Participatory Edutainment in Practice : A Case Study of Wan Smolbag, Vanuatu
Abstract: Entertainment-Education (EE), or ‘Edutainment’ as it has come to be known, is a prominent discipline and communicative practice, both in international and community development, and is utilised to address social issues and culturally specific norms, some of which may be taboo or harmful. This research sets out to explore the application of edutainment, in particular Theatre for Development (TfD), through an examination of its practice in a Pacific context; namely, a case study of Wan Smolbag Theatre (WSB), a grassroots NGO based in Vanuatu. Using tangible examples of WSB’s theatre work, the interplay between listening, participation, and dialogue will be examined as they bear on WSB’s diverse operations in Vanuatu. It will also be suggested that edutainment and TfD sits at the intersection of communication, culture and development and in fact, requires all three elements in order to be realised. Through its use of edutainment and TfD, WSB’s core strength lies in its sensitivity and responsiveness to both culture as aesthetic activity and as a way of life, enabling a dialogic, participatory approach that provides a stage for subaltern community voices to identify issues, and importantly, solutions to their own problems. The Pacific Region poses a complex landscape for development research and the same applies in the area of communication for development and social change. Due to its vast geographical area but often small population sizes, Pacific-focused research and data can be difficult to source, both of a qualitative and quantitative nature. This study aims to address one such gap, while also attempting to situate this research in the wider historical context of edutainment.
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