Theatre for change : climate change knowledge translation in a peri-urban context.
The negative effects of climate change are contributing to the growing complexity of issues challenging livelihood sustainability and are further threatening already vulnerable communities. In response to these challenges, new means of conceptualising problems needs to be investigated so as to adequately deal with the multi-dimensional issues that arise. Central to this are means of communication and participatory interaction with vulnerable communities in the development of adaptation strategies. Theatre has been identified as an effective means of inspiring change through a process of critical self-reflection and personal empowerment, making it a pertinent tool for climate change communication. This research demonstrated how theatre was used in the process of knowledge translation for climate change adaptation within the community of Amaoti, KwaZulu-Natal. Knowledge was gathered from the community through two processes; a vulnerability analysis that examined five main vulnerability components, and a theatre engagement process that resulted in the production and performance of a play, Fish Out of Water. The vulnerability analysis – conducted through a selection of participatory rural appraisal tools - determined that the community was particularly vulnerable with regards to water. In addition to this, it faced a series of social challenges, including high levels of disunity, high crime rates and poverty. This analysis was central to the development of adaptation strategies, which Fish Out of Water communicated through its performance, contextualised in the translated vulnerability knowledge. Responses to the play were analysed, indicating that the climate change information had been successfully communicated and that theatre itself was an effective means of communication. In addition to this, it was determined that this process had also contributed a greater sense of awareness of social issues and had inspired people to take actions to change their behavioural patterns. New social considerations were made, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of situational dynamics that could inspire change. While positive conclusions were drawn from this with regards to the use of theatre in climate change communication, significant challenges were experienced during the process indicating a series of more fundamental issues that need to be addressed. High levels of apathy, difference of value systems and constraining family-dynamics need to be taken into account if the implementation of such processes is to be successful.