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Lighting the way for new artists

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

Drama enthusiasts are lifting the curtain on opportunities in the performing arts.

A drama group is working to instil an interest in the arts in school-going children from Soshanguve in Gauteng, by sharing its knowledge of acting and directing with them.

The Movement’s lead director Emmanuel Mashigo says the group visits schools in the township to perform for learners, while also inspiring the youngsters to pursue a career in the arts.

After these school visits, the group often invites interested pupils to join them at their studio.The Movement's lead director Emmanuel Mashigo.

“We try to impart the knowledge of all things theatre that we know. This ranges from acting skills, how to direct and the technical side such as lighting, state management and the use of doors as part of the production,” says Mashigo.

The Movement receives training through the South African State Theatre’s Education, Youth and Children Theatre (EYCT) programme, which aims to unearth talent rooted in community theatre.

ECYT manager Thabiso Qwabe says the programme offers master classes in theatre production, visual arts, poetry and choreography, among others.

The master classes are taught to semi-professional artists over a two-year period. These artists then educate children in primary schools in their communities.

“The youth theatre’s productions are performed during the festivals hosted by the State Theatre throughout the year,” says Qwabe.

In each cycle, the EYCT programme takes in 12 groups from Tshwane and three from other regions in the country. In 2021 and 2022, groups from Mahikeng, Pietermaritzburg and Polokwane will be part of the programme.

The training in the first year sees the groups interpreting existing work by a South African artist.

“In the second year, the groups produce their own work. Some of these productions make it to the Mzansi Fela Community Art Festival,” says Qwabe.

As part of its training with EYCT, The Movement produced a play, titled The Iron, which tells the story of gender-based violence and betrayal.

For more information on the EYCT and other State Theatre programmes, go to the theatre’s website at www.statetheatre.co.za.