Writing for Forum Theatre

Staging stories of oppression

Monday March 23rd - Saturday March 28th 2020

The Hurst

Writing for Forum Theatre: Staging stories of oppression

How can we as playwrights challenge the centres of power? What will most successfully provoke an audience to action? During this intensive five-day residential course, you will investigate the delicate particularities of writing for Forum Theatre, the most political of theatrical forms.

Through a range of writing exercises, workshops and games, you will learn how to structure an engaging and provocative Forum Theatre piece that is authentic and invites maximum participation from its target audience.  The course will cover many alternative ways of creating Forum Theatre – whether co-creating with the community through devising, or writing from research. The course will also touch on Boal’s ‘action-into-law’ process which he called Legislative Theatre.

Tutored by playwright and activist Sarah Woods and leading expert in Forum Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed Adrian Jackson, this course offers a chance to develop your playwriting as a socially-engaged practice that can move audiences to fight for change.

Suitable for playwrights, devisers, social activists, theatre practitioners, community workers, teachers and youth workers.

What is Forum Theatre?

Forum Theatre is a form of participatory theatre invented by the Brazilian theatre practitioner and theorist Augusto Boal, with the aim of creating debate about important issues. It is an increasingly popular form which is used across the world in a variety of social settings, from activism to young people’s drama, harnessing theatre to engage audiences, mind, body and soul, in debate around real current issues. This course examines the ways in which writing for Forum Theatre differs from other forms of playwriting and what makes effective Forum Theatre writing.

Run in partnership with Cardboard Citizens

Cardboard Citizens is a charity and professional theatre company that has been making life-changing theatre with and for homeless people for over 28 years. We share homeless people’s stories through professional theatre, raising awareness of issues and sparking debate among the general public. Alongside this, we deliver free, year-round arts-based activities and provide one-to-one support for people affected by homelessness. We offer a safe place for vulnerable Londoners to creatively express themselves, reflect on issues relevant to their lives, collaboratively problem-solve and engage in positive, self-directed development.

Our contribution to supporting the homeless community has been considerable, championing alternative models of engagement and progression, whilst transforming hundreds of lives every year. Our approach is rooted in Theatre of the Oppressed methodology; an internationally recognised practice that effectively liberates and empowers the most vulnerable. Forum Theatre, born out of Theatre of the Oppressed, is known as a ‘rehearsal for life’, and Cardboard Citizens uses it as a means by which participants and audiences can rehearse changes in their lives, collaboratively problem-solve and overcome their past, to look towards more positive futures.



Cost: £500


How to apply:

To apply, please send a 500-word statement describing how participation would benefit your own writing and/or the community or professional context in which you work or would like to work.

Please email your statement to learning@arvon.org by 5pm on Tuesday 21st January; we will confirm places in the week of 27th January.


The Hurst front

The Hurst

The Hurst is a place you can write, far away from daily distractions. The house and gardens, surrounded by the forest-covered Shropshire Hills, were the former home of playwright John Osborne.


Writing course tutor delivering a workshop at Lumb Bank


Arrive late afternoon, settle in, enjoy dinner and the tutors’ introduction to the week in the evening.

one-to-one tutorial at Lumb Bank


Morning workshops led by tutors. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. Tutors read from their work in the evening.

Course participants writing at the workshop table at The Hurst


Morning workshops led by tutors. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. In the evening a guest speaker joins the group.

Course participant writing on a sofa in the barn at Lumb Bank


Morning workshops led by tutors. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. You are free to spend this evening as you wish.

A woman smiling and listening to a writing tutor speak at Lumb Bank


Tutors lead the final workshops in the morning. In the evening everyone gets together to share and celebrate their work.

Course participants eating at The Hurst


The week comes to a close after breakfast. Have a tissue handy to say your farewells to the group.



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