Recognising confident and non-confident behaviour in self and others – Interactive Theatre Workshop

Recognising confident and non-confident behaviour in self and others [Aylesbury, United Kingdom]

This skills development workshop was targeted at ex drug users and drinkers to enable them to get the skills they need to get a volunteering post or employment.  The workshop was about developing skills, such as interpersonal skills, communication and problem solving, as well as developing confidence.

This is the third time I have worked with LLC Consultancy, a social enterprise that aims to improve the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and individuals through capacity building of staff in health and social care services, evaluative research of services and interventions and through training and support of groups and individuals with experience of drug and alcohol related problems.  I always enjoy working with groups from LLC as they are always well experienced in the topic at hand and, from which, I can always learn.  It has been a pleasure to work with them again.  The aim of the workshop was to improve communication skills in order for the participants to gain confidence as they begin to look for a volunteer or paid position.

I was early to the workshop and the learners were reviewing a powerpoint presentation on non verbal communication and creative problem solving which dovetailed neatly into the work that I was facilitating with them.  I was greatly interested in the presentation and incorporated some of what they discussed into my workshop:


Slide No. 1:

Factors affecting Communication:

Facial Expression





Past Experience


Slide No. 2:

9 Steps to Creative Problem Solving:

State the Problem

Identify who owns the Problem

Gather relevant information

Clarify the Problem

Verbalize alternative / possible solutions

Evaluate possible alternatives

Choose alternative

Implement alternative

Evaluate / Reflect on the outcome


This included examining specific factors around communication as outlined in the slide above.  I asked them to be very specific when creating the scenes with their facial expression, gestures, expectations and past experiences and referenced their earlier learning.  I also reviewed with them the nine steps to creative problem solving and asked them to focus on staging & clarifying the problem after seeing the scenes and then, before touch tagging began, verbalize alternative solutions and evaluate possible alternatives.

For me, it was an excellent opportunity to put the morning learning to the test [as touch tag is so good at doing: testing the ‘theory’ and seeing if it actually can work].  It also made the whole day a really complete package for the learners.

The workshop was a success and followed the usual pattern of participants being wary at first [though it was nice to have a couple of ‘stooges’ in the audience who had taken the workshop in the past and were eager to participate] but then soon warmed up to the fun of being ‘silly’, performing and watching others perform.  As this was a workshop on recognising confident and non-confident behaviour in self and others, I asked them to think about moments in the recent lives where a breakdown in communication affected negatively their confidence.  The stories they told were both from a professional and personal perspective. One of the most touching and stimulating was a personal story around a divorced couple’s child and how the mother & father are dealing [or not dealing] with the separation.  It provoked a lot of ‘alternative’ solutions, but few proved practical when put to the Touch Tag Test.  The story-teller was evidently affected by the public telling of the story as well as the attempts to change the outcome.

As a closing exercise, I facilitated Boal’s ‘Family Portrait’ exercise, where I take a picture of an ‘idealized’ version of a participant’s family and another one of the ‘realistic’ portrait of the same family.  This too proved to be quite emotional from both the participants and the creator’s point of view.  The creator pointed out that she had never physically seen how she deals with her mother until she created both an ideal version [where she was off in the very corner of the picture] and the realistic version [where she was in the centre of the picture] and what those two very different versions of the relationship with her mother means.  Powerful stuff!

I ‘handed over the stick’ quite a lot with this group as it was a group that wanted to and was certainly capable of leading.  I would give them the basic outline of what was to be achieved in each exercise and then let them run with it.  I think this showcased my ability to be flexible yet confident in the workshop delivery of its aims.  I didn’t come in as a teacher, but rather as someone who could as equally learn from their experiences showcased through the freeze frames and performances.

Although the workshop ran long, the day naturally ended with an overview reflection of everything the learners did that day [morning and afternoon sessions].  From the feedback, the participants spoke about the ease at which I put them.  They said that they were pleased with what they were able to achieve and that my facilitation gently but firmly guided them throughout.  Though none thought they could lead any of the exercises [and that was not one of the aims], two did express an interest in ‘using more drama’ in some of the work that they do. Unfortunately, I was unable to follow up with them to further examine what they meant and if I could support them.

This skills development workshop is targeted at ex drug users and drinkers to enable them to get the skills they need to get a volunteering post or employment. We hope that after this pilot workshop we are commissioned to roll out this workshop to a wider audience.


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