Drama therapy for the formerly abducted children in Agweng camp, Lira District
This study was an experiment in creative participatory performance as an intervention in the alleviation of post-stress trauma disorder (PSTD) symptoms among children formerly abducted by rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda. The study field work was done in Agweng Displaced People’s (IDP) Camp in Lira district, where children resided on their return from captivity. Therapeutic theatre, an aspect of theatre for development (TFD) was one of the forms of intervention adopted by some agencies as their contribution to the healing process of the victims. This approach was premised on the assumption that the symptoms of victims of psychological disorders can be alleviated or even overcome by the victims’ dramatically reliving and objectifying the causes of these disorders, such as trauma, talking about those causes and acting them out in creative performance. It is against the background above that the researcher set out to work with the formally abducted children of Agweng (IDP) Camp, partly as an exploration of the efficacy of therapeutic performance in alleviating PSTD symptoms and partly as her own modest contribution to the urgent and gigantic effort of rehabilitating the unfortunate victims. In a bid to alleviate the PSTD symptoms, the study was driven by set objectives, namely: to develop and act out a participatory play with formerly abducted children, to come up with self-healing responses to the traumas of the formerly abducted children in Agweng camp, and to find out the effects of participatory performance in solving the problem of traumatization. The study aimed at exploring trauma and the use of drama in healing, guided by speech act theory. A close look was taken into the symptoms of trauma and information on recovery through the use performance. The researcher attempted to suggest each symptom through roleplaying and then reflected on the experience in the roles played by actors and actresses. Other data collection methods were employed such as: questionnaires, interviews and observation. As such, this study experimented with the process of discreetly prepared performance, which led to potentially healing conversations. The author then presented an overview of her own experience by instilling a spirit of developing a self-revelatory performance to the actors and actresses as part of their recovery from trauma. Journal entries detailing the experience are presented, as is the final script of the experimental performance. Implications for the field of drama therapy are suggested. Finally, the study’s findings and conclusions suggest that, the PTSDs suffered by the formerly abducted children of Northern Uganda need intervention, even if not strictly conventional in the urgent and fundamental attempts to their healing process.