Forum Theatre Helps Move Communities from Conflict to Conversation

Since the restoration of independence in 2002, Timor-Leste has done a remarkable job in overcoming the numerous and enormous challenges of a new and conflict-affected nation.

Highlight

  • Potential sources of conflict in Timor-Leste include disputes over resources, land and property, high unemployment, domestic violence and rivalries between martial arts groups.
  • Topics covered through the Forums have included domestic violence, women in peace and security, civic education, peaceful elections and good governance.
  • Since 2012, 30 participatory forum theaters have been presented to more than 3,000 participants in 11 of the country’s 13 districts.

However, the lingering impact of Timor-Leste’s history of conflict and upheaval, as well as the habitual and increasing volatility of climatic events, leaves the country vulnerable to crises that can upend both stability and progress. Potential sources of conflict include disputes over resources, land and property, high unemployment, domestic violence and rivalries between martial arts groups. 

Participatory Forum Theatre is an innovative method of channeling socio-economic and political frustrations into non-violent communications to help diffuse tensions and prevent conflict. (Click here to watch the video in youtube)

UNDP and the Ministry of Social Solidarity’s Department of Peace Building and Social Cohesion have conducted Forum Theatre events in communities across the country to strengthen community dialogue and support peacebuilding. Topics covered through the Forums have included domestic violence, women in peace and security, civic education, peaceful elections and good governance. 

Engaging youth in Forum performances has been particularly valuable in presenting scenarios that the entire community can relate to. Young men and women, trained to be Forum performers and facilitators, work with community leaders to develop a conflict scenario that reflects the real problems of their community. Performers act out the conflict or problem and then ask the community to share their ideas on how they might prevent the conflict from escalating. Audience members are then invited to step in the action and enact their suggestions.

Forum Theater is a particularly effective and entertaining way to mobilize community members in the rural area where there is limited information access. 

Since UNDP and DPBSC first introduced Forum Theatre in 2012, 30 participatory forum theaters have been presented to more than 3,000 participants in 11 of the country’s 13 districts.