This term the BTEC Performing Arts students have been working on a Theatre in Education unit where we have been developing and producing a Forum Theatre play. Forum Theatre is a type of theatre originally developed by Brazilian practitioner Augusto Boal in the 1960s under the umbrella of 'Theatre of The Oppressed'. The play usually deals with a situation where there is some kind of oppression. The skit is shown twice, and on the second showing the audience ('spect-actors') are allowed to shout 'stop', step forward and take the place of one of the oppressed characters showing how they could change the situation to enable a different, more positive outcome. Several alternatives may be explored by different 'spect-actors'. The other actors remain in characters, improvising their responses. A facilitator (Joker) is necessary to enable communication between the players and the audience. The strategy breaks through the barrier between performers and audience, putting them on an equal footing. It enables participants to try out courses of action which could be applicable to their every day lives. Originally the technique was developed by Boal as a political tool for change, but has been widely adapted for use in educational contexts.
The BTEC Performing Arts students explored many different topics before settling on a play that dealt with issues of stress, harrassment and bullying. Their performance of the play, called 'Hope', on Friday at the KS4 and 5 assembly was a great success, with many members of the audience offering up some very good solutions. As part of the unit, the students also designed posters and support material, samples of which you can see here.