To analyse issues and to rehearse speaking up in new situations or on different topics.
Everyone has different roles in different spheres of their lives, perhaps as a colleague, employee, mother, daughter, wife, politician or friend. Someone may be a passive participant in one context, active in another, empowered in one sphere but a victim in another situation. Role playing enables participants to explore the different power relations and patterns of communication between different roles. Role-play is an effective way for people to think about different perspectives in a particular situation, and the impact this has on communication – an important step in the process of challenging and changing relationships of power.
Enabling people to reflect on their multiple identities in life can help raise awareness of the idea of roles and role-playing and make it easier for people to take on or act out the roles of others. Often participants are nervous at first, and the use of simple props or masks can help them take on a character.
Role-plays may come in many forms for example:
In each case the role play should be the starting point for discussion and can be re-visited at different stages of the discussion to explore alternative responses or outcomes. Relating this to the circle itself and self-reflection, it can be interesting to encourage participants to come up with different stereotypes or labels for the behaviour of individuals in group discussions. In situations where this approach has been used, labels have included: rambler, talkaholic, wise-guy, coloniser, aggressor, joker, daydreamer, pontificator, silent cowboy. Having such labels can enable participants to reflect on their own roles and challenge each other with humour.
Photographer's Credit: Nana Kofi Acquah/ActionAid