Forum Theatre as a Tool to Change Community Attitudes towards Inclusion of Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities

Theatre of the Oppressed

Introduction: A person experiencing mental distress is considered a burden to the family. On the other hand, unawareness and stigma makes many families hide their member consumers, preventing them from taking support or psychosocial assistance. In 2009, Nidahas Chinthana Sansadaya – NCS, (Consumer Action Forum), with the technical and financial assistance and expertise from Laymen’s Den (Pvt) Ltd. has established a theatre group called Theater of the Oppressed. Its purpose is to sensitize the communities, government officials and civil society organisations.

Forum Theatre is an application evolved from Latin American countries to educate the laypersons on the impact of malpractices of the corrupt governments on the poorer strata of the country. It has been adapted later as an effective medium to educate lay-communities on different subjects1. NCS and Laymen’s Den (Pvt) Ltd. has developed this application for community education for promoting inclusion of persons with psychosocial disabilities.

To start with, Activists with psychosocial disabilities who were the members of NCS-CAF were trained to develop short action dramas, based on their life stories, at a two-week training workshop (2009) followed by field rehearsals. Since the completion of the training, they have performed covering more than 10000 people including persons with psychosocial disabilities, their family members, health professionals, policy makers, policy implementers, media, police, development professionals, public, entrepreneurs and policy implementers. Besides, the community level programs at schools, community halls, temples, they have performed at trade fairs, special educational workshops organized by Ministry of Health, Police Department, Hospitals, Business Development Service Providers, etc.

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