Participatory Theatre as a Practice as Research Tool for Engaging with Young Men to Interrogate Masculinity and HIV in Malawi


Practice as Research, Theatre for Development, Masculinity, HIV prevention, Malawi


This article is about a series of participatory theatre-based workshops that I conducted with a group of male students from the University of Malawi between February and June 2015. In Malawi, young men are at high risk of acquiring HIV because of pressure to perform sexually risky behaviours (not using condoms and having multiple sexual partners) in order to assert themselves as men. The failure to engage men in challenging and changing dangerous constructions of masculinity will continue to leave women vulnerable to infection and perpetuate the spread of HIV. Using workshop and performance vignettes I illustrate how theatre-based methodologies facilitated the investigation of masculinity and HIV and enabled young men to consider solutions for change. I argue that my work impacted some participants and shows real potential for wider use. However, in order for real change to occur, this work needs to be further developed and boys and girls need to be empowered to openly discuss sexuality, gender identity, and HIV.

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