A few days ago a good friend of mine who is not familiar with the type of theatre PLEK offers asked me "but ... what is Legislative Theatre?"... "Is the theatre performance a kind of introduction to the topic you want to discuss?" ... "How does it work?".
Inspired by my friend's curiosity and eagerness to support us, I created this short article to share with everyone who would like to know what Forum Theatre and Legislative Theatre is! Thank you, Bárbara Santos and Ineke Bijl for your input.
What is Forum Theatre?
Forum Theatre is a short play which shows a certain complex situation that a certain group of people is dealing with. The play is performed twice. The first time the main character (the protagonist) is trying to reach a certain goal, but through the oppression he/she faces, the protagonist will not succeed. The second time, the audience becomes a so-called ‘spect-actor’ and as such is not merely a ‘spectator’ anymore. Each time a member of the audience thinks the protagonist should do something differently to reach her/his goal, is allowed to shout ‘Stop!’, in order to step forward and replace the protagonist to show what he/she would do in this situation to see what effect this could have on the outcome. Different audience members can try to do this throughout different moments in the play or scene. In order to be able to guide this whole process, a facilitator (Joker) is necessary to enable communication and reflection between the players and the audience.
As such, Forum Theatre breaks through the barrier between the players and audience, creating a space to explore the topic discussed. It does this by making use of the knowledge and experience of all people present in order to learn from each other and to gain insights on how to implement this into their every-day lives.
Forum Theater provides an innovative approach to public dialogue. - Augusto Boal
What is Legislative Theatre?
Legislative theatre is essentially a Forum Theater performance — the public attends a Forum Theatre piece and, in addition to the usual participation at the Forum session, is invited to submit written suggestions for the creation, modification and/or cancellation of laws related to the topic represented on stage.
For the Legislative Theatre each group has to be supported by a team of experts, professionals and activists, in the topic presented to analyse the input from the audience members. At the end of the theatrical event, a general summary based on the proposals has to be made. The team provides information to help the process of discussion and open discussion for the audience members to exchange their perspectives. At the end of the debate, the audience decides if they agree with a common proposal as an alternative to the problem presented.
Theatre is a form of knowledge; it should and can also be a means of transforming society. Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it. -
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