A Mowbray-based theatre group is helping young people confront prejudice and other threats to their basic human rights.
The group, Theatre for Life, uses performance art to help youth tackle a whole range of issues, many of which can seem insurmountable when you’re still at school and still trying to figure out who you are.
The group is performing a piece called Look Before You Leap: Being Right at high schools across the province ahead of Human Rights Day on Tuesday March 21 next week.
The non-profit organisation has been working in South Africa since 1987 and their theatre productions travel to schools nationwide to encourage youth and remind them that their voices are important and should be heard.
The shows are age-appropriately crafted to foster thought and debate around issues of identity, rights, relationships, discrimination, sexuality, and gender equality.
The Look Before You Leap: Being Right show is aimed at grades 8 to 10 and follows four pupils standing for the student representative council (SRC) election. It deals with their motivations for running for the SRC and the expectations of others which weigh down on them. They also struggle to maintain their own identity while wanting to fit in among their peers.
The pupils go through the characters’ trials, which are usually similar to their own, and, after the show, a peer discussion is held in an open and non-judgemental forum for pupils to voice their opinions on obstacles the characters faced.
So far, the play has been performed at Soneike High School, Ned Doman High School, Bishop Lavis Secondary School, Springfield Convent of the Holy Rosary and Bridgetown Secondary School, among others.
Zoey Malcolm, the project’s senior manager, said they had decided to bring the production back this year after an “astounding” response last year from teachers and pupils that had exceeded their expectations.
“The learners have a personal response to the show and the performance. It’s a great way to empower pupils to give them the ability to make choices about their life they feel arise with them,” said Ms Malcolm.
The Theatre for Life team says the production is all about helping audiences to trust themselves to make informed and honest decisions in life.
“It is our rights that make us South Africans who we are, and Human Rights Day is an important reminder that the protection of our rights and the rights of others is vital to ensure an effective, equal democracy for all,” said Theatre for Life director, Gordon Bilbrough.
With funding from the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, the play will continue to be performed at schools until Friday March 31.
To book the show at your school or to view the show, contact Georgia Lahusen at 021 685 4686 or [email protected] or visit www.arepp.org.za for more information.