||This session will describe a study that examined the creation of a theatrical commons that aimed to broaden and deepen democratic engagement between diverse citizens in one public school community. The researcher considered how Forum and Image Theatre help people to name and invent different solutions to address complex school community challenges at an individual and at a policy level. It involved former refugee youth, guardians, parents and the more general public as they critiqued the potential of a theatrical commons as voices which are at times, marginalized from decisions made in the community and at a policy level.
This participatory action research project drew heavily on the theatrical imaginations of Augusto Boal and David Diamond. The aims of this work were grounded in critical theory. The study itself was divided into three phases: the participants’ identification of a community problem that was of great importance to them (phase 1), a workshop series that sought to explore the tensions and complexities embedded in the community dilemma, (phase 2), and a performance by the participants in a Forum Theatre event (phase 3) that invited members of a school community to imagine new possibilities for addressing a community problem. Participants reflected critically on the ability of Image and Forum Theatre to ignite critical dialogue in a diverse school community.