Theatre for development: a creative strategy for addressing youth unemployment among low-income communities

  • Brian Kombe University of Zambia
  • Emmy H Mbozi University of Zambia
Keywords: Theatre for Development, community, Conscientization, Unemployment and Youth


This article is based on a study that sought to explore the utilization of theatre for development as a strategy for youth capacity building programmes in the Lusaka district of Zambia. This was from the background that several adult education strategies had been used to mitigate the problem of youth unemployment among them, was theatre for development. The study was necessitated by the persistent challenge of youth unemployment despite several interventions that included adult education strategies. The focus was on exploring the utilisation of theatre for development as a strategy for youths’ capacity building programmes. The article addresses two research questions which are: what forms of theatre for development are used to address the problem of unemployment among the youth? How are the youth unemployment programmes designed and implemented? Using an interpretive qualitative design, a non-governmental organization called Africa Direction was used to collect the data on how unemployment levels among the youth were addressed through the use of theatre for development. In-depth interviews were conducted with 8 programme officers, 30 theatre group members and 12 youths who had been with the institution for more than 1 year. Observations were done on 4 activities that were carried out in the community. Data were analyzed thematically through inductive thematic analysis. The study established three creative strategies for theatre for development which included community animation, forum theatre and educational theatre. These strategies were embedded with common micro strategies that included drama, poetry, dance and songs. These carried the messages to the participants for action. However, the design and implementation of the programme followed a top-down approach which was not the best for the participants.

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