ITLP in South Africa 2012

 

I AM FROM from Green Brothers on Vimeo.

 

June 2012 marked ITLP’s inaugural workshops in South Africa.  Our team worked in Khayelitsha and Philippi, two suburbs (formerly known as townships) in the Cape Flats, an area southeast of Cape Town.  The Cape Flats has the largest ethnically African areas in post-apartheid South Africa, and is sometimes known as “Apartheid’s Dumping Ground”. While Cape Town is situated by the shore of Table Bay, with its luxurious waterfront and ever-present eye of the beautiful Table Mountain, Khayelitsha and Philippi host a large population of residents living in shacks made of corrugated tin, wood and cardboard.

 

ITLP Teaching Artist Team:

Stephen DiMenna – director, arts educator, co-founder and Board Chair of ITLP

Judy Tate – award-winning playwright, actress, arts educator, founder of the American Slavery Project

Rei Green—filmmaker

 

South African ITLP Team:

Mbovu Malinga –dancer

Jackson Vuka -- actor/writer

 

In partnership with JazzArt Dance Company and their education program, ITLP worked with about 50 kids, ages 14-19 in two enormously eager and talented groups from the Chris Hani secondary school in Khayelitsha and the community center, iThemba Labantu, in Philippi.  The kids, many of whom had limited experience with English, were eager to make their voices heard in their families, communities and post-apartheid South Africa. They created a collage play called Rising Voices that explored themes of identity, family, friendship and community.  After working separately for the first half of the residency, the two groups came together to form a large theatre company, presenting their plays together in the church space at iThemba Labantu.  They incorporated poetry, song and dance.  In one section, the kids wrote letters to someone they could not talk to face to face.  They ran the gamut from the personal to the political:

 

Dear Grandpa

I wish I had seen you. I never for the chance. If you were here, you would have played my role model. Maybe I got my stubbornness from you. I long to let it go, but I cannot. Seeing what you planted makes me wish I had a chance to meet you. The fruit trees you planted are so well-developed, they even prune themselves...

                                               

Dear President Zuma, 

There is a lot I want to chat with you about. Can you build us better houses? I want to understand why there is poverty in South Africa and why don't you open organizations for sports and arts for people who suffer?

 

Afterwards, one of our students said, “I never thought I would speak English in front of other people.  I was afraid to because I thought people would make fun of me.  No one has taught us like you do.  No one has loved us like you do”.