UK partner gets hands on experience with forum theatre

The LBHF is full speed in promoting the forum theatre (FT) method in mentoring young people, and thus encourage local target groups – teachers and mentors—in participating in the Forum Theatre training course to be conducted in London in September 2011.

As part of the project’s effort to prepare staff in promoting FT, LBHF Project Manager Diana Edgecombe and Project Coordinator, Jon Chappell participated in the Forum Theatre course conducted in Denmark in March, by a representative of the Finnish partner, HUMAK. Risto Ruottunen developed the method for the EU project, Act and Change, and is considered a leading expert in Finland on the use of forum theatre method in the academic setting. This time, Risto is sharing his expertise to practitioners.

Both Diana and Jon are excited about the technique and have been putting some of these techniques into practice in the Education Business Partnership’s Take 2 Project.  The training session in March covered a sample of the vast range of forum theatre techniques available ranging from warm ups, to value exercises and forum theatre plays themselves.

The key strand of the Take 2 Project is the mentoring of young people from Hammersmith & Fulham schools by volunteers from supportive local employers in the borough.  Initial meetings took place in March, April and May.

“It was a nerve-racking experience for our students,” said Diana.

“The challenge was to find activities that would both make the students more confident in speaking to their mentors and break the ice for both mentor and mentee,” she said.

Jon related that their first warm up exercise was a game of ‘Human Bingo’ where mentors and mentees moved around the room asking each other questions in order to find people who matched the criteria on their cards.

For example the students and mentors had to find someone in the room who ‘had been to China’ and record their name.  This allowed the students and mentors to find out more about each other as a group.  Following on from this activity we decided to test run some of the value exercises demonstrated by Risto in our March training session in Vejle.

One of the value exercises demonstrated by Risto involved a room being split into two with two concepts on each side of the room, for example Summer and Winter.  Participants in the exercise needed to decide which side of the room they would choose to stand in depending on whether they preferred Summer or Winter.  Participants then had to discuss with others on their side of the room why they liked the concepts chosen.  This exercise allowed mentors and mentees to both find out what they had in common, and indeed where they differed.

“This exercise represented a fun and informal way for mentors and mentees learn more about each other, and we hope that this was a good start to some successful mentoring relationships,” Jon said.