Pendle Borough Council
Pendle Borough Council
When the smoking ban was brought in across Britain it was certainly a controversial topic. Whilst many businesses and communities embraced it, others were far from happy. They argued that it negatively impacted upon socialising, businesses, litter and noise. They also argued that smokers had not been consulted or given a voice on the issue and it was simply being forced upon them.
In the heart of Lancashire, Pendle Borough Council decided they had two options; to accept the disdain from certain members of the community and simply use enforcement where it was needed or they could try another approach. They could offer the community a platform to air all their views on the new law and try to make things better for everyone. Unsurprisingly, they chose the latter.
This was a classic example of how Dead Earnest’s expertise in Forum Theatre can be used to bring people, often with extremely contrasting views, together and help them discuss issues and find a positive way forward. We created plays that highlighted the issues smoking raised from the perspectives of smoking and non-smoking community members as well as health workers and area councils. This play was then performed in 10 locations across the borough, from local parks to shops and, of course, pubs.
Perhaps the most effective location was in a local pub, which really offered an opportunity to bring everyone involved together. Needless to say, there were some lively discussions as people who were very much anti-smoking turned up to join in the debates with representatives of Pendle Borough Council and supporters of the right to smoke in public.
The performances were there to spark healthy debate, to focus the minds of the attendees and tease out the real issues they felt were important. It was a chance for everyone to have their say, to be honest without being confrontational, to really make a difference to how they were viewed by everyone else. It was a chance to consider the situation from other perspectives, to understand each other and, at the end of the session, to have a social pint together knowing they had put everything out in the open.
A little bit of feedback?
“I had been very impressed by Dead Earnest and by the power of forum theatre in encouraging forthright discussion and in influencing opinion… The play was a very true reflection of the brief I gave to Ashley - he seemed to instinctively understand what was needed.
The play was performed in 10 different venues including a pub where discussion was lively and exchange of opinions honest and direct. Feedback from all venues was good.
We had a very limited time frame in which to deliver this project due to funding constraints but Dead Earnest managed to deliver a very professional product on time and within budget.”
Sheila Bell – Chartered Environment Health Practitioner