The Power of Culture South Africa Special
Market Theatre Laboratory

'Broken Dreams' keeps the audience fascinated as the drama unfolds. At the same time, the theatre play contains important messages about the dangers of unsafe sex and the necessity of AIDS prevention. Education and entertainment are brought together. Eight years ago, the play was performed for the first time, and meanwhile, it has been on stage in almost all provinces. KwaZulu-Natal is next, and the theatre group is rehearsing in the Market Theatre Laboratory, before they go on tour for two months.

The theatre play is symbolic for the social aspects of theatre the Market Theatre Laboratory seeks to explore. For instance, the 'development wing' of Johannesburg's main theatre runs a school project in three townships with the purpose of empowering young people with theatre skills. "We make them tell a story to us about their own lives", says project manager Sipho Mwale "We dramatise it, and see how we can make it into a theatre production."

The school project started in four schools in 1995; increasing to 29 schools since then. The teenagers work on the play twice a week for one year, before it is put on stage for family and friends. The schools compete with each other during the theatre festival; the best group gets toperform their playat the Market Theatre. "The project is a good way to spot talent", says Sipho Mwale. "It gave birth to some good productions such as Boots, which even made it to the Spring Dance Festival in Utrecht last year."

The project has made a positive impact in schools as well. "We come from an era of struggle, during which the tradition of learning faded. The struggle is over, but still it is hard for students to come back to class after lunch. The unemployment rate is discouraging: why should we study when there are no jobs? We make them see the future and then they will engage in discussions. They learn how to have more control over their lives."

Inge Ruigrok

 


 

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