Be Part of the Dialogue: Exploring Interventions in Forum Theatre

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In Forum Theatre with Mixed Company Theatre (MCT) there are no “acting skills” required to be part of the set. The process is based on a bottom-up, participatory approach focused on the participants’ experiences and perspectives. “The training is all about the facilitation too,” says Luciano (Luc) Iogna, a MCT facilitator working with the InterGEN project. “The hardest part for a facilitator is to remain neutral, but we have to maintain our neutrality for this process to work.”

After the performance, of a simple, yet complicated story about an elderly woman, named Lucille, who finds herself in a ominous situation at a public bus stop, the audience members will have the opportunity to respond: to change the script.

Simon will prepare both audience and participants by offering a simple direction: “As you are watching, look at what you can change.” And this is where the neutral facilitator comes in, as Luc points out: “It’s about engaging the different perspectives without shutting anyone down.”

In a forum theatre performance everyone has the opportunity to get into character. Simon prepared the seniors for the interventions by having them make connections to their roles: “It’s knowing who your character is and thinking about how your character would respond.” Through their carefully planned, and engaging, facilitation, Simon and Luc, will guide performers and audience members through a collective analysis of how people both react and respond to conflict. The interventions offered by participants can lead to greater opportunities for constructive and positive change—perhaps someone will speak up on behalf of the marginalized, perhaps the oppressor will be challenged, and perhaps the oppressor may be understood. Still, “you never really know where it’s going to go,” says Simon, “but that’s what this is all about… and it’s an incredible learning experience for everyone.”

Be part of the dialogueToday at 2 pm, “C’mon Granny” will be performed by seniors in Toronto at Lambton House.

Christina Parker (OCT, Ph.D.), is an educator and researcher in Toronto and is our Volunteer Researcher for the Inter-Gen program.