The 5 Centuries Human Rights Theatre Group (5Cs) is a Human Rights Theatre that addresses socially conscious issues affecting the communities in which we live in. The 5Cs is a women led theatre group that does participatory theatre work to reach the hearts of people, where real change manifests from.
Through closely working with the communities, we seek to find out what problems they face, be it insecurity, water and sanitation problems, lack of dispensaries and health care services, HIV /AIDS, reproductive health issues etc., and then we rehearse plays that are specific to that area. During the performances, members of the community are invited to ask questions or even join the cast on stage. Community members feel honoured when they see one of their own on stage. Currently, 5Cs is narrowing down to women Issues.
The realisation that women hold up the community, and that through women’s influence there can be a lot of social changes that benefit the entire community. The 5Cs being a women led theatre group, is advantaged, and thus makes it easy to reach its target audience. The 5Cs therefore is largely a group that does theatre for social transformation and realisation. Among the issues we address currently are, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, Female genital Mutilation (FGM), Reproductive health education and violence against women, mostly sexual violence that has since increased in the country and in the Internally Displaced Persons camps (IDP) camps where most families have taken refuge since the last political unrest that rocked the country due to disputed general elections presidential results.
Over the years, IPAT has financially supported the 5Cs to continue with their theatre performances. The 5Cs have no any other form of support, other than its dependency on other human rights organisations and networks in Kenya. The 5Cs kind of performances which are also referred to as popular theatre tend to be free, as opposed to purely entrainment theatre that makes a little money from it. The support that the 5Cs has received from IPAT has seen the group grow immensely, since members are able to attend meetings, continue with their performances and also be bale to feed their children, without really feeling like the work they are doing is totally free. IPAT support goes along way in helping many others. Our target audience benefit a lot since the group is there, not because they are paid, but because they love doing what they do for the community, and that is Theatre. We create our own songs and dances that are particularly tailor made to fit a certain set of people, or according to the communities’ immediate needs.
Theatre offers the best opportunity of reaching marginalized social groups, including women, especially at the grassroots level. Kenya lacks theatre houses in which this can take place. The few theatre establishments that do exist are concentrated in the urban cities, their repertoire is mainly elitist and their ticket prices are out of the reach of the ordinary Kenyan.
With the continued IPAT support, it is clear that there now exists a window of opportunity to further develop 5Cs theatre group. This applies with particular force to participatory theatre, and theatre with a focus on women issues. IPAT support has seen the group go along way in doing much more for the communities and members loving to do what they do more. It is therefore, important to note that the IPAT support is support that comes in handy, and is always appreciated very much. It enables us to reach the unreachable through theatre. The 5Cs is the voice of the voiceless with the power of enriching human spirit.