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Theatre

Aim of the tool
To communicate your M&E findings in a lively manner

When to use it?
You can use this tool mid-way through an intervention process or at the end of the intervention to express the findings of the evaluation in a novel way.

How difficult is it to use it?
Easy – moderate – for experienced users/facilitators

Tool for thought or tool for action?
Thought and action

Benefits
It is a very good way to (emotionally) engage people in the story you want to tell.

"It is a powerful way to communicate evaluation findings, especially those on sensitive topics to groups. For example, these kinds of role plays have been used in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa to communicate findings on stigma related to HIV and AIDS." (Stetson 2008)

Issues to be aware of
It really helps if you have some experience with theatre, especially when it comes to forum theatre or interactive theatre. It is important that you are aware of the depth of the technique. If possible (and if the budget allows), obtain the help of professional actors

Description of the tool
There are several different ways of using theatre to communicate evaluation findings and engage intended users in responding to them. Traditional sketches can be developed from evaluation data (especially interviews and focus groups) and may also portray evaluation findings. Actors perform a sketch and then exit. The sketch is followed by a discussion among audience members, guided by a facilitator.

Interactive sketches are provocative vignettes that engage audience members in thinking and talking about evaluation issues and findings. Following an interactive sketch, the audience can discuss their reactions with the actors, who stay in character, again guided by a facilitator, who also provides data from the evaluation. After the facilitated discussions, actors repeat the sketch, changing it according to the outcome of the discussion.

Forum theatre workshops use role-playing. The facilitator presents the evaluation findings and participants can be both actors and audience members. Participants create mini-scenes based on the evaluation findings and their own experiences. Forum theatre is a type of theatre created by the innovative and influential practitioner Augusto Boal as part of what he calls his "Theatre of the Oppressed." Boal created Forum theatre as a way to teach people how to change their world. In this process, the actors or audience members could stop the performance – this was often a short scene in which a character was being oppressed in some way. The audience would then suggest different actions for the actors to carry out on-stage in an attempt to change the outcome of what they were seeing. This was an attempt to undo the traditional actor partition and bring audience members into the performance, to have an input into the dramatic action they were watching. This method can empower people and explore new ways of acting in real life.

Example
TreeFor the last 14 years Wan Smolbag has been doing work on STI (sexually transmitted infections)/HIV/AIDS in Vanuatu and in other Pacific countries. To-date more 2,000 participants have attended the various activities.

The programme uses various techniques; drama videos, stage dramas and interactive sketches or ‘walking biological diagrams’ in which actors portray STIs, germs, sperm, eggs. These sketches are stopped and the spectactors asked to comment on them, suggest alternatives, and ask for changes. The group also works with nurses, teachers, etc., on using innovative techniques for discussing sensitive reproductive health topics. These techniques have been collected and put into a guide, Drama in Reproductive Health. The group has also built a reproductive health clinic at the back of the theatre. It is staffed by 2 nurses and 8 peer educators so as to offer improved service delivery to settlement areas. Follow-up: Nurses, theatre groups use the methodology around the Pacific. Wan Smolbag employs 2 full-time research officers who follow up on the group’s tours and activities. See: http://www.wansmolbag.org/DynamicPages.asp?cid=20&navID=20 (accessed 14 February 2014)


Photo: courtesy of ms-nepal, from website: http://www.theatreoftheoppressed.org

Steps involved in using the tool
Develop your theater play around the crucial topics you want to address. Choose the right form of theatre and if you not sure, try to get some advice on this. Decide whether you want to work with your own stakeholders, or with professional actors (both have advantages and disadvantages).

Carefully organise that the “right” audience is present – the one with whom you want to share your key message(s) and with whom you want to involve in this way.

Follow the drama with a sequence of open questions, such as: What did you see happening here? Why does it happen? How does it happen in our situation? What can we do about it? How would you act differently? (Stetson 2008, p. 29)

Sources

Websites

References

  • Torres, R.T., H. Preskill, and M. E. Piontek. 2005. Evaluation Strategies for Communicating and Reporting: Enhancing Learning in Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications