THE REQUEST:Flynn Canada Ltd. is Canada's leading building envelope trade contractor. For over 30 years, Flynn has been providing quality contracting services in the institutional, commercial and industrial construction marketplace. Flynn employs in excess of 3,000 people in 16 office locations from coast to coast. The company has gotten so large over the past few years that they have had to bring many new employees aboard quickly and has been faced with the challenge of expanding communication lines. Flynn cares deeply about its employees and wants every contract to go smoothly. That is why the president and CEO decided to invest in bringing all staff together for a training retreat at the Rosso Inn in Muskoka, and to bring in experts to help work Flynn employees from all fields. Anderson-Sabouin Consulting worked closely with the clients to develop strategies, and the Extant Jesters were brought in to do a 3 hour long forum theatre style intervention.
Our goal was to help all Flynn employees communicate more clearly, to equip them with the skills to better problem solve on the spot and under pressure and to identify and avoid possible communication pitfalls.
WHAT WE DID TO PREPARE:
We consulted with the clients of Flynn Construction as to what their specific goals for the retreat were and collected feedback reports from all project managers detailing what they found most frustrating and stressful about their jobs, and how they thought these things could be improved. We also asked them to identify case examples of the most successful and nightmare contracts. We then carefully read through all reports, continued consulting with the CEO and vice president of the company when we had technical questions (The Extant Jesters sure did learn a lot about roofing and metal wall cladding throughout this process!) and we wrote a short scenario based on details supplied in the reports written by the project managers, using their specific vernacular. We tried to make our scenario as real to life as possible and to address the serious issues with respect, empathy and of course, humour. The Vice President of Flynn also came to sit in on several rehearsals to ensure we had the details correct. If ever he thought a line of dialogue, a character's attitude or a technical term could be improved upon he told us- and our team of 6 actors adjusted accordingly. During these rehersals, He even stepped in to take on some of the roles in the forum section of the scenario to help us prepare to improvise for the possible interventions we would encounter on the day.
ON THE DAY:
We performed our short scenario to an audience of ~200 people . They reacted well to the details and humourous aspects. Following the “show” our facilitator asked the auduence of participants if what we had presented was “real.” The answer was a resounding yes. Then he asked their opinion about how certain characters could have reacted differently throughout the scenario, and potentially brought about a better outcome. Hands shot up:
“ I think if the salesperson” wasn’t so hellbent on selling a product without specs- that's why we always end up with with faulty products on the job site- we wouldn't have a problem at all!”
“I think it’s the estimators own fault for accepting to do the job so quickly. He should have said he clearly needed more time, that’s why the contract was pay when paid. No one had time to review it properly.”
Audience members who had a suggestion were then encouraged by the facilitator and team of actors to come and join them on stage. One at a time, an audience member would take on one of the character’s roles, try out a different tactic or offer a different outlook than what they had witnessed unfold in the first scenario.
During these interventions by spect-actors, our professional actors improvise and react in character to the offers beging proposed and the new scene unfolds in often surprising ways. After each audience intervention, the faciitator and actors debrief along with the audience about the offers that were made, the tactics employed and discuss and how it altered the situation for better or worse.
KETS TO REMEMBER:
-Our scenarios are written after much research and consultation. We do not consider ourselves successful unless the audience recognizes their own real-life reality in what we present on stage.
-Forum Theatre Facilitators are always highly trained. They ensure that every suggestion is honoured, and that the stage is a welcoming and safe place for audience members who volunteer to come up.
-The facilitators always stresses that there is no right answer to any situation- and encourages participants to try different tactics to achieve what they want. There are also no purely "good" nor purely “bad” characters.
- Extant Jesters actors are also highly trained. They portray their characters with respect and as fully drawn out human beings who have ambition, attributes and flaws. When audience members come up to interact with any of these characters, our actors react realistically. We are not looking for “magic” resolutions. Our Forum Theatre scenarios are essentially rehearsals for reality.
Extant Jesters, making people happy since 2007.