Thursday 24 September 2015

Who We Are:

Matthew Hahn and Rebecca Bogue have worked with a variety of communities (school children, the disabled, recovering drug addicts, young girls in danger of becoming sex workers, sex workers attempting to better their circumstances and others) using interactive theatre to examine behaviour as well as how to rebalance power amongst personal, professional and social relationships. This has led to successful behaviour change on a personal level as well as legislative change from those who hold power/

Recent organisations Hahn and Bogue have facilitated interactive Forum theatre to develop and advocate include the following organisations:  Amnesty International; Disabled People Against Cuts [DPAC] - directed & facilitated forum theatre in the Houses of Parliament as part of a presentation advocating for the rights of the disabled in the United Kingdom; LLC Social Enterprise – facilitated a number of interactive Forum theatre workshops for volunteer counsellors working in drug & alcohol rehabilitation; University of West London – facilitated a number of workshops for students in the Substance Use and Misuse Studies, School of Psychology.

For more information:
To find out more about the Common Air Project’s work, please contact  For more details about the facilitators, please visit or

Examining Power Balance & Legislative Theatre:

Identifying interpersonal dynamics and power inequalities within a personal or professional environment is key. In our personal, professional or social experience, we may struggle to understand why someone is behaving in a certain way. We may in turn behave inappropriately ourselves and end up in undesirable situations. The interactive theatre methodology used by CAP is a valuable tool in exposing these behaviours in any context, aiding us to identify communicative tendencies and power inequalities more readily.

Collective responsibility, collusion and systemic change is also explored. That is, how behaviour change in people and environments within spheres of influence can also change the behaviour of those directly involved in a dispute/ conflict. By shedding light on how space, colleagues/ others and expectations can play a silent role in people's behaviour, participants can become more aware of collusion and how easily it can surface. 

This group and institutional understanding of power relationships has also led us to utilize an extension of Forum Theatre - ‘Legislative Theatre’ - where collective and systemic behaviour is explored. This allows for change to be catalysed and a platform for the advocacy of rights created. This is particularly pertinent in contexts where the absence of law is continuing to ensure injustice or where laws are created to suppress action. Working beyond issue awareness and community building, Legislative Theatre allows the community participants to create bills to address the oppression they face. Policy-makers can be invited to attend, participate and then advise on the next steps of law-making.

Common Air Project's Interactive Theatre Theatre Programme

CAP has facilitated workshops in South Africa, Ethiopia and throughout the United Kingdom as a means to examine current behaviour and practice around a variety of topics. The common thread generally consists of two elements: a power imbalance (on an individual or social level) and a breakdown in communication (in a personal/ professional or social context). Interactive Theatre aims to try out different approaches/ behaviour changes in these areas (some practitioners refer to it as ‘rehearsing for life’). It has also been utilised to introduce positive behaviour changes in professional contexts where power dynamics may be proving inhibiting be it with patients, clients, family members, colleagues and management.    

The interactive theatre workshop enables participants to bring about changes in their behaviour not only through words and their content, but also through changes in their body, voice or use of space which may allow positive change to occur.  This results in a positive and fun way of transforming behaviour.  

The Common Air Project’s Aim & Offer:

Our Aim:

To train & support partner organisations, small & large, with innovative & participatory approaches to behaviour change.

Our Offer:

We will offer partner organisations a flexible range of services from short one-off interactive theatre workshops to longer training courses.  The courses would be tailored to the needs of the organisation and start with a ‘needs assessment’ of that organisation to assure the aims of the workshop are of use to the organisation.

Thursday 10 September 2015

Participatory Approaches to Peace Building [Workshop delivered as part of the Winchester University's ‘I too, remember dust’: Peace-building, Politics & the Arts’ Conference 7 & 8 September 2015]

Interactive Theatre Creative Practice Workshop
The Arts and their intervention: Peacebuilding and reconciliation initiatives in post-conflict situations.

CAP’s Methodology is based on Augusto Boal’s Forum Theatre and, more recently, Theatre for a Change’s Touch Tag Theatre, our interactive and participatory approach examines current behaviour and attempts to make positive changes where it may be necessary.
Once the workshop participants examine their own behaviour and practice their own personal behaviour change, then the focus of the workshop will shift to how they can use the methodology in their own work of advocating for changing social attitudes around peacebuilding and reconciliation through dialogue. 

The Common Air Project [CAP] equips participants with the awareness, knowledge and communication skills to transform their own lives and the lives of others - personally, socially and professionally. CAP introduces participants to unique theatre-based tools that encourage positive behaviour change in their own lives and those with whom they work / interact. CAP uses a highly experiential form of learning which can be described as a participatory approach to social change. It is via participation that individuals generate the awareness and ability to implement practical and positive changes in their own lives and gain a voice in society as a whole. As well as exploring current behaviour, this methodology also enables a group to find its own solutions to the issues raised within a community. It is through genuine physical & emotional commitment that individual and/ or group behaviours can be examined and, if need be, positively changed. 
We aim to achieve a balance in the relationship presented rather than, as in Forum Theatre, one side ‘winning’ over another [that of the ‘protagonist’ over the ‘antagonist’].  In conflict resolution, balance must be the goal in order to make it sustainable as a reversal of power will only continue the oppression of one side over another. 

The potential of the Methodology:
These participatory approaches to social change offer a structure in which to examine behaviour in a variety of contexts and settings. The participating community provide the realistic content (based on their own experience) to be examined and then discover and widen the possibilities of positive changes amongst existing individual and institutional behaviours. 
Participatory  / Interactive Theatre reveals to the participating audience, the main character (protagonist) trying to deal with an obstacle, difficulty or breakdown in communication and failing. This may be due to resistance in the other characters (the antagonist/s) as well as behavioural patterns and dynamics underlying their communication. The initial play ends ineffectively and the audience (who face similar issues that are faced by the protagonist) is invited to enter the world of the play to see if their interventions might improve the final outcome. As a community, the actors and audiences ‘rehearse behaviour change.


·     Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paolo Freire
·     Theatre of the Oppressed – Augusto Boal
·     Games for Actors and Non Actors – Augusto Boal
-     Whose Reality Counts?: Putting the First Last - Robert Chambers
·           Theatre for a Change (

The Common Air Project

‘I believe theater is a form of active culture. That participating in the theater is an act of leaning forward as opposed to leaning back. For me, the most thrilling experiences in the theater have always been ones where I’ve felt like I’ve had a role to play in this room, where something is asked of me as an audience member and I have to meet the actors halfway. Because it is about that, being in the room together, this notion of breathing common air, and that the relationship between the audience and the actor is a circular one. ‘
-          Anne Bogart