Forum Theater - Hispanic Community
About the Troupe Leader - Sonia Palacios-Treviño
Sonia works for the Harris Health System as a community health worker. In this role, she facilitates the Forum Theater Project for the Hispanic community, providing education on colorectal and cervical cancer prevention.
She also conducts health-education outreach activities that promote cancer prevention and proper access to health-care services.
Sonia has a Child Development Associates certificate and received her Community Health Worker certification in 2009. She is presently working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in biblical counseling at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston.
The lesson plans were designed by John Sullivan, a consultant who is participating in the training process. They are based on Theatre for Community, Conflict and Dialogue: The Hope Is Vital Training Manual by Michael Rohd (Heinemann Drama, Portsmouth, NH, 1998).
Over the course of 13 weeks, participants are familiarized with Forum Theater principles and learn how to apply them to cancer-prevention education. They develop two scenes—one on colorectal cancer screening and the other on cervical cancer screening—and engage in a 2-hour rehearsal each week. At the end of the training course, the troupe gives a pilot performance of the two scenes for an audience of health-care professionals and elicits feedback to enhance the story lines for community performances. Follow-up sessions allow the troupe to review the key messages for the story lines, discuss their satisfaction with the pilot performance, explore prospects of working with community groups to create a culturally fluent health-promotion performance, and analyze their own roles in community health by using drama-based facilitation techniques.
The following are brief descriptions of each lesson that link to PDF versions of the lesson plans.
Lesson 1: Participants are introduced to Forum Theater as a technique for addressing and solving community health issues. Training begins with a discussion of their motivations for joining the project and explores their attitudes and experiences with colorectal and cervical cancer prevention and screening.
Lesson 2: The main focus of this session is on health content related to colorectal and cervical cancer. Participants also participate in confidence-building and trust-building exercises.
Lesson 3: Participants learn focusing exercises, begin to learn about image development, and become part of a theatrical team.
Lesson 4: Participants discuss cultural and social barriers to colorectal and cervical cancer prevention and screening. They then create static images that depict some of the barriers to screening.
Lesson 5: Participants learn about sensory development and about improvisation techniques they can use to build core conflict images related to colorectal and cervical cancer.
Lesson 6: Participants continue to develop their improvisation and communication skills to target the knowledge level of the community.
Lesson 7: Participants continue to expand their sensory development and sculpture-building techniques.
Lesson 8: Participants learn about teamwork, share stories of personal or workplace experiences in colorectal and cervical cancer prevention and screening, and gather in story circles to discuss these experiences in depth.
Lesson 9: Participants develop story lines for the two scenes they will perform and then create core conflict images related to the story lines.
Lesson 10: Participants rehearse both scenes. They then create a dramatic image that captures the past, present, and future decisional conflicts portrayed in the two story lines.
Lesson 11: Participants continue to rehearse the two scenes, strengthening each scene and its characters by improving one or two aspects of the performance.
Lesson 12: Participants focus on the scenes, work on the viewpoint of each scene, and develop the protagonist and antagonist for the story lines.
Lesson 13: Participants improve their imaging skills to conceptualize the complexity of the barriers to screening, check the clarity and timing of the two scenes, and practice character-building skills.