All Nations Theatrex was founded in 1991. Its original focus was to offer theatre training to culturally diverse youth. Since then, it has evolved into a theatre company rooted in social justice. As an arts presenter, All Nations is unique in Calgary. There are few Forum Theatre companies practicing in Canada (Mixed Company in Toronto and Headlines Theatre in Vancouver are two of the examples). Forum theatre moves the art beyond sheer entertainment and into the realm of constructive dialogue with communities. All Nations’ role in the arts community is to maintain and promote this type of theatre experience for the actors as well as the audience. The actors are required to explore current issues affecting society as well as develop their ability to interact spontaneously with a live and vocal audience. All Nations’ role in the broader community is to introduce theatre as a tool for change and provide citizens an opportunity to experience first-hand alternative methods for dealing with the social issues they face each day. Community members bring their experiences from the make-believe theatre world into their own reality.
Play Presentation: All Nations Theatre currently tours two Forum Theatre productions to schools and youth groups. In 2004-2005, the shows are: SHOWDOWN by Luciano Iogna, focuses on the issue of bullying in the home and in school. The play is geared toward youth in Grades 7 through 10. SHOWDOWN is a production that specifically aims to help teens recognize the different forms that bullying can take: name-calling, exclusion, extortion, threats and physical violence. The second show, HERE, is a collectively created play that deals with racism and violence in our schools. This play is geared toward youth in Grades 11 & 12. HERE was devised by a group of All Nations’ professional and non-professional actors.
Workshop Residencies: All Nations Theatre currently offers a variety of workshops for youth in all grade levels. From elementary through junior high to high school, the student-centered workshops address social issues in society faced by our youth. Typically, the topics surround racism and bullying and violence. Ultimately, the group participants determine the social issue topic based on their own collective experience. All Nations Theatre has over ten years experience using Forum Theatre techniques. Student experience during the workshop residency moves from (a) watching a keynote play, to (b) intervening in the action of that play to try out strategies for change, to (c) creating their own plays, to (d) sharing these plays with their peers, who in turn (e) intervene in the action to try out their strategies for change. The work is cumulative and moves from actor-led to student-centred mode.