Drama for Life Creative Research Hub goes mobile at the National Arts Festival 2017

All fired up and ready to go! It’s all systems go for Drama for Life as they make their way to the National Arts Festival, the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent, to be held in Grahamstown from 29 June – 9 July 2017.

The Drama for Life Creative Research Hub, in partnership with the National Arts Festival, will premiere a variety of original, new performances for children, families and older youth, experiential workshops for artists and community-practitioners; and the highly competitive REMIX Laboratory programme for selected community-based theatre practitioners from across South Africa.

This year, the Drama for Life Creative Research Hub will be launching its Arts in Conversation series of critical conversations in partnership with THINK!FEST.  Facilitated by expert Applied Arts Facilitators, these conversations seek to explore the construction of new performance terrains, methods and content in the South African landscape. Be prepared for engaged, active dialogues that will seek to disrupt the current status quo!

In addition to its home base at the newly renovated Public Library, the Drama for Life Creative Research Hub will reach out to children and youth across the Makana Municipality with applied arts workshops at Nompumelelo Hall and NELM.

The Drama for Life Creative Research Hub, in partnership with the National Arts Festival will include:

Mainane! – a magical journey, a rite of passage, about a group of children who overcome seemingly insurmountable struggles in a land of on-going strife, anguish and outright conflict. This coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a contemporary South Africa, brings together a diverse group of young people who summon the courage to face extraordinary hardships against all odds. It is the telling of a story of heroism embedded in vulnerability, a collective humanity and hope.  Mainane! is directed by Warren Nebe and presented by Drama for Life Theatre Company in partnership with Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project.

Mainane! will show at the Library Hall daily from 3-8 July at 16h00. The performance on 7 July will be followed by a post-show discussion.

Insta-Grammar – a heart-wrenching story about speaking and keeping love in the whirlwind of the Instagram and SnapChat era. Insta-Grammar is directed by Hamish Neill in collaboration with the Drama for Life Theatre Company. Insta-Grammar is aimed at 15+ year old and is presented by Drama for Life Theatre Company in partnership with Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project.

Insta-Grammar will be performed daily at the Library Hall at 10h00 from 3-8 July with a post-show discussion following the 10h00 show on 4 July.

Space Rocks – a new play aimed at audiences between the ages of 5 and 8 years old. It combines science, technology and mythology to create an innovative and playful theatrical experience about early childhood development and emotional growth. In the story, each planet has a gift and a lesson for Jojo and Jinx to help defeat Void and Vortex, who lurk on the edges of the galaxy. Will JoJo overcome his fear of the dark? Will his big sister let him take the controls? With a blend of mythology and science, this play is about how children learn through play, and find hidden strength within as they take their first steps towards independence. This beautifully crafted play is written by Tamara Schulz and directed by Craig Morris.

Space Rocks shows daily from 3-8 July at 13h00, a post-show discussion will be held after the 13h00 performance on 6 July.

Kasi Stories: Stories not Often Told – the story of Xola and Thabo’s friendship. We see the two young men at different stages of their lives, as the boys move further apart by their shifting socio-economic status, but held together by their shared reality of failed fatherhood which both holds their friendship together and threatens to tear it apart. Kasi Stories asks pertinent questions about the failure of the father figure in the South African context. Kasi Stories: Stories not Often Told is directed by Benjamin Bell and features Lebogang Mphahlele and Thulani Mtsweni.

Kasi Stories: Stories not Often Told will show daily at 18h00 from 3-8 July. A post-production discussion will be held after the 18h00 performance on 6 July.

REMIX Laboratory

Drama for Life has partnered with the 2017 National Arts Festival, under the directorship of Mr Ashraf Johaardien, to re-develop and grow the REMIX Laboratory. The REMIX Laboratory offers community-based artists an opportunity to experience the Festival ‘In Residence’ under the guided mentorship and leadership of Drama for Life professionals.  Selected participants can expect a rigorous training in theatre-making and cultural leadership, a rich and varied programme of theatre and the visual arts, and an opportunity to network and grow meaningful, sustainable partnerships. The trainees will be provided with the University of the Witwatersrand accredited short course trainings at Nombulelo Hall. The REMIX Laboratory is directed by Munyaradzi Chatikobo with teaching by Caryn Green, Warren Nebe, Hamish Neill, Zanele Madiba and the Drama for Life Theatre Company.

The following two accredited short courses will be offered in 2017:

The New Consciousness in Cultural Leadership short course will introduce principles and practices of cultural leadership and management for youth in community-based applied arts, arts education and/or public art organisations.

This short course will be offered at the Nombulelo Hall from 3-5 July.

The Stories of Identities short course will focus on using Applied Drama and Theatre as a story-processing, collaborative theatre-making tool that can be used to locate and unpack new stories of identity.

This short course will offered at the Nombulelo Hall from 6-8 July.

Arts in Conversation

The Drama for Life Creative Research Hub will be hosting a series of Arts in Conversations for National Arts Festival THINK!FEST. These conversations, curated by Warren Nebe, will draw together emerging thought leaders and artists to grapple with complex questions about re-imagining the South African arts and culture landscape.  The topics include:

  • New Leadership New Consciousness: Towards an out the box collaborative performing arts-making culture
  • New Relationships New Society: Re-thinking arts and culture for purposes of social transformation and healing
  • New Visions New Spaces: Re-imagining performance in the South African landscape

All sessions are free and be will be held at the Library Hall.

Community Engagement workshops

The aim of this programme is to provide meaningful, playful and informative workshops and performances for children, youth and adults. All the offerings are free and happen daily. Workshops will include Jiggles and Journeys – Exploring Travel: This workshop series facilitated by Sue Hall is intended for 4-6 year olds. Dance it Out – Find your Jive!: This workshop facilitated by Bonginkosi Mnisi is intended for 12-16 year olds. Spot the Difference: This workshop, facilitated by Hamish Neill will address basic theatre elements and the use of metaphor in performance for youth and artists. The Reflective Practitioner: This workshop will look at creating reflective tools for facilitators/teachers/practitioners to understand why reflective practice is critical to their work and explore ways in which they develop reflective practice. The Soul’s Code: A Drama Therapy WorkshopThis workshop facilitated by Drama Therapist Warren Nebe will give arts practitioners time to reflect, re-imagine, restore through a symbolic reflective process.

For further information visit the Drama for Life Creative Research Hub at the Library Hall or see the National Arts Festival programme.

About Drama for Life

Drama for Life, based at the University of the Witwatersrand, is an arts centre for social transformation and healing. It is dedicated to transforming arts, culture and heritage research, education and practice in Africa. Our commitment toward South Africa is found in our academic, short course and community engagement programmes and projects throughout the country. This commitment is embedded in a belief that the performing arts have the ability to give voice, respect and dignity to all who live in our country. The arts enable us to imagine new narratives and to experience a new consciousness.

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