Dianatic change using theatre and film to bring about change in society: interview with Philippe talavera, director of the ombetja yehinga organisation (OYO).
|Publication:||Name: Sister Namibia Publisher: Sister Namibia Audience: Academic; General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Sister Namibia ISSN: 1026-9126|
|Issue:||Date: Sept-Dec, 2011 Source Volume: 23 Source Issue: 3|
|Persons:||Named Person: Talavera, Philippe|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: Namibia Geographic Code: 6NAMI Namibia|
Ombetja Yehinga Organisation, commonly called OYO, is a Namibian
nongovernmental, social welfare organization that aims to decrease the
impact of HIV and AIDS among young people in Namibia, primarily in the
Kunene, Erongo and Khomas Regions - using the arts to promote informed
discussion about HIV and AIDS, create awareness of social issues, and
Of all methods that people have chosen to address issues around HIV and Aids in Namibia, why did you choose film, drama and dance as a tool?
I personally think that there are two types of messages that people receive. Some are more appealing to your intellect, like attending a conference where you are required to think and engage in a more intellectual process. The arts, however, whether theatre, dance, film or paintings appeal to your emotions.
The intellectual process requires a bit of training, an academic background and thought processes which don't work for everybody, whereas everybody feels, everybody is able to be happy or sad, regardless of their academic or social background. And when we look at something that makes us feel, we are more likely to react to the message, and we are more likely to take something out of it. I therefore think that the arts are more powerful, they appeal to your emotions and to your heart, and by doing so they can make you reflect on your own life.
How could the women's movement use art to bring about change for women, the way that OYO has had an impact on young people on HIV/AIDS issues?
Well, I think that everybody can do art. No matter what the topic is, the medium in itself is interesting. You can use dance, theatre or film to address issues of women's rights just as powerfully as they have been used to address the issues of HIV and Aids.
Also, a lot of work has been done worldwide around art therapy. This uses art as a way to treat either an individual problem or a group problem, and it has successfully been used to address the socio-psychological effects of rape and the abuse of women. However, not much work has been done yet on how to use art as a tool for the prevention of various abuses that women endure -- this could be a great tool for women to further their cause.
Is all art good art?
For artistic expression to work, it has to make you feel. In order for art to make you feel, it has to be good art. What often happens is that people quickly put together an exhibition, a theatrical performance or a movie, but it's not good art, because it doesn't make you feel.
So it's important to create art with a purpose and not just art for the sake of art?
Yes, it is art with a purpose. But it's not only about purpose. The quality of art is important. It takes lots of time and resources to put something meaningful together, and often people don't spend enough time and money to make good quality art. The result is that we sit down and watch a boring play, and the only thing we are thinking is: When is the play going to end? We won't take anything of meaning away from it and we also wont' change because we haven't learnt anything.
On the other hand if you watch a production that keeps you excited and makes you feel sad and happy and engaged with the actors or with the story being told, then you will learn something and as a result you can change. The art is as important as the message. It is important to create art that people can relate to.
Of all your many films, dramas and dances, can you think of one production that you feel had the biggest impact on your audience?
Hmmm ... I can think of different ones for different reasons. One powerful production was the photo exhibition The Caring Namibian Man'. It was showing the sensitive side of Namibian men. It surprised a lot of people that we had positive things to say about Namibian men, and we had very strong reactions from people that viewed the exhibition.
The play and film called 'Five Minutes of Pleasure' about teenage pregnancy also resulted in a lot of feedback from the audiences. Many people expressed how strongly they were relating to the issues around being teenage parents.
In dance we recently had quite a dramatic performance called 'Don't Leave Me' which looked at jealousy and passion crimes. It also evoked strong emotions and left some members of the audience in tears. I think it helped some people reflect on personal experiences that were mirrored in the performance. These were definitely powerful performances that I am sure changed lives.
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|