Projects & Performances
07
Oct
2010

Freestyle Forums Project Outline

Kompany Malakhi’s innovative new project Freestyle Forums will discover alternative approaches to fusing spoken word, freestyle rap and forum theatre. The project will have two elements that can be experienced separately or as a whole.

The overarching artistic vision for Freestyle Forums is to create a new performance style. The project will explore in more detail the relationship between the community, agencies within it and young people. It will examine areas of tension for example between young people and the police, social groupings and bullying or  post code gang culture and seek to offer alternative perspectives and solutions.

Artistically it will redefine notions of theatre and freestyle rap,  pushing participants skills and demanding that they respond in freestyle spoken word to various situations presented in the forum.

The project looks at new ways of tackling gun and knife crime, giving participants and the community the ability to engage in debate immediately after each sharing.

Kompany Malakhi has carefully developed a framework of forum performances that targets various issues, so audiences can explore these issues  for themselves in a safe and accepting setting.

What is forum theatre and does it work?

Forum Theatre is an interactive theatre form created in the early 1970s by Augusto Boal. An audience is shown a short play in which a central character (protagonist) encounters an oppression or obstacle which s/he is unable to overcome; the subject-matter will usually be something suggested by the forum, of immediate importance to the audience, often based on a shared life experience.

After this first showing, there may be a brief discussion amongst the audience, mediated by a figure known as ‘The Joker’ (as in a pack of cards, belonging to no particular suit, on no-one’s side). The play is then performed again, either from the beginning, or  from any agreed point in the story and runs as before – but this time, whenever a ‘spect-actor’ (active audience member) feels the protagonist might usefully have tried a different strategy, s/he can pause the action, take up the protagonist’s place, and try his or her idea. The other characters in the piece will react as they feel their characters would react.  The intervening spect-actor can play out different senarios exploring different outcomes according to the situation.

Residencies

If there is a specific issue within a community or school surrounding anti social behaviour Kompany Malakhi can use a residency to create work that specifically tackle  an issue, as well as teaching the tools needed for forum theatre, so the group can continue to use this as an effective method to openly debate and resolve issues.

Kompany Malakhi are also devising research workshops that will allow young people to explore issues with members of the Police Force, social agencies, local communities and social services in order to create new informed work.

Meeting our aims this project will enable Kompany Malakhi to:

  • create innovative inter-disciplinary work
  • create opportunities for participation
  • find creative routes to engage new people

The project will create a platform for disparate groups to voice their opinions, discuss social issues and explore choices and their consequences.

How is it effective?

Through a session of Forum Theatre, many people will intervene during the process who have an opinion on the subject played out, their contributions show many different outcomes. In this way the event becomes a theatrical debate, in which experiences and ideas are shared with people approaching the subject matter from different angles. The overarching vision for this project is to generate change, solidarity, discussion and a sense of empowerment.

Why freestyle rap?

Rap’s origins are from Hip Hop culture, the original philosophy of which is peace, unity, love and having fun, supported by knowledge and wisdom.  Rap and Hip Hop have been misconstrued as being negative gangster rap in recent years.  Freestyle Forums focuses on the original Hip Hop philosophy. Young people will be attracted to the project through the musical element, which gives a sense of familiarity and ease. This will in turn create a platform for serious debate to take place, through audience participation allowing difficult questions to be tackled and discussed.

Where is it performed?

The beauty about Forum theatre is that it can be performed with a very little or no set, and a small number of props, thus enabling it to be performed anywhere, from gymnasiums, halls, street corners and theatres.  Freestyle Forums can be performed in virtually any space that has room for an audience to sit in front of the action.  It is important to have the audience in this configuration as opposed to around the performers so that ‘The Joker’ can see both audience and actors and be able to facilitate the forum.

Benefits:

  • Provides alternative tools to deal with conflict resolution
  • Gives a balanced insight into the reasons and solutions for anti social behaviour, from a diverse make up of ages and cultures
  • Promotes community cohesion, by allowing the community and the police to come together equally to discuss the issues
  • Reduces and prevents anti-Social behaviour, because the perpetrators will get a better insight to the effects their behaviour causes
  • Mentoring young people to succeed as leaders within their community
  • The possibility to set up forum theatre groups across the UK that deal with young people’s social issues
  • Promote creativity within young people
  • Social inclusion
  • Promotes well being

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