Citizen's Theatre/Masraa Ta Shaab: A national theatre movement for reconciliation and social change
South Sudan Theatre Organization has so far trained over 800 secondary school students across the country in ‘Citizen’s Theatre’ - a South Sudan inspired version of Augusto Boal’s “Theatre of the Oppressed”. Corresponding radio and film production engages mass audiences.
Lack of peaceful co-existence and national identity, need for youth empowerment, gender inequality.
Citizen Theatre trainings, performances and festivals have taken place so far in 7 of the 10 states.
Youth. Performances engage the entire community, including decision-makers.
2012 - ongoing
Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education, Secondary Schools, TFM Culture, USAID VISTAS, Christian Aid, Open Society Institute, UNESCO, Free Voice.
Citizen Theatre is building a national network of theatre groups, through its work with secondary school students and youth groups:
- Training and Network-building: Citizen Theatre technique and establishing theatre clubs and groups
- Community Forums: Trained youth perform Forum Theatre in the community to generate dialogue about local issues
- Production of Forum Theatre Festivals
- Production and dissemination of radio series using Forum Theatre models.
From Bor to Wau, Juba to Bentiu,Terekeka to Torit, young people bring up the same key issues through Forum Theatre: Corruption, early marriage, alchoholism, tribalism and cattle raiding. The activity allows youth to come together and create a rare space for dialogue and action-planning.
Combining radio, SMS and film with forum theatre leverages the amazing spirit of dialogue and honesty that is generated through forum theatre to a wider audience.
South Sudan has a rich cultural tradition in storytelling and performance. Forum Theatre is picked up very quickly and easily.
South Sudan has a wealth of expertise and experienced theatre practioners.
Local language theatre is most effective at engaging audiences.
Forum Theatre and participation in youth group work can have a large impact at the individual level.
Measuring the impact of Forum Theatre on a societal level is extremely difficult.
Quotes from People Involved
“Citizen Theatre is like giving a voice to the voiceless. In South Sudan there are some things you cannot say out loud. This makes it possible” - Coordinator, SSTO
“The most important thing is to give the chance for youth to talk. When we talk we understand that there is a problem with some of the traditional ways of doing things. We can say “guys, there are some things in traditional culture which are good but others are really not working for us'. You are our elders, but these rules and traditions affect us too.” - Coordinator, SSTO
South Sudan Theatre Organization is continuing to develop its network of youth theatre groups across the country. The vision is to have active forum theatre groups in every secondary school in South Sudan.
Forum Theatre is a unique way to open up grassroots dialogue which can contribute to the process of national dialogue so required in South Sudan. It is hoped that Citizen's Theatre can play a role in the reconciliation - between and within us all - in the coming decades.
Get in touch via the SSTO Facebook page.