ESOL and Forum Theatre Roleplays: take 2

9 Jun

In the Easter holidays we ran our second ‘forum theatre for ESOL’ course at the Katherine Lowe centre. The course involved two days of games, discussion and devising which culminated in performances for the group. After these performances, the ESOL-learner audience revisited scenes depicted and tried out interventions to improve the outcomes.

Our groups came up with scenes which touched upon the following difficulties

– sexist street harassment

– confrontations on a bus

– being laughed at for a lack of English

As part of our process in working towards these scenes, we used a community organising tool: The World As It Is / Should Be

This is an exercise that we’ve taken from Alinskian Community Organising. In this workshop we did ‘London as it is / London as it should be’ and divided a map of London into two. Beneath the river, participants wrote down the good and bad things about London today; above the river, participants made notes on their ideal for the city. One of our reflections on this exercise was that with this particular visual aid, the North of the river was made into the aspirational, ‘dream’ section with South London being ascribed with all of the problems. However, none of the participants seemed to take the map too literally and the activity was very productive. Overcrowding, inequality, overpriced housing, pollution, stress and traffic were common themes – and both groups commented on the strength of London’s diversity and tolerance. During this exercise, participants not only negotiated meaning in small groups, but also gained new vocabulary as they searched for words to express themselves, presented their ideas to the other group and were presented to in turn.


The final performances

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Saleha pretending to be a grumpy man on the bus

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The day ended with a picnic in a nearby park where we all shared food. There were some great Sudanese, Algerian and Afghani dishes and the sun even came out.


Evaluation comments

Participants’ praise for the workshop:

“It makes us think about other people, what they’ve got in their mind. Not just about myself”

“I feel more confident”

“I think it’s not embarrassing because we’re all in the same situation with not speaking English”

“This make me more confident and push me to deal with life outside”

photo (17)

Participants evaluating the workshop




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