That's My Space: Ageing, Gender, and Survival in Ugandan Theatre

That's My Space: Ageing, Gender, and Survival in Ugandan Theatre

Evelyn Lutwama-Rukundo (Makerere University, Uganda), Consolata Kabonesa (Makerere University, Uganda), and Ruth Nsibirano (Makerere University, Uganda)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4772-3.ch012
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Age is critical as a resource in a theatrical career, for it offers the energy and looks necessary for drawing audiences and attracting financial supporters to sustain one's career and socio-economic survival. The discussion in this chapter aims at establishing the experiential differences of male and female theatre performers concerning the effects of the aging process on their theatrical careers. It concentrates on Kampala-based theatre performers as respondents. The discussion emphasizes “the process” of aging, in other words, the addition of years to one's life and to his or her career, rather than the state of being “old.” Using Amartya Sen's conceptualization of development, the chapter explores how aging in some ways opens up socio-economic opportunities for some Ugandan theatre performers and yet for others it brings about greater constraints to their socio-economic survival in the industry. Data was collected through in-depth interviews with five male and five female respondents. It reflected that in general aging is more constraining than rewarding to a theatrical career. Female more than male theatre performers feel the brunt of its negative effect because of existing gendered stereotypes and perceptions tainted with gender discrimination.
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This is an exploratory qualitative study which employs the ‘information power’ technique (Malterud et al 2016) to determine the sample size of ten respondents. It has been suggested that ‘information power’ as a technique can guide the choice of respondents and sample size because “Information power indicates that the more information the sample holds, relevant for the actual study, the lower amount of participants is needed” (p.1755). According to Malterud et al, 2016), smaller samples determined by ‘information power’ are ideal if; the study aim is narrow, there is a specificity of the knowledge, experiences or properties that the sampled respondents share, an established theory that guides the analysis of the discussion, there is particular strength of the content of the dialogue that takes place between the interviewer and respondent and the location of the study in a case study design. This study contained all the above features. The area of research i.e. experiences of ageing by theatre artistes in relation to socio-economic survival is fairly under-researched. This makes the study quite exploratory in nature with a very specific study aim. The spread of Kampala-based artistes being numerically small prompted a purposive selection of experientially rich respondents and the discussion was guided by a clear development-based theory.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Socio-Economic Survival: Ensuring sustainability of a desirable social and economic existence and status.

Performance: The activity of entertaining an audience through dance, drama, or music.

Gender: The social and cultural differences attributed to men and women by different societies.

Agency: The ability to act upon circumstances around one’s existence in an effort to cause change for the better.

Aging: The process of gaining additional years to one’s life and career.

Sexualization: Viewing or utilizing a person’s or one’s body for sexual purposes often in an exploitative manner.

Kampala-Based Theatre Performers: Female and male theatre entertainers living and working in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda.

Development: The improvement of the standard of living of a person, community or nation.

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