Madjuba: Quest for the Talisman

The process

In order to deepen our understanding of governance issues and how they affect populations in Mozambique, CMFD conducted formative research into priority governance issues, how people perceive these issue and what the challenges and opportunities are. The project TOR identified several key issues to be included in the drama. Many of these were also echoed during desk research and a roundtable discussion held with organisations working on governance issues in Mozambique. The formative research suggested that one of the most important issues to be communicated through the drama is that people need to know their rights, including what is in the constitution, in order to participate as active citizens. Having this basic information is the cornerstone to good governance.

The next step was to decide on key characters needed to tell the story, what they were like, and what kind of journey they needed to go on to fulfill the project objectives. Based on key themes and formative research, characters and a storyline was created, to communicate the governance messages. CMFD then plotted a story planning/ message matrix. This story plan outlines the characters, what happens in the story, and all of the intended messages and information to be passed through the drama, with key communication for social change (CFSC) principles in mind. A long held and well-tested belief in CFSC circles is that the initiative must be entertaining and engaging in its own right in order to gain and hold the interest of audiences. It must be seen as a good quality drama first, and an educational drama second.

This idea was sent to Mozambican scriptwriter Evaristo Abreu, who developed it further into a full storyline. Evaristo Abreu started his drama career in 1984 and has since directed and performed in about 100 conventional and community plays produced by the Tchova Xita Duma, Mutumbela Gogo and Mbêu theatre groups. Evaristo has also worked in television and cinema as an actor, assistant director and producer. From 1997 to 2004 he studied social sciences at the University Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo. From 1987 to 2009 he participated in festivals and conferences in Europe, Brazil, southern Africa and the Maghreb. From 1999 to 2005 he produced the Festival of August (Festival International de Teatro D’Agosto) in Maputo. Currently Evaristo is studying towards his Master’s in Drama Degree at Wits University in Johannesburg, through the Drama for Life Programme, thanks to a scholarship from the Goethe Institute.

After drafting the first 4 episodes of the drama based on the creative brief, we held two focus group discussions with community members to be sure that the story was understandable and that the messages were being understood. After the Portuguese language scripts were finalised the texts were translated into Changaan and Cisena. Some adaptations were also made to character names, so that they were more relevant to Chanagaan speaking listeners.

Because all of the dramas share the same sounds and structure, CMFD’s process is to full complete the first language of a set of dramas, in this case Portuguese. This allows us to create, record, and place all sound effects, which are the most time consuming part of the production process, then use these same sound effects for other languages. The subsequent languages are then voice edited (for when actors make mistakes and to correct quality) and the sound effects created in the initial language production are laid over the African languages. This saves time, and costs to the client. The perfection of the first language is the key part of the process, as otherwise should we add sound effects after language productions begin, it would need to be done four times, instead of one.

A large part of creating an aurally rich drama that generates a three-dimensional world in the mind of the listener comes through the use of high-quality, appropriate sound effects. As much as possible CMFD uses foleyed effects recorded by our staff. As part of producing this drama, approximately 60 sound effects specific to the series were created.

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