A Reflection On Theater As An Idealy Itransitive Space For Communication And Stimulation

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A Reflection On Theater As An Idealy Itransitive Space For Communication And Stimulation

Executive summary

This study observes rich potentials of theatre as an ideally intransitive space for communication and stimulation. It focuses on the general role of theater as a communication tool in the western world. Theatre is a tool for development in the Western world if effectively used. The paper explores three theater methods and communication types that are independently used as tools of communication in the Western society. These three methods include Agitprop method, Forum method and participatory theatre. The paper explores a few cases in the Western world and concludes that theatre has great influence as a communication tool in the Western society. The study is exploratory and introductory in nature. Therefore, it comments on present media reality in the Western world. It explores the rationale for the utilization of theatre as a communication medium and generates discussion on specific areas where theatre is used for development.

Table of Contents

Executive summary. 2

Introduction. 2

Missionary role in Japan in the 16th century. 3

Role of theater as a communication tool in the Western world. 4

Agitprop Method. 11

Participatory Theatre. 12

Forum Method. 13

The imperative. 14

Missionary Role in Japan in the 16th Century. 16

Using Theatre in Japan Mission in the 16th Century. 17

Conclusion. 19

Bibliography. 21

Introduction

Theatre plays a great role in the Western world society. [1] There are several theorists who have written many treatises trying to show how theatres influence the Western society. Many people wonder whether theatre is a social organization, a place of releasing energy, or a source of entertainment. Theatre plays various roles in each of these descriptions. It has been used effectively in teaching, though the roles are controversial. Theatre has proved to be informative in many functions. However, it depends on whether gained information is important or useless to the society concerned. [2] There is evidence that theatre has influence on politics. Theorists raise different merits and demerits of theatre in various fields. However, they agree that theatre plays a great role in the Western world as a medium of communication.

Missionary role in Japan in the 16th century

Western Japan welcomed the first European missionaries from Portugal in 1542. This was the mid sixteenth century when they missionaries came to Kyusu with an aim of spreading Christianity and gunpowder. [3]The Japanese tycoons who lived in Kyusu welcomed the visitors as they were interested in the new weapons. Therefore, they accepted the Jesuit missionaries who introduced Christianity in Western Japan. The Jesuit missionaries managed to convert a large number of Japanese including the loyal class. Francis Xavier went to Kyoto in 1550 to introduce Christianity in the capital.

The Jesuits dominated Japan and spread Christianity till the end of the sixteenth century when Franciscan missionaries came to Kyoto. [4]Toyotomi Hideyoshi had banned the Franciscan missionaries but they still arrived. This is when the Jesuits missionaries lost monopoly in Japan. The missionaries faced hostility in 1597 when Hideyoshi pronounced a fight against the missionaries and executed twenty six Christians as a warning to the missionaries and other converts.

Japanese gained freedom of worship and religion in 1873 after Meij restoration. The number of Christians in Japan has been increasing slowly especially after the world war II. Currently, between one and two million of the Japan population are Christians. [5]This is about one percent of the total population. Most of the Christians live in the Western parts where Jesuits and other missionaries lived during the sixteenth century. Some Christian customs such as white dresses during a wedding ceremony, Christmas and Valentine day are becoming popular in Japan.

Role of theater as a communication tool in the Western world

Over the past centuries, the Western world has been taking actions to decree the growing industrialization that has set the pace for communication needs, media emphasis, content and orientation. [6] The Western society has developed the idea of mass media mostly referring it to the use of electronic communication channels that reach the audience effectively. Televisions and radios have been the most used channels. [7] However, the Internet is becoming one of the most famous and effective channels, especially with the growth and advancement of technology on the continent.

[8]In the beginning, radios were the common and most effective channels as they reached the greatest population in the Western world as compared to television. It happened due to its low cost and use of batteries that enabled the population in areas with no electricity to access it. Currently, most people are not certain of the statement of fact[9]  because the breakdown of important infrastructure in the Western nations has created wide gaps between the leaders and the led. In fact, a capital of one Western nation had the national radio station being audible in the outskirts of the town with no less than one million people. Production techniques and styles for assessing brilliance have been transferred or imported.

The media appears to exist for strengthening the image of administrators and to the disadvantage of their subjects. Often, the result of this is the overkill that provokes certain levels of audience-cynicism. Whenever stocks of the television impacts are taken, the consequences are more alarming.[10]

There are several factors that negatively affect theatre in the Western nations and reduce their effectiveness. These include: cultural assimilation, unqualified personnel in theatre, inadequate funds for quality production and displaced snobbism. It causes the situation when some more developed than other nations use theatre as a perpetual dumping site for misplaced cultural programs, Box Office Soap Operas, third charge spaghetti westerns and thrillers of alienating sports.

McMellan (1986) pointed out that Western televisions do not show what they should be showing to the Western society considering the level of industrialization on the continent. Mostly, modern televisions have shows with political speeches, foreign dignitaries visit reports or development experts showing what previous governments should have done to improve the continent.  Some television programs in European languages explain to the society what it should do for its development, and dramas featuring high call characters dealing with typically Western problems.

Generally, either as a result of fear or mediocrity, most media producers have been dolefully unimaginative. [11] Therefore, they prefer a simpler option of buying safe ideas from abroad. This imbalance in the information flow between the South and North ultimately permits the society to assess themselves more from the outside view than to come to a decisive perception of themselves from within.[12]

Nearly in all countries, theatre and communication are poorly administered or unplanned. It is ad hoc and ephemeral. Therefore, it leaves out the participation of well-chosen communication strategists, competent theorists, and absolutely does not support the participation of the population. The past several decades have witnessed Western countries debating about the importance of comprehensive communication strategies aimed at improving development on the continent and in the world in general. [13] Leaders have realized how lack of such policies has led to ad hoc approaches in the communication field. The interconnection between effective communication and economic measures has been coming as an after-thought and not as a thought-out approach in Western nations. This is why some theorists campaign against this scenery and call people to participate in development programs for an informed society.[14] It will lead to the cultural awareness form and will be a solution for cultural harmonization in the global village.

There has not arisen an attempt to reject this overview as everyone sees the importance of modern communication in all nations in the Western world. However, it is important for the media to understand the purpose of theatre and targeted population. It includes the reason why media has to concentrate on informing, educating and entertaining the society. [15] There are several factors that must be considered in the theatre industry in order to come up with effective communication that will lead to development. These are:

  1. The industry has to accept that the Western world uses media in an ad hoc method that is mainly geared towards serving lesser extent of the population at the expense of the entire population.
  2. Media has become an instrument of the owners instead of a tool of communication aimed at benefitting the entire Western society.
  3. There is an uncritical utilization of media channels that has entrusted them with the role of suppliers of caricature and mediocrity, limited to alienating foreign cultures in entertainment, religion, culture, science and other fields.

These reasons call for serious reassessment of individual attitudes in the use of media channels. This study does not concentrate on the failure of modern media and their owners, but rather on the role media can play in Western countries and on the acceptance of some certifying media that has been downplayed because of its potential.

Folk media or theatre drama is one of these media. In Western countries, theatre is categorized as folk or oral culture. [16] Moreover, theatre has been classified as informal or non-formal education in Western countries for a long period of time. Some decades ago, any attempt made by a theorist trying to encourage formal training in theatre was called a deviation. [17] However, some Western nations have realized the importance of theatre as an effective communication medium. [18]  As a result, many nations have introduced several institutions in training, elaborating and exploring the strengths and role of theatre as a communication tool.

In the Western world, art performs a social function. Art and literature are the mirrors of the society, and every life event is recorded there.[19] Theatre has various manifestations that encompass everyday life. Theatrical occurrences provide an occasion for the rationale off all political, social and religious phenomena within the society. The event of conflict and conflict resolution methods permit the community to define and look for appropriate solutions of their disagreements. It prevents violence that should have occurred in the case of the real life event.

Theatre is used for providing collective therapy. It occurs when people who observe the reflection of their actions in the theatre may understand themselves better and obtain a different perspective in life. This way, theatre creates self-consciousness in people who see their actions in the art form, thus developing collective feeling in the Western world.

Every theatre has its own history of development. Therefore, it would be unfair to try and trace the origin of theatre in the Western world since every nation started developing this art sphere at different levels. However, theatre in Western countries has some common elements. People dance, sing, tell stories and recite poems. These activities have been essential for the creation of the theatre and dramatic activities in the socio-cultural domain of these Western nations.

Theatre participation helps the society to improve its social interaction and to become well-rounded personalities. In fact, students and young people who participate in theatre have higher levels of concentration than those who do not join theatre. It helps the society to learn the importance of storytelling, to demonstrate innovative ideas and to express creativity. [20] Theatre makes imagined and written art come true. It helps the society to use imagination in its daily life and to implement its dreams in future.

As the mirror of the society, theatre creates social awareness in the society concerning events that happened in the past, that are happening now and that deal with predicting the future. It teaches the society about different cultures and eras. [21] For instance, the Shakespearean theatre makes the society reflect on the Renaissance period. August Wilson’s work reminds them of the African American interactions in the 1900s, and Arthur Miller’s works reveal the dream that America had in 1950.[22]

Staged theatre in the Western world was born under distinct historical conditions, just like theatre on other continents. Generally, staged theatre in the West developed in different centuries depending on the nation and colonization processes. In some countries, staged theatre developed as sort of entertainment for chiefs, kings, queens and royal families. There was common of all theatres that they originated in village compounds or squares where ceremonies were conducted. It developed and widened as people intermingled in the 17th and 18th centuries. Concert parties and peasant afternoon gatherings developed in most countries and the role of the staged theatre increased. [23] At that time, staged theatre reflected the colonial masters. However, theatre developed its nuance [24] that was used in articulating the urge for independence and disadvantages of colonialism.

Theatre has fictionalized communality situations as well, which allows it to provide a forum where communication process can take place with the absence of antagonisms unlike in realistic situations. It is the nature of the theatre. [25] As a part of organizational and educational processes, theatre plays various roles that include bringing the society together and forming a framework for collective action and reflection. Moreover, theatre draws out expression and participation of popular analysis and concerns. It overcomes societal rationalizations and fears, thereby building identity and confidence. It also stimulates discussions, contradictions, critical comprehension of societal problems and structures behind daily situations. Theatre clarifies strategies and possibilities for action mobilizing people and stirring their emotions for action.

The greatest role of theatre as a communication tool is its potential to be a participatory tool and stimulation for peoples’ development. Theatre for development that is also known as popular theatre uses idioms and local language.[26] It enables to transmit development messages, themes and ideas to the society and to get immediate response for action. [27] Therefore, popular theatre stands for development ideas and themes passed to popular masses through drama. The 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed performances and development on stage, television and radio. However, modern world is a witness of a different approach. Nowadays, social environments and political issues are used in theatre. The Western world uses various strategies in theatre for effective communication and stimulation.

Agitprop Method

Agitprop method has been used in the Western world theatre from times immemorial. [28] Theatre with development projects has also applied this traditional method that is mostly used in the didactic theatre. The agitprop method has been proved to have great rallying power for people to arrange themselves into various action groups. However, the creators of the groups can be outsiders according to this method. It happens when actors from a certain society move to another society and show them their previous experience of using groups. In return, another society emulates action groups as a result of the theatre orientation. Actors  usually get experienced after going through a five-step course of information gathering in the target societies. These steps include gathering society, story improvisation, information analysis, rehearsal and community performance.

Research shows that the use of the Agitprop method in theatre communication has influenced the level of critical thinking and awareness of various themes such as sanitation, human rights, nutrition and family planning. However, the results of this method are not very high compared to other methods since it originates from outsiders. Moreover, this method lacks community participation since the initiators are outsiders. Ultimately, spectators of the process consume the finished product that they have not worked for because outsiders have been struggling to make them emulate action groups. The method is a short-term one that is a result of post-performance dialogues.

Participatory Theatre

Participatory theatre is a more fulfilling method in comparison with the Agitprop method. Western world has used this method for theatre conscientiousness. In this method, participation in theatre is both methodology and a goal-oriented process. Theatre is produced within the society concerned by means of a catalyst. Therefore, it is theatre for the people and by the people that is created with the help of a catalyst. The catalyst in this method refers to outsiders who have theatre skills as well as community development knowledge. Like the Agitprop method, this method has particular parameters of messages and themes. [29]However, community members perform the action and implement themes as planned unlike in the Agitprop method where outsiders are the performers. The outsiders in the participatory theatre are only catalysts and do not act in the experiment. Therefore, this method is able to involve the entire community fully into the discussion issues, to allow the community to raise their issues, and to mobilize the society to act appropriately. [30] Catalyst or outsiders have to get the society members involved directly into the action. Therefore, these outsiders must come and stay with the target community for several days in order to learn the cultures and first-hand problems facing that society. It enables them to invent, rehearse and provoke action of some community members in the role of spectators and of actors.[31]

In some cases, members of the society start as spectators and later join the acting group. They improvise the events happening in the production life and take actions that they have not been planned at the beginning of the project. However, catalysts must act in a perfect way for the spectators to become actors. The former spectators have to be trained to work in order not to pull the actors behind. Moreover, catalysts must make actors accept their fellow community members who have failed to join them in the beginning. One Latin American, Augosto Baol, who is a theatre practitioner, has come up with a methodology of transforming spectators into actors. [32]These stages are referred to as Forum Theatre and Simultaneous Dramaturgy.

The Simultaneous Dramaturgy method requires the actors to play a short game suggested by a local spectator. However, actors do not finish the play, but instead halt it at the conflict point. Actors then request the spectators to offer a solution for the crisis. Like puppets, actors only perform actions that the spectators request. Actors use trial and error options offered by spectators, and a solution is reached at one point. [33]At the end, spectators join actors as every solution offered becomes a victim of rectification and criticism. Final results leave the spectators with a desire to become actors.

 Forum Method

In the forum Theatre method, both spectators and actors converge. This methodology allows all the participants to narrate a story with social problems, to improvise action, to rehearse and then to present it as a play or a skit. [34]During the play, the audience is requested to analyze whether the group has come up with the best solution in a particular situation. Every spectator who feels the solution is not the best is invited on stage to come and lead the group towards the best solution. The actor is supposed to act in a way that other actors will understand and follow his or her ideas without arguments. [35]This method goes a step further in comparison with the Simultaneous Dramaturgy since spectators and actors are allowed to intermingle and act together.

Forum theatre methods offer all possible solutions of a problem. Through the forum method, theatre is both a tool of developing communication and a tool of societal analysis. It makes theatre self-educative. Population raises its consciousness from inside as a result of power relations and analysis of the social reality. When the catalysts finish their work, the spectators are immediately transformed into actors. This stage has maximum productive force since control and participation increase as a result of transformation from spectators into dramatic and then social actors.[36]

The imperative

Social nature of theatre requires the Western world to accept it as a tool of communication for broadcasting ideas, messages and themes as well as for bridging the gap between various media systems. [37]Modernizing campaigns, aimed at achieving dynamic change in a short period of time,                                                                                                                                                                                              depend greatly on the communication system because communication channels and theatre combine diffusion of data with reinforcement or opportunities and feedback. Therefore, the use of drama in the already existing media systems should be further facilitated, promoted and encouraged in order to enhance development goals in the Western world.

Using theatre as a medium of communication in the nation is .............


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