Applied Theatre: A Novel Technique for Helping Organizations to Manage Change

Applied Theatre: A Novel Technique for Helping Organizations to Manage Change

Pedro Vaz (Independent Researcher and Applied Theatre Practitioner, Spain) and Nicholas Clarke (EADA Business School, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6155-2.ch014

Abstract

This chapter describes applied theatre as an innovative and novel intervention for helping individuals and organizations to manage change. Applied theatre engages participants to understand their emotional responses to change and how they might respond more effectively to it. These processes are discussed through the legacy of Aristotle's ideas on emotional participation and Boal's Forum Theatre on engagement with groups and their empowerment. After a brief introduction to applied theatre methodology, the chapter presents key insights from interviews with five directors of applied theatre that highlight how they use their skills and competence in emotional awareness and emotional management in order to shape the emotional states of participants and achieve learning to cope with change. Finally, the authors highlight recent studies suggesting applied theatre can have positive impacts within a broad array of settings.
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What Is Applied Theatre In Organisational Contexts?

There are a number of texts on organisational change that suggest incorporating performance art in implementing change can offer many advantages (Jabri, 2012; Watkins & Marsick, 1993; Zander & Zander, 2000). The use of acting as a means to enact organisational change is based on the notion that like role plays and self-reflection exercises, acting is another form of experiential learning. However, it is particularly powerful as it is a very effective means by which individuals are able to tap into the tacit knowledge they hold about themselves and the world they occupy. Organization theatre refers to applied theatre in organisational contexts. It is a collection of techniques that are used to assist in managing change in organisations. These techniques are designed to create an awareness of the problems facing the organisation and stimulate or motivate action for change (Clark & Managham, 2004).

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