Just Hearing

Rebus Theatre, Canberra Community Law and Legal Aid ACT present:

Just Hearing 

A Forum Theatre performance exploring issues faced by people with lived experience of severe mental health challenges and their interactions with the legal system.

We have just finished the second season of 2023. Next season will be in Feb 2024. Join the mailing list or follow us on Facebook to stay tuned.

two people face each other across a desk, one with blue suit jacket and undercut hair tied back in a bun, the other wearing a green checkered shirt with short brown hair

Join us for a challenging and empowering performance of ‘Just Hearing’, an innovative forum theatre initiative that explores what trauma informed legal practice might look like. Developed and delivered by lived experience actors and creative team.

Just Hearing, commissioned by Canberra Community Law in partnership with Legal Aid ACT, is an innovative educational initiative to help service providers in the justice system to work better with people who are experiencing mental distress. Using an interactive model known as Forum Theatre, Just Hearing is a 90-minute performance that explores issues faced by people with lived experience of severe mental health challenges and their interactions with the legal system. Audience members will be invited (but never cajoled) to be active in the journey, standing in the footsteps of our characters, and working with them on their journey.

Just Hearing is a three-year project with short performance seasons in October and March each year, until March 2025. Directed by Robin Davidson (Artistic Director, Rebus Theatre), written by Fi Peel (Production Manager, Rebus Theatre) and performed by Canberra-based actors Merryn Byrne and Craig Alexander. The project is funded by the Australian Government through the National Legal Assistance Partnership. Rebus is also supported by ACT Government and Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres.

Please note there will be no interval during the performance.

A person blue suit jacket and undercut hair tied back in a bun sits at a desk facing an audience
A Man wearing a blue suit addresses an audience from a podium in an office conference room

Just Hearing encourages audience members to reimagine how they might adopt a trauma-informed approach and reconnect more effectively, and to foster discussion in how legal and non-legal providers in the justice sector can create emotionally safe spaces for clients. The audience is invited (but never cajoled) to intervene in the performance and actively participate in creating a more just outcome for the characters. Interactivity is key to the Forum Theatre style, with audience members being asked to assume the roles of the characters in the performance. This dynamic technique will ensure that all audience members are highly engaged.

Following the launch of Canberra Community Law’s Mental Health Justice Clinic in October 2022, at which Just Hearing was also premiered, feedback was overwhelmingly positive. One audience member stated:

“I have two decades experience as a lawyer supporting those most vulnerable. I found the performance honest, genuine, moving and most importantly of educational value to community and professionals alike. Incredibly well done, I’m a huge fan!”

Just Hearing is a three-year project with short performance seasons in October and March each year, until March 2025. The project is funded by the Australian Government through the National Legal Assistance Partnership. It is a closed performance for conference delegates but with touring capacity. Further performances can be booked by interested parties.

Directed by Robin Davidson (Artistic Director, Rebus Theatre), written by Fi Peel (Production Manager, Rebus Theatre) and performed by Canberra-based actors Merryn Byrne and Craig Alexander. The production is supported by Genevieve Bolton OAM (Executive Director/Principal Director, Canberra Community Law and Farzana Choudhury (Disability Law Supervising Solicitor, Canberra Community Law).

In acknowledgment of the impact of vicarious trauma, Just Hearing also models its invitation to experiment with trauma-informed practice by providing a social worker during and after the performance to allow audience members the opportunity to debrief if the need arises.

“It has been deeply insightful and healing from a lived experience perspective, to be part of the reform culture seeking to shift the social narrative from within the justice sector.” – Fi Peel – Writer

“It has been a privilege to work with Rebus Theatre to deliver Just Hearing, and to actively elevate the voices of people with lived experience through the process. We hope that in sharing Just Hearing with the legal community, frontline legal assistance and other justice sector workers will be better equipped to support and empower people with lived experience of mental ill-health who engage with the justice system.” – Farzana Choudhury – Disability Law Supervising Solicitor, Canberra Community Law

Check out our Performances or join the mailing list to stay in the loop about upcoming performances.