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Community Theatre for Sustainable Development

Community Theatre for Sustainable Development: Problems and Prospects of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Community Theatre Outreach at Amudo, Awka.


Community theatre for sustainable development occurs through the process of using drama to promote developmental values in a given community. The major problem of this study is the perception that most communities in Anambra State such as Amudo Awka, have not enjoyed from the needed development in the society because of high level of illiteracy, poverty and lack of social amenities. This study will use quantitative and content analysis research methods to gather its materials. The major findings of this study shows that theatre performs various function in harnessing human development because Amudo community theatre project goes a long way to educate the people on how to solve their problems. Some problems have been identified in this study, therefore, the researcher recommend effective and strategic follow-up exercise which is an important aspect of community theatre should be carried out as well.


1.1       Introduction

The term community theatre for sustainable development focuses on researching communal problems and proffering solution to them.  It is a theatre that focuses on how a particular problem in a community can be solved.  Community theatre is a theatre organized and managed with the aim of presenting plays for the entertainment or enlightenment of a community rather than for commercial purpose.  The nature of effective enlightenment and communication makes community theatre very important both in the socio-political and economic aspect of human life.  Drama can raise consciousness because it is a mode of communication that has a life of its own.  According to Zakes “The potency of drama as communication  and the context of rural development lies in the fact that adult educators and community development workers are able to explain the benefits of social phenomena outside the peasant own experience” (19).   According to Udor;

Development is a process of positive structural changes in the economy infrastructure, politics and education towards in advancement of the nation.  This implies positive progress, expansion, spread and improvement in previous structures, ideas and institutions (9).

The soul aim of a good community theatre outreach is to preach changes and development to a target community through drama.  According to Obadiegwu; “Community theatre is the process by which theatre is placed at the service of those who are disadvantaged for the sole aim of discussing and working out strategies for addressing their problem” (2).  Community, theatre for development raises serious question about the functionality of drama in response to the development of the society now that the wave of globalization is sweeping across the entire African continent.  It is understood that the major function of community theatre performance, is to present drama that can change, correct, expose and develop a given community.  A special attribute that differentiates community theatre from other artistic form is that it is communal in nature.  Community theatre takes into cognizance what is on ground in a particular community and how it can be harnessed for the development of the people.

This form of theatre practice involves the use of traditional artifacts like mime, music, dance, costume, make-up, mask, gesture and drama to inform, educate, develop, manage and entertain the people in the society.  Community theatre proved to non-theatre practitioners that entertainment is not the only objective of a theatrical performance but educative and enlightenment.  Community theatre for development is also called radical theatre, theatre for social works, participatory theatre, popular theatre and propaganda theatre.

According to Osuya; “Community theatre is a therapeutic venture which diagnosis both the objective and subjects of a given community conscientizing them to be sensitive to the object of the target community”(65).  Community theatre aims at stimulating the people conscience critically through artistic performance to promote self reliance and active participation of the people in community development.  Theatre for development uses the closest tool in achieving its objective by stimulating the people’s conscience critically and developmentally.

Community theatre plays a major role in sustainable development because it dramatizes the possible methods of solving communal problems and how to develop the community as a group. The major objective of community theatre is to educate the people on things they are ignorance of in their environment and how to make a living out of it.  Since community theatre is defined as theatre by the people, for the people and of the people, the facilitators should learn to listen to the host community opinion and manage the little opportunity given to them. For community theatre to achieve its developmental goals the host community should be involved in the action.  Our traditional performances like masquerade dance, hunter dance, traditional music, festival, ritual display are vital tools for development if only they are well harnessed to attract foreign attention.  To contribute to national development, this our traditional performances can also be nurture into tourist attraction which can contribute to economic growth in the community and the nation at large.  Community theatre for development, tries to educate the community dwellers on how this ideas can be achieved without waiting for the government.

The major aim of community theatre facilitators is to make sure they introduce the host community to the effective methods on how they can use their cultural artifacts for developmental purposes.  The facilitators should not deviate from the major problems facing the host community.  A well planned theatre for development workshop is made up of two bodies which are the facilitators and the host community.  To achieve developmental objectives, the facilitators should not underrate the villagers despite their level of education and socio-economic background.  The host community should be given room for contribution and participation.  According to Satyen;

We are not empty pitchers,

we have mind of our own,

we can reason out things.

Believe it or not we also have dignity

let those who will teach us remember this.

Any attempt to impose things on the people could affect the aim and objectives of the facilitators.  Therefore, instead of imposing ideas on the people of a given community, the idea should come form them.  Community theatre facilitators should always capitalize on the host community contribution and information gathered in the community to create their plays.  The researchers must be humble and mingle with the people of the community.  The researchers should also learn the target community ways of life for them to achieve and gather the necessary information needed for the project.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Because of high level of illiteracy, poverty, lack of social amenities, the rural dwellers don’t have much power to fight for developmental project from the government.  Community theatre for development always tries to use its communicative skills to educate the host community on how to benefit from government development programes in the society.  This study shows the role of community theatre in harnessing sustainable development, using Amudo community theatre project.  In an experimental community theatre carried out in Amudo Awka in 2011 during the preliminary visits these problems were discovered  by the researchers; teenage pregnancy, sexual promiscuity of the elders, lack of social amenities, illiteracy, oppression by the rich men, unemployment and lack of peace in the community. Furthermore, community theatre facilitators utilized these information to create a play and educate the audience.  Community theatre also proved to the host community that drama is capable of solving a nagging problem in a community.

The failures of mass media like television, radio, newspaper, magazine, computer, even government to communicate developmental ideas to the rural society necessitate the usefulness of community theatre for sustainable development project.

1.3       Aim of the Study

The aim of this study is to look at how community theatre could be used in harnessing sustainable development. The study aims at showing community theatre as an alternative instrument for achieving sustainable development in a given community.  The study critically looks at community theatre for development as powerful instrument that speaks to the people in the language and idioms they understand for development to occur in the community. The study also critically looks at some of the problems and prospects facing community theatre for development.

1.4       Significance of the Study

This study will not only be important to the rural dwellers alone but to the Nigerian society at large.  Also it can enhance national growth and development.  This study will bring exposure to some communities who have not experienced the good will of community theatre for development.  This study will help the developmental agencies to understand the fact that drama and community theatre project is not for entertainment only, but a vital tool for communication and education.  This study can also be on important tool for political, religious, economic and social changes in the society.  This study can also teach the rural dwellers how to solve a nagging problem in their community without governmental help.  This study can also be used by future researchers as a reference material.

1.5       Scope of the Study

This study focuses in the use of community theatre for sustainable development, using Nnamdi Azikwe University Awka, community theatre workshops at Amudo. To achieve this, this study is divided into four chapters.  Chapter one is the introduction, it starts by looking at the statement of the problems, the aim of the study, scope of the study and research methodology.  Chapter two is the definition of terms and literature review.  Chapter three is data presentation.  Chapter four is the conclusion, summary of findings, recommendation and work cited which is the last page.

1.6       Research Methodology                                                                       

The researcher used content analysis, participant observation, field work, interview and workshop activities.  Other nformation   were got from relevant books, journals, internet and library.

—This article is incomplete———–This article is incomplete———— It was extracted from a well articulated quality Project, Research Work/Material

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