The two plays, Isaro and Tshimbila Rantsula are developed as part of the Hillbrow Theatre Project’s after-school theatre programme with a cast of 15 school-going youths. The plays give voice to the current issues faced by these young performers of South African, Zimbabwean, Swazi and Malawian descent. They reflect the realities and concerns of this group of young people living in Hillbrow, and the youth of South Africa, through themes of African identity, belonging, and Xenophobia.
Isaro and Tshimbila – 40 years of Soweto Uprising – Road to Grahamstown
2016 marks the 40th Anniversary of the 1976 Soweto Youth Uprising. To mark and honour this anniversary The Hillbrow Theatre Project will be staging two plays, created and performed by young people from Hillbrow and the Johannesburg Inner-City at the National Arts Festival (NAF) in Grahamstown, showcasing the voices and perspective of contemporary youth in South Africa on a national platform.
The tour of these two productions to the National Arts Festival becomes a flagship project for the Hillbrow Theatre project. It will assist in creating visibility of the work carried out by the Hillbrow Theatre Project on a prominent national platform – work that is focused on youth development and empowerment through access to a high standard of performing arts training.
Who are we:
The Hillbrow Theatre Project is one of the key programmes of the Outreach Foundation, a vibrant community centre situated in the heart of Hillbrow. The Outreach Foundation provides an inter-cultural, multi-disciplinary programme that offers support and development opportunities to the neighborhood’s residents. Through its various activities it presents children, youth and adults with the chance to engage with arts, culture, skills development and heritage activities. In this way it hopes to improve communication, encourage participation and build a strong sense of community in Hillbrow and the inner city.
It activities focus on developing a sense of self-worth for all its participants and seek to inspire creative journeys for all wishing to achieve their full potential. It is through the development and empowerment of individuals that it aspires to build a strong community. All of its projects are driven by itscore values of humanity, equality, awareness, passion, political consciousness, anti-violence, transparency and integrity. Its vision is to create a self-sustaining, positively charged and prosperous Hillbrow neighborhoodthat inspires the whole of South Africa.
The Outreach Foundation is home to seven programmes:
1. Hillbrow Music Centre
2. Hillbrow Theatre Project
3. Counselling, Care and Support Unit
4. Dayvision Youth Centre
5. Hillbrow Kid’s Week
6. Computer Centre
7. Boitumelo Project
“…I don’t have a disadvantage so nothing is holding me back and nothing will break or destroy my future.” Albert Silindokuhle Khoza, former St Enda’s Drama group member
Through play, acting and singing children get to work through the issues that they face on a daily basis. This is a safe space where children and youth can explore issues such as xenophobia, drug abuse and violence through plays and storytelling.
Through drama training children develop empathy for different personalities, cultures, religions and ways of living. Classes allow children to learn and practice self-discipline, communication, tolerance and mutual respect.
A highlight in the Hillbrow Theatre Project calendar is the Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival, which takes place each year. Over 30 schools get to showcase their talents in this annual festival.
The Hillbrow Theatre Project team is made up of a group of skilled and experienced facilitators under the leadership of the Director of The Hillbrow Theatre Project, Gerard Bester.
“It is amazing how young people, given a chance, start to speak about who they are and where they come from; all of us found pieces that made us part of their lives.” Napo Masheane, director/poet/writer, adjudicator for the Inner City Schools Drama Festival 2011
Our first milestone is R 40 000.00 for transport, accommodation and a small per diem for the cast. These are the basics we need to get our 21 person team to Grahamstown.
Our second milestone is R 100 000.00. This will get us there, pay for posters and marketing as well as tickets for the cast to see a few shows.
Our third milestone is R 130 000. This enables the creative team to get a fee for their months of hard work up to this point.
Our dream goal milestone is R 170 000.00. We could then upgrade the set and costumes, get branded outfits for the cast and team and ensure that the Hillbrow Theatre is able to cover administrative costs.
The work carried out as part of the Hillbrow Theatre Projects performing arts programme seeks to empower young people by giving them the skills to develop their self-esteem, improve their self-confidence and to develop their voices about the world around them and their position within this world. It provides the space for surfacing the perspectives of contemporary youth and provides them with the self-agency required in rising above the socio-economic circumstances they find themselves in. The individuals who have participated in the creation of these two plays and who will be rehearsing and performing these plays at National Arts Festival are excellent examples of the ways in which the work at the Hillbrow Theatre, under the guidance of Gcebile Dlamini, builds, nurtures and supports young people and empowers them as strong leaders through their arts practice.