Photo Credit: Project Phakama
Bulang Dikgoro (Open the Gates)
Inspiration for this project came from surviving the day-to-day realities of life as a teenager in Benoni, and from their aspirations for the new South Africa. Adrienne Sichel, lead drama critic for South Africa’s Daily Star, attended the final performance:
The evening, which began at sunset, ended in a fire display which illuminated a huge Xhosa wedding dance to include all the audience. Amazingly, this visually breathtaking theatrical experience in which 65 teenagers switched and swapped ages, genders and cultures explored characters affected by physical and emotional violence, abuse, racial brutalities, insecurities and aspirations.
The gates are open wide
South AfricaThe facilitating team went on to create a series of events around the country based upon the working methods pioneered in Benoni. These projects included performances is museums, old warehouses and at a young offenders center.
Ka Mor Walo Ka Seatleng (With a Suitcase in my hand)
South AfricaAn ambitious week long residential in Seshego. British and South African teams worked with 70 Young people from the North West, western Cape, Guateng, and the Northern Provinces. The show was performed in a vast disused warehouse, to audiences of 250 and created stories out of suitcases carried by migrating people. Warehouse 61 in Seshego has been opened as a community arts Centre as a result of this.
Met’n Sak Onner die Blad (With a Bundle under my arm)
A total of 100 young people from across South Africa and London joined Western Cape participants to explore their stories and responses to a series of cultural visits made in Cape Town, Robben Island, District six and Cape Point.
The artist tutor team consisted of 24 people from diverse cultural backgrounds with skills in a range of arts disciplines and experience in arts education in the formal and informal sector.
Met ‘n Sak Onner die Blad’ was a large-scale, site specific performance featuring fire, dance, theatre and song which used the open site at Gilray Scout Camp, Grassy Park as its performance venue.
The performance focused upon memory and reconciliation. Following this residency all participants returned to their own communities to organise and facilitate short projects, thus sharing their Phakama experiences within a wider constituency.
South Africa Developing Communities
Call me not a Woman
Project Phakama’s residency ‘Call Me Not a Woman’ took place at the Mmabana Cultural Centre in Mmabatho, Northern Province of South Africa. People attending the residency were from South Africa, Great Britain, Namibia, Mozambique, Mauritius and Lesotho.
The aim of the project was to explore the role women have played in the South African society and the part they have played in shaping their communities in the new South Africa.
This provocative exploration of women’s lives led to a 90-minute powerful performance by 60 young people set in two very real domestic settings and on a 4-lane highway.
The Robben Island Peace Project
South AfricaCommissioned by the Robben Island Museum, this was the first public performance by young people to take place on the infamous prison island off the coast of Cape Town.
About 30 young people and their tutors from Phakama’s community arts groups from all over South Africa came to stay on Robben Island where they worked closely with an ex-prisoner and staff of the Robben Island Museum. A group of young people living on the Island also joined the project. The young people came from different regions and spoke nine or ten of South Africa’s national languages.
4 months of devising between artists and young people from around the country culminated in performances on the island for Freedom day.
The Child I Curry
This three-phase project involved young people and practitioners from Botswana, Lesotho, London, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.
Phase 1 was hosted by Project Phakama Lesotho and involved 70 young people and 12 facilitators.
In Phase 2, each country established local initiatives designed to develop Phakama projects throughout the community.
Phase 3, hosted by Project Phakama Botswana, brought all the groups back together to deliver a performance of The Child I Curry at the Gaborone International Festival.
400 young people took part in this attempt to work out ‘what makes a young person and what a young person can make’. This creative, critical exploration of social justice, good governance and human rights allowed participants to make discoveries about their histories, and gave them the confidence to act positively within their own communities.