Mixed Theatre Company partnered with the University of Saskatchewan on a research project to explore workplace harassment experienced by health care workers in the Saskatchewan Health Care Region. The project capitalized on established relationships among the researchers, Mixed Theatre Company, and SEIU and CUPE, the unions that represent the population of health care workers.
Harassment in the workplace causes anxiety, sleep disturbances, and depression in individuals and organizations incur costs associated with recruitment, re-training, and legal suits. Interventions to address harassment typically include statutory regulations, workplace policies, and communication skills training. This project aimed to explore participatory theatre as a novel intervention to combat harassment. In doing so, it is intended to respond to gaps in existing research on how, why, for whom, and under what circumstances harassment interventions work.
For the full project website, see: https://research-groups.usask.ca/whresearchproject/
Simon Malbogat, a team of our professional artists, and University of Saskatchewan researchers led health care participants from SEIU and CUPE memberships in a series of theatre-based workshops. Theatre techniques were used in the workshops to co-create multi-character scenarios depicting harassment based on participants’ experiences as targets, witnesses, and perpetrators. The process of exploring the difficult and serious issue of workplace harassment within the workshops was inclusive, collaborative, participatory and community-led.
Scenarios explored in the workshops were then scripted into a short Forum Theatre play written by MCT Associate Artist Luciano Iogna. Professional artists performed the play in four online presentations for an extended group of health care workers. Simon facilitated the interactive performances, leading audience members through large-group discussions and interventions in the scenarios to explore the potentials, and limitations of various strategies to address the issues.
After the performances, the research team at the University of Saskatchewan intends to conduct interviews with the workshop and forum participants to collect and analyze data to refine the theories that explain how, why, for whom and under what circumstances the theatre-based intervention works. SEIU and CUPE stakeholders will review the findings and modify the theories in light of their practical knowledge.
Drawing from the workshop material, playwright Luciano Iogna scripted an interactive Forum Theatre presentation called “Healthcare: Code Blue” which was performed for an invited audience of Saskatchewan health care workers on Tuesday Nov 30th, Thursday Dec 2nd, Saturday Dec 4th, and Monday Dec 6th, 2021, online.
Care Aide Susan is new to working in a Long-Term Care Home and finding it difficult to keep up with the rapid changes, lack of training, and constant criticism from supervisors. Pressure to return to work during sick leave puts Olivia in a difficult situation – having to choose between her health and her job. Can you find new ways for these frontline workers to catalyze long-term change in their workplace and the health sector at large?
Dr. Elizabeth Quinlan, Principal Investigator/ Supervisor
Dr. Quinlan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research explores the intersection of the sociology of gender, work, and health, and focuses on contemporary and historical topics broadly related to the sociology of care. She investigates the systematic ways in which care is allocated to those who need it and how the responsibility for care is assigned in society.
In her projects, Dr. Quinlan uses participatory research strategies that engage participants from the outset in creative and imaginative ways, through to innovative knowledge translation techniques that allow her research to reach people from all walks of life.
To help ensure her research results extend beyond the academic community, Dr. Quinlan embeds her research work in a network of partnerships and collaborations with community organizations, including labour unions, health advocacy organizations, and companies such as Mixed Company Theatre.
Simon Malbogat co-founded Mixed Company Theatre in 1983 and has been the Artistic Director since 1989. In 1992 Mixed Company Theatre became a CTO (Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed). Simon has over thirty years’ experience as a director, dramaturg, teacher, actor, and workshop facilitator. Teaching highlights include University of Toronto, Concordia University, York University, Humber College, Brock University and Queen’s University. Simon has facilitated hundreds of workshops for youths and adults in Europe, South America, USA, and Canada and has facilitated over 1,000 Forum Theatre presentations. Simon has led workshops in Turkey, Brazil, Finland, and the Ukraine. In Toronto, Simon has been involved in developing the arts in the community with programmes for families, women, seniors, youth, and persons with disabilities.
Luciano Iogna has been a professional Theatre practitioner for almost 45 years and for over 35 years has specifically worked using Theatre for Social Change. Luc has had the privilege to work across Canada and internationally with diverse cultures as a facilitator, actor, writer, director and instructor; working with Labour, institutions, government agencies, schools and communities.
Heather Cherron has been acting, facilitating, and writing for Mixed Company Theatre for 25 years as an associate artist. During this time, she was part of the cast of DISS, which was nominated as an ensemble for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for outstanding performance in a theatre for young audiences’ production. This year she was able to combine her love of Theatre of the Oppressed with her advocacy for Injured Workers in the direction and co- creation of three short pieces for Dan’s School of Drama and Music: Drama 239 at Queens University. Her song, “Bills to Pay” has been heard at various events for the USW, 15 and Fairness, Injured Workers and is the official theme song for “Precarity U” which recently received honorable mentions in the NYC Labor Film Festival.
Mercy is a multi-disciplinary artist with many interests. She recently appeared in the TV shows “In the Dark”, “My Perfect Landing”, “Ghostwriter” and “Condor”. In theatre she had the great pleasure of working with Mixed Company Theatre in the creation of an LFT back in April. At Theatre Passe Muraille, she played Linda in “Life Assignment”, and directed “Ninety”. She co-wrote and acted in the sold out production of “We The Men”, directed the sold out production of “Matt and Ben”, and was nominated with a Dora for the ensemble piece “Hogtown”. She finished filming the web series finale for “The Isolationists” and recently wrote and had a live reading of her piece “When Meen means More than Just Fish” through Cahoots Theatre. She heartily thanks all involved with Mixed Company.
Tony Babcock is an award-winning actor, director & acting coach who has worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. Tony has worked on multiple shows with Mixed Company Theatre both in-person and virtually for the past 10 years and really believes in the power of Theatre for social change.
His work spans theatre, voiceover, film/tv and improv. He has a recurring role on The Cartoon Network’s BAKUGAN, recently starred in the new comedy series LEADING DAN, and was in NYC at the Tribeca Film Festival for his movie Bunker Burger with Veronica Mars’ Enrico Calontoni. Tony also runs IYA Studio for Actors, combining acting with improv and life coaching. IYA offers weekly classes, weekend intensives, guest workshops, 1:1 coaching and online masterclasses worldwide.
Madeleine Brown is a Toronto-based playwright and actor who grew up between Peterborough, Ontario and Edinburgh, Scotland. Her last three comedies debuted at the Toronto Fringe Festival including a sold-out run of Patron’s Pick winner, Everyone Wants A T-Shirt!. She has previously received NOW Magazine Awards for Outstanding Ensemble and Individual Performance, is an alumna of the Loran Award, and was an inaugural Nightwood Theatre Young Innovator. In 2020, she was named one of two recipients of The Ellen Ross Stuart “Opening Doors” Award. This winter, she returns to Outside the March’s international hit improvised telephone play The Ministry Mundane Mysteries as Inspector Brown. Madeleine volunteers with L’Arche Toronto and plays euphonium in the Swansea Community Concert Band. She also serves as Theatre Direct’s Company Producer.
“Harassment in Saskatchewan’s Healthcare Workplaces: A Forum Project” is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.