Saturday, 4 April 2009

What is Forum Theatre?

Forum Theatre

"Forum Theatre is an interactive theatre form invented (or discovered) in the early 1970s by Augusto Boal. An audience is shown a short-ish play in which a central character (protagonist) encounters an 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 a shared life experience.

After this first showing, there may be a brief discussion amongst the audience, mediated by a figure known as 'the Joker' (as in a pack of cards, belonging to no particular suit, on no-one's side). Then the play is restarted, usually from the beginning, and runs as before - but this time, whenever a 'spect-actor' (active audience member) feels the protagonist might usefully have tried a different strategy, s/he can stop the action, take the protagonist's place, and try his or her idea. The other characters in the piece will react as they feel their characters would react, on a bad day i.e. they will not make it easy for any new tactic to succeed; but if an idea works, the intervening spect-actor can win, the game is not rigged.

Through a session of Forum Theatre, many people will take the stage and show many different possibilities. In this way, the event becomes a kind of theatrical debate, in which experiences and ideas are rehearsed and shared, generating both solidarity and a sense of empowerment."

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