Applied theatre is an umbrella term for many different types of performance, including community arts, theatre in education and theatre for development.
Theatre for development is the use of performance to assist development outcomes. It is the use of theatre by NGO's and government health, aid, and educational orgainsations that oftens aims to teach a specific message. Theatre may be used to teach people about ways to prevent malaria, the risks of female infibulation, or to encourage villagers to send their children to school. It is primarily an educational tool, a method of delivering messages in fun and engaging ways.
Importantly, theatre for development is presented in local languages, and often performed in hard-to-reach communities. The use of performance enables health and education messages to be accessible to those who are illiterate, and to those without access to radios, television and the internet. Performace is used to its ability to remain locally relevant and contemporary with few resources.
Unlike theatre of the oppressed, theatre for development is not a specific set of techniques, but the application of theatre in the field of development.
While this work attempts to work with marginalised communities on issues that are important to them, theatre for development may be critiqued for proscribing information, for simply delivering information. Rather than engage with communities to discover local knowledge, or foster an attitude of communal enquiry, as is done in theatre of the oppressed, theatre for development delivers key messages.
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