Theater for Development: A fresh shift from the never ending awareness & sensitization “trainings”!
It’s an excessively hot and dusty mid Monday morning in Namutumba District – Busiki LRP as we prepare to head off to Ivukula Sub County, one of two others within Namutumba District, in the Eastern side of Uganda. Not much comes to mind during the drive as we head to Rwatama Village not knowing that the adage “Never judge a book by its Cover” is a realization that would soon come to full sight.
Community engagements are not tasks for the faint hearted. The results are not immediately realized and getting the communities to open up is an even higher huddle to overcome. As I would soon find out, this is set to change thanks to a shift from typical trainings in the village to congregational laughter, music, dance and subsequently learnings by the young and old alike! Theatre for Development (TFD) is a great vehicle of engagement in demystifying and addressing societal ills.
The groups’ present plays that depict the exact house hold scenarios in most of Ugandan communities. The scenarios include drunkardness, early marriages, education, boy child - girl child equality, the woman’s position in the community and general misconceptions. This approach triggers audiences’ minds by a clear depiction of how they live as well as the feasibly direct and indirect effects of the type of lives they lead in their households, villages, sub counties and District at large.
At the end of each play, the audiences are given an opportunity to right the wrongs that were intentionally showcased in the play. Through the key learnings of the plays, the audiences are in position to put into practice what they saw or change their current practices for the better. Being that the plays are for the general public; children, men, women and the elderly have an equal opportunity to openly participate through contributing.
It is key to note that in using TFD, there are No huge, multi-coloured and well decorated reports expensively produced in bulk but strategically taken and “talk pictures” & video recordings which can be used as advocacy and communication tools which will work in same way as in the villages, at the national and global level for ACTION to all and sundry beyond the affected, concerned and related.
The interactions clearly show that the problems the communities face are self-inflicted with the upside to this being that the solutions are within them and well known. TFD is a model worth of replication and up scaling to counter the ever dynamic problems.
A play on relevance of education by a local group in progress A 10 year old child’s response to the play’s message from a school going child’s context.
“Legalize abortion as it already happens a lot under the government’s watch and the numbers keep growing and the most affected are young girls by ending their education” – interactive by a participant