Home Institution

University of Kansas

Publication Date

Summer 2016

Program Name

Senegal: National Identity and the Arts


This purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of theater to create social change and raise awareness of social issues as used by the troupe Bamtaare in Kaolack, Senegal. Further study was done to determine why theater was successful and whether this type of theater can be implemented in the United States. I spent four weeks in Kaolack working with the troupe to understand their methods. While in Kaolack, I observed rehearsals and performances, conducted interview with actors and audience members, and reviewed relevant literature. My research showed that Bamtaare’s performances in urban neighborhoods and rural villages did empower people to change their beliefs and actions. Bamtaare adapts traditional cultural practices, such as drumming and dance, to engage their audiences, and forum theater to encourage participation and gauge comprehension. I concluded that Bamtaare’s work is effective because they use music that is culturally significant, share information in a simple, understandable manner, and ask audience members to contribute to the performance. While this method of theater for social change is successful in Kaolack, Senegal, I believe that the exact format would not work in the United States, but with modifications it could be valuable there, as well.


African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Performance Studies | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Influence and Political Communication | Theatre and Performance Studies


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