Forum Theatre

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."

                                                                                                            ~ Winston Churchill. 

Forum Theatre is a versatile format that provides participants with a unique opportunity to problem-solve and address difficult issues in a safe and creative space. The Forum Theatre experience is always custom designed to reflect the realities and speak to the needs of your particular department, company, organization or classroom. The scenarios that we write and perform for your company, organization and/or student groups are always centered around a specific complex issue that may be viewed from a variety of perspectives; as such, the Forum Theatre experience provokes important discussions and provides participants with the opportunity to "step in" to the story and attempt to alter the outcome in a positive way. 

"Let's face it, no matter how well your company may forecast, analyze and strategize, the business climate is tumultuous and full of unforeseen surprises.  The Extant Jesters really helped us to realize how vital it is to work together when times get tough.  When emotions run high and it seems easier to play the blame game, having empathy and working together is a much more sustainable option. They helped give us tools to do exactly that." 

"You know how you always get a training manual when you start out at a new place of work? Well, it's one thing to read about all of those things... no harassment at work etc. it can seem like common sense, but in reality, when you're faced with an issue like that, it's much more complicated. How exactly do you define harassment? What is the best way for the manager to follow-up? These things are not obvious. The Extant Jesters helped everyone in our department to realize this. As soon as we started to take on a roles in the play, we realized how difficult an issue this is and how deeply it has been affecting our co-workers. It's tremendously hard to know the right things to say and actions to take, and we learned that sometimes there's really no "one right" action at all... I know we all walked away from the workshop with open hearts and open minds... and I've aready noticed a profound change in the way we're speaking to one another on the floor now."

The Extant Jesters offer a unique Forum Theatre style  interactive workshop experience.

Here's how it works:

Lead Up:

We consult with you about the key issue(s) and objectives you feel are hindering your workplace/ learning institution.

We discuss situations that have occured in the past or that employees/ students are currently facing and we attempt to understand the issue from all angles.

We go off and independently research more about the issue and your particular workplace or school so that we can begin to write up a scenario that reflects the reality of workshop participants (while not, of course, writing any real life people into the scenario; the Forum Theatre piece we create is fictionalized but does need to connect with participants.  They should be able to liken what they see on stage to their real-life day-to-day experience).

We custom-create one long (or various shorter) true-to-life scenarios that address these issues and your learning objectives. Typically, the scenario or play is about 25 minutes long and reflects a "worst case scenario" situation where a multitude of poor choices have been made and communication has broken down or egos have gotten in the way, or unadressed power dynamics have infulenced decisions and lead to misunderstandings.

We consult with you on a regular basis to ensure that what we've written does indeed address the issue(s) from all perspectives and that the language we're using reflects that used by your staff/ students.  

If time permits, we can even test-drive the scenario with you and others from your company involved in the workshop planning so that you have a clear idea how we'll facilitate the experience on the day, and let us know if there are any other changes to the script you would suggest. 

On The Workshop day:

We play out the scenario, audience members (workshop participants)are each given a small bell.

Participants carefully observe the intricacies of the situations that unfold and are asked to reflect on the the actions and intentions that result in the 'worst-case-scenarios' being presented.

The Facilitators asks participants to share their opinions about where things went amiss. A discussion follows, many ideas are put froward.

Our actors then begin to re-play the scenario. This time, audience members have the opportunity to interject at any point by ringing their bells. They are encouraged to interject when they want to make an alternate suggestion to a character, or to step into the story themselves and replace a character to try out a different tactic.

The actors adapt to the new choices brought forth by participants who step into the scenario and they all play out the dramatized situaion accordingly so as to alter the overall outcome of the story.

Whether the participant's ideas ameliorate or worsen the situation, the facilitator always honours their input with applause and reminds other participants how courageous it is to come up and step into the story, and how what may seem like a simple or obvious idea from the audience is actually very difficult to play out in person.

Other participants step into the story. The facilitator ensures that they play a variety of different characters and stresses that these situations are never the responsibility of one sole person, nor are their any "good" or "bad" characters just more or less empathetic and constructive ways of communicating. 

The facilitator also ensures that no "magic" solutions are allowed. (i.e. If we have a scenario where someone is being bullied, a participant might suggest that they simply stand up for themselves and give the bully a piece of their mind.  While an intervention like this can be cathartic- and other audience members usually like to see an oppressed person triumph- "magic" interventions like this end up just simplifying complex situations. The facilitator will remind the particpant of the risks of speaking out in that way. "Even though it feels good to yell and scream at him like this... remember, you may lose your job if you speak to your manager like that... And you have 4 children at home who rely on your income...Is there another way that this character might more realistically try to achive the same goal?")

In a brief follow-up the players provide feedback, they share with participants the tactics that worked well for them and the reasons why. Participants are also able to ask questions of the actors to deepen their understanding (i.e. "why did you say you didn't want to meet with me to follow-up?" "because I was afraid that if I came to your office you would say that we had to write a report of the incident and I was afarid that people would find out it was mt who complained.")

For a CASE STUDY example of a Forum Theatre contract with Flynn Construction. Please click HERE.

If you have any questions or would like a price quote, please CONTACT US.