A Guide to Ethnodramatology

What is Ethnodramatology?

Is there a universal form of drama?

And if so, can it be used for Christian communication?

Many involved in drama today would say "yes", thinking particularly that Western-style mime (such as Marcel Marceau’s technique) is a universally understood dramatic form.

Drama is a powerful tool for communication, and so people are interested in harnessing it for evangelism and teaching in cross-cultural situations. Generally, Western-style drama or mime is all that they know of drama and so they take those forms into their culture of ministry assuming, in the case of mime, that to remove the spoken language removes all barriers to understanding the message. However, drama consists of twelve languages (or signal systems), eleven of which are non-verbal, and potential for misunderstanding exists in each of those languages because they are culturally defined. Understanding the existence and nature of these languages is necessary in order to create dramas that reach deep into people's hearts.

Why drama?

In most cultures, new information is not given through lectures but through role-playing dialogue and various art forms. Neglecting indigenous means of communication has often resulted in a merely intellectual understanding of the message., particularly where the church is concerned. Drama that speaks in the heart language(s) can often result in whole-person change, which is the goal of those seeking to share Christ. Therefore, indigenous drama forms must be understood and redeemed for Christ as a powerful way to improve communication for change.

"A Guide to Ethnodramatology" covers three related areas:
A model is developed for ethnodramatology to help answer the question of how to discover and understand the drama forms of a culture.
The model is illustrated in three cultures in the attempt to show how and why drama style differs from culture to culture and that a universal drama form does not exist.
Recommendations are made for Christians to utilize drama in their own cultures, or cultures of ministry. Particularly appropriate forms for change-messages in Kenya and India are suggested.

The model provided in this book can serve as a guideline for other cultures to locate, understand and develop their own indigenously appropriate dramas. It was written in fulfillment of the Doctor of Missiology degree for Julisa Rowe.

Acquiring the Guide: if you would like to purchase the guide, it comes in a 2 CD set which includes a pdf of the guide and video examples.