Exploring social identity through theatre : an examination of the process of creating Jingle Dreams with youth in the coloured community of Clanwilliam

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This dissertation examines the process of creating Jingle Dreams with the youth in Clanwilliam. It aims to ascertain whether the processes of Community Theatre drama create opportunities for the individuals in the identified community to explore a social identity influenced by historical legacy, heritage, memory (or absence thereof) and socio-economic environment. The intention of the dissertation is influenced by the Applied Drama mission to benefit individuals, communities and societies through artistic forms of intervention such as dramatic activities, theatre directing, mediation and discussions. I will examine how the processes and the performative qualities of drama and theatre have the potential to transform individuals and society. Community Theatre creates the space for young people to share and question common experiences of life. This ensures that marginalised voices are heard which has psychological and social benefits for the participants. The dissertation proposes to interrogate how young people revealed their social identity through the narrative structure, dialogue, stereotypes and symbols in Jingle Dreams. I have been strongly motivated by the work of Augusto Boal which was the source of a large part of the dramatic processes. In the research process, the young people belonging to The Community Networking Creative Arts Group were encouraged to find their own forms of artistic, cultural and theatrical expression. During the rehearsal process, the group improvised and developed many scenes which reflected issues such as alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence and intergenerational tension. The narrative of the performance was based both on their stories and on stories from their community. It reflected their circumstances, their struggles, their hopes and their dreams. Theatre devised in community situations reflects concern with the representation of memory, and participants are invited to recognise that autobiographical narratives have social, communitarian and historical significance, as well as personal relevance. Performers drew on their own experiences to devise the scenes. This process often emphasised how the boundaries between truth and fiction are blurred. The lack of a clear distinction between fact and art facilitated the revelation, exploration and contestation of social identity.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 58-62).