About Conflict Theatre

About the Approach

Conflict Theatre uses forum theatre techniques established by Brazilian activist Augusto Boal (Theatre of the Oppressed), developed by Vancouver’s David Diamond (Theatre for Living), and specifically tailored to the UBC workplace by Professor Tom Scholte of the Department of Theatre and Film, in collaboration with Human Resources.

Forum theatre is a type of performance that arises from the stories of a community and it can be used as a tool to engage with difficult situations. In forum theatre, a play is created by community members and performed by them, not professional actors. The play tells a story based on real events. During a performance, the play is presented to an audience, who is then welcomed to intervene in the scenes to explore how the story might play out differently. Through this interactive process, forum theatre provides a unique opportunity to rehearse courage and apply new strategies to real problems. Related games and exercises use similar approaches and themes to explore perspective and responses to conflict in embodied ways.

About the Program

Conflict Theatre is a collaboration between Human Resources, the Department of Theatre and Film, and Equity & Inclusion. First introduced in 2011, the program allowed faculty and staff an opportunity to incorporate the principles of UBC’s Respectful Environment Statement into day-to-day difficult conversations and high-stakes conflicts.

Since 2011, Workplace Learning & Engagement (then called Organizational Development and Learning) has worked with partners like the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology to bring this learning strategy to UBC employees to address workplace conflict.

After two successful summer series creating plays and integration into employee leadership programs, Human Resources and the Department of Theatre and Film partnered to offer the 2017-2019 pilot program. Since spring 2017, Conflict Theatre@UBC has held over 50 events with over 600 attendees.

About the Program Facilitator

Professor Tom Scholte of the Department of Theatre and Film is the primary facilitator for the Conflict Theatre program. He has taught acting for stage and screen at UBC since 2004, so he is well placed to apply forum theatre to the realities of the UBC workplace. Tom has designed the workshop curriculum based on his training and practice with David Diamond’s Theatre for Living, as well as his extensive research on theatrical models of social complexity. In addition to his training as a forum theatre joker, Tom was a co-creator/performer in Theatre for Living’s most recent production, šxʷʔam̓ət (home), exploring issues of truth and reconciliation. Tom also has a lengthy list of credits and awards for theatre and film as an actor and director. See more of his biography at http://theatrefilm.ubc.ca/persons/tom-scholte/.