Towards the use of drama as a therapeutic tool to enhance emotional rehabilitation for people living with HIV/Aids: a case study of Paradiso HIV/Aids support organisation
Mwalwanda, Basimenye Nabatile
This study explores ways to address the emotional needs of people living with HIV/Aids, with specific focus on Paradiso group therapy in Lilongwe, Malawi. The study recognises that people living with HIV/Aids deal with physical as well as psychological challenges. Based on this premise, this study investigates whether the use of drama and theatre processes can enhance emotional rehabilitation for people living with HIV/Aids, and seeks to explore what drama and theatre methods would contribute towards their emotional health. The study examines Theatre for Development (TFD), a methodology that has played a critical role in addressing various HIV/Aids issues in Malawi. In the assessment, it is argued that TFD remains a relevant model but only as an awareness building strategy about HIV/Aids. This study concludes that TFD is, however, unable to help people explore, confront and express the personal traumatic experiences of living with HIV/Aids. Likewise, the investigation finds the traditional method of teaching utilised by the Paradiso group therapy inadequate in the sense that it does not acknowledge the lived experiences of people living with HIV/Aids. To this end, an integrated process-orientated drama methodology; drawing on the educational elements of process drama and the healing aspects of drama therapy is developed. The methodology was tested in a series of workshops with Paradiso group therapy members. The outcomes reveal that the approach is effective in providing a clear structure through which people can examine the trauma of stigma as a result of living with HIV/Aids. The study further reveals that an integrated process-orientated drama methodology is effective in enabling people to deconstruct negative HIV/Aids beliefs and narratives and in facilitating the reconstruction of new and functional ones that allow them to experience healing and emotional growth.
A critical analysis of interventionist theatre strategies: a case study of Hisia, Lumumba and Mlimani Performers Theatre Groups in Dar es Salaam
Mtiro, Chahya James
This study: “A Critical Analysis of Interventionist Theatre Strategies: A Case Study of Hisia, Lumumba and Mlimani Performers Theatre Groups in Dar es Salaam” attempts to explore how interventionist strategies are framed to make them communicate specific messages to specific target communities. Through this exploration we expect to map out what might be considered as appropriate strategies that would be deployed in communicating HIV/Aids issues and messages more effectively. This study is motivated by the realisation that there has been inadequate focus by previous studies on youth intervention theatre strategies in Dar es Salaam particularly and Tanzania in general. Our study employed qualitative research in order to acquire in-depth understanding of how the three groups in Dar es Salaam deploy techniques of applied theatre in their HIV/Aids intervention initiatives. The methods utilised included observation and structured interviews. The study was theoretically guided by the ideas of Augusto Boal and Paulo Freire. Freire demonstrates how the marginalised populations regain their lost voices through dialogue and problem-posing education, a situation whereby the roles of the educators and educatees are flexible and interchangeable. The study also draws heavily from Boal, especially his argument that lack of power creates fears in peoples’ heads, what he describes as cops in our heads. Boal believes that all the cops in our heads have identities and headquarters in the external world that need to be located. This is one way in which oppressed people can confront their internalised forms of oppression. If we are to draw an analogy from Boal, the HIV/Aids conditions that disempower infected people can be interpreted as an oppressive situation. The findings of this study reveal weaknesses in the methods which are deployed by the applied theatre practitioners in HIV/Aids intervention initiatives. This study therefore suggests a rethinking in the way that intervention theatre practices are framed to make them become more effective tools of communicating issues and messages related to HIV and AIDS.
An opportunity to introduce drama in education: a case study of Children's Theatre Project in Tanzania
Njewele, Delphine Cosmas
In the 1989/90 academic year the Department of Fine and Performing Arts (DFPA), University of Dar es Salaam, established the Children’s Theatre Project (CTP) which involved pupils in a number of primary schools in Tanzania. The project was carried out in two phases. Phase one centred on training teachers in skills to organise and run children’s groups through workshops. The second phase focused on the use of Theatre as a Teaching Methodology. This study is a critical examination of Theatre as a Teaching Methodology in Tanzanian, formal primary schools. It investigates two key questions: Firstly, In what way might the CTPs Theatre as a Teaching Methodology work together with Drama in Education methodology? and secondly, What effects might the integration of Drama in Education pedagogy have on CTP? The theoretical framework to this study is informed by Drama in Education pedagogy which considers the use of theatre elements as essential in achieving both its ‘pedagogical objective’ and its ‘artistic objective’ (Bolton, 1993). The critical pedagogy theory which focuses on reconstructing the experience of students and which claims that ‘reality is neither objective nor subjective but a complex combination of both perspectives’ (Carroll, 1996, p. 76) is applied to this study. The study utilises a qualitative research methodology, in particular a case study approach to data collection and consists of three kinds of data collection instruments; observation, in-depth open-ended interviews, and written documents from the CTP’s records. It was noted that while Drama in Education focuses on the process rather that on the product, Theatre as a Teaching Methodology is largely concerned with the concept of using classroom drama and traditional theatre forms to perform within the classroom. The findings demonstrate that both approaches under study are particular to learning and teaching, and resonate with a critical pedagogy in which learning and teaching are child centred. Though there is a distinction between Theatre as a Teaching Methodology and Drama in Education, the tools are the same: the elements of theatre crafts ii (Wagner, 1980). However, it was revealed that there is no clearly articulated structure for Theatre as a Teaching Methodology, thus a need to integrate the Drama in Education structure is inevitable. These structures and their effectiveness have been proved both inside and outside Africa (O’Toole, 1992; Nebe, 1991, 2008; Simpson and Heap, 2002; and Carter and Westaway, 2001). The study recommends the CTP and education authorities in Tanzania to explicitly consider the theoretical foundations which underpin their claim of child centeredness by providing proper formalised education to all pre-service teachers. In other words, the inclusion of accredited drama and theatre pedagogical courses in teachers’ training colleges is needed rather than ad-hoc, tailor-made courses and workshops.
Towards a poetics for theatre as activism within the context of human and people's rights in Southern Africa: an exploration of Speak Truth to Power and the march against xenophobia of 2008
This research report attempts to investigate and articulate issues pertaining to Theatre as Activism within the parameters of applied drama and theatre as experienced in Southern Africa. This analysis is situated against the predominant use of Theatre for Development and opens out the possibilities for a more inclusive approach to awareness building and activism through theatre. The particular focus of this study lies within the perspective of Human and Peoples Rights , an area of important concern globally but with particular resonances within a post-apartheid, decolonising South Africa. Using the March against Xenophobia that took place in 2008 in Johannesburg as well as the play Speak Truth to Power as illustrations, Towards a poetics uses these two case studies through which to explore different aspects and implications for Theatre as Activism. These choices are opposite as they provide very different but equally pertinent examples of the ways in which performance can provide an ‘activating’ experience. Through these examples the paper raises important questions in relation to ethical considerations accruing around the performativity of activism. The case studies are then set against the very public awareness of Human Rights created through the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. The role of the modern media and technology in relation to activism is also questioned as is the debate over the place of aesthetics within activism. This reports advocacy for Theatre as Activism is set within debates of social constructionism most particularly those of Foucault relating to the construction of power and those of William de Certeau and Ngugi wa Thiongo on “scriptocentrism”, “orature”, and “intextuation.” In accordance with this belief that action, as opposed to intellectual theorizing, is the way to truth and constructive social change this research report is compliment to a broader creative project which comes in the form of a short film. Done primarily to use “performance both as a way of knowing and as a way of showing” (Kemp, 1998; 16) Whilst used to allude to the famous poetics of Aristotle, Brecht and Boal, the theoretical perspectives of these theatre analysts are also inscribed to examine issues of audience involvement and response and debates around catharsis and activism. This paper concludes with a strong plea for the development of Theatre as Activism through the identification of its essential elements.
Examining sustainability of drama and theatre initiatives in southern Africa: a case study of Southern Africa Theatre Initiative (SATI)
This is a study of the sustainability of drama and theatre initiative in Southern Africa. It is an attempt to establish the underlying causes for the collapse of drama and theatre initiatives which are supported by Northern Non Governmental Organisations, with the view of suggesting alternative partnership and organizational models which are appropriate for Southern Africa. However, this is in no way an attempt to provide rigid all-purpose organisational models, but offer possible explanations for the failure of drama and theatre initiatives based on research, experience of the researcher and a collation of related works on the subject by renowned academics and theatre practitioners. To focus the research, a case study of Southern Africa Theatre initiative –SATI under the financial support of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency- SIDA was used to provide specific concrete examples of successes and failures of drama and theatre projects. General examples were drawn from initiatives in specific countries in Southern Africa to buttress arguments put forward. It is believed that through this study, practitioners, academics, theatre managers and development officers from International NGOs will be able to reflect and critique their own work and come up with even better and more appropriate solutions to practical challenges faced by drama and theatre initiatives in the region. The works of Ngugi wa Thiongo, Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire, Walter Rodney, Chinua Achebe and Andre Gunder Frank provide the study with theoretical models against which its assumptions and arguments are based and developed. The works of the four authors are related in many ways as they describe the macro political economy in the post colonial Africa which globally explains the challenging situations of drama and theatre initiatives in the so-called third world countries. For a long time the problems faced by theatre initiatives involved in development work have been examined at a micro level resulting in prescription of remedies at the macro level, however this has not yielded far reaching solutions. It is the conviction of this study that the problems which are experienced at micro level are a manifestation of bigger problems presented and explained by post-colonial, ‘development’, globalisation and dependency theorists. The findings of this study divulge both lucid and controversial assertions which derive from a multiplicity of factors such as unclear objectives set by theatre practitioners, lack of management skills of theatre practitioners, lack of government support, inadequate policies of the NGOs in the south, stringent organisational policies of NGOs in the north, lack of mutual trust between the north and the south and the prescriptive agendas and demands of the project funding bodies, institutions and agencies. This study therefore suggests serious compromise and tolerance on the part of both Northern NGOs which provide financial support and the Southern NGOs which initiate and implement drama and theatre initiatives. The proposed models for sustainable theatre initiatives are; ‘Civic Innovation’, ‘Social Entrepreneurship’, government and infrastructural support, synergies for capital investment and partnership between business and the theatre through sponsorship. The suggestions made are not prescriptive but rather conceptual frameworks which are open to modifications and further development as the search for sustainability of drama and theatre initiatives continues. The study mainly utilised qualitative research methods which involved unstructured interviews and analysis of narrative reports and policy documents. Quantitative data was also used but in very few instances. Ethnographic reflection and retrospection was also deployed as the experience of the researcher as an academic, practitioner and theatre manager was very influential in shaping arguments in this study.
An exploration of theatre as activism as an anti-homophobia intervention amongst Zimbabweans living in South Africa : a practice led research project of The Trial of the Senior Citizen.
Ndlovu, Bhekilizwe Bernard
This Practice led Research Report explores the use of Theatre as Activism to address the violation of human rights, with particular emphasis on gay rights in Zimbabwe. There is scant evidence of any form of theatre in Africa, apart from in South Africa that speaks to the existence of gay people, let alone gay rights. There also appears to be no recorded documentation of theatre that engages audiences in an open dialogue about gay rights in Africa. This research has taken the form of a Practice led Research Project called The Trial of the Senior Citizen. The aim of the project was to create a piece of theatre that could speak to the complex, multiple human rights violations experienced in Zimbabwe under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe’s regime. Gay rights form the central canvas in the theatre project, encapsulating all human rights violations and challenging the landscape of human rights discourse relevant in Africa today. The purpose of the research was to explore what kind of theatre, in form and in making, would entice an audience to engage in a dialogue about the complex gay rights issues prevalent in Zimbabwe. The Practice led Research Project seeks to explore the possibility of speaking to the silencing of, and silence by gay people, using Theatre as Activism. This written report forms the final stage of the Practice led Research, and argues that Theatre as Activism, as conceptualised by this researcher, is an appropriate form of theatre for the integration of both process-orientated and product specific theatre elements aimed at audience engagement. Chapter One introduces the reader to this Practice led Research Report. The historical context of human rights and gay rights in Zimbabwe is discussed in Chapter Two. Chapter Three explores the meaning, associations and related processes and forms of Theatre as Activism. In Chapter Four, Practice led Research theoretical and methodological underpinnings are discussed in relation to the making of The Trial of the Senior Citizen, and in Chapter Five the performances and post-performance audience discussions are reflected upon. Looking at the performances of The Trial of the Senior Citizen, this study concludes that this Theatre as Activism project can be used to break the silence around gay rights and begin a negotiation of beliefs that could lead to the reduction of homophobia.
Investigating performance poetry as a medium for addressing HIV/AIDS stigma
HIV/AIDS stigma is a major challenge in combating the spread of the Human Immune Virus (HIV) and addressing challenges of HIV and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This work investigates ways of addressing HIV/AIDS stigma using performance poetry as a medium. The performance poetry is carried out in the form of a performance concept from Palestine known as the Debate in Sung- Improvised Poetry. Stigma makes it difficult for people living with HIV/AIDS to seek treatment and to live a fulfilled life in their communities and it slows down or hampers efforts by the governments and nongovernmental organisations to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic on national and international levels. Stigma is defined in this research and the ways in which it manifests are discussed. HIV/AIDS stigma leads to people living with HIV being shunned or discriminated against and at extreme cases they are even subjected to physical hurt or abuse. At times people caring for people living with HIV are also stigmatized. The research also notes that there is self stigmatization that people inflict on themselves. In all the cases stigma affects a person’s Needs thereby preventing them from living their lives to the fullest, which Abraham Maslow calls reaching the summit – self actualization. Stigma is embedded in the culture of silence and this research uses performance poetry through the Poetic Debate to unlock the silence. The Poetic Debate was used with some aspects of Slam poetry and has also borrowed from Playback Theatre to come up with a kind of theatre that is centred on audience participation. This platform was created through conducting a series of process workshops with three performing poets. During the workshops poets improvised poems on HIV/AIDS so as to voice out those issues that most people do not want to talk about, as it had been realised that silence around HIV/AIDS usually attract stigma. The process workshops ran for one month culminating into a performance/final workshop rich in metaphor where an invited audience was present. During the process workshops the poets performed written poems and also improvised poems spontaneously as I gave them words to improvise on. During the final workshop the audience gave the poets words to improvise on. An atmosphere of playfulness was created through games and exercises so as to invite the audience to participate during the final workshop and also to create an atmosphere that encourages interaction and creativity. This was at the centre of the research so that people can raise questions concerning HIV/AIDS and offer answers and solutions and in doing so dispel the stigma around HIV/AIDS. The conclusions show that performance poetry, through the Poetic Debate, has a strong possibly therapeutic potential to address HIV/AIDS stigma especially among the 15 – 29 age group who are interested in poetry as an art.
A visual voice: communicating without spoken language
This research report titled A Visual Voice: Communicating without spoken language unpacks the idea that theatre consists of multiple languages which can be used to integrate both Deaf and hearing people as performers as well as audience members. This written component forms part of a practice-based research performance project. The practice-based research brings to the foreground the social and cultural structures of Deaf people living in South Africa offering theatre as a means to explore levels of inequality for Deaf communities. The research analyzes specific local and international physical theatre companies in order to construct a working method of its own for Deaf and hearing performers/creators. This context provides a framework for the exploration of a suitable method for working with Deaf and hearing performers. With specific use of language in theatre, this research report offers an alternative way of communicating from Deaf/hearing actor to Deaf/hearing spectator. Breaking down the walls of either spoken or signed language, this research offers a visual theatre language to integrate multilingual audiences.