Mixed Theatre Company is partnering with the University of Saskatchewan on a research project that will explore workplace harassment experienced by health care workers in the Saskatchewan Health Care Region. The project will capitalize 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 explores participatory theatre as a novel intervention to combat harassment. In doing so, it responds to gaps in existing research on how, why, for whom, and under what circumstances harassment interventions work.
Simon Malbogat, a team of our professional artists, and University of Saskatchewan researchers will lead health care participants in a series of five theatre-based workshops. The participants will be recruited from SEIU and CUPE memberships. Theatre techniques will be 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 is inclusive, collaborative, participatory and community-led.
Scenarios explored in the workshops will be scripted into 7-10 min scenarios and performed by the professional actors in two virtual Forum Theatre presentations facilitated by Malbogat for an extended group of health care workers. Malbogat will lead audience members through large-group discussions and interventions in the scenarios to explore the potentials, and limitations of the strategies developed in the workshops.
The research team at the University of Saskatchewan will 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. MCT will be consulted as the researchers develop a final evaluation component of the project.
“Harassment in Saskatchewan’s Healthcare Workplaces: A Forum Project” is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.