We took our forum theatre play to Twickenham Stadium for Richmond Council's Community Safety Day. It was a long but rewarding day with five, hour long workshops back to back involving 150 year nine students from across the borough.
First years Katie, Matt, Emma, Andy and Melissa did a cracking job playing five very different audiences and were always on the ball, engaged and professional in everything they did. It was impressive work.
The twist in our play revolved around peer group pressure and focused on James, played by Matt, trying to stay out of trouble by standing up to the popular Ben, played by Andy and Bella, a girl he fancies and who fancies him, played by Emma. Eventually egged on by them he's arrested for criminal damage and anti-social behaviour.
Many of the students who got up to try and solve the problem did so at the expense of the friendships; with one uber-confident girl from Teddington School proudly proclaiming 'Individuality NOT Popularity!' to the rest of the audience. But my favourite intervention came from fourteen year old Courtney who goes to Whitton School. She replaced James three times and on each occasion refused to give up on Bella, working overtime to keep the friendship alive, whilst avoiding giving into peer demands. She didn't totally succeed in finding the balance, but she did give the whole audience a lesson in loyalty and emotional maturity. It's what I love about forum theatre it makes you respond with your heart, as much as with your head.