Wishing for Wellness's “Taxi Talks” - Using a forum theatre approach to talk to adolescents about reproductive health
Ntomboxolo Makhutshi1, Bobbie Fitchen2, Joanna Glanville2, Zandile Ciko3, Margaret Jacks4, Felicity Hartley2,3, Dante Robbertze5, Katherine Gill5, Glenda Gray6,7, Smritee Dabee3, Shameem Z. Jaumdally,3 Shaun Barnabas3,5, Linda-Gail Bekker3,5, Linzi Rabinowitz8, and
Jo-Ann S. Passmore3,9,10
1Center for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; 2Dynamic Facilitators, Cape Town, South Africa; 3Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; 4Independent evaluator; 5Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; 6Peri-natal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), Soweto, South Africa; 7South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Cape Town, South Africa; 8Empathy Trust, Cape Town, South Africa; 9SAMRC-UCT Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; 10National Health Laboratory Service, Cape Town, South Africa
WISH'ing-for-Wellness (W4W) employed participatory drama-based methods to create a safe space for adolescent and young women to understand their sexual and reproductive health and rights. The project emerged from research which found high rates of sexually transmitted infections but poor health seeking behaviour in young women from socio-economically deprived townships in Cape Town, South Africa. To address the silence, misinformation and stigma around reproductive health, we constructed a life-sized taxi to playfully reflect the public realm in which adolescent and young women in South Africa live, using an adaption of Boal's forum theatre (theatre of the oppressed) to create the platform - called “Taxi Talks” - to confront social and gender discourses, including sex, 'blessers' (sugar daddies), family life, desire, and love. Most significant change (MSC), after action reviews (AAR), and journals kept by the facilitators evaluated the impact of this approach. “Taxi Talks” demonstrated that the young women's courage to challenge the conservatism they face in their communities around sexual reproductive health. Some of the stereotypical characters the young women brought to life in Taxi Talks included “the judgmental and bossy clinic sister who had a baby when she was a teenager”, and “the pregnant young woman that will give the baby to her mother to look after”. These characters allowed some participants to see that they did not want to be like that. With this burden of STIs/BV, poor school-based programmes, and risky behaviour early during their reproductive lives, developing adolescent-focused engagements, such as Taxi Talks and forum theatre, centred on reproductive and sexual health is critical.