Forum Theater a tool for participatory community engagement

Forum theater is a community-focused, facilitated style of theater designed to address social issues and inspire action for change. In Forum Theater productions, professional artists and community members together create a universal story depicting a social issue of concern to the participating community.

As a UNESCO-recognized educational tool for implementing social change, Forum Theater has been acknowledged as an effective method to trigger discussions around sensitive societal topics, such as oppression, discrimination and equality. It is unique in its way of engaging the views of participants freely instead of simply “teaching a lesson”.

PICOT employs Forum Theater to empower communities to say NO to Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and prevent and protect the rights of women and children As forum theater works with stories from the community itself, often the own experiences of the actors, it directly and authentically creates a link to the minds and hearts of the community, thus enabling open dialogue

Participatory engagement:  The participatory community engagement is an unfolding process of transforming and deepening understanding of others and ourselves on SGBV through listening, sharing and questioning.

Forum theater Group Performing during a community outreach. Photo By Kadabara Boniface

A community dialogue is a process of joint problem identification and analysis leading to modification and redirection of community and stakeholders’ actions towards preferred future for all. It’s an interactive participatory communication process of sharing information between people or groups of people aimed at reaching a common understanding and workable solution. Unlike outreach and debate, dialogue emphasizes on listening to deepen understanding. It develops common perspectives and goals and allows participants to express their own views and interests.

A community that reflects its people is uniquely positioned to revive faith, restore hope and reveal love in the community. Quite naturally, social justice, societal change process of norms, practices and attitudes become part of the equation.

Changing attitudes, perceptions and practices regarding respect for women’s and children’s rights needs a holistic approach where opportunity is given for the community to share human interest stories, experience and dialogue to trigger discussions around sensitive societal topics, such as oppression, discrimination and equality.

A woman making submission during a community Outreach. The community outreach offers a platform that brings together the community and participants form different walks of life including the duty bears to discuss and respond to patent issues to the community. Photo Credit: Kadabara Boniface

The community outreach offers a platform that brings together the community and participants form different walks of life including the duty bears to discuss and respond to patent issues to the community.  The envisioned societal change process of norms, practices and attitudes in this action will be further driven and triggered through direct engagement of the communities, using the method of forum theater.

Through the community dialogue we were able to generate response from communities and individuals that resulted into a commitment to addressing the identified problems (issues)/gaps in a participatory manner