Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Theatre to help firms deal with workplace bullying

Theatre to help firms deal with workplace bullying

Feelings and emotions are often marginalised in the rational world of business, but Massey University’s expressive arts and business programmes hope to change all that with the development of a play about workplace bullying.

Dr Margot Edwards, a senior lecturer with the School of Management, wanted to create an effective intervention for dealing with bullying at work. Instead of
producing the usual seminar, she decided to write a play.

“I wanted to actually create something interactive to get people thinking in a different way about how bullying makes people

feel and what the reasons behind it might be,” Dr Edwards says.

“A play allows people to have a discussion about the characters and their behaviour, without accusing a colleague. It also allows you to reflect on your own experiences and how they made you feel. We all remember those scenes in our head when the boss came in and shouted at us, for example, and we think ‘I wished I’d said this’ – you can use those experiences to effect change.”

Now Dr Edwards is teaming up with the university’s theatre studies programme to get her play, titled ‘In the Red Corner’, ready for performance. Students from the Massey University Theatre Society will workshop it through an open reading in the Albany campus’ state-of-the-art Theatre Lab next week.

School of English and Media Studies lecturer Dr Rand Hazou says the project is a great opportunity for the business and expressive arts programmes to collaborate.

“The reading will be part of the students’ creative development and we’ll hopefully bring some clarity to Margot’s ideas and what she’s trying to achieve,” he says. “Plays always sound different when they are read out loud so we will help Margot to see and hear how her words come alive and give insights into how it can be redrafted and improved.”

Dr Hazou says the play fits well within the tradition of applied theatre, which he has a particular interest in.

“We introduced a new Applied Theatre paper here at Massey last semester – it looks at theatre applied outside conventional performance spaces as a way of bringing about social change.

“When Margot told me she had written a play about bullying and she wanted to develop it so it could be presented in workplaces to spark discussion, I thought, ‘Great, this is exactly what I’m interested in – theatre with a real-life application that tries to bring about change in the way we see things.’”

‘In the Red Corner’ is set in the fictional Blackrock General Hospital and shows the interaction between a bullying director of nursing and a nurse union representative. The content is inspired by the research findings of one of Dr Edwards’ PhD students whose thesis looks at workplace bullying in nursing.

“The researcher, Kate Blackwood, interviewed both nurses and management in hospitals and they are all really desperate for research that can lead to effective interventions,” Dr Edwards says. “Hospitals are high pressure workplaces so the impact of bullying on a person’s mental state in that environment can lead to serious mistakes.”

Dr Edwards says she first began to think about writing plays after using role play when teaching leadership skills.

“Role-playing can bring an idea alive – it might put students on the spot and make them feel awkward, but that’s what life is like. We’re always looking for ways to flip the classroom – I mean, who wants their lecturer to put up a slide that says here’s five things you should know about leadership?”

Dr Hazou agrees: “The expressive arts afford different ways of knowing. If you stage something like a play, it opens up different types of spaces in which people can engage and discuss, which is what you need if you want to bring about cultural change.”

There are already plans to perform ‘In the Red Corner’ at a harassment workshop later in the year and Dr Edwards hopes customised versions of the play will be taken into workplaces where bullying is known to occur. She says her hope is that workers “walk out of the room as different people to when they walked in.”

Down the track, both Dr Edwards and Dr Hazou would like to see Massey offer the services of an acting troupe to businesses, with theatre students being paid to perform thought-provoking plays in workplaces around the country.

“If there’s a gap there and Massey can play a role in filling it, fantastic,” Dr Hazou says.

Workshop details:

The open reading of ‘In the Red Corner’ by members of the Massey University Theatre Society will take place in the Albany campus Theatre Lab between 1-2pm on Wednesday July 30. The Theatre Lab is in the Sir Neil Waters Building and media are welcome to attend.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Review - A Girl Named Mo

Moana Ete brought her three-piece band A Girl Named Mo to Wellington's intimate and iconic Bats Theatre last week for a five-night residency. Each show was recorded and filmed live for the release of her debut album 'Platonic/Romantic' on Loop records later this year. More>>

For The Birds: Who Will Be Crowned Bird Of The Year?

The competition involves well-known and enthusiastic New Zealanders acting as ‘campaign managers’ for their favourite birds with many going to great lengths to get New Zealanders to vote for their chosen bird... More>>


  • Greening the Red Zone - Bird of the year heats up: kōtare concedes, backs kea
  • Image Out-Link - Giselle Clarkson on Twitter
  • Gordon Campbell: On Bob Dylan's Nobel (And The Surplus)

    So Bob Dylan has just won the Nobel Prize for… Literature? Wow. I’d be just as happy if he’d won for his work on particle physics (“One Grain of Sand”, “Simple Twist of Fate”) or got the Economics prize for his work on the theory of contracting (“Don’t Think Twice Its Alright”) ... More>>


    Scoop Review Of Books: Whose Goat Was That?

    Mysterious Mysteries of Aro Valley is a sharp, satirical and sometimes downright scary romp through and around that valley in ways that made me question the realities of the places I thought I knew so well. More>>


    NZ On Air TV Funding: More Comedy Comes Out Of The Shadows

    Paranormal Event Response Unit is a series conceived by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi as a TV spin-off from their highly acclaimed feature film What We Do In The Shadows. More>>


    Mars News: Winners Announced For The 2016 Apra Silver Scroll Awards

    Wellington singer-songwriter and internationally acclaimed musician Thomas Oliver has won the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll Award with his captivating love song ‘If I Move To Mars’. More>>


    Get More From Scoop



    Search Scoop  
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news