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A theatre-based method to improve communication and to resolve conflicts

“Theatrical action has been a smart way to go deep to our issue, without entering in endless discussions that often bring us nowhere” – L, 21 years old

Every year Stranaidea hosts from 9 to 11 European volunteers for 12 months within European Solidarity Corps programme… A small multicultural community that has to be followed and supported! The mentor of the volunteers has weekly meetings together with them so as to monitor both their learning process in the organization and the group dynamics, since they all together share the same flat. The mentor, who participated to the whole ParticipART project, often uses theatre techniques while working with them. This project though has been a great opportunity for her and the European staff, to get to know more on Forum Theatre, the main technique from the Oppressed Theatre that our partners from La Candela apply to their way of doing theatre.

We recognize that to prepare a Forum Theatre event, one need to have an intense training and experience on that. Though, La Candela shared with us some theatre exercises and techniques that one can apply on working with groups so as to improve communication among its members. After having followed some sessions held by La Candela during the first seminar in Torino on December 2021, the mentor started developing an activity based on Forum Theatre that could be proposed to the group of volunteers for conflict resolution and improvement of communication.

Indeed, a 3-hour session has been developed during which volunteers are asked to write a short script and to put on stage a real conflict that rose among them.

There are two indications for the writing of this short story:

a) that it needs to have a beginning and an end.
b) real names have to be replaced by fake ones.

In a second phase, some of them are asked to participate as public while the others play the scene proposed. After having played it, they are then asked to re-play it and to stop the action whenever volunteers who make part of the public think that something that takes action could have been done in a better way. There are then two choices: the first one is that the volunteer who interrupts the action so as to intervene and to improve the scene, can go “on stage” and replace the actor/volunteer who could have adopt a better way of behaving; the second one, if he/she doesn’t feel like going “on stage”, he/she can simply start a debate on that. Until now we’ve tested this method twice and for sure we are going to keep it as a tool to improve communication among them and to solve conflicts.

“Theatrical action has been a smart way to go deep to our issue, without entering in endless discussions that often bring us nowhere”, said L, 21 years old, while M., 25 years old said: “I hadn’t realized that my colleague was feeling like this in our group. This activity helped me to realize it and to think of solutions to deal with that in the future, together with the others”.