This essay looks at the way Jamaican Sistren Theatre Collective's work and public image were shaped during the 1970s and 1980s to meet the needs of political and development agency agendas. During the Democratic Socialist Manley government's eight years in office (1972–80), community groups such as Sistren were encouraged by the government to establish "aesthetic spaces," to quote Augusto Boal, in which the oppression experienced by disadvantaged Jamaicans could be discussed and theatricalized. With the change of government in 1980, support for community-development projects waned and pressure was placed on Sistren to find external avenues of funding, invariably from development agencies. Under the weight of development-agency demands, among them the establishing of a business enterprise to achieve "self-sufficiency," Sistren's "aesthetic space" collapsed. Sistren Theatre Collective, then, can be read as both a narrative of success and one of failure.


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pp. 234-258
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