STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT
By: Bliss Ndapasowa
Catch them young, watch them grow.
This a notion the Durban University of Technology’s Drama Department, in collaboration with Assitej South Africa ( Theatre for Young People) , are embracing this week.
The two parties aspire to introduce and expose children to theatre through the 2014 Children’s Theatre Festival currently running at DUT’s Courtyard Theatre from the 29th of this month till the 3rd of October.
Serving as an assessment for 1st year drama students under the module of performance techniques, the student-facilitated workshop is one of the projects facilitated by Assitej South Africa, a non-profit making organization that aims to foster high quality theatre, advocate the right of every child to arts education in schools, and raise standards within the industry.
This year’s festival is a celebration of internationally acclaimed playwright Gcina Mhlope, a South African freedom fighter, activist, actor, poet, director and author, who mainly worked at preserving storytelling as a means of keeping history alive and encouraging children to read.
Her works being exhibited in this year’s festival include Have You Seen Zandile, Lungile, The Bremen Town Musicians and The Story seeker and Fudukazi’s Magic.
Award winning playwright Clinton Marius and Professor Pieter Scholtz are some of the playwrights that have been recognized by this festival since it was created.
The annual event was founded in 2011 by DUT Drama Production and Studies Head of Department, Professor Debbie Lutge, as a result of her interest in children’s theatre. She further adds that the initiative serves as a viable technique in ensuring quality in the theatre industry.
“Presenting works for children awakens cultural interest in young audiences, who are the future theatre patrons. It will enable the students to unlock and evolve new scripts,” she said.
Theatre manager Mthandazo Mofokeng emphasized the importance of the festival.
“The industry dies because it is not being exposed to young people. This program is meant to introduce them to the world of theatre at a tender age,” he said.
The festival is currently running at The Courtyard Theatre until October 3rd at 0930 hrs and 1130hrs respectively. Ticket prices are R25 per person and R15 per scholar for block bookings.