Dramatic possibilities for engagement, co-production and commissioning
How to understand needs and outcomes?
Since public servants started trying to do truly person-centred commissioning, we’ve developed many ways of finding out what real needs are, what outcomes will improve lives and what insight and capacity people themselves can bring to realising those outcomes.
We had to get beyond mere consultation and towards genuine co-production. To that end we’ve used focus groups, customer journey maps and diaries, ethnography, shadowing, and others. They’ve all helped us move forward.
An inclusive approach with built-in, co-produced proposals
Now, RedQuadrant (http://www.redquadrant.com/) and Reveal Productions CIC (https://www.revealproductions.co.uk/) are thinking about how approaches which bring together theatre and public service can take this significantly further. We know this can work because Augusto Boal (1931-2009), a Brazilian dramatist and politician elected to Rio council, used his inclusive approach to theatre to engage with communities, find out what their problems really were and explore with them how these issues could be tackled.
What makes this a potentially powerful way to engage, coproduce and commission is the way Boal’s process moves from inclusion, through discussion and debate to culminate in ideas for positive change:
- citizen participants get to say directly to commissioners what their problems are (perhaps quite different from what commissioners thought they were)
- the dramatic setting enables a discussion/debate- “So, what should we do about it?”
- the dramatic process is explicitly designed to result in proposals (however roughly sketched) for policy change which Boal took back to the council chamber. (He did so successfully 13 times, resulting in improved lives for people with disabilities and learning difficulties, older people and witnesses needing protection).
The approach develops confidence, skills and resilience in participants – develops them personally, promotes learning and empowerment.
It enables undiscussable issues to be surfaced and presented in ways that can be heard through creativity – giving a voice to the unheard.
It connects people through the experience of theatre – develops community and emotional connection.
Social Theatre makes use of specific locations. The interaction between people and place in devising and then during a performance can itself be transformative.
And you can get a taste for what it’s all about by checking out the Theatre of the Oppressed taster session that was held at this year’s State of Transformation conference.
Find out more by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com