Forum and action for youth

The goal of this module is to adapt methods of Theatre of the Oppressed to non-formal setting, where young people from different backgrounds meet. Everyone comes with his/her own experience, attitudes, very often children feel uneasy as they cannot be sure, how to behave, to communicate, what part of themselves they are free and safe to reveal. 

This module is perfect for camps, clubs, national and international projects. 

This module is designed to work with groups of young people in non-formal setting, such as camps, various events, festivals, etc. 

These activities help to get acquainted with others, they also help to create safe environment for all the participants, where one of the most important values is respect for each other and for different opinions. This helps to feel free, to reveal real selves, to express opinion on contradictive issues, to defend those who need help and not to tolerate violence and social injustice. Such atmosphere encourages to explore ourselves and others, to learn how to communicate, to collaborate, to be empathic, to solve conflicts and to enhance our self-esteem. 

Study of Social and Emotional Difficulties. Anonymous questionnaire evaluates social and emotional difficulties and other issues relevant to the group. Possible areas of evaluation: attitudes towards vulnerable groups, tolerance, level of acceptance, emotional atmosphere in school/work/other group (emotional security, experience of bullying, oppression, etc.), values, motivation to study/work, priorities in life, models of communication in the environment, main difficulties, expectations, personal responsibility for changes.

This study helps to prepare for the activities and to work with the most relevant topics. As this is an anonymous questionnaire usually responses are open and sincere and in the course of further activities it is easier to concentrate on the most important themes.  .  

This is a separate part of the activities. We are using it to prepare for the Forum theatre performances. This exercise “awakens” feelings of the participants and encourages to think about the attitudes they have, teaches to express opinion clearly and with respect, without the devaluation of the other. It is important to express our opinion, but equally important – to listen to the other and to be flexible, not stuck to your preconceptions. 

Leaflets are scattered on the floor: “Completely agree”, “Agree”, “Maybe agree”, “Maybe disagree”, “Disagree”, “Completely disagree” (or similar). Participants listen to various statements and find their position in the room near the leaflet which reflects their opinion best. Moderator asks participants to say a few words about their choice. Golden rule of the game is to start every answer with the words “I think”, as there are no universally right or wrong opinions. Other participants have to listen in silence even if they disagree completely. It gives opportunity to hear the opinion and arguments which in real life would be dismissed before even hearing them. This exercise also helps to see the dominating values of the group, level of tolerance, possible areas of discrimination – all this information later is used in the creating Forum theatre performances. It is possible to include statements about the environment, to understand better how different members see and evaluate the situation.  

These statements are provocative in order to make people feel and to want to defend their position, to fight for it. It leads to the deeper involvement in the creation of Forum theatre performances. This exercise fosters social competences – teaches how to talk firmly, confidently and respectfully and to listen to others. On the emotional level it teaches us to withstand and process difficult emotions, which come to the surface when conflicting opinions on important issues are expressed. It also fosters psychological resistance, to be brave in expressing our opinion and defending our values, to stay in contact with others despite various contradictions. 

4 hours to 2 full days. Agreed in advance according to objectives and possibilities.

This module can be used in various gatherings of youth. It is designed to work with people who do not know each other or know only superficially. Therefore a lot of attention is paid to get to know each other, to create cosy and collaborative environment, to ensure emotional security. If there is a possibility, anonymous questionnaire is filled by participants in advance. This helps organizers to prepare for the activities and choose the most appropriate methods. 

We use methods of Theatre of the Oppressed (TO). Games and exercises help to know each other, to relax, to concentrate, to learn how to cooperate, to recognize and express emotions, etc. Exploration of Values helps to make a turn from superficial communication to deeper themes. Moderators do their best to create the atmosphere, where everyone would feel free to express their opinion. Image theatre helps to proceed to holistic experience (not only verbal), and also it is introduction to a waiting adventure – performances of Forum theatre. 

Children and young people get acquainted with the method of Forum theatre – it is the most democratic form of theatre. Here they learn to express their feelings and opinions, to notice social problems around them and those who suffer in these situations. Participation in Forum theatre enhances empathy, teaches how to solve conflicts, encourages to show the real self.

If the activities are shorter, we mostly work with emotions, self-expression, cooperation of participants. If activities are longer, for example, if they last a few days, participants can create performance of Forum theatre and to show it to wider audience (for example, local residents of the town or village where the camp takes place, or parents, teachers, friends). This might be the magical and spectacular final event of the camp.  

All the activities are fun and interactive, it suits perfectly for various events, workshops, camps. Besides that it gives opportunity to reflect upon social problems and to search for creative ways to start solving them.

After the activities – organizers can prepare feedback and recommendations for further use of the methods.

Preliminary plan of the activities:

  • Circle: getting acquainted, reflection on feelings and expectations
  • Basic rules for working together
  • Exercises and games for the preparation of the activities
  • Exploration of Values
  • Open discussion in the circle: “Dare to be happy”
  • Image theatre
  • Work in small groups
  • Forum theatre – discussion in small groups, creation of the performance, presentation to the rest of the group, discussions, search for solutions.
  • Reflection

Ordering of this service

1. Filling the form

2. Preparation of anonymous questionnaire in order to make an individual plan of the activities

3. Agreement on technical conditions (premises, materials, catering, division of groups)

4. A schedule of activities and course of classes is prepared

"Forum theatre is a mirror which we can penetrate to modify our image."
A. Boal