Original Research

Playing into gender stereotyping in a preschool theatre production

Elzette Fritz
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 1, No 2 | a88 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v1i2.88 | © 2011 Elzette Fritz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 May 2014 | Published: 31 December 2011

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Elzette Fritz, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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This article gives a critical analysis of a nursery school(kindergarten/pre-school) play performance, in which lyrics and movement set the stage for gender stereotyping and sexualised behaviour. Using extracts of lyrics, the reader is invited to participate as an outsider and ‘witness’ (in accordance with narrative therapy tradition) to the way in which young children are placed as objects of stereotyping, in roles determined by
the teacher play directors. To begin with the reader is introduced to socio-cultural psychology (specifically to the theory of childhood development) that focuses on the acquisition of gender roles. I argue that many school plays, especially at pre-school level, are developed for the entertainment of the (mostly) adult audience without considering what will be in the best interest of the young ‘actors’. I refer to this as an act of perversion, while arguing that this is an educationally careless and irresponsible activity that prevails in school stage performances across a variety of schools in South
Africa. I propose, rather, that a school play, as a cultural ritual should be employed as therapeutic tool to the aid of childhood development.


school-play performance, gender stereotyping, sexualised behaviour, sociocultural


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