The Khulumani Forum Theatre Group presented their first public performance at Nxumalo Park, Zola, on Friday 17 th August. School children on their way home from school, and other passers-by were intrigued by the commotion of 25 young people in our group setting up their stage, theatrical props and costumes. About 150 people stopped to see what the action was all about.
The group performed three creations from their repertoire. The first was on Identity focusing on the undue pressure young people feel to have to change to be accepted. The second performance was on specific victim issues and dealt with complex issues around people being excluded from the TRC. The third performance tapped into the violence of xenophobia and presented the argument of both sides of this form of intolerance. Putting a personal side to the victims of Xenophobia, opened the community discussion to issues of nationalism, brotherhood, tolerance and people’s fight for survival.
The aim of Forum Theatre is to get people talking about important topics in their community, and the ‘forum’ in Nxumalo Park saw 4 or 5 people expressing their views on the above topics. They talked about the need to be able to be free to be oneself without pressure from anyone to have to change to be accepted. People in the audience (called “spectactors” because they are included in the forum), also came heavily down on the characters in the performances that used violence against other characters.
Khulumani Forum Theatre Group had their second performance the following day at Endemi Bus Terminal (image below). About four or five of the group live in Endemi. Again young people made up the bulk of the audience of about 40 people. The theatre group learnt a lot about setting up theatre stage in the community and interacting with the community. We learnt about the importance of choosing the right place and time to achieve the greatest impact. We received experience in running open discussions with large groups and we also became more comfortable in front of an audience.
Our three month training in community theatre can never cover all the unexpected issues that can be raised when performing in public. This is the excitement of this kind of theatre. One local shop owner did not approve of our efforts of local engagement in front of her shop. With composure , a laugh, and without fuss, the group packed up their stage and moved. Congratulations to the group for being so calm and professional on our first days out in the community!
Today we played at Shoprite carpark at Zola North, and again in a local football field, stringing our background banner over the goal nets. We can see we are getting better dealing with the forum aspect of Forum Theatre. It was lovely to see today that members of the audience came into the play to challenge some of the actors. This is what Forum Theatre is all about!
Well done to Khulumani Forum Theatre. You are doing us so proud.
Report written by Khulumani VEP Programme Manager, Ms Pamela Whitman, a volunteer from Australian Volunteers International