Forum Theatre with and for young people, Portugal
Submission by Poliksena Hardalova
Organisation: AE2O - Second Chance School Matosinhos
Duration: 1 Hour
"Theatre .(is).. the human property which allows man to observe himself in action, in activity... It allows him to imagine variations of his action, to study alternatives. Man can see himself in the act of seeing, in the act of acting, in the act of feeling, the act of thinking. Feel himself feeling, think himself thinking." Augusto Boal
Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) is based upon the principle that all human relationships should be of a dialogic nature: among men and women, races, families, groups and nations, dialogue should prevail. Many times in the reality, the dialogues have the tendency to become monologues, which creates the relationship oppressors - oppressed. Acknowledging this reality, the main principle of Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) is to restore dialogue among human beings.The TO offers everyone the aesthetic means to perform and process their past, in the context of their present, and to create their future, highlighting opportunity for positive transformation and social change. TO has many branches: Forum and Image Theater, Invisible and Legislative Theater, etc.
Forum theatre is interactive art-technique in which an oppression or problem is shown in an unsolved way or negatively ended. The story is made into a piece of theatre by a group and then played back to the spectators, who are invited to change the outcome of the model by altering the behavior of the oppressed person. The spect-actors actively create and spontaneously perform scenes and roles. The aim is to raise a discussion, to encourage the participants to experiment different startegyes on the stage, to act and to bring the story to a better ending.
There are many ways to build, prepare and perform a Forum Theater play.
The best is when the stories come from the participants, but also there might be a ready performance (30-50 min.) or short scene (10/15 min.) presented to the audience. It is important the story to be real and clear, relevant to the spect-actors, with a potential of positive intervention. The Joker (the leader/facilitator) of the Forum, who is leading this interactive performance have to warm-up the participants, to create safe, open and friendly environment and to explain the «rules of the game». When the story is presented, a brief analyse should be done in a dialogue with the audience: what happened; who is involved; who is the protagonist; what is the main problem, etc.
The thoughts and feelings, the behaviour and attitudes of the characters being presented have to be explored and discussed. Than the Joker invites the audience to do some interventions on the play: to choose a specific moment of the story and to present it in another way, that might cause positive transformations to the other characters and to the end of the story. It is very important that the group knows that there are no right or wrong answers and that they receive positive feedback for their contributions.
We can learn how to live in the society by playing theatre.
We learn how to feel by feeling; how to think by thinking; how to act by acting. Forum Theatre allows us to do a Rehearsal for Reality.
Having the possibility to rehearse, process and test different behaviours, the school theatre stage can become a place- specific laboratory for researching, sharing and experiencing ideas, life strategies and changes in a safe space.
Making Forum Theater with young people may help them to illustrate a typical problem, practice interpersonal skills, gain insights, receive feedback or test newly acquired interpersonal skills. It’s a method that stimulates empathy, that engages the participants since the story is relevant to them and it’s a real field for investigations. In the groupwork process the participants have the opportunity to spend time connecting the material with their own experiences and identifying where, and how, they can make new choices in their lives. It assist participants to develop self-esteem and co-operative skills.