31st May, 2011 - Posted by Gavin - Comments Off on Power to the People? – The Final Event!
Thank you to everyone who turned out for the four hours who helped make the event such a success.
After a quick introduction and warm-up it was time for the presentation of the first Forum Theatre scene – The End of the Tunnel. This short piece of theatre told the story of Jane – played by Karen Toscani – who, after coming out of a long-term abusive relationship, was ready to move on with her life and put her skills to use by volunteering with Second Chance – a voluntary organisation set up to help women who had been in abusive relationships. Despite her enthusiasm, Jane found herself feeling rejected when she tried to put forward new ideas for the organisation, both by her friend Penny – played by Suzanne Dance – and by the head of the organisation Caroline – played by Nicola Chuhan.
Then came the fun part! The audience were invited to comment on the Play with most saying that they were not happy with what had happenned to Jane. The Play was then started again from the beginning and the audience could stop the action and come up on stage to play Jane and see if they could try something else to help her.
There were some great suggestions with many of the audience trying to get Penny to support Jane with her ideas as well as teaming up to tackle Caroline! There were some interesting debates about the role of volunteers within voluntary organisations and also time and funding pressures. If volunteers are supposed to be the back-bone of the new Big Society then where is the funding and time going to come from so that they can be properly supported rather than just stuck in a corner, like Jane, with a pile of envelopes to stuff?!
After a short break it was time for the second Forum Theatre scene – Welcome to Hillstone. This told the story of Rukiye – played by Sevim Inal – a new resident of the fictional town of Hillstone, who had come from Turkey with many ideas to bring different cultures together within the Hillstone Empowerment Project.
Rodney – played by Nick Cheales – and Jo – played by Barbara Munro – were very enthusiastic about her ideas at first but gradually they became watered down by the administrative procedures of the organisation and the attitudes of its members. Rukiye gradually became part of the “machine” and eventually lost control of all her new ideas altogether.
Alan Jeffrey then faciliated a debate with the audience who all agreed that they were not happy with what happened to Rukiye but that it was an all too familiar story. Then the Play was restarted and the audience were again invited to stop the action to make changes.
Many of the audience decided to invade the stage to help out Rukiye. It was thought that the only way that the “machine” of the organisation could be stopped was for it to be overwhelmed by people doing a different rhythm!
The final part of the event was the formation of an Action Plan. Augusto Boal always said that “the end of the Forum is the beginning” so we were clear that we wanted some concrete action points to come out of the shared learning experience.
After much discussion and voting the four Action Points agreed on by the group were:
- Turn the street into a local market – stalls not cars.
- Community gardening e.g. back greens
- Visits to schools to celebrate cultural diversity and educate about cultural difference
- Taking “Flash Play” to streets and pubs in Leith
Finally, before going home, everybody was asked to “sign-up” to at least one of these four points to commit to helping to make them happen. We will be in touch with everyone to take this further.
Thank you so much to everyone who took part in the day – we hope it will lead to positive changes and steps towards real empowerment for Leith and its residents.
Thank you also to Nick Gardner from Leith & North for the photos. Read Nick’s report on the event.