Theatre for Development in Zambia

Topics: Sociology, Lagos, Audience Pages: 7 (2129 words) Published: April 6, 2012



Giving an account of the Theatre for Development process and how it helps drive community development. Providing one or two recent Zambian examples of how this process is carried out. In your answer you must clearly define what you understand by the terms “process”, “community”, and “development”.


The main aim of this essay is to give an account of Theatre for Development (TFD) process, how it helps to drive community development. The essay would further go on to look at recent Zambian example of how this process is carried out.

Theatre for development is a famous means of communication for the people especially in less development societies. According to a website,, it says, “Theatre for Development is used not for catering entertainment to the people but is used to educate people. If used properly it can play a very important role in development as it educates people not only in human rights but also in development, civic rights, hygiene and civic participation”[1].

In understanding Theatre for Development process to drive community development, it is prudent from the onset to understand some terms such as ‘process’, ‘community’ and ‘development’. According to a website,, “a process is a collection of interrelated work tasks initiated in response to an event that achieves a specific result”[2]. The term community according to a website,, “it is a group of interacting people living in some proximity. Usually referring to a social unity larger than a household that shares common values and has social cohesion”[3]. While some see development as a state or condition that is static, others see it as process or course of change. Development represents ideas and practices designed to bring about positive change in human societies. Gene Shackman et al says “development is a function of society’s capacity to organise human energies and productive resources to respond to opportunities and challenges”[4]. Todaro, M. (1977) provides a concise description of development when he says that, “ development is not purely an economic phenomenon but rather a multi-dimensional process involving reorganisation and reorientation of entire economic and social systems”[5].

An account of the Theatre for Development process.

Several attempts have been made by theatre scholars to link theatre and development whether local, national or global has a long history. According to Obafemi, (2003), “there exists an obsession among theatre and literary scholars to prove, outside the attempts by great philosophers like Aristotle and Plato Pupil, that theatre whether in the literary or performative form has a contribution to make to the development of the society. Theatre and development has a twin existence. Like development, theatre derives from source-people, the community, playing roles and finding expressions and solutions to life threatening problems”[6].

According to Mwansa, (2006), “Theatre for Development emerged in the late 1970’s as a social movement that disseminated information on issues of development at grass root level in the developing world”[7]. In order to evaluate the role of TFD, it is important to understand the nature of the theatre and the concept of development. Theatre serves a social function by educating community members. According to Ngwainmbi, (2004), “theatre helps to depict social reality and encourages audience participation”[8].

How TFD helps drive community development.

Theatre for development emphasises collectivism and participation and according to Olalekam, (2010), “TFD stresses community and inter-personal participation and uses existing and familiar performance forms in the various communities such as songs, dances, music, storytelling, puppetry and mime to either validate those cultural forms or services as an adequate instrument to bring about...
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