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Title: "Why do you bring us playing when we have serious problems?" : theatre aesthetics and education in South Africa
Author: Baxter, Veronica
ISNI:       0000 0004 2684 1799
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Winchester
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis examines selected Applied Theatre projects in South Africa between the years 1994 and 2007, with a particular focus on KwaZulu-Natal province. The research concurs with the definition of Applied Theatre as that which takes place in `non-traditional spaces and marginalised communities' (Nicholson 2005: 3), although the stylistic precedents for this theatre can be found in the history of South African theatre. The majority of the research took place in Zulu-speaking, KwaZulu-Natal province (except the Industrial Theatre), in rural or peri-urban communities, schools or colleges, and all projects were designed to educate and inform participant audiences on social issues. The problem highlighted in the research is the tension between effective education and aesthetic theatre. The aims of Applied Theatre lie beyond the theatre itself (i. e. its application), but if the theatre is not artistically rendered, it does not educate effectively, nor does it do justice to its artistic heritage. The research standpoint of the writer is informed by critical pedagogy (Darder, Baltodano and Torres 2003) and critical theory (Bernstein and Adorno 2001, Witkin 2002). Since the writer is researcher, director and activist, the research methodology is positioned in a Practice as Research paradigm (Barrett and Bolt 2007), using critical ethnographic methods, and often applying an Action Research model (Cohen and Manion 1994, Ackroyd 2006). The research finds that Applied Theatre is most effective as part of ongoing projects, and that there are optimal conditions under which the development of critical thinking is possible. These conditions include a consideration of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (Burkey 1993), the worldview of the participants (Meyer et al. 1997), and the style of the facilitator (Boal 1979,1992,1995). The researcher concludes that without these optimal conditions being met, the intentions of Applied Theatre may be perceived as `playing' with serious issues.
Supervisor: Prentki, Tim ; Pammenter, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available