Seeds Theatre Group Inc.
To use theatre and drama as an effective communication tool to address issues that are affecting Papua New Guinea socially, economically and politically.
- To use theatre and drama as a powerful communication tool in order to increase the level of knowledge and understanding amongst the general public by providing correct and accurate information and messages on HIV/AIDS and STIs. Other health-related, social and development issues are also dramatized with the target audience being the illiterate rural and urban settlement population.
- To use theatre drama as an inclusive media strategy that relies on the participation of unemployed youth in their respective communities. This community-based media and communication strategy is aimed at informing illiterate communities, which the popular Media fails to reach due to illiteracy and lack of accessibility in remote communities.
- To apply the energies of unemployed local youth whose talents in Drama, Dance and Music can be creatively and innovatively employed to use performance as a way of helping their own community for educational and entertainment purposes, and as a communication tool for social gathering and art.
Objectives of the Organisation
- To restore and sustain the message and information already being developed and distributed by Government agencies, NGOs, FBO, ESO as well as CBO, etc.
- To train Seeds Theatres members on HIV/AIDS, STIs, health and other social issues affecting them through drama and acting.
- To train Seeds Theatre members in basic theatrical and technical skills so that they can use drama, dance and music as a communication channel.
- To use theatre as a means of creatively promoting and educating the general public about the value and quality of their health and well being so that individuals can identify and alter risky behaviors.
- To use theatre as a powerful communication tool to close the knowledge gap by providing communities with correct and acurate information.
- To use theatre and drama as a community-based communication channel and strategy which is owned by the people and is for the people. This allows the community to exercise their basic human right to have access to information. Millions of Kina have been spent on TV, radio and print media since independence in 1975. Most of this media only reaches a minority of the population that live in the urban centers of PNG, which is about 20% of the 6 million people of PNG, excluding the remaining 80% of citizens.
Overview of the Organisation
Seeds Performing Arts Theatre Group was established in 1997 as an initiative of Sam Solomon Sommi, the Founder and Director of the group. The group consists primarily of unemployed youths in the settlements of Lae District, Morobe Province. The bulk of the members are from the Kalvary Lutheran Church, which is a branch of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG). The members participate as a gospel outreach ministry group reaching people through drama, dance and music.
Sam Solomon Sommi, a theatre professional and trainer who resides with the youths in the settlements, decided to train the young people in drama, dance and music after realising their talents gave them great potential to serve as role models in their communities.
In 1997, PNG Institute of Medical Research (PNF IMR) Lae Branch worked with Seeds Performing Arts Theatre Group in the Transex Project (1996-2000). The PNG IMR Transex project primarily targeted the Transport Industry, namely maritime workers, dock workers and sex workers. The project focused on behavioural change and the practice of safe sex in the Transport Industry. The staff of PNG IMR has also helped to educate the members of Seeds Performing Arts Theatre Group on basic sexual health, including HIV/AIDS and STI, as well as train them in peer education. Between 1998 and 2000, with the support of the PNG IMR, the group received funds from the National HIV/AIDS support agency funded by AUSAID to carry out awareness-raising on HIV/AIDS in the workplace, schools, villages and the urban settlements surrounding Lae District.
Seeds was also engaged by National Department of Health (NDOH) to attend two training workshops titled “Traditional and Popular Media Workshop” held in 1998, and “Using Theatre for Health Communication” held in 2002. After these workshops the group became involved in health promotion and awareness-raising in Lae District and the urban settlements, with particular focus on malaria, HIV/AIDS, safe motherhood and family planning. The group also promoted the treated net and produced a radio drama with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), broadcast on Kundu FM 105, addressing the above health issues.
The group actively worked with NDOH between 1997 to 2009, participating in all Health Expo’s during the Morobe Agricultural Shows.
Based in Lae District, the members of the group have been using their talents to address many issues that are affecting their communities, especially in the urban settlements. Furthermore, their participation has been fundamental in keeping them away from criminal activities, allowing them to become a role model for other youths in the community to follow.
For the last 12 years the group has been actively involved in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and other health issues, as well as running theatre training and workshops for other community theatre groups, NGOs and the Morobe Health division.
The group is a not-for-profit organisation and most of its members are still active, using their talented performing arts skills to facilitate self-education, self-employment and self-reliance in community development and mobilisation.
Type of Services provided
- Theatre training of artists and village theatre trainers and directors
- Promotion and awareness-raising through theatre drama
- Radio drama productions
- Road show promotions and awareness
- Radio spots and video clip productions
- Road show advertising and performing in road-side markets, settlements, public venues, schools, villages and workplaces, etc.
- Illiterate persons living in both urban and rural settlements
- Working class and unemployed
- Schools and the general public
- All gender groupings and victims and offenders of domestic violence
Key issues addressed
- HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, cholera and other diseases
- Illiteracy, urban drift, drug and alcohol abuse and other social problems
- Environmental protection, hygiene, water supply and sanitation
- LPV preferential voting system awareness
- Domestic violence, gender-based violence, women’s and human rights
- Family planning, birth control and cervical cancer
The working relationship with the Government of PNG.
Since we have participated with major Government entities such as the National Health Department, National Aids Council and Morobe Provincial Division of Health, Tourism and Community Development Office, our contribution has been instrumental in meeting some of the objectives of Vision 2050. The Health Minister and the Morobe Provincial Aids Council also recognizes the group through their support.
Awards & Achievements for the group
- It is estimated that we have reached well over 100,000 people between 1997 and 2010.
- Over 50,000 condoms and 32,000 posters, leaflets, stickers and books have been distributed between 1997 and 2010.
- Provided theatre training and awareness on HIV/AIDS, along with environmental and conservation awareness in Kutubu Southern Province and Kikori in Gulf Province between 1999-2003.
- The director of the group and senior female artists are qualified community theatre trainers and have provided training in the nine districts of Morobe from 1999 to 2010.
- Participated in the Theatre Documentary filmed by an Australian ABC film crew in 1998.
- A member of the group, “Ester Sam” was selected by a German film company to act in the film Jungle Child, which was filmed on location in Malaysia and released in February 2011.
- Seeds Theatre Group Inc became a grantee of UN Women in 2010. It has carried out more than 42 dramatic performances that highlight violence against women and girls and create awareness on human rights, as well as strategise with its audiences on ways to end the violence. In the first phase of the UN Women-funded project, Seeds reached more than 4,000 people in settlements and communities around Lae District, PNG. Seeds has been featured on the UN Women website. The capacity-building component of the grant has seen members of Seeds undergo training in Gender and Gender-based Violence, Project Planning and Project Management. Through UN Women support, Seeds has become more gender-responsive and more organised in its project planning, implementation and monitoring.