Puppet theatre has the same objectives as popular theatre, but this medium is especially useful because the puppets are not viewed as "real people". They can therefore confront sensitive situations, and solicit responses that actors or community members may not be able or allowed to voice.
1. Puppet theatre has high entertainment value in some cultures, and can reach and receive input from a wide audience.
2. This tool is multipurpose, it can be used for problem analysis, for monitoring of qualitative indicators, as an extension tool, and for presentation and communication of evaluation results (drama, case studies, etc.).
3. By continually using this tool a continuous process of audience feedback can exist and analysis can, in that way, deepen.
Time: group meetings will be needed to identify key issues, and design a presentation that will encourage response.
Expenses: some. To build puppets and stage local materials should be sought: gourds can be used for puppet heads, theatres can be made of local cloth and scrap wood, and lighting systems can be constructed from old tin cans. Often, however, these are not of good quality and materials have to be purchases.
Training: manual dexterity, voice and story telling abilities may require some training and rehearsal.
1. Let the group identify messages or key issues to be communicated. They must also determine how this can be done (story-telling, play, etc.).
2. Have the group select characters and begin designing the script.
3. Construct puppets/stage if not already available.
4. Rehearse, with a small group playing the role of audience.
5. Present to the whole group. Record responses so that they can be used to further to develop the message/story in the future.
(This tool can use the steps of Tool 19, Popular Drama)
Puppeteers must anticipate, diffuse and "handle" a variety of (sometimes unexpected, often sensitive) responses.
Recording the responses may be difficult; consider using a tape recorder, or a number of people to composing written records.
Ensure that the messages/issues are relevant to the community. (There is one example of a puppet group which encouraged farm tree planting to a group of landless people!) When the issues and messages are decided upon by community members, the risk of this problem is reduced.
This has historically been used as an extension technique. In the 16th Century, puppets were used to pass on information about improved agrarian techniques.
In Sudan, an NGO uses puppets to tell stories. one story examines the family problems caused by the mother having to spend too much time collecting fuelwood. The husband complains about not having proper meals. A lively argument is carried on, and the audience is asked their opinion. They often come to the conclusion that planting near the house would solve the problem. In the meantime, the husband decides to take a second wife to help collect wood. The comical figure of the husband creates an effective audience participation device.
The use of still pictures has proven to be an effective way of providing the community with a structure to:
focus and stimulate group analysis;
evaluate and "build" a story;
monitor change over time; record events;
augment written documentation (case studies, etc.).
1. This tool can enhance the credibility and interest of written reports.
2. This is a multipurpose tool, it can be used to focus and present evaluations, and to monitor and analyse change over time.
Visual images can be produced easily and economically using locally available skill or cameras and photographers. Visual images can be produced by:
1. A local artist who works with, and is directed by beneficiaries to produce a series of drawings. The interactive process between the artist and the beneficiaries can help produce drawings which are the perceptual images of the beneficiaries. An artist can capture beneficiaries' view of the past, the present and the future.
2. School children can be a valuable asset in producing drawings. For children, these drawings have education and extension benefits as well. Direction by the beneficiaries can take the form of a contest to produce drawings titled:
"What our village looked like when my grandfather was a child";
"What our village looked like when my mother was a child";
"What our village looks like now";
"What our village might look like when I am old".
School children can talk to different age groups, and then translate these images and their perceptions into a drawing. Having a local artist work with the school children can also be a good idea.
3. Photographs or slides can also be produced. Allow the camera to be directed by the beneficiaries. This may entail the use of a professional photographer and/or facilitator to capture the images the beneficiaries have chosen to represent their "story". The photographer can choose to have a loose plan, beneficiaries serving as editors; or the photographer can be accompanied and directed by members of the beneficiary group.
Visual images, when produced and used in this way, can be exciting information gathering, analysis, monitoring, evaluation, presentation, and extension tools.
Time: group discussion to decide on what needs to be captured and what resources are available. Time must also be allowed for group analysis, sorting and arranging.
Expenses: minimal for local artists and school children. Local wages, materials and/or contest prizes.
There is some expense involved in using a camera (film, development, projector, etc.). (Film development may be problematic in some countries.)
Training: if a local artist or photographer is used, some training in participatory (listening) methods may be needed. Working with school children, a facilitator/organizer may be needed.
1. Discuss and decide what the purpose of the visual images must be in a group setting.
2. Construct a production plan for the visual images: WHAT, WHERE, WHO, WHEN, HOW. Consider what resources are available and obtain materials (paper, drawing implements, boards, film, etc.).
3. Employ an artist or photographer, and organize the school contest. Ensure that money is available for these services.
4. Have the visual images produced, with supervision by the group. All production can be done at one time, or, if used for monitoring visual images, production can be periodic. If production is periodic, consistency is important.
5. The group must then analyse, sort, and/or judge the visual images. They must prepare them for presentation, or use them for whatever predesignated purpose has been chosen.
6. Whatever presentation is used, make sure that the materials are sturdy. School drawings can be plasticized, or done on cloth. Photographs can be sealed. Slide shows can be made into more durable filmstrips.
The beneficiaries/community must be involved in the production of the visual images. They should direct the artist or photographer, and set the agenda for school drawing contests. Artistic freedom must however be allowed.
Be cautious that the photographs/slides are recognized as "the property" of the community, not "information extractors" to be used by outsiders.
Visual presentation is not always a successful way to clarify a concept to a community. Some drawings and photographs are not helpful at all. It is necessary to have some CONTEXT for the FORM, which is why it is important that the beneficiaries are involved in producing the image. They provide the context.
In Peru, four women directed a photojournal which documented the story of their experiences (two had benefitted from their involvement in the project, one had participated but had been hurt, and one had not taken part). The journal was eventually produced as a book for popular distribution.
In Nepal, local people directed (with the aid of a facilitator) a slide tape show which documented their project experiences.
In India, a project had six local artists on staff. They lived in the communities and, directed by the villagers, produced drawings which were used for extension, monitoring and evaluation.
In Nicaragua, a slide-tape presentation of music, dialogue and photographs was designed by members of a community. The presentation conveyed the results of a community survey so that the community could reflect on proposed project activities. The community members took the photographs, wrote the script, recorded the dialogue, and selected the music. Their comment at the end of the production was "We have to continue with our struggle to participate with our own ideas, and we have to organize ourselves to do the tasks" (Tilakaratna 1988).
The main purposes of this tool are to:
record interactions between community members;
record stories, drama, etc. to be heard at a later date;
relay messages outside the community.
1. Communities with an oral (story-telling) culture can record their history or "results".
2. Tape recordings can be used for extension purposes on forestry radio programmes, or in other communities.
3. They can be used to create verbal goals statements which can serve as a basis for future planning, and future monitoring and evaluation sessions.
4. They can be combined with a slide show, or accompanied by photographs.
5. The medium is portable, and native language can be used and translated, when necessary.
6. Tape recordings can be heard repeatedly to analyse the messages, or validate what has been said in gatherings.
7. They can be very useful for illiterate populations.
A tape recorded message is developed by the community. It can be composed of interviews with community members, stories to be used as a baseline, or for radio broadcasts. Tape recordings can be combined with slides. They can be used to ask questions of other communities, who can then record through the tape medium. A dialogue between communities can be formed.
Time: if a high quality product is desired (for a radio broadcast), editing can be time-consuming.
Expenses: tape recorder, editing equipment, microphone, tapes.
Training: depends upon the quality that is required. When the tapes are only to be used locally training needs are minimal, although editing can take some skill.
If a product for dissemination is desired, the steps that are used to produce a video (Tool 23) can be used to produce a "finished" tape recording.
Because tape recordings may be new to communities, ensure that the purpose of the recording is clear.
There are many examples of successful use of tape recordings and interviews, but few examples of places where the community has developed the "messages" themselves.
Community directed video (or sometimes film) has been used with great success in recent years. It can be used to:
analyse, monitor, and evaluate a specific situation or set of activities;
empower local people. To help them get their message to decision-makers and other interested parties;
document/record other forms of evaluation (Popular Theatre, Puppet Shows, Story Telling, etc.).
1. Unlike still visual images (drawings, slides or photographs) video/film integrates movement and sound. It can therefore be more extensively interpreted.
2. Because videos are conducted in the communities' environment, community members can communicate their opinions without being intimidated by a new setting.
3. As well as inspiring self-confidence in the community, videos are a way of training outsiders, of inspiring information sharing between communities, and of providing evaluation information to donor agencies and decision makers.
4. Videos gather information on intangibles such as group dynamics.
5. They can be viewed frequently for analysis.
6. Videos can perform many functions. Group meetings, insider and outsider interactions and other community dynamics can be taped and analysed. Activities such as planting, nursery construction and distribution can be observed and reviewed frequently to gain insight into various aspects of human interaction.
7. Because it is visual and oral rather than written, it has many advantages for illiterate or semi-literate populations.
8. The overall experiences of community project interaction project can be documented.
The major characteristic of community directed video is that the community is involved in production. With the help of the equipment and a facilitator, a video (or series of videos or films) can be produced for a specific purpose (evaluation, extension, information gathering, problem analysis). The video/film can be used within the community. It can also be distributed to other communities or taken directly to decision makers within or outside the country.
Time: varies depending on the purpose, level of participation, and final product.
Expenses: costs are relatively high, but sometimes they are not excessive when the potential benefits are considered. The main cost will be the video facilitators; many come with their own equipment.
Equipment: there are many different video formats. Some of them are more "user friendly" and therefore more accessible to people with little technical knowledge. When considering equipment, the following should be taken into account:
Training: the facilitator must be well versed in participatory methods and two-way communication techniques. There needs to be a free flow of ideas between the community and the camera. Additionally, training and experience in video and film production is desireable.
1. The beneficiary group and the facilitator should work together to clearly determine what information they need to convey, to whom they need to convey it, and how they want it conveyed.
Note: it is important that the community have a clear sense of the message they want to convey before choosing to convey that message using video. Video is a form of communication that should only be used if it is the best, most effective way to convey a clearly defined concept or idea.
2. Before finalizing arrangements for a video project make sure that video facilities, video facilitators, and funding are all available.
3. In once again working with the community, establish the level of quality that is needed (this will effect the type of production and editing equipment you will use).
4. Establish how, when and where the final product will be viewed.
5. Plan who will be involved in the different production phases, who will plan, edit, etc.
6. Set a time frame. This will depend on the extent to which the community is involved in the various stages: planning, message design, video taping or filming, pre-edit viewing, editing, post-edit viewing, presentation, distribution to outside groups. Remember that the more the community is involved (the more participatory), the more time will have to be allowed for community discussion and input into decision making. The goals of empowernment and participation should be carefully considered when planning and scheduling time and expense.
7. Plan appropriate equipment carefully. Special provision should be made for the care of tapes, especially under conditions of extreme dust, dampness, heat and/or cold.
This tool can be inappropriate for use in isolated village situations.
Ensure that the participants have the time to produce the desired "end product".
Production may take more time than anticipated, and facilitators may be tempted to do most of the work, reducing the participatory benefits.
It can be difficult for large audiences to view video.
Television monitors are often not built for field use.
Community directed video/film is a new tool that has been used very successfully with rural populations. In Nicaragua it has been used to evaluate group decision making among coffee farmer cooperatives.
In Colombia, domestic workers have been able to present their story to the public and to labour legislators. In this case the video was appropriate because it allowed movement and re-viewing which enabled the domestic workers to analyse their situation. It empowered domestic workers because it allowed them to give their opinions and tell their story without repercussion or ridicule.