A good way to create engagement with the audience and initiate a discussion around an issue or an ethical dilemma that people may have differing opinions on. It can allow those with different experiences to show how situations have played out for them and can help the audience work out any issues as a collective.
- Adult citizens
- Children 7-12
You can do it with all those groups, but we did it with professionals from different fields like public engagement or the cultural and creative sector.
Forum theatre is an interactive form of theatre in which the audience gets the opportunity to suggest changes to the narrative and see how their suggestions affect the outcome of the narrative. A team of communicators act out a scene to the audience, which contains a conflict or a problem that results in the worst possible scenario. However after this, the actors then play out the scene again, but now the audience has the power to stop the performance and take over one of the roles. After this happens the play continues with the new cast member who tries to influence the narrative and resolve the conflict/solve the problem. After the narrative ends the new cast member rejoins the audience and either the story can play out again, with a new audience member joining the cast and changing the outcome of the play. Or alternatively, the performers might move on to a new scene and narrative. The format can be adjusted to be shorter, where scenes are only played out once and the audience is able to comment and guide the actors instead of participating themselves.
Contact a theatre group, ideally a team that has experience with improv or is familiar with the concept of forum theatre, and a relevant researcher(s). The researcher and actors will need to discuss the area of research that is being addressed by the theatre production, so a script for the original scenes can be produced, and that the actors know enough on the subject so they can act appropriately when the narrative is changed.
When the script for the base narratives is complete, the theatre group will then need a few sessions to meet up and rehearse. Allow about 4-5 months preparation time. Once the production had been finalised, a play can be performed multiple times, and at multiple events, and could even be shared with other researchers and theatre groups.
Before the event, you may need to book a venue or find an appropriate performance space.
Marketing for the event should occur a few weeks/months before the event is scheduled.
The University of Sheffield, UK, use forum theatre in their Clinical Psychology, and Educational Psychology Doctorate programmes.
To watch a video about their experience-Click here