My Inner Monster
In the second of Kekana ‘Tatu”s art projects at the Dramatic Need Arts Centre in South Africa, he and his students are working on an “inner monsters” workshop. This workshop is particularly targeted at young male students who have been struggling with violence, drug-taking or difficulties at school or at home.
The project was conducted in Sotho. The workshop began by the group sitting in a circle with a piece of paper and a pen on their lap. Each person in the circle was asked to write on the piece of paper a feeling that they have inside which is negative and troubles them. Examples from the workshop included anger, shame, guilt, fear, sadness, loneliness, grief and frustration. It needed only to be one or two words. Participants were given the option of keeping these words private or sharing them with the group.
Participants were then asked to sketch what they think their word would look like if it were a monster. Would it be large or small, would it have scales, or feathers, or be slimy or have spikes all over it? What colour would it be? Would it have teeth or a long tongue? Would it be covered in flames? Once they finished sketching and writing down their ideas, the participants returned to their art stations and began to create their monsters. They were given the options of using any art medium on paper - whether paint, crayons, ink, watercolour, wax, collage or charcoal. These photos are the first of three monster-painting sessions. In this session, Tatu worked with the students, allowing some to work privately if they preferred and offering suggestions of different art materials to try. Throughout he reminded students to keep coming back to the feeling they had inside which had inspired the monsters and to try and create the monsters to look as much like that feeling as they can. Students were asked not to talk during the session so that those who did not want to discuss their process were under no pressure to do so.
Stay tuned to see pictures from the next session as the workshop progresses.
Visions of the future….
This month marks the start of our new full-time visual arts teacher Kekana ‘Tatu’ Somfula’s youth art workshops. For the past two weeks Tatu has been working with 50 students between the ages of 14 and 16 years-old. The workshop, called “Visual Art Visions” involved young people using art to find, create and display a positive image of themselves to present to their families.
Participants were asked to write down where they wanted or dreamed of being in 2019, keeping the ideas positive, but attainable. They were then asked to represent their future selves on paper (no matter how abstract) by using mixed media art. At the end of the workshop students will be able to display their artworks to their peers and the local community. They will then take their art home to display somewhere where they will see it everyday - reminding them of their goals and hopes for the future and motivating them to strive towards this positive image of their future selves. In five years time Tatu plans to return to this group to discuss their self-image and changing goals - and to produce new art works which tell the story in the next chapter of these remarkable, and brave young people’s lives.
Our Children see the future
Dramatic Need children and most of them for the first time in their lives got the opportunity to write down their vision for the next five years. This was not an easy process for some of the children who have not had the opportunity to do this kind of exercise. It was a new terrain the had to explore and it’s proving fruitful
Our Articulate Project participants happy to share their stories with the worl
Those of our Articulate Project participants whose stories found their way to the book that contained their stories and visual art interpretations gladly
received their copies
I reap where I sow
It is harvest time at Rietpan farm and the Dramatic Need Operations manager took some time last year to plant. Now it’s time to reap from his small garden
Royal Court Theatre London stages new writing from South Africa
On the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, the Royal Court will stage a series of readings, offering an insight into South African life today and the urgent concerns of a younger generation two decades after the end of apartheid.
Led by British playwrights Leo Butler, Winsome Pinnock and International Director, Elyse Dodgson, these six plays, presented at the Royal Court as works-in-progress, look at absent fathers, political corruption, sexuality, race and religion in contemporary South Africa and the legacy of the new generation of children, growing up as ‘born frees’.
The project is part of the British Council’s Connect ZA programme, a line-up of events which will run alongside the week of readings, including a panel discussion, a live poetry evening, featuring top spoken word artists from South Africa and a late night music event.
Mon 12 May, 7pm
A New Song
By Napo Masheane
Directed by Richard Twyman
Thokoza is a domestic worker who persuades her sister workers to get involved in the Anti Pass Book campaign of the 1950s. The women whose voices took centre stage in the “struggle” are vividly brought to life in this celebration of political action, song and friendship.
Tue 13 May, 7pm
By Neil Coppen
Directed by Simon Godwin
Jacques is an anaesthetist working in a hospital in a rural community. Sizwe is a dancer who is connecting with his ancestors. When they meet for casual sex, memory and tradition collide. A hallucinatory exploration of sexuality, race and religion in contemporary South Africa.
Wed 14 May, 7pm
Fana La Fale (Here and There)
By Omphile Molusi, translated from Setswana by the playwright
Directed by Dawn Walton
Street clown Wilfred and his girlfriend Cindy live in a shack of corrugated iron. Joined by their young relatives, “born frees” with very different dreams, they start a fight against a corrupt housing system to drag themselves out of life in the slums.
Thu 15 May, 7pm
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Ben and Skinn are out on a joint run. With the weed still burning a hole in their pockets they’re stopped by the police. The drive home from a night out turns into a brutal journey which leaves the accused and his accuser changed forever. A suspense drama that looks at old divisions in a new country.
Fri 16 May, 7pm
All Who Pass
By Amy Jephta
District 6, Cape Town, 1974. The inner-city neighboured is being forcibly cleared by the apartheid regime. 2013, a daughter returns to claim her inheritance and exorcise the ghosts of what took place there. A journey to a landscape of memories past and present.
Fri 16 May, 8.45pm – FREE but ticketed
Performance Poetry from South Africa
Curated by poet, singer, spoken word artist and writer, Leeto Thale, the night includes a guest slot from Thabiso Mohare (aka Afurakan) ‘the crown prince of Johannesburg’s underground slam poetry scene.’
Followed by South African music and DJs in the Royal Court Bar & Kitchen ‘til late.
Sat 17 May, 3pm
The Last MK Fighter
By Simo Majola
directed by Ola Animashawun
Mshiyeni lives with the nightmares of his comrades who were left behind in Angola fighting for South Africa’s freedom. And fights with his son, who blames him for the years he was absent as a father. A heartbreaking story searching for a new understanding of the sacrifices made for one’s country.
Sat 17 May, 4pm – FREE but ticketed
Panel discussion, New Writing in South Africa, with playwrights Simo Majola, Mongiwekaya, Amy Jephta, Omphile Molusi, Neil Coppen and Napo Masheane, hosted by the Royal Court’s International Director Elyse Dodgson.
New Plays from South Africa is presented as part of International Playwrights: A Genesis Foundation Project and this project was undertaken in partnership with the British Council’s Connect ZA programme.
Reflecting on my first full year at Dramatic Need
The 23rd of March this week saw me complete a full year with Dramatic Need, staying at Rietpan Farm and working with the children of local township, Rammulotsi.
Having lived in a village in Zimbabwe I can say my past did prepare me for this part of my sojourning here in the province of Free State. I was born in a small village called Mambanjeni under very humble circumstances. We were taught to greet every elderly person we met and addressed them as we did our parents, but it’s the children’s games I played with my friends that I remember more than anything else about my childhood.
It was here at Dramatic Need that those memories have been rekindled as I see children grappling with work and play and I play with them myself. I also see the limited horizons of a village and how, without interventions like Dramatic Need, children would think that the world is as small as their environment. They would be born here, grow up here, marry here and live their small dreams here in Rammulotsi.
I derive so much pleasure in making them imagine the world outside and making them dream and smile about the possibilities of going to other places and widening their horizons.
There are moments of pain though when I see that some children just cannot think of anything else outside this place and the hurt that is sometimes associated with it. But it always ends well - when I play and interact with them and they share their hearts with me.
I can say therefore that I have no regrets about leaving my Johannesburg management job and television acting possibilities and coming to live here in this humble farm environment. This page of the story of my life will be written in bright ink and be one of the highlighted pages of my life. I have enjoyed solitude on those evenings when I have had to be alone and only reach my lovely wife Mpho through BBM chats and calls.
Life here at the farm has not always been rosy. While I have enjoyed creating processes for the children to discover themselves and learn certain values they will need in life, life has not stopped being a process that continues to teach me things and values I need. Amidst all the challenging days without electricity and water I have learnt to reflect and ask life many questions. I have asked life what she wants me to learn from all these ups and downs and I have refused to murmur, complain or sulk.
When all has been said and done I can look back and say it’s been a good year and I have taught and learnt a lot.
Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu
Regional Operations Manager, Dramatic Need, South Africa
Reflections of volunteering in PPCAC
As soon as I got used to the place, I leave. I feel that what the participants accomplished in such a short time was commendable. The final performance proved to be far better than my expectations. There is such passion and talent amongst these young adults it’s amazing to witness. As I was reaching ever closer to my final week, I started to form ideas for more involved projects.
I think it would be a great idea to create work with the white teenagers from the area. I realise this would take a lot of time to grow incrementally but I believe it would be invaluable to the people of the area. I found that there is alot of fear of the unknown from the whites and the blacks and I believe that creating projects where they begin to work together could combat some of that fear.
I had thought that a project could run in the predominantly white school and in the schools in Ramaloutsi using similar themes where they create their own music (or other art form) and then have a joint showcase, showing work side by side where they can see similarities and appreciate each other’s work. Then to build upon this by collaborating together to hopefully hold workshops together. Creating links between the 2 communities.
I would love to work on themes that came up during my time there. HIV & AIDS, female role in society and their treatment, loss of family members and creating a sense of community to negate the sometimes apparent ‘each for their own’ mentality which can be so divisive.
For my part the final 2 weeks of the project saw a huge number of participants fall off. I’m not sure if this was nerves about performing or other barriers. If perhaps a showcase idea could be discussed more with the groups to see if this is what they wish to do and hopefully if they decide as groups to committ to it they would stick by that decision, instead of possibly feeling that they had no control over the end product, and sliding off the radar. When students were fleeting members of bands it became difficult for each group to develop and hopefully this process could help overcome some of this.
There are 2 guitars, a saxophone and a violin, as well as instruments I left; 2 tin whistles, a recorder, a clicker, 2 egg shakers, a harmonica and claves. These instruments should be made available to each student if they wish to learn them. Unfortunately I cannot play the saxophone but I showed a number of students and Mameke and Mahess (children living in Rietpan) how to play the guitars and tune them. I would love to see these kids keep up learning these instruments. The guitars and violin need to be repaired, but the guitars are playable til then. If someone could be found locally that can teach saxophone and there is a student willing to learn it would be great to see that happen as it’s such a waste to have it lying in the store room untouched.
As I have discussed with Bheki already I would love to continue working with Dramatic Need as much as I can. We have devised a project with a group of Irish teenagers I have been working with to collaborate with the teens from Ramloutsi. I shall be in touch with the current facilitator of that project and it hopefully begin before my return to Ireland. I have been thinking about it and the participants could collaborate by sending recordings and ideas to each other and each group can develop it so far and send back until a finished piece of work is created. As well as, creating their own music based on similar themes eg, family and see what similarities and contrasts occur.