All the world’s a stage

You have different types of theaters but I am going to tell you about improvisation theater that I do in Belgium because I do this myself and it is my hobby and passion. In this kind of theater you do not need any costumes, no make-up, no special lighting and no stage. You can play it in every room, on every street corner or in village square.

large_014_20Voorstelling_20op_20Karel_20de_20Grote_20Hogeschool_20door_20FORUM_20Theater_20Antwerpen_20-_20foto_20Har_20TortikeA little information about the history of improvisation theater: Forum theater started in 1972, it was invented in South America by Augusto Boal (Theater-maker) and Paulo Freire (educationalist). The people in their country (Brazil) were very poor and illiterate. While a few wealthy families had all the power and were in charge of everything. They wanted to do something about that using art. Their idea has been successful and there is now a democracy in Brazil.

Forum theater became popular in many other countries, for example in my home country Belgium. Our group in Belgium was founded in 2008, ten years ago. At first there were just 6 youngsters, together with Har, the director. With the team we made three scenes. The premiere was in the Permeke Library. We were very successful at the time. The Province of Antwerp immediately hired us for five years. To give performances to students between 13 en 18 years old.About child abuse, domestic violence and sexual abuse. We could rehearse for free in a secondary school: the SISA. That is how it started and it has never stopped.

Untitled-1 copyCourse of a performance:  A performance takes about five quarters of an hour to an hour and a half. A ‘Joker’ accompanies the performance and is a mediator between actors and audience. First we warm up the audience with play and we explain what we do. Then we play improvising twice a short scene (4 to 6 minutes), based on personal experience. These are personal experiences or experiences from the immediate environment. None of us play himself and everyone is free to come up with their own experiences or not. After each scene we ask the audience ‘What have you seen?’, ‘Is it realistic?’, ‘Is it recognizable?’ and ‘How can the protagonist better take care of her / his own safety?’. Then we resume the scene and the public can replace characters, which gives the scene a different outcome. This can happen several times per scene. The actors react improvising to it from their character. In this way we explore the possibilities for liberation and together we practice for reality. Each treatment of a scene takes about half an hour. The last half hour we do a follow-up meeting where the actors and audience can ask questions from each other. It is also possible that we improvise on issue presented by the public. But that must be a real existing dilemma of the person who brings it up.

The nice thing about improvisation is that everyone can play with it. Because there are no texts to learn and there your own experiences, thoughts and feelings you do not need any acting experience.

Everyone who has experienced something or is still in it, even if you have not made something yourself but you know someone you can play along. We play to get the rights of young people and young adults stronger. I am talking about my forum theater that represents the rights and voices of young people.

Yana Willems

In Antwerp, Belgium,

We have also won a few prizes:

(The Bronze padagger in 2016)- 

(The lydiaChaggol prize in 2018) –

Historie van forum theater
Wie heeft het uitgevonden en van waar is het ontstaan

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