Academic journal article Group Facilitation

Forumspil: Transforming Minds and Hearts within Group Processes

Academic journal article Group Facilitation

Forumspil: Transforming Minds and Hearts within Group Processes

Article excerpt


This article will introduce teachers of facilitators and group work to an application and further development of the Forumspil workshop method which, inspired by Augusto Boal's methods of Image and Forum Theatre, was created in Sweden. Two professors, one in Denmark, and one in Canada have used the Forumspil workshop method in classes in human relations programs to deal with group learning and facilitation. This article describes how they have applied it in working with students in order to develop awareness both of group process and the role of the facilitator in fostering group work. The authors describe how each has added to the original forms in these two different courses where the students involved are being educated for socially oriented professions. It is the authors' hope that readers can learn from their praxis and adapt it to their own context.


leadership development, group process learning, image and representation, values clarification, reflection.


At a conference of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed in 2007, Marie Ebbesen presented "Working in a Group: Exemplary Workshop Introducing Forumspil, a Scandinavian Variation". Dr. Warren Linds attended, and following the workshop, the authors both found that it would be useful to do some comparative work cross-continentally with different student groups in similar training programs - Dr. Warren Linds's in Canada and Marie Ebbesen's in Denmark. This article is a product of that collaborative reflection. A background to the approach is provided along with anecdotes of individual experiences with the method. A reflection on what has occurred is offered so that others may learn from the experiences and adapt the process to their own particular facilitation context.


Forumspil is a Swedish variation of Augusto Boal's (1979) techniques of Forum and Image Theatre that is widely used in Scandinavia. As created by Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed (T.O.) is a form of popular community-based education which uses theatre as a tool for transformation. Originally developed out of Boal's work with farmers and workers, it has been adapted and is now used all over the world for social and political activism, conflict resolution, storytelling, community building and legislation (Babbage, 2004; Emert & Friedland, 2011; Schutzman & Cohen-Cruz, 1994, 2006; Thompson et al., 2009; Vettraino & Duffy, 2010). Connected to the vision of Paulo Freire (1970) and his landmark book on education, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Τ. O. invites critical thinking about people's lived experiences. It is about analyzing rather than accepting; questioning rather than giving answers. It involves 'acting' rather than just talking. In T.O., the audience members are not just spectators but 'spect-actors' who propose alternative strategies to deal with particular situations.

Forum Theatre, as described and developed by Boal, is the staging of a play which shows a problem or an oppression, and then re-running the same play, but now with the possibility for the spectators (who are thereby transformed into spect-actors) of going on stage and taking over the role of the oppressed person and trying out alternative ways to handle the situation. The Forum is a rehearsal for reality, enabling the spect-actor to act and giving him, or her, an arsenal of ideas for future encounters in life outside of the performance.

Influences from Katrin Byréus in Sweden

Swedish drama teacher Katrin Byréus had been working with socio-drama prior to learning about Boal's techniques. In socio-drama, a group improvises under the guidance of a facilitative-director to show problematic situations, and afterwards uses the improvisation as the gateway to reflection and socio-economic and systemic analysis; in Scandinavia, the method was developed by Swedish doctor Björn Magnér (1976). After attending a course led by Boal, Byréus combined Image and Forum Theatre with values clarification, a method she came into contact with through John M. …

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