Forum theatre is a type of theatre created by the innovative and influential practitioner Augusto Boal as part of what he calls his “Theatre of the Oppressed.” While practicing earlier in his career, Boal would apply ‘simultaneous dramaturgy’. In this process the actors or audience members could stop a performance, often a short scene in which a character was being oppressed in some way. The audience would suggest different actions for the actors to carry out on-stage in an attempt to change the outcome of what they were seeing. This was an attempt to undo the traditional actor partition and bring audience members into the performance, to have an input into the dramatic action they were watching . In the realization of this method a Facilitator is needed also known as a Joker (could be the drama workshop leader) – a person that takes the responsibility for the logistic of the process and ensures a fair proceeding, but must never comment upon or intervene in the content of the performance , as that is the province of the Spect-actors. The Spect-actors are the people engaged in Forum theatre , as Boal has named them. This term refers to the dual role of those involved in the process as both spectator and actor , as they both observe and create dramatic meaning and action in any performance.
It was a surprise for me when Boal was mentioned, since I have known about him from before , and thought that I would never have an opportunity to meet his idea in practice. Engaging theatre with youth activism (and civil activism in general) means taking the world as a stage, in search of alternatives , while revitalizing the core idea of true art – to see, to show the seen and to motivate solution as a leading motion of the change. The thing I find interesting in the type of theatre practiced by Boal is that the audience is encouraged to not only imagine change but to actually practice that change.
Mixing reality with credible reality played on stage means taking the finality out of the world and using a deeper sense of concluding after an actual physical involvement. This method gives an opportunity of examining the individual oppression in life and beginning to take responsibility for it , since it determines the person one is. Freedom starts with a vision of freedom and a view of freedom is the one beyond imprisoning lines (limits).
Written by Ivana Stojkovska, participant of the training course with title Youth Centres to empower youth social development organized by Zdravo da ste in Banja Luka (Bosnia Herzegovina) from 9th – 18th April 2012.