Social Issues in Selected Amharic Children's Plays: A Critical Analysis

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Addis Ababa University


My thesis is a critical analysis of social issues with particular reference to selected children's plays written in Amharic by different playwrights. I try to deal with the following issues: First, I would like to stress that before this study, there was no substantial research on children's theatre play scripts. This seems to me because of the little regard given to this field of study as an area of investigation by those responsible for directing graduate researches. But Dereje Melaku had touched on the themes of some of the play scripts in the course of making a survey of children 's literature in Amharic. There are also undergraduate theses in the Department of Theatrical arts, which contain a brief description of the play scripts in Amharic. My study; however, differs from these researches in objective, depth, and scope. Second, there was no substantial survey on the development of children' theatre and their problems in Ethiopia previously although their theatre is worthy of investigation - as worthy as any branch of theatre, theatre activity, or aspect of theatrical production. It goes without saying that such a survey is necessary, both in order to place children's theatre playwrights and their play script works in context, and to faci litate and motivate the study of Ethi opian children theatre in general. Chapter two of this study attempts to survey the state of children's theatre in the world and in Ethiopia. Third, Ethiopian children theatre has received little attention as part of Ethiopian literature by the critics of Ethiopian and African Literature in general. Some foreign writers have attributed this fact to difficulties of language. Moreover, translation is an area that has not yet developed in Ethiopia. However, an encouraging attempt is made by one of the playwrights though his work is not yet published - Ato Ayalneh Mulatu Abeje, who has started to write or translate his works in to English and Russian languages. Nevertheless, my opinion is that the translation of the works of some of or all of Ethiopian children theatre play scripts in to English or other languages would not be enough unless it is accompanied by a parallel development of criticism by Ethiopians, without which a complete grasp of the works may not be possible. I hope that this study will motivate Ethiopian researchers to do further research and to help a non Ethiopian reader to see these play scripts in the context of their social, economic, political, psychological and cultural history. Fourth, I feel that a research into a critical analysis of social issues with particular reference to selected children's plays written in Amharic by different playwrights would be a relevant social document because art itself can be considered as one of the relevant, and authentic social documents of their period that existed in human hi story. Furthermore, I believe that children theatre in Ethiopia did not get proper attention from the concerned scholars and other related bodies whereas all the future generation may profit directly or indirectly from its proper functioning.Fifth, my study will also attempt to briefly present the background of Modern-Aristotelian Children's Theatre in Ethiopia. To summarize, before a critical analysis of social issues with particular reference to selected children's plays written in Amharic by different playwrights, I have tried to pinpoint some problems of children that dramatists generally deal with. Consequently, my study assumes that literature has a social function and children's theatre can be a social document through which we can study Ethiopian children in different social contexts. Drama, as one of the genres of literature, is an entity that can vividly describe the social reality of Ethiopian children as playwrights use it to explore social and emotional problems that children may experience in their society. In doing so, I intend to show that children's drama has a social function. Playwrights of children's theater play an important role in society by pinpointing the problems that concerned bodies in Ethiopia may not have been aware of.



Social Issues, Selected