The joker is the link between actors and spect-actors. S/he is the facilitator who keeps the event flowing. The term ‘joker’ can be seen in relation to both the joker in a card game, an odd one out, who can jump into any situation, but who is also in a way neutral, or as in the jester character of the medieval period who provided games and entertainment. The joker in forum theatre or plays is much like such a character. S/he stands outside the general play, and has no direct influence in the direction of the story, but is able to, with questions and facilitation, guide the group onwards.
It is the Joker’s objective to
Get the spect-actors’ ideas and suggestions enacted on the stage. Encourage the spect-actors to reflect upon the conflicts that they experienced in the play. Help spect-actors understand and acknowledge their role in scenarios and how the solutions could help in their daily lives. The joker is thus a very important character. S/he should understand the purpose s/he serves, and the responsibility that comes with it. There are some guidelines that should be followed.
Do not manipulate or influence:
The joker must avoid all actions which could manipulate or influence the spect-actors. S/he must not influence the spect-actors or draw conclusion which are not obvious. The joker must always be open to the possible conclusions to debates and present them in interrogative form in such a way that the spect-actors can answer YES or NO.
Do not make any decisions:
The joker must at all time leave any decisions about doubts to the spect-actors. S/he must present The Rules of the Play and then leave the rest to the spec-actors.
Watch out for magical solutions:
The joker must watch out for “magical” solutions, i.e., solutions that would not be possible or have the effect shown in reality. S/he can interrupt an actor’s performance if he considers it as magical – not by ruling that it is magic but instead by asking the spect-actors to decide if the solution is possible.
Be aware of own physical appearance, behaviour and non-verbal language:
The Joker’s physical appearance is very important. The Joker must place him/herself so that s/he is not a part of the play or is a spect-actor. The Joker must appear energetic, so fatigue or indecision does not impact upon the spect-actors.
Must be enquiring and facilitating debate:
The joker must facilitate the spect-actors to get their thoughts together and improve their actions. (Boal 1979; ACT!).