Forum Theatre: Its empowerment of, and community building role amongst, migrant women
FemTalks Forum is an ERASMUS+ funded project which has been developed by seven European organisations: Inova, UK; InterACT, Austria; Materahub, Italy; Artemisszio, Hungary; Elan, France; Odisee, Belgium; and #Reteatro41, Italy. The diversity of the consortium has been advantageous in the creation of this project as the partners have combined their strengths in order to produce a unique project. FemTalks addresses the complexity and intersectionality of the challenges, barriers and problems of female migrants. Through digital literacy and theatre skills, the project aims to increase the confidence of migrant women. Participants are given the tools to share their stories in order to increase their employability and social inclusion.
This project has been built around the Forum Theatre methodology, which was developed by Augusto Boal. Forum Theatre tackles issues of oppression and provides the audience with the opportunity to pause and alter the script in order to gain control over the narrative. This technique has proved successful with a range of socio-political concepts, and was, therefore, deemed appropriate for the FemTalks project. Through Forum Theatre, migrant women will become empowered as they take control of their own narrative.
In preparation for the upcoming piloting of the training, the partnership met in Matera, Italy, in December 2019 to be taught the theatre techniques which the project will utilise. The weeklong training programme was active and interactive. Through drama and theatre techniques, the partnership developed a keen understanding of Forum Theatre and the benefits of this in relation to migrant women.
The training was facilitated by Dr Michael Wrentschur, who has worked alongside the pioneer of Forum Theatre, Augusto Boal. The partners were encouraged to step out of their comfort zone in order to immerse themselves in the methodology. Wrentschur guided the partnership on their journey into Forum Theatre and enabled them to understand the empowerment that one experiences when enacting personal stories.
This project is unique due to the diversity of the partnership and their professional backgrounds; therefore, some members were more skilled in the realm of theatre. However, there was an affinity within the group which grew over the course of the week as they experimented with the theatre techniques and it built a strong relationship. The training promoted inclusion within the partnership, and it is anticipated that this would also be the case with the project’s target audience.
The weeklong joint staff training event provided the consortium with the opportunity to experiment with theatre skills in a supportive and inclusive setting. This built on the teamwork, theatre techniques and communication skills of the partnership and laid a strong foundation for the work they will do together in the future. In turn, this highlighted the benefits of workplace learning. Moreover, the team were able to expand their horizons and explore the applicability of Forum Theatre to migrant women. Overall, it will be highly advantageous to the future of the project.
I am Sinéad Graham and I have been working as an International Project Assistant at Inova Consultancy since March 2019. Inova is based in Sheffield in the UK. Inova provides coaching and training for underrepresented and disadvantaged individuals in order to create a more equal and inclusive society. Through this role I have been able to develop a range of skills including networking and teaching.