The theatre as a basic training tool, used for ongoing training and the reintegration of adults; some examples of how it works in practice



Merazzi, Claude

Titel: The theatre as a basic training tool, used for ongoing training and the reintegration of adults; some examples of how it works in practice
Jahr: 2008

Homepage des „European InfoNet Adult Education“_Info Service Adult Education: Artikel vom 16.12.2008.


The use of theatre practices as an adult training tool has been going on for about twenty years. Originating in Canada, this approach is gaining prominence in certain basic training programmes and in ongoing training courses, especially in the fields of personal development and management, or in reintegration programmes for the most socially deprived people.

Potentials and advantages of using the theatre as a training medium

Theatre practices, within the context of adult training, affect many areas of people’s, and companies’, social and professional lives. The enormous potential of the “theatre <> daily life” interaction, the metaphorical value of the interplay between these two aspects of expressing oneself, and the distancing that ensues from the play and from performing situations already experienced, or still to come (as in role play), results in a training methodology that is rich, innovative and creative. Melchior Salgado (University of Lyon 1, 2007) mentions four advantages that are a spin-off from this type of training:

- it sets-the-scene and allows those involved to develop themselves and evolve
- it is an active and participative training method
- it allows those involved to rediscover themselves and to discover others
- it is a form of training that has the element of fun.

These characteristics, including humour, or even deriding the “serious”, that such an approach could comprise, are to be found in all sectors that could be the subject of such training methodology and discovery of the theatre.

Some examples of where the theatre can be used within the framework of adult training initiatives:

- Training in communicating, in management and in settling disputes, in interpersonal relationships, etc.: this area is a an inexhaustible field of activity that encompasses all aspects of people’s private, social and professional lives; offers of training in this particular training sector today are manifold and extensive; as an example, in this particular area of activity, at the beginning of 2009, the ‘Association Romande des Formateurs (ARFOR-CH)’ [= The Swiss Romande Association of Trainers’] is offering “Theatros” training to trainers and heads of training departments, using theatre methodology, with the primary aim of “setting out a range of potential contributions that the theatre can make to adult training”;

- Theatre and Management: Melchior Salgado has carried out a large research project, “ThéMaStrat” (standing for “Théâtre et Management Stratégique” [= “Strategic Theatre and Management”]), “which aims at analysing the ways in which the theatre could be made to work for the individual and for companies”, and which attempts to “see if the theatre can make a contribution to the personal development of managers and to analyse what the conditions are for applying theatre practices to companies” (see the “12ème Colloque National de la Recherche en IUT” [= “12th National Research Symposium on University Technical Institutions”], 1-2 June 2006);

- IÉSEG Lille: The IÉSEG, Management School, in Lille, offers a diploma at MASTERS Degree level. Since the 2001-2002 academic year the institution has created theatre modules, integrated into basic management training during the first two years of training. According to the Director of Studies, “The theatre makes it possible to develop one's acceptance of oneself and of others, and to occupy a recognised place within the group in order to construct a coherent professional project.” The examples mentioned above apply to people who have a relatively higher level of training and who are accustomed to keeping a certain distance, and to a diversified use of language and social etiquette. The scope, the “targeted public” and the objectives of the last example are completely different.

- “Theatre and insertion: Can using the theatre as a training tool help and encourage one to find oneself and others, to reintegrate those people, socially and professionally, who are receiving a minimum integration income, social benefits or those dependent on alcohol or drugs? The Hippodrome, the national stage in Douai (France), rose up to this challenge, within the context of a long training period (seven to nine months, one and a half days per week) with a view to preparing a show (200 people took part and 45 of them played a role). As one of the assessments of this exercise mentions (see link below), managing the dynamics of the group, the shows and the personal stakes, talking about oneself and others, is particularly demanding and takes a heavy toll on the producers. “It proved to be an undeniable success but one that could only be perceived as such from up close.” In this area, theatre practices turn out to be a major advantage but difficult in the case of reintegration.

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