- anti-bullying strategies, - definitions of bullying, and
- how we can best support those that have been bullied.
I call this social theatre, and I feel that the creative techniques of social theatre promotes sharing and co-constructive learning.
One of the bedrocks of social theatre is dis- tancing. By distancing ourselves from indi- vidual stories of bullying and putting them in to ‘group stories’, we actually, through this distance, allow people to get closer to the problem they want answers to. The paradox of social theatre is that distancing actually brings us closer!
Social theatre allows people to experience real feelings and find solutions to real prob- lems in a safe and secure environment. Not only do participants in social theatre ses- sions expand knowledge and help educate each other … they do it while having a lot of fun!
One social theatre technique that most people have heard of is ‘role-play’. Role-play is about tak- ing on a role that is not your own. You could for example take on the role of someone else in real life or take on the role of a ficti- tious charac- ter.
If someone says hurtful things to you in a role-play session, the character you are playing may
well get upset. What we need to
remember is that although you may be
experiencing the feel- ings of your character, the hurt, the pain ... you should not take what is said person- ally - after all, it is not you – it is
your character. This is another example of distancing. I see my job as creating a safe space where
groups feel able to share their ideas with each other without fear of retribution or ridicule. I do this within the powerful medium of social theatre.
Role-play has many uses. It can help people understand other people’s intentions, thoughts or feelings … it can help people appreciate empathy – how do people feel when they are bullied … how do people feel when they bully others?
Role-play can help people identify and try out various strategies in a safe space - this way people can try out ways of dealing with bullying … what might work for them and what will not. Role-play is also a useful
tool in demonstrating anti-bullying sup- port mechanisms such as those found in schools peer support services.
Role-play is about playing with roles. Taking roles to their limits and helping us see and experience things from many different points of view. Role-play allows for alternative points of view, it allows for the fact that we experience bullying in dif- ferent ways. It even allows for alternative interpretations of bullying.
So getting back to my earlier question about the benefits of experiencing bully- ing in helping to build our characters.
One of the amazing possibilities of role- play is that it will actually allow us to
experience bullying … in a safe way … and thus helps us to find solutions. It enables us to learn techniques and to find ways of dealing with bullying.
Social theatre practitioners draw on many techniques, including those from the theatre of the oppressed through to traditional theatre. We also make use of rituals, customs and celebrations, games, playful activities, dance, song, music and even film.
Role play, along with a whole host other social theatre techniques can help build people’s confidence, while also helping them to share solutions, ideas, tech- niques, definitions, and skills. Social theatre provides a fresh and dynamic ap- proach for us to use in schools, and with other groups of young people and adults.
Using social theatre in schools, can help teachers become empowered through the use of a flexible and powerful set of teaching tools, and students become em- powered through inclusion and a whole series of techniques that allow for a dia- logue between all the parties concerned. Social theatre really can give us a theatre of empowerment.
Words by Andy Hickson.
If you have problems with bullying did you know that
you can call Childline for free on 08001111?
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