Forum Theatre and Joker Training

Posted on: 14 December 2011

Written by: Clemmie

After 7 straight days of forum I can easily say I was exhausted, but I would do it all again. I’ve been volunteering with Cardboard Citizens since July now and two weeks ago I was lucky enough to be allowed on the Forum Theatre training week and the Joker Master Class training on the weekend following.

The first live piece of Forum I have seen is Cardboard Citizens’ current hostel tour Three Blind Mice by Bola Agbaje. This helped me realise the potential forum theatre has to make changes in people’s personal lives and on a larger social scale. As a Theatre Undergrad student I have been aware of Boal’s work and studied it, yet only in theory. This week of training, alongside seeing live forum theatre really helped me gain a clear perspective and understanding of Boal’s work and how he envisaged it to be used.

As the Forum week started I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity in the room, with people coming from across the world to be a part of this course. We began with playing several of Boal’s games, some which Adrian Jackson (who led the course) had adapted over the years, to help us feel comfortable together, gain trust and become more aware of those who we were working with. As the week progressed we moved on to image theatre, where we named and then visualised oppressions in our lives as a whole group exploring the different levels and views of each side of these oppressions. From this everyone was split into group to devise their own short piece of Forum Theatre, looking at various oppressions such as class, education and capitalism. The hostel tour production Three Blind Mice came in mid week and then the groups refined their pieces of forum, learning how to make good, solid forum.

From the end of this week I’ve learnt that for a good piece of Forum to work; the story must be clear, there must be a clear protagonist that the audience can sympathise with, and want to help, and of course there can’t be a happy ending – otherwise you have no problems to forum!
And then there was the Joker training!

This was a two-day intense course. Adrian talked of his extensive jokering allowing us to freely ask questions as he answered with past anecdotes of his own experience and teaching us the tricks of the trade. Within the first few hours the group were already up on their feet having a go at jokering a short piece of forum we threw together about a girl being harassed by a man on a train. The most interesting part of this weekend was seeing just how different everybody’s style was, and how they all still worked. Jokering allows you to bring your own personality onto the stage and engage with the audience in a way that works for you.

On the second day the hostel tour show Three Blind Mice performed to us and the group got to get up and practice jokering with the actors and receive feedback from the group and Adrian after. After only two short days it was over, but the advice and teachings we received were invaluable to building the confidence and skill to joker, as I’m sure all who were there would agree!


With thanks to

Arts Council England Lottery funded