“You know the homophobic stuff is not in me, like us, it’s out there”. Using Participatory Theatre to challenge heterosexism and heteronormativity in a South African school

  • D Francis
Keywords: Forum Theatre, heterosexism, heteronormativity, South Africa

Abstract

Forum Theatre (FT), a participatory improvised theatre form, raises consciousness, enables debate and critical reflection, and encourages a democratic form of knowledge production that engages the audience in their own learning and unlearning. I used FT as a platform to understand how 15- to 18-year-old learners, in a co-educational school in the Free State, experience and respond to heterosexism and heteronormativity. In this article, I explore whether FT sessions, based on the sociodramatic theories of Boal, are a sufficient enough construct to challenge heterosexism. Data collected for this article included videotapes of the performances, discussions, and field notes. The FT scenes and subsequent discussions suggest that young people bemoan heterosexism and heteronormativity in their school and demonstrate a commitment to challenge extreme examples of prejudice and behaviour by their teachers and peers, yet ignore or shy away from everyday examples of heterosexist exclusions and privilege. I argue that a participatory process, such as FT, can be a useful construct to challenge heterosexism, but it is not in itself liberatory, as the issues of socialisation, privilege, and context cannot be bypassed simply through ‘participation’.

Keywords: Forum Theatre; heterosexism; heteronormativity; South Africa

Published
2013-11-20
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 2076-3433
print ISSN: 0256-0100