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Theatre for development?

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

In this afternoon’s mail I got a copy of an international journal published in 2002, devoted to “Theatre for Development” in Africa, including an article about my struggles and failures in Lesotho from 1992-94. I wrote the article in the late 90s, while I was working in South Africa, and then forgot about it. Eight years later it has found its way to my mailbox. The article is good-humored and self-deprecating. In it I look back at my ideals as I first arrived in Africa and met the first of the theatre groups I was to lead. “From my book-learning I knew how to label what I was about to do: it would be theatre-for-liberation, not theatre-for-domestication, top-down theatre, or theatre-of-indoctrination. It would come from within the community it was meant to serve; it would be shaped and directed by that community, with skillful intervention from me…. People would flock to see it, would understand and enjoy it, and would be moved and liberated by it. We would begin with information-gathering, discussion, and script-development; then would come workshopping and performance, then followup.” Dear, naive, hopeful, idealistic young Kendall that I was, I really did think it would work. [read on]