Nieuws - 7 maart 1996

Puppets assist in extension work

Puppets assist in extension work

,Sometimes it is like loading frogs on a wheelbarrow: the moment you get one in, others have been meanwhile jumping out, says Chris Doorman, a puppeteer: Still, somehow we always managed to shape a satisfactory puppet show in a few weeks time." Doorman teaches African extension officers to apply puppet theatre for health care extension purposes.

On Wednesday 28th of February, Chris Doorman and Wilma Kloet gave a performance in De Wereld. With a selection of their puppets, they acted out several African stories and fairy tales. The puppet theatre was invited by Agromisa, to mark the last evening of their introductory course on development issues.

A teacher by profession who took up puppet theatre as a hobby, Doorman relates that he managed to combine the two a few decades ago. For the past twelve years he has been contracted on a regular basis, mainly in Africa. He worked, for instance, on basic health care extension in Cape Verde, on maternity extension in Turkey and also in the Netherlands for the organisation of family members of Alzheimer patients. Puppet theatre can be applied for multiple purposes", Doorman explains: It is just one way to pass on a message."

Doorman's assignments are usually for two to four weeks only. In that period the extension officers have to decide on a story, produce the necessary puppets and have at least one performance in the field.

Doorman relates that two important criteria have to be met. The stories as well as the puppets have to be recognizable and credible. Doorman is convinced that the audience must be able to identify themselves with the characters, otherwise the actual message will not be believed or may remain unnoticed.

Doorman tells that his next assignment will be in Zimbabwe, where his experience will be exerted in agricultural extension for the Tonga population. They had to move from their land when it was turned into a storage reservoir and are now living on the shore of this lake. Doorman smiles and admits that they once again will manage to produce a nice show but whether this will turn fishermen into agricultural producers he doubts. For a story to work, the message must be feasible", he concludes.