
- How was the activity?
- Why did you choose this particular scene?
- How did it feel to be able to change the outcomes of the scenarios on stage?
- Was it difficult to think of actions for any of the scenes? Which ones and why?
- Did the forum theatre exercise change the situation in the way you hoped?
- Can you relate to any of the scenes? Has anything happened in your life that is similar to any of the scenes? Was the outcome the same?
- What other outcomes could there have been?
- If the scenario had happened in real life, would you have been able to change the situation in the same way?
- Why is it important that you change situations you are unhappy about?
Tips for facilitators
- The suggested problems are only suggestions. You should write your own scenarios that your group can relate to,
- Rather than using the forum theatre method, you can also ask the groups to role play the problem and their response, performing it to other participants and asking them afterwards for alternative. responses.
- If there is a situation which really enthuses the group, you could discuss ways how you can redress the problem in real life together. Whether that is a ‘no bullying campaign, petition, initiative, or awareness exhibition.
- Forum theatre was developed by Augusto Boal in his book ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ (1979). It is an interactive theatre technique often used with socially excluded or disempowered groups to promote social and political change.
This activity was created by our friends at IFM-SEI and can be found in their toolkit Partnerships for Participation, Child Participation Handbook which can be found here.