The Opposites or The Divided Room
This exercise is a slightly different version of the Line and has the same aims: to voice opinions and have people present their motivation. This may be easier to use in a smaller group, since there are only two positions to take.
In this exercise there are two possibilities set up against each other, which the participants have to choose between. These can be opposing/different attitudes or qualities; or they could be illustrations and pictures representing attitudes or qualities. The participants have to choose between the two possibilities. They have to choose one and cannot position themselves in between the choices. The people who make the same choice form a group to discuss the topic. After two minutes of discussion, one or two members of both groups are asked to feedback to the others what they talked about.
This exercise enables participants to work with a specific dilemma or a statement/theme with several defined possibilities.
Varying statements are represented in the room’s four corners. The theme could be a given situation that ends up in a conflict or unresolved situation, which is open to several possible reactions or resolutions. For example, the situation could be a party of young people where someone offers drugs. The statements in the corners could then offer different ways of reacting, i.e. 1) take the drugs, 2) refuse the drugs, but not do anything further, 3) refuse the drugs and try to prevent others from taking them as well, and 4) another possibility not presented.
The statement could also be of a more general manner, for example: The most important thing in the job I want to have in the future is: 1) that I like going to work, 2) that it gives me the possibility to do things outside of work, 3) that I am involved in interesting things at work or 4) something else. It could also have a specific conflict as theme, as in the statement: “What I find most difficult in school is…:” and three possibilities are presented.
It is advised to leave the fourth corner open for other ideas which are not covered by the other three statements. Each corner is given equal status and there is no right or wrong answer.
After the exercise is explained, the participants will be given a short time to consider the possibilities. They will then be asked to go to the corner which represents the statement they agree with. The group in each corner must have the opportunity to share their thoughts and argue why they agree with the statement, before they share it with the rest of the participants. It is possible to change corners during this process.
If there are too many participants in one corner, divide them into two groups. If a person stands alone in a corner, the joker should join the person, so he/she does not feel exposed. The joker may share thoughts with that person or other individuals from other corners who are alone, or let them share their thoughts. It is important that everyone listens as each corner presents their thoughts. In the open corner, it is important that all of the participants get the chance to share, because they might have a variety of different ideas. (Byréus 1992).
Theseexercises could also be the starting point for a forum play – each corner, end or number of the line (if the number of participants in the corner/position allows it) can then take what they have discussed and make a play out of it. With a general statement (i.e. what I find most difficult in school) they could base the play on situations where this conflict manifests itself in their daily life.