Theatre for Development as a Participatory Development Process in Uganda: A Critical Analysis of Contemporary Practices
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I need to publish portions of the work
In Uganda, relative to its neighbouring countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, the practice of Theatre for Development (henceforth TfD) has been considered quite problematic. Within the arts fraternity in Uganda, there have been critics who hold that TfD exists and is practiced in Uganda on one hand, while on the other there are those who argue that TfD does not exist as a distinct form of practice in Uganda. Those who dispute the existence of TfD in Uganda say that TfD is just a commercial label coined by people who want to take advantage of the large amounts of money from donors. These rivalling critical positions compelled me to postulate that TfD practice in Uganda could be embroiled in neoliberal tendencies where the funding factor shapes the nature of practice. Consequently, this thesis sets out to examine the nature of TfD practice in Uganda keeping in focus the basic principles that underpin its practice such as participation, giving voice, community ownership, dialogue, time and sustainability as the critical framework. Alongside these principles, the thesis kept in view the forces or processes which influence the TfD process such as postcolonialism/, power related dynamics, the politics of funding and global capitalism among others. The thesis focused on analysing how the above principles and forces have played out in projects by local and international practitioners in Uganda. It also made an effort to reflect on the nature of TfD practice in Uganda by drawing from my own practical experiences in a child rights TfD project. Looking at the work by local practitioners such as IATM, and Rafiki Theatre Company, this thesis discovered that TfD practice in Uganda has been hindered by the high-handed role of international development funders who determine the issues which the projects address. Through the work of international practitioners such as Jane Plastow and Katie McQuaid, it was however, discovered that implementing the ideal TfD process espousing the empowerment participation or the bottom up model in Uganda is not completely difficult to achieve. Their work offered a fundamental challenge to local practices in that the facilitators made a good effort to observe closely the core principles of effective practice such as participation, giving voice, balancing the dynamics of power and sustainability, something local practitioners need to emulate. However, the discussion in the thesis indicates that the work by international practitioners was not devoid of the influence of the forces that normally threaten effective practice such as the facilitator-participant power dynamics, issues related to project funding and postcolonial and neo-colonial inclinations.
The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and the Unesco/Keizo Obuchi Fellowship for Younger Researchers
PhD in Drama