Socio-political theatre for young people

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Socio-political theatre attempts to present serious social issues to an audience in a way that will encourage that audience to examine its own attitude and behaviour toward the problem. It is usually the intent of the performers that the social problem illuminated by the theatre piece will be eradicated or at least some action will be initiated because of the change in attitude of the audience viewing the work. Since the beginning of English theatre in the medieval churches, theatre has been used to teach. In that context, the stories central to the message of the death and resurrection of Christ were enacted so that the Latin liturgy might be understood on a deeper, more emotional level by people who might not gain the same spiritual enlightenment from the liturgy itself. At its best, theatre teaches while it entertains and moves, and is thus well suited to illuminating subjects normally difficult to tackle. In this study, I look at the work of three theatre companies who have addressed the problem of child sexual abuse and its prevention. Illusion Theatre in Minneapolis began the first sexual abuse prevention project in 1977. Green Thumb Theatre in Vancouver created a personal safety project called Feeling Yes, Feeling No in 1981. Quest Theatre in Calgary produced the Green Thumb project twice, in 1986 and in 1987. Also in the seventies and eighties, British Theatre In Education companies explored the possibilities for using theatre to examine sensitive community issues in schools. They have a support organization called the Standing Conference on Young Peoples' Theatre (SCYPT) which encourages debate among members on issues of theoretical and practical concern. At their conference in Wolverhampton, England in 1987, many of their members actively debated how best to incorporate the ideas of dramatist Augusto Boal and curriculum theorist Paulo Friere into their work. Advocates of socio-political theatre and educators hoping to support a new pedagogy which might change the social system are looking for innovative teaching methods in many parts of the world. This study attempts to answer important questions about the possibility for social change through theatre projects, and the nature of the collaborative and creative processes necessary to make the projects successful. It also attempts to consider what conditions could encourage the growth of socio-political theatre projects for young people in Alberta.
Bibliography: p. 91-99.
Christofferson, B. E. (1988). Socio-political theatre for young people (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/15267