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A major diversity change driver – Interactive Theatre

IDC is proud to be a presenter at the Global Women’s Leadership Forum in London on Sep 8th, where we shall be illustrating the impact of microinequities through the medium of interactive theatre (for a description of microinequities see ‘Resources for you – Making the Most of Difference’).


We have developed interactive theatre as a major driver of diversity change using it to give people clear and lasting images of appropriate and inappropriate diversity and inclusion (D&I) behaviour. Interaction between the workshop participants and the characters (Interactive Theatre) is a powerful method of encouraging people to express their opinions. The characters can also act as “the voice” of some of the participants – both in the interactions and in the scenarios. We engage a full range of ‘tricks of the trade’ in developing our scenarios: humour, characterisation, conflict, plot, theme and emotion. Our aim is to engage, inform and to provide a memorable experience for our participants, which they will recall and influence their behaviour positively in everyday workplace happenings, i.e. deliver lasting culture change.


The bespoke, theatre scenarios we develop, from structured research in each client’s organisation, are complex and textured. Even when we are dealing with a specific issue, such as bullying and harassment, we interweave other elements to ensure participant engagement and in order to reflect the complexity of workplace situations. We focus particularly on ‘grey areas’ as we recognise that things are seldom clear-cut and that straightforward right and wrong situations are relatively rare. These offer a rich context of learning for our participants as we tease out issues and engage both hearts and minds in D&I as it really happens. A further rationale behind developing less than perfect illustrations is to invite our participants to recognise that things are not ideal and then, through interactive exercises, to effect alternative outcomes.


The scenarios usually finish on a climax or crisis of some description. This is, in effect, a call on our participants to engage and to start to develop solutions involving the practice of appropriate inclusive behaviours. Through participant engagement and their ownership of solutions, we develop a celebratory feel in our events. We show how D&I can really work, how common-sense behaviours support an inclusive culture, and how all participants can make a positive contribution.


The participants’ interaction with the characters can take several forms. It may be forensic in finding out more about the characters’ attitudes, motivations and feelings. It may take the form of coaching the characters - helping to make explicit the behaviours that are more likely to create an inclusive culture – or the participants actually modelling desired behaviours, for example intervening and demonstrating more positive behaviours to the characters.


Facilitated dialogue enables participants to engage with each scenario on process, behavioural and organisational culture levels. IDC’s facilitators are skilled in all these areas and know how to invite participants to draw out the learning from each scenario by interacting and working with the characters in it. IDC uses a series of interactive exercises, which we have specifically developed, to engage and challenge our participants in these different levels of learning.


We have deep and extensive experience of assisting organisations build inclusive cultures using interactive theatre as a key driver. Moreover, we have an unrivalled resource of experienced and skilled facilitators and actors, which has given IDC the capability to deliver interactive theatre in over 80 countries worldwide in the last 12 months.                                                                            


Dr Ian Dodds,

28 Aug 08

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