The Stages Method

We know from Paulo Freire’s work about the power of experiential learning. And we know from cognitive scientists that we all have strong cognitive biases against taking in information that is inconsistent with our own worldview. So what touches people, and creates the conditions for change, includes both narrative and experiential practices. You are not likely to change someone else’s mind (or your own mind) about a charged subject or belief with only cognitive or scientific information, no matter how good and sound that information is.

Stages addresses complex topics, like “othering,” by creating interactive and fictional performance events that are shaped by a current newsworthy issue and influenced by a narrative framework, like the Ten Stages of Genocide or the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Stage 3, the first performance of the Stages project, was created at the time of the UK’s sudden exclusion of Caribbean immigrants who had lived in the UK as citizens since the 1950’s (the “Windrush generation”). The participatory piece was also influenced by the Ten Stages of Genocide (from Genocide Watch) – a research document that presents the risk factors for genocide as a long, ongoing process with identifiable phases. If these stages are identified early, they can be challenged, resisted, and interrupted.

The 15-minute participatory event, Stage 3, engages the participating audiences in a mock process of citizenship in order to generate conversations about the subject of migration, discrimination and belonging. This production addresses the process of being categorized based on race, age and socio-economic background (class), placing participants in positions that question their perceptions of power and powerlessness. This production was strongly linked to young people’s sense of belonging and citizenship rights.

The first performance in July 2018 commemorated the 23rd anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995 when over 8,000 men and boys were murdered because of their religion. Stage 3 then toured the South of England, performing at regional events in Brighton, Dover, Harwich and Hastings in collaboration with the Safe Passage Campaign which successfully advocated for local Councils in the UK to pledge to accept a total of 1,000 unaccompanied refugee minors each year for ten years. A bilingual production of Stage 3 was highlighted during the conference “Solidarity Across the Channel – Accompanying Exiles on their Journeys Near our Borders,” for humanitarian aid workers in the UK and France.


All of the creative workshops for Stage 3, and the final script, can be found in the Workshop Roadmap section of the Toolkit.

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