Create culture:
Library Innovative Services

In 2020, the Ukrainian Library Association implements an international project called “Create Culture: Library Innovative Services”, supported by the European Union as a part of the House of Europe program. On a competitive basis, 32 librarians from Ukraine and Belarus were selected and trained by Danish and Ukrainian coaches. As a result of the workshops, each participating librarian developed and implemented a new innovative service for the development of creative industries in their library. These services are presented on the website.

Reading forum theater “I am a Book”

Pologiv Central District Library has opened a forum theatre “I am a book”, which can be joined by anyone interested in theatrical art and drama.

“Forum theater is a form of social theater, where both actors and non-actors who want to reveal some social issues can act. The members of the group develop the script together, organize a chamber performance and invite the audience to a discussion. They discuss the problems from the play and look for solutions together”, says the initiator of the project Anastasia Polyanska.

According to her, the scripts of the performances created within the forum theater will be based on literary works, which depict relevant to the group topics. For example, participants have already worked with Laura Marshall’s “Friend Request”, which deals with security issues on social networks.

“Our goal is to create a comfortable creative environment where readers will be able to communicate, develop creative thinking, realize their acting talents and relieve the stress of everyday life, with an emphasis on the book and the library as a “third place”, says Anastasia.

The initiator of the service says that the idea arose from her fascination with the method of “Theater of the Oppressed” by Augusto Boal, who describes ways how to create forum performances in his works.

“I saw that the use of these techniques provides ample opportunities to work with readers of different ages and different social groups, allows you to create an unforgettable experience of events on any topic and does not require large financial costs. Then I continued to study and collect materials on this technique, as well as daydreaming of creating a forum-performance in the library”, says Anastasia.

Due to quarantine restrictions, Anastasia Polyanskaya had to organize the test of the prototype herself, “I participated in organizing a forum theater performance “The Question of Distance”. The actors and the audience were people of different jobs and from different towns. Thanks to these meetings, a method of working with online forum theater was developed and tested”.

The participants of the forum-theater tried to rehearse through Zoom and quickly came to the conclusion that linking performances to specific literary works severely limits the expressive possibilities of the stage performance. Therefore, they decided to use the texts as epigraphs that set the stage for the play.

At the same time, testing and communication with readers revealed that the community needed a place where they could gather to discuss and solve impending problems.

The library notes that the implementation of the service began in mid-August this year, “It takes time not only to prepare the service, but also to promote it among people and explain the content of our service.”

Project results

Anastasia Polyanska says: “Augusto Boal, author of the Forum Theater methodology, noted that the Forum Theater is a theatrical play which presents the problem in an unsolved form, and the audience is invited to suggest solutions and show them on stage. The problem here is always the situation of oppression, in which there are visible oppressors and the main character who is oppressed. In their purest form, both actors and spectators are victims of this oppression.

We hold forum theater classes with different groups and involve a wide range of topics. It does not require large finances. Speaking about the equipment, it is enough to have a comfortable room, and the method of work is described in detail in the book by August Boal “Games for actors and non-actors”. In addition, we have developed sequential classes with explanations and exercises. We post all the materials in the blog dedicated to this service.

Our service is designed to bring up social issues, develop creativity and create a cultural space for communication. Now it is used by young people, as well as people from vulnerable social groups. These include people with disabilities, the elderly, single, unemployed, low-income and so on.

The Forum Theater in the library is a comfortable space for self-expression, creativity and meaningful communication, where visitors can get support to solve their problems, find new friends and ignite creativity. It works very well to unite the team, resolve internal conflicts, get rid of burnout. The service encourages readers’ creative development, expands their outlook, helps them improve themselves, creates cultural leisure, and in a broad sense also unites, adapts various social groups, and also promotes nonviolent methods of the conflict resolution».

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