Ending violence within homes is pertinent to everyone in the society using participatory theatre in mending societal vices.
Theatre is a subtle way of highlighting the unspoken issues within our community and main message can reach large audience entertainingly and engagingly.
If top-to-bottom strategy is not working, then there is need to try and consider bottom-top approach in bringing back moral sanity to our society.
By incorporating participatory techniques, the audience is actively engaged, able to act alongside the actors or suggest ways the scenes can be altered for the better, however, usually the audience have only been at the periphery, watching.
Collectively and individually, the audience can imagine how changes in their behavior can radically transform their daily lives through role-playing.
Dialogue among the audience can provoke critical thinking in addressing violence against men and women thus enhancing the knowledge on how to deal with such issues in their respective communities.
Recently, Art Flames Entertainment, Eldoret based theater group, held a play titled Sweet Hurt II, staged at the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) theatre Hall in Eldoret town and the experience was amazingly thrilling to enthusiast of arts.
The play is based on a family whose source of income came to abrupt end. The man who is the sole breadwinner is retrenched from his work place reason; Covid-19 has affected company sales and the company can’t maintain the workforce as before.
The auditorium, which usually is full to capacity is now scarcely occupied by audience who were eager to be entertained and get home with some few lessons to change their perception on Gender Based Violence.
My interactions with the crew gave me a glimpse of what we are going through as society. We are a suffering community. Loss of jobs, losing love and increased poverty, we are constantly a struggling lot but we should not back track our human in us.
It was entertaining and at the same time sad to me. The play was perfectly staged to highlight the increasing rise of cannibalism in the most respected social institution since time immemorial- the marriage.
Every now and then we are experiencing emotional break down when we hear couples or lovers have killed each other. Are there no amicable ways to solve our problems? Is killing part of the solution?
Lead actor in the play, Brian Martin Ogana, popularly known as Luwi in Maria series that just concluded on Citizen TV, indicated, it is sad to see loved ones killed in this abusive relationship, homes wrecked and families disintegrated.
“It is sad nowadays to watch news, development content is minimal, but that of killings and domestic violence is probably everywhere in any news source we interact in our daily lives. “He noted.
The actor highlighted that the theater is trying to keep society on check and probably creating avenues to air the root causes where domestic violence is taking toll on people.
“Life is hard, Covid-19 time calls for patience and perseverance, and everybody should keep their neighbours on check and let’s support each other in unearthing problems that affect us before things turn tragic.” He reiterated.
Tony Tot, an Artistic Assistant Director, Art Flames, indicated society is depressed and that art performance enables them unravel what many people go through and are afraid to talk about.
“People are suffering because of love, people are suffering because of abusive relationship, marriages and stress is beyond limit. We are dropping the vail and talk about what we are facing us as it is and probably finding solutions to these problems,” he affirmed.
Tony said government’s support is crucial, especially in according the artist facilities where they can do their rehearsals.
“Art illustrate life and putting reality through art into perspective thus changing lives. Our joy is when one person’s life is changed, to us, a whole generation is therefore changed,” he observed.
He stressed the need for the government to support artists with the necessary infrastructure and other essential necessities for their performances.
“We were not able to mobilize enough audience in respect to observing all Ministry of Health protocols. Some audience have fear contracting Covid-19,” he noted.
He added that maintaining the artists is probably a concern regarding the minimal financial support they get through their work,” he posed. Mr Tot said it is possible for artists to marry and have blissful family.
“We are human and all that matters are respect, love and understanding. His wife was depicted as Gender Based Violence Survivor in the play. Our parents lived amicably and we are their reflection. Why not live like them peacefully? He wandered.
The team called on the Ministry of Sports, Art and Culture, particularly the Cabinet Secretary (CS), Amina Mohammed, to support them in their artwork, saying this will better the societies and by extension the Country at large.
“Our culture, heritage and behavior directly affect our tourism and other investments as a Country, we should strive and build a solid nation that have good reputation. Will anybody want to invest in a country where it undermines humanity and culture of vices and killings dominating news in our television screens daily? “He posed.
In unison the actors affirmed that art pays and pleaded with government to involve them in social change as well as in enhancing the positive social norms and behavior, uphold morality and elevate status as a nation.
The kind of support highlighted by Brian Mwanzo, Writer and Director of the play, was facilities where they will be training and perform as well as some grants to facilitate their movements. They also want recognition of their role in shaping the society. As an enthusiast of art, I believe such talents transforms and changes lives.
Government’s support is crucial in evaluating and accrediting of such content, to build on trust and appreciate its role in upholding sound morality in the society as well as a recipe in achieving development and prosperity.
By Hassan Adan Ali