The Forum Theatre method was developed by the Brazilian Augusto Boal. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, Boal began with interactive community theatre in Brazil. This form of theatre goes beyond the conventional theatre where the audience watches passively a performance. He developed methods whereby members of the audience could stop a performance and suggest different actions for the actors who in turn carried out the audience suggestions – thus giving the spectators themselves an opportunity to come up with their own solutions to their collective problems. This was the birth of Forum Theatre.
Forum Theatre allows the replacement of an actor by an audience member. During the re-play of a situation, the audience member has the chance to change the situation to a better one, while the other actors remain in their character. Through such participation the audience became empowered to imagine changes, practice the changes, reflect collectively on the suggestions made and become empowered to generate social change.
Throughout the interactive event the audience participates in order to adapt, change or correct a situation, an attitude or a behaviour that is portrayed during the play. Forum Theatre thus provides an opportunity for the public to think, talk and ask questions about the performed situation. The audience is encouraged to propose a nonviolent approach that could address the problem presented. New behaviours, new kind of relationships can be exercised and learned.
Forum Theatre is a way through which people build understanding of their situation and explore in a creative and flexible way their needs and potential solutions to problems. By taking part in this transformative process the spectators experience the possibility of change and realize their potential to influence other people’s behaviour in a positive way.
Forum Theatre enhances the capacity to analyse local problems. It teaches critical thinking, interrogating one’s own assumptions, exercising social imagination and creative problem solving, simultaneously holding in mind one’s immediate interests and the larger interests of the community as a whole. It helps people to explore local needs in a creative end constructive way. It increases creativity, strategic thinking and brings people closer together. This togetherness is a basis for deeper involvement in community life. It offers the possibility to communicate easier, to see things in a new way, liberates from stereotypes, promotes equality and offers the possibility to create a common vision.