An Introduction to Story Forum – Using folk tales as the basis for transformative role-play
Johnny Gillett, theatre director, story practitioner, UK
Workshop 2,5 hours
Part of the 2018 ATHENS GREECE INTERNATIONAL THEATRE/DRAMA & EDUCATION CONFERENCE
organised by the Hellenic Theatre/Drama & Education Network (TENet-Gr)
Story Forum is where storytelling and Forum Theatre meet. It provides a safe space through the use of metaphors and narrative to deal with personal issues and/or conflicts within a team or community. However, Story Forum has also proved to be effective in providing a creative and kinaesthetic space for academic learning or improving writing skills. Therefore Story Forum can work for any educational institution in both the areas of personal/social development and creative/academic achievement.Story Forum has been used in community financial literacy programmes in Singapore, projects with the homeless in Gothenburg (Sweden), safe houses for young women and orphanages in Malaysia, as well as in the classrooms of international schools across the world and national schools in UK.Story Forum draws on the aims and techniques of Augusto Boal’s Forum Theatre, but differs in three distinct ways. Firstly, there is no ‘show’ or piece of drama to begin with. Instead, a short story is presented and the participants themselves decide on which scenes they will focus on and how these will be presented. Secondly, the participants do not solely follow the journey of one set protagonist. This main narrative focus may change, allowing for an understanding of different character’s perspectives. And thirdly, the story is not a direct enactment of a real life situation. Instead, it is a folk tale. This is Story Forum’s most distinctive feature, in that it presents a collection of archetypes and tropes, which, as metaphors, create a ‘safe space’ in which to work with existing interpersonal dynamics and discuss possible strategies. This aspect is influenced by the aims of Participatory Practice and the techniques expressed by Dorothy Heathcote’s “Mantle of the Expert”. Johnny Gillett will lead participants through a Story Forum session, to give a real experience of the methods he employs and his process, which will be followed by a discussion of Story Forum’s application, looking at examples of its effects with students, in both formal and informal education settings. The session will also include a time for questions when specific learning situations may also be discussed. The workshop will be suitable for any educator who wishes to look at how drama can provide a space for discussion of pertinent issues or find a framework for the ideas of students who struggle working at a desk or screen.
Johnny Gillett (aka The Journey Man) has worked in education establishments across the world for 30 year. This began a mime artist, but he soon trained as Speech & Drama teacher with the New Era Academy in London, later following this with studies in Youth Work at Chester University (UK). He then combined this learning with his experience and knowledge of folk tales from his years of international work to develop a methodology known as Story Practice. Initially created to assist dyslexic children in creative writing, this interactive and kinaesthetic approach to deconstructing stories is now used in community projects, youth centres and in corporate companies. Currently, he is developing programmes with schools in China and with Chinese students in Singapore to increase their confidence in English through storytelling and drama.