Folk opera : stories crossing borders in Papua New Guinea
Haseman, Bradley, Baldwin, Andrea, & Linthwaite, Hayley (2014) Folk opera : stories crossing borders in Papua New Guinea. Research in Drama Education : the journal of applied theatre and performance, 19(1), pp. 98-109.
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The Life Drama project is a drama-based sexual health promotion project, developed by a cross-cultural research team in Papua New Guinea (PNG) over the past four years. Recognising the limitations of established theatre-in-education and theatre-for-development approaches when working across cultures, the research team explored ways of tapping into the everyday performativity of PNG participants and their communities in order to communicate more powerfully about the personal and social issues involved in sexual health. Through the Folk Opera form, developed by PNG theatre company Raun Raun Theatre around the time of national Independence, the research explored the importance of "story" in identity formation, maintenance and change, the communication of meaning, and the transmission of tacit local knowledges. In a highly diverse and rapidly-changing country like PNG, enacted stories inherently compel the exchange and exploration of different knowledges, and promote the dialogue and ownership that drives social change. The paper will present and unpack the Folk Opera form as developed in the Life Drama program, drawing conclusions which may apply to other programs which to promote health and social justice across cultures.
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