Innovative Practice 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation

Using Theatre in Schools to Address Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities

Keystone Moldova was founded in 2004 with support from US-based organization Keystone Human Services International. Keystone Moldova works with public authorities, donors and civil society organizations to develop community services for people with disabilities leaving institutions, and to advocate for their right to live in the community. Since 2012, Keystone Moldova has developed four social theatre troupes that perform the Forum Theatre method in schools and kindergartens. Over 5,000 students and 700 teachers have been involved in performances as of 2018. Participants report that as a result schools have lower levels of discrimination and improved accessibility policies.

“Thanks to Forum Theatre, we know how to behave and advocate for ourselves and for our rights. We understand how to stop discrimination.”

Student after a Forum Theatre performance
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Forum Theatre
Organisation:Keystone Moldova
Country
of Implementation
Moldova

FACTS & FIGURES

  • Between 2012 and 2018, nearly 5,500 students and 800 parents were involved in Forum Theatre performances.
  • Until 2018, a total of 158 volunteers have been trained in 11 sessions.
  • Troupes in Moldova have performed over 150 times in schools and kindergartens.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Discrimination against people with disabilities is a significant problem in Moldova, often linked to a lack of information about disability and people not recognising discriminatory behaviour.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

Performance for teachers and parents.

Keystone Moldova uses the Forum Theatre method in schools and kindergartens to increase awareness of discrimination and its impact. Theatre practitioner Augosto Boal developed Forum Theatre in Brazil in the 1970s in which scenes portray incidents of social injustice that are relevant to the audience.

The character of The Joker interacts directly with the audience, encouraging them to develop alternative solutions to the situations presented. The audience can also interrupt and replace the performers to act out these solutions. All the actors are trained volunteers, both with and without disabilities. Performances help audiences understand various forms of discrimination and how to address them.

Forum Theatre follows up with the schools and kindergartens after the performances to measure the impact. This has included changes to school accessibility policies and teachers using Forum Theatre methods in their classes to address discrimination. People with disabilities report that the performances have led to greater support from peers, teachers, and parents to advocate for their rights.

FUNDING, OUTLOOK AND TRANSFERABILITY

Keystone Moldova has funded the Forum Theatre programme through external grants from 2012 to 2018. The main expenditure is training volunteers, which costs about €3,000 for 12 volunteers, and for play development. A single performance with 12 participants costs approximately €300.

Keystone Moldova started its first social theatre troupe, ‘Alternativ’, in 2012 and has added three regional troupes since then. Two additional regions in Moldova are looking to develop Forum Theatre troupes, but require funding to do so.

Since its development in Brazil nearly a half-century ago, the Forum Theatre method has been used in many different countries worldwide. The method is best replicated through partnerships with existing theatre troupes so as to benefit from their training and expertise. Once trained, volunteers can use the method in different contexts and to address other forms of discrimination.

Performance for pupils.

FACTSHEET

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