At the beginning of November 2017 I did a corporate role play job here in Bangkok. It interestingly involved a forum theatre-style setup.
All the corporate role play jobs that I worked on had other participants of that particular training sitting in the room; mostly to observe their peers. Sometimes the observers had to jump into the same situation after.
Usually, you would think that the ones that observed that situation unfolding before their eyes would fare better than their peers before. However, that is not how it works. Most of us are so set in our ways that we fall into the same pitfalls that we usually do; even having given feedback and criticized their peers.
In all of those cases, the observers always kept quiet and pretended not to be in the room; they were present without being there.
It was a bit different. A forum-style corporate role play works this way. The participant can at any point call a freeze. He can ask his peers for advice, or ask me to make adjustments to the way I played the character. For example, by asking me to be more accommodating.
The Actual Forum-Style Corporate Role Play
In this case I played the character twice. The first group of this corporate role play was very laid back. They laughed during the role-play, which I found a bit irritating. You are playing a serious situation and all of the sudden people are laughing right next to you. I am used to this on stage in a comedy, but in a corporate role play that was a first.
At one point the participant called for a time out. He wasn’t sure how to continue. Later into the play, his peers called for a time out to give him advice. Finally everybody burst into laughter at the end which ended the session.
The second session was very intense. We exchanged not a single smile. Both us dug our trenches deep and wide. Neither of us was willing to give in just a little bit. The observers in the room didn’t say anything the entire time. You could have heard a needle drop. Finally the organizer broke up the session.
The observers of the second session admitted that they were all scared of me. In the discussion that followed, I shed some light on the motives and objectives of the character and how, in a perfect world, he could be handled.
Altogether I enjoyed this new form of corporate role play. The forum style helps to keep you on the spot. When there is a freeze moment you need to keep the character and then jump right back in once the play continues.