This article sets itself to answer the question: why theatre in development? It examines the reasons why development agencies have been reluctant to put Theatre For Development high on their agendas. It demonstrates the importance of critical pedagogy in the history of the form, which is linked directly to the emphasis placed on learner-centred participation in the Theatre in Education movement and in the techniques of Theatre of the Oppressed. It advocates a central role for the cultural component in any development process that claims to represent the needs of specific communities as articulated in their own voices, while exploring the particular dynamics of theatre as a non-literary form of dialogic communication that creates a ‘safe space’ of fiction in which those who are habitually marginalized can not only find, but also use, a voice to effect change.
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