The MARS Theatre Group is an AIDS Action Club based in Ndeke township in Mazabuka and they use drama to raise awareness of the issues surrounding HIV and AIDS and to also reduce the stigma associated with the illness. The group uses traditional drumming, songs and dances to mobilise communities to attend their performances and once they have a captive audience they perform a series of sketches that depict common problems that they know the communities they work with face.
Topics include encouraging people to go for Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) to find out their HIV status, Preventing Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and challenging myths and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS. MARS also perform sketches about child abuse at local schools as this is a huge problem for young people living in poverty. The plays combine emotive topics with lots of humour and are followed by a facilitated question and answer session with the audience, to see what they have learnt from each sketch.
The small profits that the group makes from their performances goes towards providing care and support programmes in the community - such as paying the school fees of orphans and vulnerable children to supporting a mother widowed by AIDS and her family.
Our AIDS Action clubs are keen to have more training in the area of theatre for development as they feel that raising awareness of the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS through drama is key in preventing the spread of the virus. The communities believe that volunteers have a lot to offer in this area and we agree! Could you:
- Deliver training on ice breakers and drama games that could be used to mobilise communities?
- Teach our communities skills in role play and improvisation?
- Help our clubs to script and film their plays?
- Train people on how to use film equipment?
- Improve people’s stage management skills?
- Deliver training on specialised theatre approaches e.g. techniques from Applied theatre practitioners such as Augusto Boal?
- Show communities how to use drama as a form of therapy to help vulnerable groups – e.g. children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS or victims of child abuse?
Due to circumstances, we are unfortunately not able to offer volunteer placements in Zambia at Present!