GERALDINE ROCHE DRAMA
Providing education through the creative arts in Zimbabwe
Geraldine Roche Drama is an innovative social intervention launched in Bulawayo in 2014 following a drama performance in one of the Sally Foundation Bulawayo Community Gardens. It was established as a tool to reach into the community to both educate people on social issues and provide entertainment and skills development.
The program was materially expanded and upgraded in 2018 under the guidance of Khalie Sibanda, the full time GRD Program Manager and is monitored by ZDDT for GRD Zimbabwe.
The venture centres on using the medium of drama (street and theatre) and film production to deliver key messages on various subjects of social advocacy so as to better inform the community on a broad range of issues including their rights, health practices, gender respect, HIV/Aids and other topics such as servant leadership of the local councillor. This program operates on two levels – simultaneously educating and informing communities as well as developing the talent and aspirations of young people.
GRD will be used as an advocacy tool which utilises entertainment as a communication tool reaching out to the broader public – mainly encompassing the youth of Zimbabwe as well as key public figures such as councillors, chiefs and other forms of community leadership. Based in Bulawayo, the ultimate goal is expansion throughout Zimbabwe with the intention that youth benefit from skills training and develop capacity for income generation through the arts.
Throughout the year, GRD undertakes a range of activates, including street theatre to raise community awareness of issues and GRD competitions which develop and have the skills of participation groups. These competitions also educate and raise awareness.
More recently, GRD has reached into schools to perform there and to involve teams in activities.
In 2023, GRD has a 13 week TV series “ZIYATHUNQA” in swing.
Geraldine Visits Bulawayo in 2022
Geraldine Roche Drama Presents…
The Geraldine Roche Drama Programme aims to gradually build up a library of plays and films that can be adopted by other institutions and organisations and be shown more broadly across the country.
It also seeks to bind capacity and capability of the young people involved in the program, sneaking confidence, showcasing their skills, broadening their horizons and giving exposure. Theme one regular performance, competitions, street theatre, TV series productions and videos.
More recently, the program has leaked out to schools to encourage young people to join, put on performances at age care homes and the like and produce education material.
There will be various festivals and other activities throughout the year – such as a Film festival culminating from a programme where various groups are assisted in making a series of short films in the few months prior. The Geraldine Roche Drama Programme has been granted the latest equipment to facilitate this work and has a very experienced and capable programme co-ordinator in Khalie.
The Programme has regular Knockout Competitions over a period of weeks, with various drama groups from across Bulawayo presenting drama plays they had produced on a nominated range of topics. The topics included
- Arts for a Living
- HIV and AIDS,
- Teenage Pregnancy and Child Marriages
- Youth Life and Employment.
The Competition encouraged the various groups to think about how to produce thoughtful and engaging work on social topics. They competed against other groups in front of external judges, culminating in a completion final on 12 April, 2019. Videos of these plays were submitted to the Bulawayo ARTS awards in April 2019
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
“In April 2014 I visited Bulawayo for the first time to meet with the ZDDT team who took us to visit the community gardens which we support through Sally Foundation.
At the garden a drama group (ASAA) performed. I was impressed by the way everyone – locals and the two Australians – were enthralled and entertained. It was obvious that these talented young people enjoyed communicating through drama.
On my return to Australia memories of this performance coupled with my own experience using drama as a communication tool moved me to contact ZDDT regarding my interest in promoting the drama initiative.
Several ideas came to mind:
Empower young people from various wards
Addition /expansion to the concepts that ZDDT is trying to foster in the community
Drama as a tool for education/ imparting community messages
Promoting harmony / conflict resolution within each local community
An added bonus of providing some fun in an otherwise challenging existence
The project now has a momentum of its own; the opportunity to explore community issues and develop communication channels is invaluable.
The councillors and community leaders have enabled the drama project to prosper bringing together people from different backgrounds in a meaningful and creative way.”
Geraldine provided these thoughts 1 year on from the conception of Geraldine Roche Drama programme.
Her words were read out by Forgiven (of the Amazing Stars Arts Academy) at an awards ceremony for the inaugural AASA training programme and competition run across Bulawayo in 2014.
Click the image to download a PDF report (4.5MB) on the achievements made in 2016-2017 through Geraldine Roche Drama.
Providing COMMUNITY EDUCATION through DRAMA
Members of the Amazing Stars Arts Academy, trained by Geraldine Roche Drama
It was a tightly contested finals competition
Young at Heart specialise in puppetry
ASAA TRAINING: The drama programme firstly set about providing training over a 17 week period to a wide group of youngsters at the Amazing Stars Arts Academy (“ASAA”). ASAA regularly perform under a programme which uses social messaging to create greater understanding of a diverse range of issues such as citizen rights and responsibilities, what to expect from your Councillor, sex and HIV/AIDS education, domestic and child abuse, climate change and the importance of a clean environment, etc.
YOUNG AT HEART: Geraldine Roche Drama has enabled the Nanzile and Bongo team to work extensively with Orphans and disadvantaged groups via the drama medium of Puppetry, a hugely engaging experience conveying a holistic approach to development. Geraldine helped train the Young At Heart team in Child Counselling.
PERFORMANCES: Geraldine Roche Drama is often performed in the community gardens. Since 2017 the GRD team has also been working very closely with a Residents Education and Enhancement Programme across Bulawayo undertaken by ZDDT on behalf of a number of International Government Agencies. This is a three year programme co-ordinated with ZDDT field officers who convene Residents meetings in the 29 Wards. Drama is also regularly performed at shopping centres, flea markets and bus termini to reach a wide audience from varied backgrounds.
ASAA and Young at Heart have performed for Residents meetings across Bulawayo, in Sally Foundation gardens and at Ngozi Mine.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS: A spin-off of the programme has been ASAA showing community spirit by adopting an orphan teenager as part of their social responsibility and funding her schooling. Young At Heart also donated a bale of clothes and blankets to Ngozi Residents as their social responsibility gesture.