In legislative theater, communities, advocates and policymakers work together, to identify, develop, and build support for new legislation. Through interactive theater productions, community members explore and act out solutions to situations of oppression, then work with officials to translate these solutions into new laws. Originating in Brazil in 1992, legislative theater has been used around the world to develop creative solutions for issues such as housing access, climate justice and workers’ rights.
WATCH an original play based on community members’ lived experiences and problems.
ACT on stage to intervene in the play and test ways to address the problems presented.
PROPOSE policy changes to address the problems, and deliberate together with policymakers.
VOTE on the policy proposals that emerge from the plays, and make collective commitments to action.
Legislative Theater in Action
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
New York City, United States
Manchester, United Kingdom
Assembleia da República de Portugal
We say it a lot but this really is doing things differently. Challenge, creativity, comedy: all in the name of policy making.
- Molly Bishop, strategic lead for homelessness, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
The policy discussion in city hall can sometimes become abstract, and it’s so important to connect what we discuss in the abstract to the real. An important part of legislative theater performance is to demonstrate that there are consequences to the laws we pass, and how they affect people’s lives.
- Steve Levin, New York City Council member
How does legislative theater work?
CulturePlanB podcast: Katy Rubin
Legislative Theater report (NYC)
How Democracy Pioneers amplified the voice of young Glaswegians in the climate conversation
Review key design questions that you will need to answer to plan a legislative theater program, and sample answers to these questions. To create a plan that works for your situation, start your own legislative theater playbook. The playbook will walk you through the most important questions to answer when designing a process. Each step of the way, we will share recommended options and information to help you decide. At the end, you will have a plan for your process.