In today’s Applied performance lesson, we were exploring ‘Theatre for Development’ with guest lecturer Sheila Preston. Opening the floor up to the class, Sheila Preston had asked if we had any game in mind in which we could warm ourselves up with, the game that we all decided on was ‘Stick in the mud’. The version we played in class was that, if we were tagged you have to create a still image which then the person who is risking be caught we have to create the image in front of you and you will have to count to five. During the game we were instructed by Sheila Preston to think of ways in which we can develop the game, so that we can explore different means of drama. By doing this, the invited rules like slow walking when you here someone shout ‘slow’, when you here rewind we would have to walk backwards and if we would here fast forward we word then have to walk really fast paying attention to our peers and surroundings.
Once we had finished warming ourselves up, Sheila Preston invited the class to have a discussion on what we thought a facilitators role would be within that exercise. As a class we started discus the differences in roles, facilitator and mainstream educators, we spoke about how a facilitators role is to support a class by asking questions like ‘how can we improve this game’ and ‘What different elements can we involve within this activity’. A facilitator would ask question that are reflective and inspire a response for participants to become involved. Moving on from this discussion, we began to explore the work of Sheila Preston within ‘Theatre for Development’, when working with countries that are going through development.
Sheila Preston started her presentation by discussing the terminology of “Development” and how it may refer to countries suffering from social, political and economical issues. Theatre for Development helped form the terminology of Applied theatre, laying the format for other forms of practice to develop. Theatre for development focuses on helping countries transform, helping countries locate issues that prevent them from evolving. The term ‘under developed’ attached with development holts the process in evolving due to the ideology that undercurrents.
Sheila Preston began to discuss her own Theatre for Development (TFD) projects that focus on the counter-cultural approach to their workshops. She identified how it reframes the process of learning to make it more dialogue, consisting of a collection of the political agenda. Referring to the ‘Banking System’ and its references to education. The banking system is a term used by “Paulo Freire” to critique the tradition education system. Meaning the way in which students are used as an empty vessel for the educator to store his knowledge. Where as, the workshops produced within Theatre for Development encourage equal learning between the facilitator and participants.
The final part of the lesson consisted of, Sheila Preston discussing the Theatre for Development projects that were implemented in Zimbabwe. A project in which Sheila Preston had taken over to Zimbabwe, we began to discuss the issue in which she faced by being a white woman who teaches. The village in which Sheila Preston resided in, consisted of woman who originate and are passionate about their community. As many forms that fall under the umbrella of Applied Theatre, the project was to help train the woman in the village to be able to facilitate to eventually produce theatre on issue that effect their community. The utilisation of drama in this project was to encourage dialogue that would help equalise gender imbalance in that community. The facilitators that participated insisted the woman to debate issues that they find hinder the community in growth and peace, to then be used as a performance.
To end the lesson, the class had the opportunity to reflect and to start discussions on which they felt weren’t covered enough.