We offer a wide variety of training and entertainment options for community organizations and for public sector clients. Whatever your needs, we have a workshop for you!
We frequently work with government ministries, N.G.O.s, with immigrant and refugee populations, with universities, colleges and public schools, with senior citizens, and organizations that serve people living with mental illness, addiction and military trauma.
We can custom design workshops and training sessions for your own staff or for the communities your organization serves.
We specialize in skills-training workshops for groups or individuals, in English and/or in French and on a short or long-term basis. Our three most commonly requested skills-training and workshop options are listed below.
"I've never been comfortable speaking in public. As a matter of fact, I even used to dread our organization's weekly meeting where I had to present for just 5 minutes. The four week workshop I took with the Extant Jesters was truly life-changing. I was able to discover and practice a few 'tricks' to make myself feel calm and confident before speaking. I actually look forward to presenting now and seize opportunities to do more of it."
"When I first came to Canada 2 years ago, I was so afraid! I didn't know how to talk to people here, I was just lonely in my apartment, I was not confident in job interviews... but these improv theatre workshops helped me with everything. It made it ok to make mistakes and made it a fun thing to speak in English in a place that did not judge me and the teacher and the class gave me permission to try new things."
Several of the workshops we offer can be condensed into a 2-3 hour time slot and thus can fit neatly into your organization's larger training day or retreat week-end.
Theatre and Improv workshop themes:
(You may choose any of the themes listed below, focus on one or even combine them for a custom-designed workshop that addresses several themes and the ways they intersect).
- Team Building
- Creative Empowerment
- Social Justice
- Health & Laughter
- Stress Management
- Status, Power and Body Language
- Communication and Listening
- Public Speaking
- Change Management
- Conflict Resolution
Rehearsal For Reality Role-Play
"Our organization works with very vulnerable populations. Each time we hire a new staff member, we bring the Extant Jesters in as part of the training. The Jester actors play several scenarios of refugee clients and provide detailed feedback to our new staff. Everyone who has been through the training says that the role-play was the most effective preparation they could have had to start this job. The actors' realistic depictions of clients is vital, and the individual feedback sessions help new staff understand that there's a profound difference between having and showing empathy, and also reveals how essential it is to adapt one's communication style depending on the needs of the person your speaking with."
"I thought it would be a joke, or that I would be nervous to play with an actor pretending to be a patient. But the moment the scene started it was as if it was reality and I was able to council them in ways I do in real life. She even started to cry at one point and I nearly started to cry too! All front-line healthcare workers should have this experience."
Our Rehearsal for Reality custom-designed interpersonal skills training experiences can help your staff improve communication within your organization and with outside clients and community members.
We also often provide role-play experiences for particular populations your organization may serve (i.e. practice job interview scenarios for immigrant and refugee clients, social situation scenarios with people recovering from acloholism or drug addiction or upon release from prison).
Much of the work we do is within educational environments as well (for example, we can come into a college class about fundraising and play a wealthy individual whom the student in the hot seat must ask for a donation. Or, we can develop a scenario for a marketing class where our actors play characters at a marketing firm who have differing ideas about the direction of a fictitious campaign- and the student participants must attempt to keep the meeting on track).
These sessions are role-play based and provide participants with a unique "rehearsal for reality." Our professional actors take on a wide variety of roles that are custom designed for, and always align with your organization's learning objectives.
In lead up to the workshop day, we consult with you in detail about these learning objectives and carefully construct and test-drive characters and scenarios that best reflect the issues and challenges your employees/ students/ participants may be facing. If appropriate, we sometimes consult (usually via online questionnaire) with workshop participants prior to the training, before finalizing the scenario to ensure that we understand all sides of the issues, and have a good idea of what they are looking to get out of the session.
The roles we create for the actors and workshop participants are always as true to life as possible (i.e. we use language and terms familiar to your place of work or clients) but we always ensure that we don't single out people from the actual group (i.e. if you have a difficult-to-work-with colleague named George Mann, we'll not have our actor play a difficult colleague named George Mann).
On the day of the workshop, participants are briefed on the scenario and then, one at a time, step into the scene and interact with the actor(s). The participant who has stepped into the scenario is able to call a "time out" if ever they feel uncomfortable or are at a loss for how to respond, or are unsure of what to say or do next. The Extant Jesters facilitator will always step in here and ask the other participants watching from the outside what they would suggest.
There is never one "right answer" or magic solution to these scenarios. As such, these role-play scenarios provide a unique, interactive and non-threatening approach to solving problems and improving communication.
Following the scenarios, our professional actors provide specific feedback to all participants from the perspective of their character. (i.e. they will not say "you must always start a conversation with pleasant small talk to break the ice" but will say rather, "when the first thing you said to me was about my addiction, I felt invisible, like I was just a problem and not a person to you. This made me feel ashamed made me doubt that you would recognize how far I've come and how much I've changed already."
During the feedback sessions, our actors and facilitator also comment not only on what participants say or do but also on how they say or do these things (highlighting the important role body-language plays in cummunication).
Our Forum Theatre workshops are similar to our role-play scenarios, but rather than develop one or two short scenarios leading up to the workshop, we develop an entire short, scripted play. Our professional actors perform this play (approx. 20-25 minutes long, usually depicting an organization or community-specific breakdown of communication with severe consequences) and then the audience members (or "spect-actors" as we like to call them) have the opportunity to pick up the story at key points, take on a role of their choice, and step into the scene to try to change the outcome. The forum theatre experience never fails to highlight how everyone involved is in some way responsible when things go right or wrong. Like our role-play scenarios, the situations depicted in our forum theatre plays are always complex (there is no clear "good guy" or "bad guy" or only one "right" way to solve the problem). Our Forum Theatre shows also always reflect your organization or community's reality and a multitude of perspectives.
For more information, and a CASE STUDY EXAMPLE of how the Forum Theatre experience unfolds, please visit our FORUM THEATRE page.
For more details on how our themed workshops, role-play scenarios or forum theatre formats work, or for a price quote, please feel free to CONTACT US.
Vital Stories. Fresh Perspectives.