This essay explores the notions of ‘theatre and/for development’ and some of its many manifestations, including such ‘levels’ as theatre applied to social consciousness raising about significant local issues and the role of theatre as individual and collective therapy in post-conflict situations, among others.
John Clammer, Professor of Sociology, Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, O.P. Jindal University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Pearly Wong, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, US.
Development itself can be seen as a form of ‘performance’—as the carrying out or acceptance of a range of particular kinds of actions and interventions. In the light of this performative nature of development, it is not surprising that literal forms of performance—theatre, dance and ritual—have come to play an important role in addressing a wide range of development-related issues including ecology, gender, health, HIV/AIDS, caste and refugees.
This essay explores the relationships between performance and development, focusing in particular on theatre. It explores the notions of ‘theatre and/for development’ and some of its many manifestations.
This includes such ‘levels’ as theatre applied to social consciousness raising about significant local issues, the role of theatre as individual and collective therapy in post-conflict situations, as a way of promoting development policies or interventions in health, farming, water and similar very practical contexts.
While discussing these levels or applications, it also addresses more theoretical issues including comparative aesthetics (what kind of drama is appropriate in different cultural settings, and the role of theatre in preserving local aesthetic and cultural traditions), theatre as a way of promoting what we here call the ‘social imagination’, issues of inter-cultural performance and the problems of evaluating the actual impact of theatre on the acceptance of development practices and in promoting desirable social and cultural change.
Published in: The aesthetics of development. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 291
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