With Theatre for Development (TfD) interventions in some rural communities in Africa, the theatre landscape has undergone a major transformation following a paradigm shift from the elitist (conventional) mode of operation where performances are regarded as mere entertainment and vehicles of escape from mundane preoccupations of daily life to that which fulfils a major function in society. In response to a number of contemporary social challenges, TfD, one of the trends in applied theatre practice has emerged as a pragmatic post-modernist experiment that explores the relationship between theatre practice, social efficacy and community building. Theatre for Development advocates and encourages participatory, inclusive and community-oriented discourse. This is a socially engaged theatre that relies on the principle of dialogue for change, and functions effectively as an agent of empowerment in polarised, excluded and impoverished communities. In its various contexts and manifestations, TfD deals with the awakening of people’s critical consciousness; its goal ensures desirable adaptability and changes in human behaviour for the betterment and prosperity of humankind, and it acts as a vital force in the transformation of society. Though TfD has been regarded as a “model of good practice”, some of its intentions have fallen short of expectation. Some of the outlined principles in its blueprint seem not to conform with the goal and vision of the practice and practitioners. The aim of the presentation therefore, is to examine some of the challenges that Theatre for Development faces as an agency for rural education and conscientisation of people in some local communities in Africa.
Prof Ebewo is Professor at Tshwane University of Technology, Faculty of Arts, South Africa. He is currently guest of the Centre for Global Theatre History, the ERC Project Developing Theatre, and the Centre for Advanced Studies of LMU Munich.
The talk is open to the public and will take place at the Institute of Theatre Studies, Georgenstrasse 11, 80799 Munich, room #109.