4 December 2008
This session was chaired by Sheila Ochugboju. This session focused on creative approaches to public engagement.
Communicating ethical issues in health care and biomedical advances via new plays for the theatre and theatre workshops
Hermalatha Somsekhar from India and Rebecca Gould from the United Kingdom presented on how theatre and theatre workshops could be used to communicate ethical issues in health care. Hermalatha spoke on how this form of communication had come about and the response public had had to this. Rebecca spoke on how this form of communication was also taken to London this year. She spoke about how this form of public engagement enables discussion and created awareness. The experience takes people on a journey which evokes investigation, surprise, horror – resulting in more questions than before the seeing the play. All these emotional reactions inspire one to think and pay attention to pertinent issues from a total different angle.
Using magnet theatre to engage high risk communities in communicating medico-socio research: Experiences in Kenya
Oby Obyerodhyambo presented on the Interactive participatory theatre used over time in Kenya. This form of public engagement came about because there was a need to find a way to engage the public in a discourse that would lead to discussion and eventual behaviour change. This is a very specific art form used for a specific purpose. This type of genre is one that is aimed at achieving certain results. This art form creates an avenue for discussion
Magnet theatre is target audience specific. The audience is selected with a specific aim in mind, being behaviour change.
This type of engagement has to be interactive, participatory and empowering. The objective of this kind of theatre is to address issues the public reluctantly either speaks about or pay attention to, not because the issue is not relevant, but as a way of pretending that the problem does not exist. This kind of genre also provides a forum for behaviour change rehearsal and magnification. This is achieved by creating a dilemma, which, has to be addressed in an interactive manner by creating a bridge between issues at hand and behaviour change.
By Debbie Railoun & Sarah Bok, MRC, South Africa