Sunday, 26 October 2008

Forum theatre and Cardboard Citizens

Having never heard of this form of theatre i was quite aprehensive about what it was going to be like. All i knew was that there would be some sort of audience involvement within the piece, and that it was being performed by people who had all had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.

I think that this was in fact enough information to go in with; because when the performance began, we were given more of an insight into how forum theatre works, and also more about Cardboard Citizens themselves. We were not required to have a complete understanding of forum theatre before we attended the perfromance, making it a lot more accessible to audieances.

The issues that were addressed in the performance were issues that some people may come across in their lives. The aims of using forum were so that people could offer suggestions about how to deal with the situations, and also to show these suggestions.

The performance was great, but i was more interested in the discussion afterwards, where the audience members were allowed to ask the cast questions. Questions asked were about their lives, or about forum theatre and how it can be done.
Here, we learnt that all the cast, with the exception of one, had not had any experience with acting before joining Cardboard Citizens. I think that this was quite noticeable, but did not bother us as an audience of 'actors-in-training'; if anything, it made the audience more comfortable with going on stage and performing with the cast.
Another thing that we learnt from the discussion with the cast, was how little we knew about homelessness and the amount that it would cost to stay in a hostel for a week.

But did they tell us about them all having experienced homelessness for a reason? After the performance ended we discussed during our lecture, how important it was that they told us about their experience of homelessness? Did this allow the audience to buy into the stories on stage more? Were their life stories being forced upon us?
These questions should be discussed if we were to ever use forum theatre; performers should know their intentions with the piece. They should discuss how important or relevant their lives are in relation to the performance, and weather the audience needs to know this relation or not.

In conclusion then; as a form of theatre that can can be used within a community, it could be a great sucess. However, the performers must have a deep knowledge about the issues which they intend to address, before creating any work! If this primary research is carried out, and carried out well, i imagine this form of theatre can be very effective within a community.

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