Alternative cultural practices in drama studies : an exploratory study.
Hoosain, Mohamed Faruk.
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Traditional drama teaching focuses on the training of students as potential interpretative actors or students-as-technicians. Alternative drama practices emphasise the student-as-social activist. The value and function of using critical theory to get children to shape fundamental social change is discussed. In this scheme, children are taught how to use theatre techniques to experientially explore how the controlling social forces in technological societies undermine national, regional and local democratic processes. The Schools Theatre for Development Projects with their Discussion and Action Teams, which I discuss, serve to enrich school pupils' self confidence at being critical. The problematic of what development entails and whose interests it serves is critiqued. For this reason children are provided with rehearsal in a pre- adult political arena and taught how to construct politics rather than consume a reified notion of politics. If this is to occur, then curriculum development has to be school-based rather than centralised. Teachers are advised to perceive knowledge as anchored in, and extracted from, social reality, especially that of their pupils. Mindful of the process of contextualisation, facilities in raising the child's political literacy and taking reflective social action need to be provided within schools. A case study focusing on an anti- racism project evaluated the potential strengths and challenges that a Theatre for Development in school presents. This program focuses on how the children of Indian House of Delegates administered schools in Durban can confidently mount a programme of social action or collective challenge against apartheid. Ultimately, a syllabus which draws on the case-study is devised which unpacks procedure, evaluation and political practices.