Ajabu’s Adventures in Wonderland: Theater as a powerful tool for student and community engagement, education, experience, and transformation in a restored indigenous forest in Africa

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Amy McKelvey

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“Ajabu in Wonderland” is Brackenology’s Kenyan-themed iteration of the story Alice in Wonderland with purpose—to wonder at restored African indigenous forest and to investigate through drama the ecological principles that will help sustain it. The re-imagined characters in the show are animals indigenous to the Afromontane forest, such as Thick-Tailed Bush Baby, Dung Beetle, Sykes’ Monkey, Civet Cat, and Colobus Monkey. The Jabberwocky is a poacher, the Queen is an unscrupulous land developer, and the main character, Ajabu, is a Kenyan child searching for her rabbit, taking the audience on an interactive journey to meet the animals in the show, learn bits of ecological wisdom, experience African storytelling customs and culminate with cheering “Forests Forever!” This exciting, interactive show is a performance experience to engage and educate local students and communities on the critical importance and value of indigenous forests to the sustenance of human, animal, and plant life. Measurement of pre-show attitudes to forest conservation, along with post-show transformation of those same attitudes gauge the effect of interaction with the content of the presentation. According to Kenneth Kwok in the article, Drama-Based Teaching is on the Rise, drama “can deepen learning when the students make an emotional connection with what they’re studying.” With the show, “Ajabu’s Adventures in Africa” Brackenology hopes to do just that—deepen people’s understanding of and emotional connection with the indigenous forest and the critical need to protect it as something that sustains us all. Forests forever!

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration