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Theatre for Development

Issue #: 
November 8, 2010

This issue includes: 








1. Participatory Theatre for Conflict Transformation: Training Manual

by Lena Slachmuijlder and Don Tshibanda

This book, published in 2009, documents what Search for Common Ground has learned using participatory theatre for conflict transformation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In their performance methodology, the audience participates to adapt, change, or correct a situation, an attitude, or a behaviour that is developed during the show.



2. DramAidE and Live Drama: Raising Young People's Awareness About HIV/AIDS in a Creative, Interactive and Engaging Way

by Fredrick Mugira

Published in the Glocal Times in October 2008, this article describes how South Africa's Drama AIDS Education, popularly known as DramAidE, uses participatory drama and other interactive educational methodologies within schools to equip young people in that country with increased knowledge about HIV/AIDS and the skills to inform and communicate with others about sexual health. The author suggests that young people like to not only watch, but also to take part in, live drama, and that this affinity can increase the chances that messages positively impact attitudes and behaviour.



3. Ben ni walen (Let's agree and take action): Mobilising for Human Rights Using Participatory Theatre

by Cristina Sganga and Teun Visser

Published by Amnesty International in 2006, this guide is a basic introductory manual for using participatory theatre methods for exploring human rights issues with people in rural communities. It is divided into two sections. The first explains the approach and introduces the different components of participatory research and participatory theatre methodology. The second contains information on the range of participatory theatre methods and provides illustrative examples. 



4. Use of Soaps Containing Mercury in Africa - How to Fight It

by Peter W. U. Appel

This paper documents a forum theatre project, conducted between June 2007 and early 2008, which focused on raising awareness about the toxicity of skin-bleaching soaps, particularly those containing mercury. The play presented the problem but left it unsolved, and the audience was invited on stage to complete the play through improvisation.



  • Also see:


Action Theatre

Action Theatre: Initiating Changes

Story Workshop Educational Trust - Malawi 

Sanaa Art Promotions (SAP) - Kenya









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5. after homelessness... - Canada

Created and performed by people who have struggled with homelessness in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, this forum theatre production was designed as a vehicle to help develop policy and plans for the government and social service agencies to ensure that housing is safe, appropriate, and affordable. The aim was not to raise awareness; rather, this model attempted to creatively involve the public in dialogue that could lead to public input into policy and development planning.



6. Women Accessing Realigned Markets (WARM) - Malawi and Mozambique

As part of this 3-year project, launched in July 2009, the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) is using theatre to raise awareness and dialogue about agricultural policies so that women and their communities are better prepared to advocate for improved policies and services.



7. Using Theatre for Human Rights Education and Action

Published in 2008 as part of a monthly online dialogue series moderated by the New Tactics in Human Rights Project, this dialogue summary explores the topic of how theatre is being used to promote, educate, motivate, and move people to action regarding human rights, development, and issues of change.



8. Performance Activism and Civic Engagement Through Symbolic and Playful Actions

by Arvind Singhal and Karen Greiner

Published in 2008, this article analyses performance activism as a form of engaging and mobilising citizens to action, posing the question: "How do playful, symbolic actions engage a citizenry?" Three cases are studied: Gandhi's symbolic mass mobilisation protests in India; Antanas Mockus' playful civic engagement strategies in Bogota, Colombia; and the playful actions of "Billionaires for Bush" in the United States.



  • Also see:


Theatre and Democracy

Art as Resistance 








Please VOTE in our Poll on Effective Representation



Which of the following is most important for effective representation of the interests of marginalised groups?

  • media representation and coverage to create public awareness. 
  • group organisation for self-advocacy. 
  • representation and advocacy support through NGOs. 
  • government representation through assigned intermediaries.


VOTE and COMMENT click here.



A few selected comments received:



"There is nothing compared to communities who feel empowered to demand and bring about change - that is, change that they can own."


"It is difficult to select a single mecanism, because the impact of media is crucial in giving visibility to the social sectors and groups, especially those discriminated. However, the main factor is the organization of those affected by discrimination. They are the source of any political action that can succeed."


 "voices of any groups that are marginalised need to reach wider audience, and the massmedia is the only platform which is very cost effective and dependable interface between those groups and all others- the govt., the people, and the members of the groups concerned across any geographical boundaries."











9. Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) HIV/AIDS Awareness Theatre - Namibia

From February 2009 through April 2010, the industrial theatre group Quiet Storm worked with members of Namibia's Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS through a play, "lig deur die Kraak", performed for farm workers, employers, and rural communities in Namibia. A DVD and a radio production of the play were also produced and are being distributed by AEA to its members.



10. Winter/Summer Institute in Theatre for Development (WSI) - Lesotho, South Africa, United Kingdom (UK), United States

Launched in June 2006, WSI is a biennial programme challenging participants to create issue-based, aesthetically provocative, entertaining theatre around HIV and AIDS. The ultimate goal is to empower both student and community participants with the tools and resources necessary to create similar theatre projects in their own communities and lives.



11. Performing Arts for Behavior and Social Change: Summary of Sharing Session of Creative Communication on 8 April 2010

This report describes the second round of a United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) sharing session on creative communication in Vietnam under the theme "performing arts for behavior and social change". Session participants shared experiences and discussion around the effectiveness and efficiency of theatre, acting, role play, and interactive games to tackle social and health issues including HIV/AIDS prevention, reproductive health, and stigma reduction.



12. Theatre in Preventing HIV (TIPH) among Young People and Adolescents - Lesotho

Supported by UNICEF and implemented by the Non-governmental Organisation Coalition on the Rights of a Child (NGOC) in Lesotho, this is an interactive theatre project in which young people write scripts on topics of interest to them, such as breaking the silence and shame around gender, HIV and AIDS, violence, and abuse; audiences are invited to respond to what is happening on stage.



13. Umhlaba Wethu - A Man's World - South Africa

This play toured South Africa in 2008 and 2009 and focused on the issue of macho culture and the role African men play in the spread of HIV. Voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) units accompanied the performances so that audience members could undergo an HIV/AIDS test.



14. Acting Against Worms - Uganda

This theatre project of the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) in collaboration with Theatrescience took place in Busia, Uganda, from October 2009 to April 2010. It was designed to share health messages about the prevention and treatment of the parasitic disease bilharzia. The project worked with primary schools, including children, teachers, and community workers, to create and perform drama productions which were showcased at a festival.



15. Dream Doctors Project - Israel

This project integrates professional medical clowning into the medical services provided at Israeli hospitals. Dream Doctors draw on laughter to address the suffering of those in pain, particularly children, at 16 hospitals throughout the country.



16. Empower Youth and Communities to Respond to HIV/AIDS - Tanzania

Implemented between February and October 2009, this project aimed to increase the HIV prevention knowledge and skills of more than 400 young fishermen and women in Tanzania in order to reduce risky behaviours. Initiated by the Youth Self-Employment Foundation (YOSEFO) in collaboration with different partners including the Zanzibar Theatre Group, TVZ, and Radio Zanzibar, the project used drama, peer education, and community outreach to promote awareness and counter HIV-related stigma.



17. Saving Lives by Changing Relationships: Positive Deviance for MRSA Prevention and Control in a U.S. Hospital

by Arvind Singhal, Prucia Buscell, and Keith McCandless

This paper, published in 2009 as part of the Positive Deviance Initiative (PDI)'s "Positive Deviance Wisdom Series," explores a guerilla/improvisational theatre initiative that utilised the "positive deviance" model in an effort to reduce hospital-acquired infections.



18. Promoting Health with Live Performance: The Methodology of a South India Community Theatre Organisation

by Susie Prest

This manual, revised in September 2008, describes the methodology used by the Chennai, South India-based organisation Nalamdana, which draws on community theatre as a health promotion tool for semi-literate and illiterate people.



  • Also see:


Theatre for Life: Health Information, Community Mobilisation and Child Rights - A Qualitative Evaluation

Theatre for Development (TfD)








Previous Drum Beat Editions Related to Theatre for Development:



The Drum Beat 393 - Let's Use Folk Arts and Traditional Media for Development


The Drum Beat 361 - Puppetry for Development


The Drum Beat 232 - Wan Smolbag Theatre - Vanuatu


The Drum Beat 215 - Arts-Based Community Development











19. The Effects of Performing Life on Street Working Youth in Cochabamba, Bolivia: A Special Project in Community Development, Iowa State University

by Suzanne Jamison

This 2008 paper offers a case study of Performing Life (PL), a youth-led and -managed nonprofit organisation that works with youth who are labouring and/or living on the streets of Cochabamba, Bolivia. "Participants developed artistic abilities through juggling, theater, and other creative activities. With these skills and a new outlook on life, they began to improve their economic situations and to avoid drugs and delinquency..."



20. No Monkey Business: Inside Out Puppet Show - South Africa

This puppet show is presented in South Africa in English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, and Tswana by arrep: Theatre for Life Trust. Designed for children ages 6-10, it incorporates a range of life skills issues - basic health, hygiene, illness, understanding HIV, medicines, and anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy. The puppet show is followed by facilitated discussions, which provide interactive, social life-skills education in an effort to enable informed choice and develop resilience in children.



21. Ashe Performing Arts Company: Edutainment Initiative - Jamaica

This Jamaican project works to increase awareness and improve knowledge and attitudes through theatre productions that engage young people to examine issues in a non-threatening and entertaining, but educational, manner while cementing knowledge through subsequent discussions, workshops, and other one-on-one support interventions and activities that explore solutions to conflict resolution and anger management.








Previous Soul Beat Newsletters Related to Theatre for Development:



The Soul Beat 158 - Theatre for Social Change


The Soul Beat 80 - Theatre for Development 


The Soul Beat 42 - Using Puppetry for Communication








This issue of The Drum Beat was written by Deborah Heimann.





The Editor of The Drum Beat is Kier Olsen DeVries.


Please send material for The Drum Beat to The CI's Editorial Director - Deborah Heimann


The Drum Beat seeks to cover the full range of communication for development activities. Inclusion of an item does not imply endorsement or support by The Partners.


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I highly recommend you for

I highly recommend you for the theme of this issue.

Theatre for Development is a creative and innovative application of one of the oldest art form in human history. The process helps to cleanse, aspire and transcend past wounds, dilemma and fear. Shortly after the carnage of WWI, Jacob Marino made similar effort by using spontaneity theatre to find common grounds in a time of political and moral vacuum.

I am very excited to read that SFCG and other groups have been doing wonderful work in war torn societies. I am currently working with a humanitarian organisation and would like to find out whether there are video clips available on this type of theatre application for better understanding. Many thanks for your help.


Lichia Saner-Yiu

Prof. Lichia Saner-Yiu, Ed.D.
Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development

The Communication Initiative Network and Partnership convenes the communication and media for development, social and behavioural change community to share knowledge, connect, debate relevant issues, and critically review each other's work in order to advance effective development action across and between all development priorities. Contact Warren