Zithande was a project that aimed to tackle the issue of education and unemployment, by raising the value of self-expression and esteem, through a collaborative process between youth and a team of experienced, social-development orientated storyteller-performer- facilitators. Towards developing and presenting an interactive play in the form of a gameshow with 2 contestants and 2 further characters within the ‘trailers’ and ‘adverts’.
The project allowed for writing, the voice and spoken word, movement and the body, identity and role-play to be applied in a 4-month collaborative and experimental narrative-building process, culminating in a multi-disciplinary and multi-platform showcase within cultural, educational and carefully selected site-specific locations in Soweto, Johannesburg (where the majority of the team were long-time, invested community members of).
The intervention methodology was in stages that started with ‘Script Development’ involving the core 7-person artist+facilitation team to devise an initial narrative, ‘Youth Writing Intervention’ involving up to 200 local youth to add to the script, ‘Script Expansion’ where the 7-core team developed the modified script, ‘Performance’ in 5 shows and finally ‘Intervention Expansion’ where the structure, feedback, data and learnings will be compiled into a case study so the methodology can be evolved by ourselves and others, to make this work and our experiences as constructive as possible.
INITIAL OPEN, EXPRESSIVE SESSIONS WITH YOUTH: In ‘Youth Writing Intervention’ their creativity and input of personal memories, stories, dreams and questions, were used to construct the message in the devised performance. During these workshops the youth will also be challenged in different ways to explore the issues and themes.
DEVELOPING INTERACTIVE PERFORMANCE TECHNIQUES: Creating awareness within our community through interactive theatre that carries a collective, positive, constructive message (of alternative narratives) that faces up to and finds solutions that tackle the prevalent social ills. Our aim was to elevate the youth and artists’ creativity and humanity within the play, for this to be the linking thread in telling the story.
ADDRESSING REAL LIFE CHALLENGES DIRECTLY: How the consequences of unemployment as having clear links to the lack of self-esteem. ‘Play’ and audience participation were key mechanisms in how these proposed performances should be received by the audiences in the spaces mentioned above. The experiences of our 4 characters, sparked realisations or contributions (by the youth / public audience) to the decisions they themselves also often personally find themselves in, bringing on stage these real life points where they feel there is no return. And therefore creating safe spaces to explore alternative narratives and options.