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Monday, September 28th, 2009 - One comment

Using theater and film to talk about sex


Is theater a useful tool when it comes to teaching young people about sex and love?

Youth must be educated on love, relationships and sexuality. In this context, many countries are looking at ways in which they can approach these sensitive topics without seeming to condone and encourage young people to engage in sex at an early age.

Only a handful of film producers and playwrights have used this medium to demystify and educate the youth on these matters. Below are examples from different countries.

What is your opinion: Is theater a useful tool when it comes to teaching young people about sex? Please share your experience.

Keeping films for children and youth in focus

Lola Kenya Screen is an annual international audiovisual media movement that seeks to place production tools in the hands of children and youth for the advancement of literacy, gender equity, self expression and democracy. This year’s Lola Kenya Screen Festival (2009) presented films that addressed sexuality, self-determination, HIV/Aids, spirituality and friendship.

“Stupid words, deaf ears

Of great note was the film “Palabras necias, oidos sordos”,  (“Stupid words, deaf ears”), a one-minute fictional film from Argentina:

Daniela asks her mother what sex education is, but her mother in an effort to avoid the topic pretends to be very busy preparing food for the family and refers Daniela to her dad for an answer.

Ends up getting gang-raped

“A crack in the wall”,  a film directed by Phillippe Talavera of Namibia. In this film Susan Njikata, a university student goes to a club with her friends where she ends up getting gang-raped.

A full review of the festival and the films showcased can be found here.

Love and incest

Sex in the Summer in the City” is a series that was showing at the Black Ensemble Theatre under the direction of Jackie Taylor whose mission is to eradicate racism and its damaging effects upon our society through the utilization of theater arts.

The mission of Black Ensemble Theater is to showcase the history of African American people, while reaching out to a cross-cultural audience and serving disenfranchised communities. All plays in the series are directed by Daryl Brooks, and each introduces audience members to a different playwright, with a perspective on sexuality.

The series begins with Wendell Etherly’s “A Love Misplaced,” which dives right in and tackles incest, revolving around the role that sexuality plays in family life. Etherly, an Illinois Arts Fellowship Award-winning playwright, depicts the painful mourning process of a man who has recently lost his wife and who realizes that he has neglected his daughter, a girl who tries to find love in all the wrong places.

Ignoring youth

“Youth…can be an instrumental force in promoting social change, yet they are largely ignored and stifled”

The quote is from Cynthia Burdyshaw, who is the founder of IMAGES (formerly New Image Teen Theatre), a group that has been presenting original performances created by and for adolescents and young adults. Each year, a cast of eight teenagers of varying ethnic, socio-economic, and academic background backgrounds, ages 16 to 19, are chosen to participate in the program. They dedicate most of their summer and free time to prepare for one or two performances throughout the 7 1/2 month season.

Contraceptive Congo” explain the proper use of birth control, especially condoms. This playful comedy begins with Brandon and Maia, a couple in love, who show that they truly care about one anther’s well-being. Brandon tells Maia that he believes it’s’ now time to become more intimate…”You know, have sex.”

Read more about New Image

Mother and daughter

Southwest Community Health Center’s Teen Theater Program is an educational theater group performing original works dramatizing important social and health issues for youth, such as parent-teen communication, body image, teen pregnancy, gang prevention, non-violent communication, healthy relationships, and positive self-esteem.

The group has written and performed plays on different themes that affect the youth. Some of their plays are; “In the waiting room” which portrays teens discussing hot topics such as emergency contraception and abortion. “Mother and daughter” which is about beginning a conversation with parents, among others.

Picture: From Lola Kenya Screen.

The views expressed in this blog-post are solely those of the author.

Comments (1)

Monday 28th September, 2009, 3:44pm

Thank-you for profiling the use of visual arts in the work of public health and sexual health. Photovoice, and social documentary are becoming quite popular as a truely inclusive way of collecting qualitative information about various populations, and also engaging those we seek to influence with our campaigns in dialogue about attidues and behaviours related to a specific topic. I recently came across this particular competition hosted by that is celebrating photo essays that provide insight into how ordinary citizens around the world are coping during these new “hard times” and how individuals, companies, industries, family businesses, communities, and governments are responding to the crisis.

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Guest Editor

Njeri Wangari

IT Specialist, Poet, East African Publishers


I am a 28 year old Kenyan currently working for a publishing company as an IT specialist. I am also a performance poet, an arts blogger and a writer on art with Global Voices Online.

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