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Can Theatre be a Project of Liberation Theology?: Explorations in the Case of a Collaboration in Tanzania

Gillespie, Charles A.

In the summer of 2011, a contingent of graduate students and faculty sourced from Yale University’s Divinity School, School of Drama, and Institute of Sacred Music partnered with the Parapanda Theatre Arts Lab in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Building on the work of Augusto Boal, Parapanda has pioneered using participatory theatre as a means for social change. Their process creates provocative, non-traditional drama that attempts to give voice to instances of social injustice. Yale students joined Parapanda artists for an unprecedented international exchange exploring this unique possibility of theatre-making. An essential component of the Yale/Parapanda experiment tried to bring theatre for social change into conversation with liberation theology. Traditional coursework in Christian and Islamic liberation theologies intermingled with rehearsals and performances, but neither the final performances nor inter-company conversation extensively engaged religious questions. The failure to launch productive religious discourse as a part of the Yale/Parapanda experiment seems to name any theoretical connection "merely cosmetic."

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Union Seminary Quarterly Review

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Union Theological Seminary
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September 22, 2015
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