Impressions of African Theatre

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By Lize Kubersky KIGALI RWANDA From 7 November to 14 November I sat at the discussion table in inspiration as an individual of a group of teachers, professors, lecturers and journalists – all having one common concern to explore the dimensions of writing theatre for children. Inspired by the profound insightfulness of these ASSITEJ (International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People) members I took part in discussions, writing and games. Participants included members from Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Rwanda Botswana, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, Swaziland and Cameroon. Facilitators, Professor Francis Imbunga from Kenya and Dramaturge Marie-Persson Hedenius from Sweden guided the programme. Also present at the workshop were Hope Zeda, ARTEJ President (Rwandaise ASSITEJ) and Secretary General of ASSITEJ International Niclas Malmcrona. Resident at the Alpha Palace in Kigali, the participants gathered on the first floor for the daily 9-hour workshop. The welcoming ceremony proceeded on the second evening as Rwandan traditional dancers made graceful movements accompanied by drums and shakers. A special ‘national anthem’ performance was also done by myself and Rwandan representative Ninette Nyiringango, a recording artist, actress and playwright. The workshop had the following expectations, which were all met. – Learn methods and techniques of writing for children; – Learn ways of using theatre for educational purposes; – Learn how to guide young people to write their own plays With a mission to gradually change the mindset of the youth we embarked on a strategy search to change our thinking mechanism to enable us connecting with the child. – Changing, as in merging aspects of life, themes of contradiction and flow. – Themes that were incorporated into the programme were: War and Peace, Revenge or Reconciliation, Lessons and Failures, Mind Liberation Marginalization and HIV/AIDS. “By virtue of resourcefulness we pose challenges. And the communities to create a platform that caters to explore educating in an entertaining way,” Daniel Setabba of Uganda said.. “We have to sensitize teachers, political authorities, parents and society at large through edutainment And we can do it with edutainment propaganda,” saiod Robert Chimwa. “We can channel an understanding among stakeholders with the following methods: by teaching teachers to use theatre as a method of teaching. By combining theatrical and classical teaching methods children are left with a picture and a theory. If these teachers could then use theatre to present their teaching they could invite parents, who are part of the general public and sensitize them in tandem,” Chimwa said. A prominent topic also included ino the workshop was adapting folklore into plays. This method enabled one story to become 17 plays. Each one derived from a story, each one able to relate to the mind of a child and all with underlining themes. This proved to be a successful way of creating and understanding.