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Theatre brings hope to children

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to kids baxter2

Merryn Carver

world's a stge: Last year the Baxter Theatre was awash with excited schoolchildren, many of whom were experiencing a theatre production for the first time. RIGHT: Asanda Rilityana and Joanna Evans in Patchwork.

WORLD Day for Theatre for Children and Young People is celebrated annually by Assitej centres around the world on Thursday.

To honour the day, the international Association of Theatre for Children and Young People hosts theatre works which try to engage children and youth and bring them into theatre spaces which they would not normally be able to access.

The point of the campaign is to encourage children to become the audience for theatre by providing them with access, especially if they have never experienced theatre before.

Each year a prominent person writes the World Day message to inspire all to join the campaign. This year the message was written by actor John Kani, while Cape Town’s Yvette Hardie, international president of Assitej, wrote the accompanying president’s message.

As Hardie explains, giving children an opportunity to dream, to imagine other possibilities for their lives, to engage with and empathise with people and situations from different walksof life, is an important gift.

“Without the liberating power of the imagination, problem-solving becomes impossible,” said Hardie.

Assitej hosts special performances and family festivals at this time of year to ensure children and young people get to see theatre in their local communities. More than 15 000 children attended theatrical events through the campaigns in 2012 and last year.

To support this year’s campaign, you can contribute directly by contacting Assitej South Africa at 021 822 0070/1/2, e-mailing info@assitej.org.za, or visiting assitej-international.org for more information.

In Cape Town, several theatres are hosting children-centric performances or workshops, which include:

• The Fugard Theatre will host children from Vrygrond to see Blood Brothers.

• The Masque Theatre in Muizenberg will host under-privileged children at a dress rehearsal of Storytime 2 on March 31 at 11am.

lArtscape will host the Magnet production Tree/Boom/Umthi at the Isibaye from tomorrow to March 29 at 10am and 2.30pm (except Saturday, when it plays only at 10am). The tender performance is about the relationship between a man, a tree and the seasons. It is performed in three languages depending on the audience, using song, image and the body to tell the story. The productiuon is aimed at children aged from 1 to 6. Tickets: R20 to R50.

lAt The Baxter Theater, Thando Doni’s Passage shows at 11am and 6pm on Thursday to school-children, many of whom will take part in a question and answer session after the play, to discuss what it means to be a man in contemporary South Africa.

lAssitej South Africa and Magnet Theatre host the Remix Dance Education Project tomorrow at the Magnet Theatre for an invited audience of about 200 children and families who do not normally have access to the arts, thanks to Rand Merchant Bank and Business Arts South Africa.

lJungle Theatre will present A Dog’s Life at the Baxter, for schoolchildren from Fish Hoek, Kommetjie and Bellville, who have twinned with schools in Athlone to bring children to the complex who could not otherwise afford to see theatre.

• The Theatre Arts Admin Collective will host the Observatory Family Festival from Thursday to Monday. This is a festival aimed at the whole family, though some of the performances cater for specific age groups.

Contrary to popular belief, it is the youngest audiences that understand the most conceptual theatre, so the festival features innovative works made specifically for young people that respect the intellectual, emotional and artistic capacities of the different age groups.

The festival will host two staged readings of new texts that have been written specifically for teenagers. Clara Vaughan’s Narrative Dreams (Monday at noon) and Lereko Mfono’s Takalane Sex Me (Monday at 2pm) will have their scripts staged by directors Craig Morris and Omphile Molusi and there will be an opportunity to engage with the writers and directors afterwards.

The festival takes place a the Methodist Church Hall, cnr Milton Road and Wesley Street, Observatory.

Tickets are R20 for 12-year-olds and younger and R40 for 13-year-olds and older. Subsidies can be made available for schools in need. Check www.theatrearts.co.za for more info.

Other performances include:

• Patchwork (Saturday at 11.30am, Sunday at noon, Monday at 9.30pm) is aimed at children aged from 1 to 4.

• The Story of Luks and uMhlwanzi (Sunday at noon) is told through Xhosa and puppetry.

• The Tree that Roars (Thursday at 3pm) is a Xhosa story about two schoolgirls who vandalise a baobab tree.

• Jayne Batzofin directs Playtime Antics (Thursday at 5pm; and Friday at 10am), a non-verbal story about friendship, peer pressure and bullying.

• Being Norm (Friday at 7.30pm) is a physical clowning quest performed by Richard Antrobus.

• Boris Gudinuff (Saturday and Monday at 7pm) is aimed at older teenagers and performed in Afrikaans. Based on Alexander Pushkin’s novel.

• Owl (Friday at 7pm and Saturday at 1pm) is Jon Keevy’s honest story of growing up different.

• Plastic (Sunday at 7pm) is performed by Underground Dance Theatre.

• Bling! Ka-ching! (Saturday at 4pm and Sunday at 2pm) is Katy Francis’s multi-sensory, inclusive outdoor performance about economic literacy, performed at the Children’s Park in Station Road.

• Contact office@assitjej.org.za or go to www.theatrearts admincollective.weebly.com for more info.

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