Forum Theatre can provide innovative and effective solutions to all these problems and more. But what exactly is Forum Theatre and how can it be used to move your business forward?
Forum Theatre originated in Brazil and was developed by theatre practitioner Augusto Boal to transform and improve the lives of homeless street people. In its simplest form, it explores different options for dealing with a problem in front of an audience who view a short scene showing a central character with a problem they are unable to overcome. During the scene, members of the audience are encouraged to stop the action and suggest alternative ways for the protagonist to act.
In the leadership training sessions we run, the trainees often find it very helpful to use actors to try out different options and behaviour to see how that affects the outcome. The actor takes the advice of the team members thereby creating a kind of theatrical debate in which experiences and ideas are shared, generating both solidarity and a sense of empowerment.
The feedback from trainees after the sessions suggest five main reasons why Forum Theatre is more effective than other training and mentoring techniques:
1) Provides personalised and specific analysis to real situations:
Volunteers have described how empowered they have felt after describing a situation/encounter that they personally have faced to the actors who perform it to the group. The scene is stopped and started by the trainer who gives advice to the actors who are performing the bespoke scene, as well as by the whole audience, who explore new possiblities for the protagonist.
2) Promotes team work: Not only does the group work together with the trainer and actors to explore alternative ways of improving a situation (which in itself can improve team-work), the nature of the problem often involves a situation where the team has broken down in some way. Looking at some of these challenging situations and how to refocus or re-bond a team can make a huge difference to the harmony of a group.
3) Hones communication skills: Trainees often comment on how forum theatre enables them to express themselves more clearly, creating more positive atmospheres and working relationships.
4) Develops empathy: Watching a problem in a scene helps delegates understand different types of behaviour and how they can adjust their responses to colleagues, improving understanding within a team.
5) Encourages a results-focused attitude: In sales-based training, forum theatre encourages audience members to see alternative ways of handling conversations and situations to ‘close a deal.’ Group members have the opportunity to explore ways of improving negotiations and trying out different techniques in the safety of the training room.
Our training course for managers, ‘Lead and Succeed’, has been using Forum Theatre over the past five years and many of the delegates have found this technique especially helpful. We often receive comments such as “the parts with the actors were particularly helpful”, “watching the actors use our ideas to improve a situation showed how we can change a situation which previously appeared to have no solution” and ”I enjoyed thinking of ways to resolve a situation and watch my ideas played out.”
Forum Theatre has many benefits for training programmes in business as it uses real situations encountered by the participants, making the issues and solutions personal and relevant to everyone. If you have any questions as to how Forum Theatre could be used in your training, please contact me on 07769 735341.