Drama for Development

Education can take place in an enormous variety of ways – not least through the medium of the arts. Any good theatre will of itself be educational, that is, when it initiates or extends a questioning process to its audience.

Theatre for Education stems from a number of distinct but related developments in theatre and in education. It seeks to re-establish the theatre’s root in the community and in so doing broaden its social basis. The theatre’s search for a useful and effective role within society and an exploration especially of its potential acts both as an educational medium and as a force for social change.

Our partner for project J1012N, Zimbabwe Development Democracy Trust identified the importance of the arts (and drama particularly) in the communities, together with the increasing stress given to the functional role that the arts have to play in helping individuals to understand and operate within the world in which they live.

Gone are the days when educational radio and television meant a dull monotonous voice reading lessons over the microphone. Today, “Entertainment Education” (EE) has made educational broadcasting more attractive than your favourite soap opera. Nowhere has EE been more innovative than in Africa. Entertainment Education, Edutainment, Educate-entertain are key terms used to describe the strategic and theoretically informed process of developing educational messages using a range of media platforms to facilitate a desired behavioural or social change.

Entertainment Education has increasingly been on the agenda of development agencies as a vehicle to relate educational messages to various audiences using entertainment and creativity. In this way, EE has often been adapted and financially supported for its ability to translate key development and social problems to audiences using mediums and messages that are more engaging, entertaining and receptive.

76% of those who participated in Zimbabwe Development Democracy Trust productions stated that they could draw from the plays and films that were being presented. 53% were able to identify political issues and 93% could identify socio-economic issues in the performances. Some of the educational content drawn by audiences included issues and solutions on corruption, substance abuse, child marriage and teenage pregnancy, religion and cultural decadence.

The projects’ findings have shown that the specialty of Community Theatre is to keep a sharp focus on the local state of affairs.

By enacting life-size situations in the public domain, by breaking the silence on issues such as alcoholism, inter-clan wrangles, wife inheritance, poor leadership and development projects which do not ventilate the wishes of the people, the practice of Community Theatre in the region plays a pivotal role in sensitization and enlightenment of people.

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