Established in 1978, Atelier-Théâtre Burkinabè (ATB) is a group of volunteer actors and actresses who use theatre to educate, sensitise, and entertain citizens of Burkina Faso. Live performances are intended to make citizens aware of economic, social, cultural, and technical problems. An additional aim includes fostering and sustaining threatre for development in Burkina Faso and on the African continent as a whole.
Communication Strategies: 

ATB works closely with four groups of young female actors who are directed by past members of ATB and with 18 groups who are members of la Fédération nationale de Théâtre Forum (FNTF), which was created by ATB. Each year, the 19 or so permanent members and 41 or so temporary members of ATB produce original plays (12 or so per year) and perform works created by the entire collective (100 plays make up the repretoire). These plays focus on a number of themes:

  • Health (maternal, reproductive, children's, HIV/AIDS)
  • Rural development (earthquakes, poverty, environmental preservation)
  • Human rights (good governance, democracy, fight against corruption, women's rights, children's rights
  • Education (of girls, in particular)
  • Socio-economic issues (fairness, international trade, access to basic social services)

150 performances per year - intended for all types of audiences - take place in small villages throughout Burkina Faso; ATB also tours internationally. ATB's regular schedule includes:

  • Thursday mornings: performances (theatre, dance, and music) for children.
  • Tuesday evenings: free plays for the public.
  • Fridays and Saturdays: various performances.

Plays are performed in a cultural centre, in the 700-seat "le théâtre "Alliance 2000", in the 400-seat "l'espace théâtral Ismael Koanda", or in other venues.

In 2000, ATB launched le Centre de Formation en Théâtre pour le Développement (CFTD), which will progressively become le Centre International de Théâtre pour le Développement (CITD). This theatre school, which is open both to members of ATB who wish to bolster their skills and learn new techniques, and community members, offers workshops in areas including production and design, interactive theatre, identification of groups to whom efforts might be directed, training of young actors, training in comedic theatre techniques, creation of working groups, the use of media to promote theatre for development, organisation of festivals and other national or international events, and the like. These training sessions take place throughout Africa. ATB also recently organised a training programme for girls and boys aged 10 to 15 who wish to learn theatre, dance, and music.

ATB produces radio and television series like "La famille Boanga," "Yamba/Songo," and "les Clés de la vie."

Every 2 years, ATB organises the International Festival of Theatre for Development (FITD), one of the biggest cultural event in Africa. The 1998 festival drew more than 88 theatre groups from 25 countries in Africa, America, and Europe. The next festival will take place February 20-29, 2004. Printed and audiovisual materials were published in celebration of the 2002 festival. ATB has also participated in a number of festivals and conferences in Mali, Sénégal, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Brazil, and Canada.

On a more general level, ATB works to initiate and sustain a movement of those seeking to develop theatre as a strategy for development - in Burkina Faso, throughout Africa, and worldwide. For example, ATB seeks to network with African organisations interested in collaborating. ATB uses radio and television as part of its networking efforts.

A future plan includes opening a theatre-based production studio, which would allow for the mass copying and distribution of tapes of ATB plays in audio and video form. ATB is also working to re-issue some of its written documents, which focus on how to produce theatre for development. Another future plan involves long-term training for a professional certificate in communication. This plan is grounded in the information, education, and communication (IEC) component of the Food and Agriculture Organization (United Nations)'s Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS).

Development Issues: 

Family Planning, HIV/AIDS, Health, Children, Youth, Economic Development, Rights, Networking.

Partner Text: 

FNTF, SFPS/IEC. ATB often collaborates with financing partners like Government Ministries, international organisations, NGOs, and private associations. Throughout its development, Novib, Danida, Oxfam, HEKS, Diakonia, Comic Relief, and Johns Hopkins University (USA) have provided support.


Letters sent from M. Kompaore Prosper of ATB to The Communication Initiative in May 2000 and on March 25, 2003; and ATB site (in French only).