Transformative Bystander Intervention: A Forum Theatre Laboratory

By Kate Klein

Facilitating a forum theatre session with the participants of the Cultivating Resilience Co-Lab was an extremely rewarding experience. As a facilitator, there is nothing more exciting than being in a room full of impressive community leaders and fostering dialogue and debate amongst them. Forum theatre is a popular tool from a framework of practice called “Theatre of the Oppressed”, developed by Brazilian theatre activist and popular educator Augusto Boal. Designed to help oppressed peoples “rehearse for the revolution”, forum theatre creates dynamic spaces built to present participants with scenarios of power, oppression, or violence that occur every day and experiment with possible interventions.

In the workshop that I facilitated, “Transformative Bystander Intervention: A Forum Theatre Laboratory”, Co-Lab participants and I worked together to discuss and develop solutions to a series of scenarios of power, oppression, and violence that bystander intervention could help to solve in the moment. The ultimate goal of the workshop was to develop language and strategies for how to intervene in these situations, explore when and how it is (or is not) appropriate to intervene, and discuss what can make it difficult or impossible to do so. I believe that forum theatre can be an incredibly powerful tool that helps communities foster resiliency because it actively puts people in a dreaming/solving mode that helps them imagine what kinds of communities they want to live in and how to get there.

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Communitas is a Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) project.