Creative Debate

Use the power of art to enable social change

“Empathy is the most powerful weapon”
Augusto Boal


What is Creative Debate?

Using theatre and film to spark conversations, Creative Debate equips participants with the tools to self-advocate and explore complex themes in view of creating real change in their communities and gain ownership of their future. The technique was developed by Emilia Teglia, founder of Odd Eyes Theatre, in her work with Cardboard Citizens and Augusto Boal first and in Odd Eyes’ programmes with young people, migrants and refugees, including speakers of English as second language, and participants with special education needs (SEND). The goal of this technique is to support participants to gain social awareness and confidence in expressing their views, creating a safe environment for unprejudiced dialogue and ultimately liberating and empowering people.

Creative Debate started in 2015 to accompany the first theatre production of #Haters, then adapted for screen. Since then, the project engaged with over 10,000 people, prompting conversations through debate and storytelling either in film or theatre format.

Creative Debate in school Year 10+: #Haters

Creative Debate in school Year 9+: On The Line

Creative debate in youth centres

Creative Debate with migrants

How it works

Creative Debate is a conversation through art: a group of participants listen together to a story, watch a film, a play or a piece of news relevant to real events in their immediate community. After sharing in the experience as spectators, participants engage in facilitated debate and identify issues directly relevant to their own experience. The group is then called to create new work – a scene, a play or a short film based on their personal views and experience –in response to the original story and changing its outcome for the better. Their final piece is presented to other groups, to neighbours, peers and people in charge, sparking further conversations in the form of public debates and new artistic responses.

In practice: read about #Haters youth and community programme

Watch the latest films made by young participants to the programme:

Crossing the Line


Community Action in Action

About Emilia Teglia

Artistic Director Emilia Teglia developed Creative Debate over the course of two decades of work in participatory theatre. Emilia  trained with Augusto Boal and Adrian Jackson through Cardboard Citizens, she holds a BA Hons in Theatre Studies and a MA in Cultural History with a dissertation on Theatre of the Oppressed. In 2010, she set up Accent on Acting, a pilot project using Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to give a voice to people with experience of migration. The project developed into Odd Eyes Theatre, a charity using theatre and film to open communication between people from different socio-economic background and walks of life.

Read about Emilia’s journey from homelessness to founding Odd Eyes Theatre in this Big Issue article.



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