Missions and Drama

Should drama be a part of missions?
Yes! In many cultures around the world, the most important information is transmitted orally. They do not learn by reading but by hearing in forms like storytelling, participatory drama, music and dance.

Should you bring drama on a missions trip?
It depends. If you are intending to perform your own dramas in a different cultural setting, you may not get the results you want. Actually, you probably will not get the reactions you want.

Missions is Communication
…and the best way to communicate is through means that reach the heart in ways like drama, music and art. The key, however, is to communicate in an artistic means that is known to the people with whom we are communicating.

Do I take my own dramas overseas?
I would be very careful about this. Many of the elements in drama mean different things in other cultures. For example, mime teams who perform in Mexico in black and white face could be perceived representing the day of the dead to a Mexican audience. If you are telling the story of the prodigal son in America you might show the father welcoming the son back with open arms, but if you did that in many places in Africa the open arms of the father would be showing him coming in anger to crush his son. You must be very careful to understand the messages your dramas are communicating in other cultures and contexts. Also, the issues other peoples are struggling with are different. For more detailed discussion of this click here: “Is Mime the Universal language?”

Here are some other questions of interest that are addressed in A Guide to Ethnodramatology
How can short-term missions and drama be best used?

How can storytelling be used in missions?

Where do we get resources for using drama overseas?

What are the best methods for developing local actors and dramatists different cultures around the world?

These questions merely scratch the surface on this subject. Are you interested in further dialog in this area?

Recently we started a blog on this subject called Ethnodrama Blog

We are making contacts with those who are interested in cross-cultural drama and the many interesting problems it brings up. If you are interested in having a dialogue about drama and missions or any subject related to cross-cultural drama go to the Ethnodrama Blog.