Patsimeredu edutainment uses theatre to engage

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

LOCAL arts production house, Patsimeredu Edutainment Trust’s director Jasen Mphepo says theatre plays an important role in people’s lives, not only providing entertainment, but also creating a platform for engagement, debates and questions critical issues affecting the society.

Patsimeredu Edutainment has been using theatre to create dialogue in different platforms of engagement on diverse societal issues.

In an interview with NewsDay Life &Style yesterday, Mphepo said their key programming was centred on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) targeting mostly in and out of school youths.

“The Buddies For Love, which is our organisation’s flagship project, targets young people through the use of theatre. Theatre and other communication strategies such as song, dance and peer education form part of the project intervention,” he said.

“Theatre plays both an informative as well as an influencer role. Artistes are emulated by the audience they perform for, hence playing a decisive role modelling good behaviour and at the same time helping people change their behaviour by offering them alternative solutions,” he said.

Mphepo said their work entailed helping young people believe in themselves and make informed choices about their sexuality and sexual health, adding that they used baseline surveys to gather evidence on issues affecting young people to produce theatre plays that are then performed for the target audience.

“The programme which annually targets over 36 000 students and 3 000 out of school youths empower young people with knowledge and information, leading to behavioural and attitude change with regards their sexuality and sexual health,” he said.

“The programme links young people to services such as legal and health-related services. We have helped many young people who are at risk of sexual abuse and risky sexual behaviours overcome them including drug and alcohol abuse.”

Currently Patsimeredu is running a radio drama titled Shelea on women empowerment that shall be airing on local radio station every Thursday.

The compelling radio drama (Shelea) is part of a She Leads campaign being supported by HIVOS and the Embassy of Ireland in Pretoria.

“Patsimeredu produced a soundtrack for Shelea for the radio and since its launch a week ago, has generated a buzz of engagements both on radio and social media,” he said.

Mphepo said over the years they had worked with about 120 schools across the country, in cities and towns like Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Mutare.

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