Boal - Forum theatre

An introduction to forum theatre, students discuss how it highlights oppression and forces audiences to question their values and desires.

Duration

2 weeks

Driving question

How can theatre be used as a vehicle to fight oppression and make social change?

Overview

As an introduction to forum theatre, students will discuss how it highlights oppression and forces audiences to question their values and desires. Through workshops, the key techniques of forum theatre will be introduced, and students will create scenes practically applying their theoretical understanding. Through reflection they are guided to understand how the conflict resolution skills gained can extend beyond the classroom to have a real-world application.

Outcomes

Stage 4

A student:

  • 4.1.3 devises and enacts drama using scripted and unscripted material
  • 4.2.3 explores and uses aspects of dramatic forms, performance styles, theatrical conventions and technologies to create dramatic meaning
  • 4.3.2 recognises the function of drama and theatre in reflecting social and cultural aspects of human experience

Stage 5

A student:


  • 5.1.3 devises, interprets and enacts drama using scripted and unscripted material or text
  • 5.2.3 employs a variety of dramatic forms, performance styles, dramatic techniques, theatrical conventions and technologies to create dramatic meaning
  • 5.3.2 analyses the contemporary and historical contexts of drama


copyright NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2003.

Content

Born in Brazil with Portuguese heritage, Augusto Boal qualified as a chemical engineer before studying drama. He began making theatre in factories and on the streets and making theatre more accessible. Following imprisonment and torture by the dictatorship in 1971, he was exiled to Argentina. Here and in Peru he developed his concept of Theatre of the Oppressed.

Through a desire to bring about change, Boal created some of the most radical and accessible theatre techniques that challenged traditional notions of theatre. Central to the philosophy of Theatre of the Oppressed is the audience knowing as much as the performers, and have just as much right to express their beliefs. Boal's theories and their highly practical applications are used every day by theatre companies, children, students, teachers and therapists to insight political and social change.

Forum Theatre breaks down the boundary between performers and audience by inviting them to be active participants in the action. Within forum theatre, a play outlining a form of oppression is performed twice. Members of the audience, or 'spect-actors', are invited to spontaneously stop the action and show how the protagonist could behave differently, enabling alternative outcomes. A Joker facilitates these interventions, allowing the creation of a dialogue on stage where the performance itself becomes a dynamic forum for debate.

Cross-curriculum content and key competencies

  • Literacy
  • Civics and Citizenship

Embedded elements of drama

  • Role and Character
  • Focus
  • Tension
  • Movement
  • Situation
  • Audience Engagement

Assessment

All activities require students to demonstrate their learning and are all assessment for learning activities.

Teaching and learning activities

The following learning experiences are structured to provide students with a practical and theoretical understanding of forum theatre.

A handshake

  1. Students will form a circle.
  2. Elect two people to enter the space and shake hands.
  3. Instruct the students to freeze on your cue.
  4. Discuss the questions below
    1. What could the frozen action/image mean?
    2. What situation might action this occur?
  5. Ask one of the two students to remove themselves from the tableau, creating a new image containing one character.
  6. Discuss the questions below
    1. What could the new action/image mean?
    2. When might this occur?
  7. Add a different student back into the tableau in a new way which creates a new image with a new situation.
  8. After a moment of stillness, the other partner unfreezes and exits.
  9. Repeat this process and discuss each time the class is paused.

Students will:

Forum theatre in practice

In two large groups, students will:

  • devise the three separate scenes outlined on slide eight and make them as real as possible
  • rehearse the scenes so they can be repeated the same way each time
  • perform their scenes to the class twice completing the activities below after each performance
    • 1st performance - brainstorm ways of solving the oppression
    • 2nd performance - describe the use of forum theatre techniques that actively prevented or resolve the conflict.

Reflection

Students will

  • respond to the following reflection questions in their logbooks
    • What conflict resolution techniques did you use?
    • Beyond drama, where else might these be useful?
    • Whose responsibility is it fight oppression and resolve conflicts?
    • What other forms of oppression could be useful when looking to fight oppression?
    • How can forum theatre be used to fight oppression and make social change?

Differentiation

Extension

Students could:

  • use the internet to research existing forum theatre performances and how they have been used as a vehicle to incite social change
  • devise a forum theatre performance based on an act of oppression of their choosing and perform it to their peers.

Life skills

Life skills outcomes

A student:

  • LS 1.1 explores characters, roles, situations and actions through drama activities
  • LS 1.3 participates in drama experiences in which role-taking is used to enhance their understanding of ideas and feelings.
  • LS 3.3 recognises that drama and theatre performances can communicate meaning and ideas.

copyright NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2003.

Students could:

  • ask the teacher to give them a scenario that contains an act of oppression
  • playbuild a performance about the situation
  • discuss or make notes in dot point regarding how they can stop the conflict from escalating.

Evaluate

Feedback is formative during the lessons.

This sequence and accompanying worksheets are available as word documents below.

  1. Boal forum theatre lesson sequence (DOCX 61.67KB)

Reference list and resources

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