Forum and Action for Families

These activities are designed to improve communication in families, to help people of different generations to find common language, to search for dialogue, respect.

These activities can be useful for families, which already experience some difficulties or just to make life of families more dynamic, fun, creative, to encourage communication, openness and constant respectful dialogue. This module can be used for prevention or intervention if some communication problems already exist in the family. 

This module is for families and for organizations or other clients working with various families. Recommended size of the group – 15 people, youngest age – 7 years.

It helps families to experience and reflect upon:

  • Inner communication in the family, importance of empathy 
  • Dialogue, equality, respect
  • Dynamism, fun, openness

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 applied to: 

  1. Better to know yourself and others.
  2. To improve communication between family members. 
  3. To enhance self esteem
  4. For education about human rights, respect and tolerance. 
  5. To promote openness and empathy
  6. For the development of creativity
  7. For finding solutions to specific problems. 

Comments and explanations

All families are invited to participate – fathers, mothers, step-mothers/fathers, foster parents, grandparents, siblings and other people who live together and everyday have to try to remain respectful, agree on different issues, talk in dialogues and not in monologues, to look for constructive ways to say their opinion, needs and to learn to hear others despite their age or other characteristics. 

Often parents complain that children do not listen to them, children say the same about their parents – in many cases both sides would like to have a better relationship but they do not know how to do it. These activities help to learn that, also to see the situation from other perspectives, to recognize violent models of behaviour and what are ways to react in these situations. “Silent” members of families also learn what are constructive ways to react to the difficult situations they see in their families and to stop them or change them. 

Therefore it is useful to fill in anonymous questionnaire, where participants could answer some questions and maybe could share some relevant issues or difficult situations – it would help lecturers to prepare for the activities and choose the most useful methods. 

Activities consist of discussions, reflections, games, exercises and theatre. Specific theme can be chosen in advance or the aim can be simply to improve inner communication in families. All participants in the activities are equal – despite their age, gender or other characteristics. All have the same right to express their opinion and to be heard with respect. This is what participants learn during the exercise of Exploration of Values – it creates atmosphere of equality, fosters respectful communication and is introduction into themes of Forum theatre. Games and exercises have various goals – to get acquainted, to relax, to concentrate, cooperate, express emotions. Image theatre helps to understand what we communicate with our bodies to other family members and how everyone feels in these situations (even when nothing is verbalized). In the part of Forum theatre participants share stories from their families or stories they see around them and in small groups create Forum theatre performances on the selected theme. These performances are presented to the whole group. All participants discuss the situations, talk about the problems they see in the performances, try to understand how people feel in these situations, suggest solutions and try them out in practice, “on stage”. In the end participants are invited to reflect, to find connections with their everyday lives, how new skills can be applied. Our experience shows that if families are able to stop in difficult situations and say “OK, let’s do Forum theatre about it” – many problems are solved!

If there is a need and enough time, a few elements of Rainbow of Desire can be added. This helps us understand better what inner forces or demons torture us day by day, what triggers difficult emotions which we project on others. 

After the activities , organizers can prepare feedback and recommendations on further use of the activities.

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. Based on this, an anonymous questionnaire is prepared for an online survey (in order to create an individual lesson plan);

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