An analysis of Kenyan children's responses to drama: a case study of five selected plays by adult playwrights
Obiero, Sapiensia philiper
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This study analyzes children's written plays in terms of plot, characterization, themes and style and how they are synthesized in specific texts to establish their suitability and impact on the child reader. The study is done with close reference to the plays: Champion, Bullfight, and Crocodile's Jaw written by D.Mulwa; TheWrong Path, The Living Wealth, co-authored by J.Ndwiga and E.N.Getanguthi. The main assumption was that children's responses to the literary wholeness in plays written for them by adults has not been given due attention. The approach used in this analysis is reader response theory. The literature review explores African children's literature especially children's drama in terms of plot, structure, language and style, character and characterization, and lessons that children learn from the plays they read. Through library research it was established that the child's enjoyment of a book gives it its strongest claim to be considered children's literature. The study is limited to literary works of art created by African playwrights for children of age set 11 to 15 to help them find satisfaction in child drama. Data for the study was obtained through the analysis of children's responses to the selected plays, oral interview, guided questionnaires and focus group discussions. The discussions are raised alongside the analysis for coherence purposes. From the responses, it is clear that there was a personal transaction between the selected plays and the respondents and that Kenyan local plays have an impact on young readers. It also emerged that children enjoy reading plays which give them pleasure and satisfy their curiosity, challenge them, and improve their vocabulary. They are also conscious of the educative elements of plays. It is therefore recommended that plays written by African writers be encouraged as class readers in Kenyan primary schools.