Exploring difficult conversations with forum theatre. This clip is from a forum theatre session on difficult management conversations and explores effective feedback. The session in real time explored a variety of behavioural strategies. This extract is to give a flavor of the idea of ‘winding back’ the action and taking…
Forum Theatre – like acting, only better!06/11/2013
Insights Discovery ® personal and team development16/11/2017
So how does Forum Theatre work?
As a group, we explore dramatic scenarios that bring relevant challenges to life, stimulating participation through discussion, interactive participation and shared experience.
The session begins with you watching a short scene being acted out in one or more ways. After that, you reflect on it, coach it and hopefully, better the outcome. You can even get up and have a go yourself!
Crucially, you gain a unique angle on your own behaviours by experiencing them in action, or by witnessing them reflected in others. Visual and aural signals, tone of voice, language, listening, strategy and structure can all be observed in action and improved on by the whole group.
Why do our Forum Theatres work?
It all comes down to detail, relevance and the considerable skill of our actors and facilitators.
You brief us beforehand and we follow our five copper bottomed rules.
1. Scenarios are tailored to match the exact learning objectives of your organisation. We hold up a mirror to your culture and concerns. We take on your dialects and dilemmas.
2. Scenes are well-rehearsed, familiar and true-to-life (maybe based on actual events).
3. The characters and dialogue are arresting and might even make you laugh.
4. The acting is natural and excellent (we are all, or were all, professional performers).
5. Learning is within a safe, exciting and focussed environment (plenty of fun but no funny voices). Nothing leaves the room except your own inspiration.
The potency of Forum Theatre lies in its ability to engage people’s minds and emotions together, and to involve everyone present in finding solutions. The realisation that we are all individuals, who see the world uniquely, and whose actions have consequences, is key.
Based on many years of experience, our actors are highly skilled improvisers, equipped to flex effortlessly and authentically, according to your coaching. Suddenly we’re all exploring an experiential landscape, rich in individual insight and discovery.
Not to mention, having quite a lot of fun!
Doing something to learn something doesn’t have to be a grand performance. In fact, it’s what we all do. Who really knows how to drive a car the moment they pass their test?
But let’s not pretend, a lot of training participants hate the idea of role-play.
Introduce the session as an acting class and everyone suddenly finds something really fascinating about their shoes. If people become self-conscious then learning is immediately limited.
A wealth of experience tells us to start things a little differently. Pop a few myths.
Firstly, you don’t do the role play. We do. We play the roles, so you don’t have to. All we ask is that you relax and be yourselves
Secondly, we don’t hire actors to swan in and show off. We are the actors, facilitators and coaches working for you, making suggestions in or out of role. To this end, all of our associates have corporate as well as performance backgrounds.
Finally, we don’t even call it role-play. It’s skill practice.
Semantics aside, this tells you it’s a session about you and dedicated to your learning. By providing the tools, the clarity and the expertise, we help your team to thrive in this rich and stimulating environment. Suddenly the barriers come down and everyone is joining in instead of trying to dodge the humiliation bullet.
Because we make our skill practice relaxed, familiar and relevant, we are proud to report that participants frequently rate these interactive sessions as the most valuable part of their training.
Yes, even those diehards who thought they’d hate it!
More formal styles of learning can be perfectly complimented by our practical games, exercises, and scenarios. As a refreshing antidote to ‘death by powerpoint’, they encourage you to:
- Experiment, listen and respond creatively
- Adapt and become aware of their personal impact
- Have fun by recalling their creativity and uniqueness
- Grow in self-awareness and confidence
These interrelated theatre-based and creative approaches are a flexible resource within all our programmes. They might be a warm up, a powerful illustration or learning point, or simply a way to bond the group and break down inhibition. Whatever the purpose, our team of accomplished actor / facilitators make them truthful, relevant, and fun.
Paul Z. Jackson, a great A.I. teacher, captures the beauty of Applied Improvisation perfectly:
“We are all creatures of habit, and one of the great benefits of improvisation is how it can call habits into question. We can make choices when we notice ourselves up against the automatic, the habitual or the scripted. An improvised moment is one when we are asked for a new response. We are either facing something we’ve not experienced before or we are doing something different in the same old circumstance…improvisation activities create just such moments of choice.”
This growth in awareness, of ourselves and others, is the basis of all our programmes. Building on awareness, we encourage you to leave us with more than just a completed response form, but with a genuine commitment to change. We challenge you to answer the burning question:
‘What are we going to do differently now?’
Click here for more information on our development solutions using Forum Theatre and Role Play.