IT’S been about a year since what was once a place of ruins was converted into a bustling community theatre operation.

The old Wushwini Primary School, which was vandalised during the ’80s, became the Wushwini Arts, Culture and Heritage Centre last year. The intention was to develop the arts in the community at KwaNgcolosi – a rural settlement just outside Durban in Inanda.

This week the centre will show off some of its major achievements over the past year when it hosts the Kwasuka Sukela – Once Upon a Time Children’s Theatre Festival.

Co-ordinated by respected theatre practitioner, Jerry Pooe (pictured left), the festival runs Wednesday to Saturday. The programme includes a host of productions and workshops to develop youth in theatre and craft.

“It’s been about a year now that we’ve worked in the area developing arts there. For this project we’ve had respected practitioners in children’s theatre assisting us. Giselle Turner and Yvette Hardie from Assitej (association of theatre for children and youth) have been assisting and advising us.” said Pooe.

“Gcina Mhlophe (pictured right) will be telling some of her famous stories and she’ll be involved in workshops. We are also trying to introduce writers to writing for children. We are trying to build up a pool of writers who can write for children as this is a skill that is in short supply.”

A number of performances, including The Rhythm Dudes, No Kidding, Last Man in Bottle Land, and Father’s Day, will be staged. Presentations of a range of social issues will be made by Childline and the Department of Social Development.

The youths who have been involved in training in theatre, dance and music will also have an oppor-tunity to showcase what they’ve learned during a special open family day on Saturday (November 24).

With the frills of a carnival atmosphere through the use of clowns, balloon sculptors, buskers – and also repeat performances of the week’s shows and presentations – the day is sure to be a hit.

The festival is sponsored by The Departments of Arts and Culture, Social Development, Ethekweni Municipality, Assitej South Africa, Eager Artists Productions and the Wushwini Arts, Culture and Heritage Centre.

• For more information contact Reggie on 078 555 6525.