Theatre
: Panacea for HIV/AIDS Education in Cameroon?

  • Anderson Gamboh Funfe

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Theatre for Development (TfD) has emerged as a highly favoured medium for contemporary development education in countries with the designation ‘developing’.
This study examines the effectiveness of TfD in Cameroon for raising awareness of, preventing infection, and changing behaviour in relation to HIV/AIDS. It is a critical analysis and observation of selected available scripts and/or digital video discs of performance projects in Cameroon, with a view to establish how context influences success or failure. In this respect, it falls within a qualitative research paradigm.
The stance of the researcher is informed by critical theory and practice from other similar contexts which suggest that effective communication and sustainability could be achieved through a dialogic process (Boal et al., 1979), between the outsiders and insiders (Chambers, 1983) in an Analysis-Action-Reflection-Analysis-Action ... (Burkey, 1993) continuum.
The study critiques the tendency by practitioners and sponsors to assume that by simply using the medium of theatre (TfD) and having a cheering audience at the play venue, the educational goals are met and theatre is the ‘cure-all’, even if the communicative method used is top-down, one- sided, one-off and excites little or no behaviour change to hold HIV/AIDS in check. At worst, current TfD practices tend to exploit the rural masses and add to disenchantment instead of inspiring and empowering them.
By evaluating the factors that support or hinder sustainability, this research reveals that for theatre to make any attempts at curing the entertainment and educational shortcomings towards HIV/AIDS education in Cameroon, the practice needs a radical departure from its present form and method, including a bottom-up practice which feeds back information from the grass roots through the same TfD medium, to the government and sponsor organisations. This could create a forum for continuous reflection and more balanced decisions about programmes, infrastructure and governance to meet the required ‘development’ goal.
Date of Award20 Nov 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorTim Prentki (Supervisor) & Dave Pammenter (Supervisor)

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