2.1. Operational proposal 1: the Forum Theatre

A Forum Theatre event, which is intended to be reached in the intermediate phase of the theatre course within the ESCAPE Project, is divided into two parts.

In the first, the group of actors presents the show (of short duration: 20-40 minutes) and, through that, a theme that poses an existential, social, topical problem, etc. In the second, a mediator, called a joker, explains that the show will be repeated and that anyone in the audience is called to intervene in the points that he considers focal for the dissolution of a conflict or for the solution of a problem that afflicts a character, etc.

In the second part, therefore, the show is repeated, and we do not know how it ends. For this reason, every actor, not necessarily professional, using the proper medium of the theatre that is fiction, will have to be very prepared and remain in character and react to the inputs of the audience as such. Within a context that is not purely theatrical (as is typical in most experiences of Teatro Forum) the necessary preparation is therefore threefold: 1) work on the actor; 2) the work on the dramaturgy of the representation; 3) work on meeting with the public.

Work on the actor

For this part, please refer to the first section of the exercise, in particular you will notice the insistence of the activities on the creation of a serene and trusting climate and on the development of expressive skills through the awareness of one's body and voice.

Elaboration of dramaturgy

This aspect is divided into several stages:

1.     Identifying a topic
There are various paths to identify the topic to be developed that is most suitable for the group you are working with. In fact, it must motivate and deeply interest all participants:

·        The conductor of the workshop, according to the context and the group, proposes a topic that will then be developed theatrically through the Image Theatre;

·        The conductor of the laboratory proposes general themes, significant for the context in which we find ourselves, to be developed with the Image Theatre and then through the topics that emerged we evaluate and choose the one most related with by the group.

2.     Elaboration of the topic through the technique of the Image Theatre (through which from a concept, idea, argument, you get to the scenic image)

·        Development of the theme and the various characters through scenes that involve agitated situations (it should not be a conference). Each character must find the right situation to express their way of thinking and their personality so that it is clear to the audience. The protagonist must express solutions that highlight a conflict, an injustice, a problem that will be the subject of the “discussion” in the Forum. The theatrical style is indifferent, as long as you do not resort to the surreal or the irrational since you will have to have concrete situations on which to reflect by acting.

3.     Dramaturgy and staging

·        Each character highlights their social, psychological, cultural etc. characteristics through theatrical actions and interactions. Each scene is well divided and characterized. It is advisable that each character has a costume or an object that is easily exchangeable with the viewer who will replace them on stage.

The show-game

1.     Presentation of the show as it was elaborated by the actors.

·        We can define it: the given situation.

2.     Intervention of the Joker that interacts with the audience, starting from the themes of the show

·        The joker asks if the audience fully agrees with the given situation. Surely someone will say no (in fact the dramaturgy, as mentioned, exposes a problematic topic that is not solved); the joker will explain that he will resume the scene from the beginning and that the viewer will be able to say stop at the critical moment that he has identified and that he will therefore be able to take the place of the character that he finds to be significant for the realization of his idea. The joker will inform everyone that then the viewer will face the actors who will try to keep the given situation while they will try to oppose with their attempt at change.

3.     The viewer takes the place of the character

·        It is encouraged by the actors and the joker and its idea is explained by the joker to the audience. The actor who played that character stays close because he could be important as a support.

4.     Shooting the scene

·        The scene resumes with the viewer acting as a character in a dialectical relationship that will probably prove to be very difficult and hard.

5.     Other spectators can intervene

·        When the viewer leaves the scene (having or not managed to affirm his idea) other viewers will be able to replace the same or other characters. If the viewer has managed to undermine the given situation and the actors are no longer able to oppose, then other spectators can intervene to replace those actors to suggest on the contrary new forms of oppression or resistance to change that the actors had not thought of. At this stage all actors from outside the scene can contribute and suggest new modes of action to the spectators who have taken their places.

6.     Conclusions

·        With this type of dynamic it will be clear how difficult it is to change things in the reality that surrounds us, but every viewer / actor or “spectator-actor” will have the opportunity to contribute to creating new points of view on that issue that perhaps at some point could also shake the original situation given and the knowledge emerged from all the interactions will certainly be the best knowledge that that group could express or achieve, thanks to the help of the joker. The latter is not a depository of the truth but a mediator.