Forum Theatre: Fishbowl of the Oppressed?

  • Beth Cross Beth Cross, University of Stirling & Ian Brookes, Freespace Board Member
  • Ian Brookes Freespace Board Member


Forum Theatre as a technique is increasingly being drawn upon within research with marginalised groups.  However the degree to which it’s underlying philosophical approach of emancipatory participation is being incorporated into the use made of it across services and sectors is debatable. Forum Theatre uses drama techniques to draw a group into discussion and reflection about embodied and structural dynamics that otherwise may go unarticulated. As such it is a process that explores the inter-relations of language, materiality, silence, and speaking. This article reflects on a research process that sought to gain the views of people with complex needs about new protection policy in Scotland using Forum Theatre to explore the moment by moment negotiations that people with complex needs face when their life plans and choices come under scrutiny.  Participants made compelling use of embodied expression to highlight issues around decision making and dynamics that can act to silence them within protection processes.  However the degree to which professionals were unwilling to enter themselves into embodied deliberations through participating in Forum Theatre activities, we argue, sealed the process in a bubble not unlike a fishbowl.

How to Cite
Cross, B. and Brookes, I. (2015) “Forum Theatre: Fishbowl of the Oppressed?”, Concept, 6(3), p. 10. Available at: (Accessed: 20May2024).