Forum Theatre as a Medium of Social Conscientisation against Gender-Based Violence by Selected Theatre Troupes in Meru County, Kenya
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Kenya as country is confronted with myriad social challenges. Some of these challenges can be alleviated using interventions such as Forum Theatre. Forum Theatre entertains as it intervenes. Hence, the audience, therefore, is not aware that they are being asked to change. Despite various efforts by the NGO’s, the County Government through the women representatives, the church, CBO’s and other parties that fight against Gender-based violence, Meru County remains a hotbed of Gender-based violence. It is with this background that this study explored the use of Forum Theatre as an agent of sensitisation against Gender-based violence by selected theatre troupes in Meru County. The study specifically explored the use of characterisation, plot, structure and local language for consientisation purposes. Qualitative research design was employed to achieve the study objectives while purposive sampling design was used to select the theatre troupes. Data was collected through close reading of the plays by the theatre groups. The plays were analysed thematically and presented as analytical discourse. The findings show a consistent use of the joker system of characterisation although the joker in Kirema by Kangaroo Actors fails to embrace Boal’s system while the one in Murega by MYAP did elicit audience participation. In regards to the structure and plot of the plays, each of the two plays addresses GBV. Murega by was more effective in involving audience. By altering the original plot, Murega employs applicable solutions that benefit the victims. Lastly, language use in Forum Theatre was found to influence and motivate audience participation. The use of local language was found to be particuallry useful in engaging the local audiences, especially where the play adopts local phrases, idioms and euphisims that the target community undertstands and relates to. While Murega meets Boal`s expectations of Forum Theatre, Kirema needed some changes to ensure it met the criteria for Forum Theatre. This study was important in highliting Gender-based violence in Meru County, using Theatre Forum. It enabled the researcher to establish the cause, challenges and possible solutions to GBV through Forum Theatre. The likely beneficiaries from the study include students of Literature, community members, advocacy groups and policy makers.