Three Chairs provides a suite of learning tools for workplace training and professional development. Three Chairs processes can be delivered through an interactive performance or a performed workshop. Each mode is designed to cater for specific audience needs.

Three Chairs draws from and interweaves Applied Theatre processes with Authentic and Experiential Learning models and the Transformational Psychological paradigm of ‘Voice Dialogue in Relationship with the Aware Ego Process’.

The suite of learning tools enables participants learning through processes of:

  1. Dialogue and reflection
  2. Perspective building
  3. Scenario testing.

Conventions of drama are utilised to facilitate examinations of workplace contexts, situations and relationships.

A small team of actor/facilitators present a prepared fictional scenario that acts as an initial site of enquiry stimulating discussion and reflection. From this scenario and with participant’s involvement other scenarios can be presented and unpacked as they serve the needs of the audience.

A performance-based presentation of Three Chairs is placed in a fictional yet recognisable setting. Characters in the fiction engage in various struggles and activities. The characters are assisted to grow and learn with audience assistance, who are involved in a low level of interaction. Participant’s in the workshop version are more hands on and may work with settings designed specifically, depending on the groups particular interests and the commissioning brief.

The goal in either mode is for participants to enhance interpersonal skills, grow self awareness and confidence in professional and personal communications, solve problems of communication, build and practise communication skills and test change processes in a fictive yet active space. Change processes can be tested and prototyped in ‘low risk’ high gain settings. Three Chairs establishes the fictional space to facilitate and provide a site for deep learning.

Deep learning occurs when Metaxis is created and interrogated. Metaxis can be explained as ‘fictional reality’ – when we experience “the reality of the image and the image of reality” (Boal), we are able to both engage emotionally and evaluate scientifically. We are engaging the limbic brain and the neo-cortical brain (Lewis, Amini, Lannon) in the learning cycle (Zull).

Three Chairs is a powerful learning tool allowing participants to:

• Extract the value of past experience through reflection, observation and discussion

• Enhance present relationships by building perspective, empathy and communication skill sets

• Enable future possibilities to be prototyped ad tested in ‘low risk’ high gain fictive settings

Three Chairs learning is authentic and experiential: thoughts and ideas develop hypotheses, hypotheses are applied and tested, applications are observed and reflected upon as new thoughts and ideas emerge; and so continues the cycle in the spirit of collaboration and open minded enquiry based on the lived experience. As a form of Applied Theatre, Three Chairs is an application for ‘Doing Learning’.