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DRAMA AS A TOOL FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
- Background of the study
DRAMA and theatre have their origins in the cultural settings of the past and the vicissitudes of the present. The theatre tradition has been part of the ritual and social life of the people embracing the totality of their way of life, habits, attitudes and propensities. Although looked at as a form of entertainment, theatrical activities and performances are regarded as informal ways by which the quality of lives of people can be inculcated and enriched.
From the early ages to the medieval period, theatre and religion were regarded as “strange bed fellows” i.e. the most widely accepted theory on the origin of drama and theatre is that it arose out of myth and ritual. The earliest recorded quasi-theatrical event dates back to 2000BC with the “passion plays” of Ancient Egypt. The story of the god, Osiris was performed annually at festivals throughout the civilization, marking the known beginning of a long relationship between theatre and religion. Greek theatre, being the root of the Western tradition, was part of a broader culture of theatrical performances, which include festivals and religious festivals e.g. celebrating Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility. Performers wore costumes and masks to represent certain mythical or supernatural forces.
By the early middle ages, churches in Europe staging dramatised versions of particular biblical events on specific days of the year. Theatre was reborn as liturgical dramas-written in Latin and dealing with Bible stories and performed by priests or church members. Then came vernacular dramas spoken in common language and were a more elaborate series of one act dramas taking place in town squares or other parts of the city.
There were three types of vernacular dramas. Mystery or cycle plays were short plays based on the Old and New Testaments organised into historical cycles; miracle plays dealt with events in a certain saints’ lives and morality plays taught lessons through allegorical characters, representing virtues and vices that beset all human beings in the later middle ages. Also, passion plays portraying events in the life of the Christian master also became popular
Symbolic objects and actions-vestments, altars, censers, extensive sets of visual designs and pantomime-were used to communicate to a largely, illiterate audience. Often providing their own costumes, amateur performers in England were only men, but other countries had female performers. Among the more notable religious plays were The Castle of Perseverance and Everyman. The Castle of Perseverance depicts mankind’s progress from birth to death, while Everyman is an allegory designed to teach the faithful acts of Christian charity are necessary for entry into Heaven. Everyman receives Death’s summons, struggles to escap,e but finally resigns to necessity. Along the way, he is deserted by Kindred, Discretion and Strength-only Good Deeds goes with him to the grave.
The most popular forms of drama and theatre in the medieval Islamic world were puppet (which included hand puppets, shadow plays and marionette productions) and live passion plays known as Ta’ziya in which actors re-enact episodes from Muslim history. J.A. Adedeji, in his pioneering of Yoruba theatre, explained that pre-colonial drama and theatre can be traced to the ”theatrogenic” nature of the deities in the Yoruba pantheon such as Obatala(creation), Ogun(creativity) and Sango(lightning) whose worship imbibed drama and theatre and their symbolic importance, in terms of relative interpretation.
Over the years, the dramatic, performing and theatre arts are often misconstrued as professions based only on acting, singing and dancing. A theatre practitioner could be a playwright, critic, costume designer, make-up artiste, choreographer, filmmaker etc. The following are points of reference where drama and theatre serve in our various day-to-day activities.
Drama and theatre are tools used to sensitise the general public on matters that affect them on daily basis. These include matters of family planning/child-spacing, conduction of census, campaign against sale and distribution of fake and illegal drugs, HIV/AIDS and other STDs, abortions, child abuse/neglect etc. A perfect example is the TV series, I need to know, which focuses on the enlightenment of the youthful generation on the dangers of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, STDs and teenage pregnancies and the need to abstain from such vice,s in order to protect their future. Drama, as one of the core genres of literature, is the mirror of any society because it documents what is happening and throws it back at the same society.
Drama can also be used as a means of self- expression and empowerment by people facing hostile political or social circumstances. For example, the Tivs used the traditional Kwagh-Hir puppet and masquerade theatre to voice opposition to political victimization during the 1960s. The works of Hubert Ogunde are satires that deal with topical events in Nigerian politics. One of such works, Yoruba Ronu (Yoruba Think) sheds light on the crisis in the Western Region during the 1965 elections, which eventually culminated into the January 15th 1966 bloody coup. Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not to blame is a Nigerian adaptation of the Oedipus theme in which Rotimi uses the metaphor of communal dispute, self-love and ethnic pride to symbolise the problems that culminated in the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-1970. Thus, it is not the gods who are to blame for Nigerian national tragedy, but the people themselves who led their nation to disaster through their incautious actions and aggressive self-interest. Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Micere Mugo’s The Trial of Dedan Kimathi is an imaginative reconstruction of the heroic role played by the legendary Dedan Kimathi, the leader of the Mau Mau movement in Kenya. Through mime and flashback, it equally shows the historic contributions of the Kenyan peasants and workers when they rose against the British colonialists to regain their lost lands and achieve political independence. Total theatre (a combination of mime, colourful costumes, traditional drumming, music and folklore) utilises realistic physical imagery and a flexible use of language. Playwrights and critics have made use of these techniques, but articulated them with “a radical appreciation of the problems of society.”
Children’s theatre is another veritable tool for educating the much younger minds. With past TV programmes like Sesame Street, Tales by Moonlight, Story Land, African Moonlight Tales, The World of Children, Puppet Playhouse etc, young people are commonly imaginative and playful, and these habits are often encouraged by educators seeking to create an enriching and holistic learning environment. D. Olu-Olagoke’s The Incorruptible Judge and Felicia Nkem Onyewadume’s Echoes of Hard Times have provided appropriate context about the importance of drama and theatre as they continuously portray the various positive and negative elements about the society we live in through drama or play, dance or music.
- Statement of the problem
There may have been previous researches in this subject. This work gives further explanations and analysis in drama and society on youth-an intake of illicit drugs.
- Objectives of the study
- To understand the impact of drama and society on youth intake of illicit drugs
- To understand the relationship between drama and society and youth intake of illicit drugs
- Research questions
- What is the impact of drama and society on youth intake of illicit drugs
- What is the relationship between drama and society and youth intake of illicit drugs
- Research hypothesis
H0: There is no relationship between drama and society and youth intake of illicit drugs
H1: There is a relationship between drama and society and youth intake of illicit drugs
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