Theatre for development

This list of key resources was compiled for the Exchange Lunchtime Discussion on Theatre for Development. It offers key resources relating to participatory performance practices and theatre for development. Source welcomes details of additional resources and accounts of how they are useful - please send these to

Selected resources

Books, reports, etc

Communications and development : a practical guide


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DFID guide to development communications in three sections: background (channels of communication, rights, participation, implications to poor people and civil society); guide to implementing development communications (including forming a strategy, planning, using mass media, building capacity); guide to different media (drama/performance, mass media, ICT)

Folk and traditional media for rural development

January 2000

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This is a report of a 1999 workshop in Malawi which explored how traditional media can be harnessed for development work. A major outcome was the reversal of roles between farmers and extension workers: the farmers taught extension workers about their culture and how they create media for disseminating as well as for sharing information, lessons and warnings in their village communities. Media explored in some depth included a girl's initiation ceremony, and a chief's installation ceremony, and centered around song and dance

Helping health workers learn : a book of methods, aids, and ideas for instructors at the village level


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This book on community health education provides a people-centered approach to health care and presents strategies for effective community involvement through participatory approaches. It discusses methods and experiences from at least 35 countries are discussed, focusing on the educational rather than medical. Activities suggested for the most effective and enjoyable community education include theatre, drawing, flannel boards, and other low-cost, popular teaching aids. It contains many illustrations, and is written in an accessible style

Let's teach about AIDS : drama in AIDS communication


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Ideas, examples and practical activities and around using drama for AIDS communication. One in a series of six booklets developed in southern Africa for use by AIDS educators, describing participatory learning exercises that can be used with adults and young people. Other booklets in this series cover a range of issues, including how to use visual aids, education and evaluation

Puppets with a purpose : using puppetry for social change


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Puppets have been a sophisticated means of artistic expression, communication and instruction for 2,000 years. This book tells the story of some of the puppets and the puppeteers who bring them to life. Fully illustrated with photographs, it outlines the basic steps for making and performing with puppets (live and on television) to build a better world for children. Includes chapters on writing scripts and on evaluation. Also features a number of inset boxes with case studies, lessons and tips

Sang Fan Wan Mai Youth Group : tiny steps by youth to battle the AIDS crisis

JANPENG, Jansuai
et al
July 2001

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Describes the development of a youth group in Thailand that engages in HIV/AIDS education through puppet shows, stage plays, youth training and workshops, youth camps, village broadcasting, small group discussions, sports and competitions, and radio shows. In all activities, they integrate information about HIV/AIDS and emphasize the participation of the community throughout the process. Some useful lessons are included in the final section, 'Turning from a risk group to a responsible body'. The report was prepared by the youth themselves, and was translated and published by UNDP-SEAHIV

Tied up in a rope of sand. TFD : cultural action or development utility?


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Discusses the tension and synergy of culture and participatory development through examples of theatre for development experiences in Mali and Namibia. The author describes performances and processes for setting up performance activities in villages, some of which had their own forms of narrative drama, and others which developed these with external support. The article discusses the implications of importing and imposing cultural forms to achieve project goals, and contrasts this with the ethos of theatre for development, which seeks to engage community members in a dialogue with development workers in order to foster participation in and ownership of development activities

Email forums



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An email forum for arts-related postings. It is organised by the Art for Development Network which has over 600 members in 70 countries whose goal is to exchange ideas, experiences, and works that relate to social, economic and educational development in tandem with arts, and to work collaboratively and create tangible policies and projects that allow those untouched creative areas to develop. You can See also the 'Knowledge Centre' under 'Projects' for links to some interesting publications around art and development. See also the 'Knowledge Centre' under 'Projects' on the website for links to some interesting publications around art and development

Journal articles

Edutainment for development and sexual health [whole issue]


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This issue of Sexual Health Exchange includes articles on performance art / theatre for development projects in 12 countries. The diverse projects described tend to focus on social change as well as behaviour change communications, and range from peer education projects to edu-clowns to mass-media soap operas

Performance and participation [whole issue]

June 1997

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The contributors to the theme section of this issue of PLA Notes – the use of performative media in participatory development – examine how the creative potential of the arts can be used as part of a participatory process and how PRA practitioners might benefit from integrating performative and artistic media into the PRA process. Articles explore the use of participatory theatre to articulate and express the issues that affect people; the use of the language of theatre in participatory monitoring and evaluation; using ‘legislative theatre’ for policy research; using theatre in a participatory educational process; the use of visual and verbal art and video; intersections between theatre and PRA; and using drama in PRA training

Online videos

Theatrescience in Uganda schistosomiasis control initiative festival, Busia 2010

April 2010

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This is a video of clips from the 'Acting Against Worms' (bilharzia) school drama festival in Busia, Eastern Uganda, in April 2010. It was part of an initiative to raise awareness among school children and local communities about bilharzia (or schistosomiasis), a disease that caused by worms that live in fresh water throughout regions of Sub-Saharan Africa

Online audio

Uganda : acting against worms

November 2009

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This podcast describes the 'Acting Against Worms' initiative which works with primary schools in the Busia district of East Uganda using educative drama to raise awareness among school children and communities about bilharzia, or schistosomiasis - a disease caused by worms which live in fresh water throughout regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. It comprises various short interviews with people involved in the programme




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An organisation with 600+ members in 70 countries whose goal is to exchange ideas, experiences, and works that relate to social, economic and educational development in tandem with arts, and to work collaboratively and create tangible policies and projects that allow those untouched creative areas to develop. The e-forum is a great resource for arts-related postings. You can subscribe by visiting or by sending a blank email to See also the 'Knowledge Centre' under 'Projects' on the website for links to some interesting publications around art and development

Creative Exchange : the network for culture and development

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Creative Exchange is a network, resource centre, and professional resource for practitioners and organisations in the culture and development field, and advocates using the arts for social change. The website includes two searchable databases: one of about 500 organisations, and the other of about 100 printed resources (some available online)

Soul City

January 2006

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The Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication (SC IHDC) is a social change project which aims to impact on society at the individual, community and socio-political levels. SC IHDC is South Africa's premier edutainment project. The webiste includes details and publications about all major Soul City projects, including evaluation reports, advocacy material and training material

Theatre and development : overview

December 2004

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This website provides a concise overview on the use of theatre, including street theatre and puppet theatre, to disseminate and communicate information. The title 'Theatre & Development' refers to theatre approaches known as Theatre for Development, participatory theatre, popular theatre, community theatre, legislative theatre, theatre in (health) education, educational theatre, and edutainment


Centre for the Arts in Development Communications (cdcArts)|School of Community and Performing Arts|King Alfred's College


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SO22 4NR

cdcArts promotes the self-development of marginalised groups through cultural engagement and the arts. This includes facilitation of grassroots projects, undertaking of training consultancies, running of vocationally oriented academic programmes, writing of print and electronic materials on Theatre for Development, and fostering of networks for South-South and North-South dialogue and information exchange. The guiding principles are democracy, participation and sustainability. In keeping with this, cdcArts incorporates aspects of trainer training and the sharing and exchange of transferable cultural and artistic skills, and participatory performance practices. At graduate level, the MA (PGDip) Theatre for Development and graduate research programmes run within the School of Community and Performing Arts at King Alfred's College in the UK. Their website is a useful source of background information on participatory performance practices

Music Therapy International (MTI)


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PO Box 1216, Bowling Green
OH 43402-8016

MTI's mission is to design and implement music therapy programmes for refugees facing psychological and other mental health problems arising from civil wars in Africa in the last two decades. Specific foci are on children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) living in the United States and in Kenya

The Story Workshop


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Private Bag 266

The Story Workshop Educational Trust is a non-profit educational media group creating entertainment for social change in Malawi. A team of artists and scholars use a mix of advocacy and social mobilisation techniques to further human rights, gender equity, food security, HIV/AIDS education, conservation, literacy and economic development. Activities include radio soap operas, radio magazines, music, village drama and other forms of popular entertainment. See for a summary of a radio soap that they produce.