Forum Theater

Objective: "Forum Theatre uses theatre to achieve social aims. It is a form of theatre that encourages audience interaction and explores different options for dealing with a problem or issue. Forum Theatre is often used by socially excluded and disempowered groups. 

Forum Theatre (also known as Boal's Theatre, 'Theatre of the Oppressed' or 'Theatre for Development') is an interactive theatre form invented in the early 1970s by Augusto Boal. Boal’s aim was to help audience members identify their “internal oppressions”’ in order to begin to overcome them.

The audience is shown a short play in which a central character (protagonist) encounters a form of oppression or obstacle which s/he is unable to overcome. The subject-matter will usually be something of immediate importance to the audience, often based on a shared life experience. In the UK Forum Theatre has been used to tackle issues like family relationships, homelessness, employment and health.

When the play has been performed members of the audience can take to the stage and suggest alternative options for how the protagonist could have acted. In this way, the event can be used to rehearse for an imminent occasion, or to uncover and analyse alternatives in any situation, past, present or future. The actors explore the results of these choices with the audience creating a kind of theatrical debate, in which experiences and ideas are rehearsed and shared, generating both solidarity and a sense of empowerment" (

According to the Mandala Center for Change the forum theatre is "a problem-solving technique in which an unresolved scene of oppression is presented. It is then replayed with the audience invited to stop the action, replace the character they feel is oppressed, struggling, or lacking power, and improvise alternative solutions. This structure, probably the most famous, can be used to explore past and current situations, or as a rehearsal for the future" (

The Forum Theatre can be used with any type of audience but the method has been traditionally used by and with excluded or marginalized groups, such as the homeless or residents affected by poverty.

Participation level Target groups Number of participants Duration/Timeline Implementation Frequency Budget
Collaboration Any Any 1 day Live event One event Medium
Organizational requirements:
  • Reaching out to vulnerable/marginalized groups
  • Project management/Event organization
  • Education about the topic before the actual activity taking place
  • Education about the procedure of the activity before the actual activity taking place
  • Moderator/Facilitator

Forum Theatre

Theatre of the Oppressed