ASSITEJ SA host annual Theatre4Youth Forum

ASSITEJ SA Theatre4Youth Forum - National Theatre4Youth Administrator Nadia Woodward
ASSITEJ SA Theatre4Youth Forum – National Theatre4Youth Administrator Nadia Woodward

As part of Youth Day celebrations this month, ASSITEJ SA will host their annual Theatre4Youth forum at Artscape, Cape Town on Saturday 11 June 2016.

The Theatre4Youth Forum in Cape Town creates an active dialogue between artists, educators and supporting bodies, in order to engage with how theatre and the arts can best serve and support education. This forum has alternated between Johannesburg and Cape Town since 2012, with provincial forums being held in all provinces over the past 18 months through generous support from the National Arts Council of South Africa.

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Nadia Woodward, national Theatre4Youth Administrator who has overseen this process has seen positive change in the sector, “I have been so inspired to see the growth and development of theatre for children and young people in South Afrcia over the past few years. There is not just more work available for children and families, but the quality of the work has grown and artists, fantastic artists, are coming to the playground to try understand how children see the world and how to make work specifically for them, work that meets them at their level.”

The forum reflects on the ongoing Theatre4Youth programme of ASSITEJ SA which brings schools to theatre and theatre to schools. This forum will be an opportunity to introduce Capetonians to the National Representatives of Theatre4Youth and to hear more about what is happening in the programme across the country.

To contextualise the discussions, there will extracts of performances ‘Woza Albert’ by the Baikitsie Collective and ‘Aha!’ by Magnet Theatre as starting points for conversations. The day will be focussed on three major areas that speak to theatre for early years, setwork performances and on education mediation and how to further the theatrical experience.

The Early Years conversation will be informed by the pioneering work by Magnet Theatre who have created South Africa’s very first work for babies under the age of 12 months, “Scoop: Kitchen Play for Carers and Babes”, alongside other theatre makers exploring the field of very young audiences.

To catalyse Magnet Theatre’s baby theatre exploration, Anna Newell of Replay Theatre, whose work was recently covered in the New York Times, ran intensive workshops with the arts organisation and its trainees in 2015. The outcome has been a terrific success. Chiminae Ball, project manager for the Early Years’ investigation says “The early years work has been very eye-opening, many of teachers who see the work are surprised that the children are so completely engaged in the work, even the ones with learning difficulties”. As developmental psychologist Dr Suzanne Zeedyk observes, “The evidence about the importance of children’s early experiences is pouring out of scientific labs”.

The panel discussion for school-going audiences will centre on setwork performances. Theatre veteran and lecturer Thoko Ntshinga and KKNK Director Hugo Theart, will share a panel with drama teachers and young theatre makers, to unpack the place of performance of setworks for the classroom. Setwork performances have been a mainstay of both mainstream and independent theatre companies, but is there any proof that they make a difference to education? What is the value of seeing a setwork brought to life on the stage?

As part of the larger conversation on theatre and educational mediation, Alison Green will discuss the preliminary findings of the ASSITEJ SA artists-in-schools programme Kickstarter – a project which has been set up to compare the impact of an intensive curriculum-based creative arts programme in 20 schools with 20 control schools that do not have such a programme. The Kickstarter Creative Arts Education programme is being delivered across four different municipalities in Kwazulu Natal and the Free State. Other aspects of educational mediation such as how we prepare audiences for the work they are to watch and how we deepen the experience of theatre for young people will also be discussed.

The three panels focus on:

1. Theatre and the early years: What are the possibilities? How does theatre enhance early childhood development? What theatre works for the 0-4 year olds? How do we get to know and understand this audience?)
Panel: Magnet Theatre Early Years Company, Chiminae Ball – Project Coordinator, Nwabisa Plaatjies – Director of Aha! Emmanuel Ntsamba – Performer of Aha! and others.

2. Setworks and live performances: How does theatre facilitate learning in schools? What are the demands of directing and staging a piece for young audiences? How relevant are setworks to young audiences? What are the challenges of teaching setworks in the classroom environment?
Panel: Thoko Ntshinga of Artscape, Hugo Theart of KKNK, Sizwesandile Mnisi of Baikitsie Collective, Oarabile Ditsele of Baikitsie Collective, Margery Wallace Drama Educator at Edgemead High School, Peter Braaf Drama Educator at Cedar High School, Mdu Kweyama and others.

3. Theatre and educational mediation: What is meant by educational mediation in theatre? How does educational mediation facilitate learning? What are the most innovative approaches being used today? What are the challenges to education mediation?
Panel: Veronica Baxter of UCT, Alison Green of ASSITEJ SA Kickstarter, Carole Bloch of PRAESA’s Early Literacy, Jayne Batzofin of FTH:K, Darlington Sibanda educator, and others,

2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Youth uprising and is the one year away from the largest festival of theatre for young people ever to take place in Africa – the Cradle of Creativity (the 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festival).

Theatre4Youth, the ASSITEJ SA flagship programme ( has been running since 2012 and aims to provide schools, creches and kindergartens nationally with access to high quality theatre and theatre workshops. The project also supports and mentors artists to create and tour theatre and theatre workshops to these audiences.

We invite you to be part of a dynamic, ongoing conversation around the role that theatre plays in life-long education. Please join us for the ASSITEJ National Theatre4Youth Forum on Saturday the 11th of June 2016.

DATE: Saturday 11 June 2016
TIME: 08h30 for 09h00 – 18h00
VENUE: Artscape Opera Bar, DF Malan St, Foreshore, Cape Town
COST: R 40 ASSITEJ Members / R100 Non-Members (includes lunch and snacks)
RSVP: Go here (Google Form Link: to RSVP, or contact / for more information.

08h30 – 09h00 Registration
09h00 – 09h20 Welcome and Introductions
09h20 – 09h50 Theatre4Youth Overview – Meet the national team
09h50 – 10h05 Cradle of Creativity 2017
10h05 – 10h25 Performance (Early Years Work – Aha! by Magnet Theatre)
10h25 – 10h40 Tea break
10h40 – 11h50 Panel discussion 1: Early years theatre
Panel: Magnet Theatre Early Years Company, Chiminae Ball – Project Coordinator, Nwabisa Plaatjies – Director of Aha!, Emmanuel Ntsamba – Performer of Aha! and others.
11h50 – 12h10 Q&A
12h10 – 12h30 Performance (High School Setwork – Woza Albert by Baikitsie Collective)
12h30 – 13h15 Lunch
13h15 – 14h30 Panel discussion 2: Setworks and live performances
Panel: Thoko Ntshinga, Hugo Theart, Sizwesandile Mnisi, Oarabile Ditsele, Margery Wallace (Drama Educator at Edgemead High School), Peter Braaf (Drama Educator at Cedar High School), Mdu Kweyama and others.
14h30 –14h45 Q&A
14h45 – 15h00 Tea break
15h00 – 16h15 Panel discussion 3: Theatre and educational mediation
Panel: Veronica Baxter, Alison Green, Carole Bloch, Jayne Batzofin, Darlington Sibanda and others.
16h15 – 17h30 Small group discussions
17h30 – 18h00 Closing session – summation of recommendations from small groups

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