From Inside Out

Story Story – Seamus Gallagher

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Country Director, Nigeria


Drama can allow for people to learn and make more informed decisions in their own lives. Any time you give people the opportunity to follow, live with and identify with characters who are struggling with the same issues/challenges that they face in the real world, you’re allowing them to see how other people have choices, and to follow how they play out – these can also become ‘role models’. Helping people see how different choices, attitudes and decisions play out for good and for bad, can support them then to make more thoughtful decisions for their own lives.

The dramatic vehicle has to be broad enough to allow new themes in. The setting/town shouldn’t be too narrow, or focused on one specific message. If you’re doing a drama about HIV and you set it exclusively in a hospital, that could be great but it could also be hard then to expand its ‘world’ to cover non-medical issues. Story Story is a world, a community that reflects all of West Africa with different languages, accents and religions and therefore, as a setting, it’s adaptable and can change and develop over time.

You have to be exciting enough to get people to listen. If it’s not entertaining, funny, sexy and thought provoking, the message won’t work. The dramatic elements all need to be in place, all the environments and sounds, the range of characters etc. Then the ‘messages’ can be worked into the drama. If the emphasis is on message alone, certainly at the beginning before the audience has built a love for the characters, people won’t listen, and won’t identify with the characters. The message needs to be ‘back of stage’ rather than ‘front of stage’. You can’t hit people over the head with the message.

The challenge is to keep radio drama topical when there are fast changing events – a fast-changing topic like political upheaval or an emerging disease can catch you out. A solution can be to have a writing process with a quicker turnaround, and more content research about the pending issues and themes emerging on the ground. This is best done through talking with ordinary people about their experiences as well as experts, then the work can be as believable as possible.

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