The aim is not the performance,
but the experience and process.

Drama is used in GAMEchange processes to subvert existing cultural stereotypes, explore changes and experiment with different, new ways of doing things in future. There are no professional actors or singers, no one leads and everyone participates.

Participatory drama is used for:

  • Monitoring and Evaluation and Impact Assessment
  • Dissemination of community views.

No polished theatre, but directly engaging participants in identifying and rehearsing changes, and new ways in which women and men can relate to each other, and new ways of addressing inequality. Role plays are an important part of developing confidence to change, examining peer sharing strategies and ‘significant changes’ impact assessment looking at past, current and future scenarios.

Challenging Culture:
Role Plays and Theatre

Participatory role plays and theatre are used to directly engage participants in identifying and rehearsing changes, and new ways in which women and men can relate to each other, and new ways of addressing inequality.

Exploring past, current and future scenarios
Facilitation and leadership training
Multi-stakeholder negotiation

Multi-stakeholder negotiation: between women and men, young and old, rich and poor, staff/government and ‘beneficiaries’.

• Activities which encourage stakeholders to put themselves in the place of others and experience that position ‘from the inside’ eg in swapping roles of women and men

• Activities which encourage stakeholders to envisage and change how they behave towards others and to practice these new behaviours

• In some cases these activities could be done by stakeholder groups separately at first and then brought together as a collaborative drama involving all stakeholders

Monitoring and Evaluation

Combining drama with the Most Significant Changes methodology and the role play suggestions above, people could be asked to enact what they see as the most significant changes which they have seen in their lives. This could either be for themselves, or there could be a comparison of changes which people themselves have experienced compared with changes which others have perceived.

Role Plays: Possible Steps

Step 1: What is the issue?

Issues are identified through use of GAMEchange Tools eg from the Gender Justice Diamond or from Visioning or examples of action fruits from the Challenge Action Tree. Common examples would be relating to land, violence and other dimensions of CEDAW and to facilitation and peer training processes – what will participants do when they get home?

Step 2: Who Plays Who and what?

Roles are then decided and allocated through voluntary or random methods – in some cases all participants will be actors, in others they will intervene as ‘spect-actors’. In some cases there will be a gender swap with men playing women and women playing men, or swapping of other statuses eg rich/poor.

Step 3: Audience Participation

At certain key points in the narrative there will be possibilities for audience intervention to pose questions, change the direction of the plot or explore possible solutions or endings. At other points the actors may be asked to change or swap roles.

Step 4: Strengthening Actions and Networks

At the end there should be a process for strengthening the friendships and networks formed and deciding on concrete actions which will be taken. This could be for example through forming small groups to do a Challenge Action Tree or a Road Journey.

Designing Participatory Drama: Key questions
  •  Who participates – communities of people who know each other? Unsuspecting passers-by? People brought together because they have come to the theatre? Professional actors and writers?
  •  What are the issues and how are they chosen – by people themselves or by facilitators/actors/witers
  •  When does participation take place – what are the critical action points where participation will be most useful?
  •  What form does participation take – how far do participants control the action and decide the outcomes?
  •  How far does the participation transform behaviours and enact actual change and build communication and networks rather than just raise awareness? Are participants encouraged only to imagine change or to actually practise that change, reflect collectively on the suggestion, and thereby become empowered to generate social action.


In place of the standard theatre for awareness-raising, participatory drama could use:

• the interactive techniques from the Theatre of the Oppressed, engaging the audience directly in the story.

• Invisible Theatre with people who have been through the previous processes then taking their ideas and drama to markets, streets or even local government meetings.