Market Theatre giving a voice to the youth this month in commemoration of Youth Month

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

June is Youth Month in South Africa, and often events relating to the youth take place this month in the country. The month commemorates the role the youth played in the liberation of this country in 1976, when they used the excuse by apartheid authorities to introduce instructions in Afrikaans at schools to go to the streets to agitate for political change in the country. This was during apartheid when the black folk of this country were discriminated against, and opportunities extended to their white counterparts were not extended to them too as citizens enjoying equal rights.

The youth then used the issue of the enforcement of Afriikaans at school to fight the apartheid system, and the now called Youth Uprisings contributed immensely to the fight for freedom. In fact the youth by that very brave act, in which some of them paid the ultimate price, added immense to the momentum for the fight for freedom by freedom fighters belonging to different political formations within the country and outside the country in exile.

KAK tribute to Maishe Maponya – photographer Hoek Swaratlhe.

The struggle was however fought by many people, both black and white, including civil society at large.

It was however also the same year when one of the most iconic cultural  institutions today, the Market Theatre was founded by visionaries Mannie Manim and Barney Simon. It therefore goes without saying that the role the Market Theatre played in the struggle  for freedom through staging what became known as protest theatre, is well recorded in history.

It is therefore significant, and in many ways, is not an accident that the theatre this June is giving prominence to the young people in its programming within its spaces.

“The Market Theatre Foundation keeps it young and fresh this youth month! The next generation of young movers and shakers in the arts will take over this year’s Youth Month Celebration at the Market Theatre Foundation.

The Foundation encourages young people to cherish intuition, uncertainity and creativity to constantly search for new ideas that aim to break the rules and find unorthodox ways of approaching contemporary art.

For this year’s youth month commemoration and celebration of the Theatre’s 46th Birthday we have created a potpourri of diverse offering in presenting two theatre productions, a schools outreach programme, monologues and participation in an Internation Youth Congress. Art is a strong way for young people to engage with the world and bring about change.

2nd Year Drama Students perform in KAK.

The Market Theatre Laboratory is excited to announce its participation in an International Youth Congress that brings together over 70 young people from Germany, Brazil and South Africa to discuss and explore urgent matters of globalisation. After an online exchange that began in February this year, several Lab students are traveling to Germany and Brazil, and we have the pleasure of welcoming 14 young people from those countries to Johannesburg. They will be working with Lab students under the guidance of expert facilitator and dramaturg, Billy Langa, to make a new work which they will present at the Ramolao Makhene Theatre on 7 June at 8pm. The works created in Dusseldorf and Sãu Paulo will be live streamed as a part of this unique presentation. Tickets are free and available on webtickets.

The Ditshomo Schools Outreach Programme will involve the Market Theatre interacting with Grade 11 & 12 learners from selected schools in greater Johannesburg area to educate them about the social relevance of the performing arts as they contribute to social cohesion and at the same time introduce them to the different career opportunities that the performing arts can offer. The students are guided gently into the limitless opportunities in the Entertainment Industry. They will have one on one opportunities to work with industry experts in directing, scriptwriting and design this will help them learn, develop and grow.

Celebrating this years big 46th Market Theatre birthdays James Ngcobo and Luthando Mngomezulu will be presenting Litambwa – stories of our times Vignettes of story told through the lens of our young on Sunday 19 June 2022. Litambwa , a celebration of stories from our streets, stories that unpack the diverse characters that walk the length and breadth of this country. Stories penned by the next generation of wordsmiths. Celebrating Youth Month and the  Market Theatre birthday with a collage of stories told by playwrights who are writing their first work for the Market Theatre spaces.

The Drowning Eye performed by KWASHA.

The Market Theatre Laboratory and KwaSha Theatre Company are both presenting work at the live National Arts Festival this year between 23 June and 3 July. KwaSha, a collaborative project of the Market Theatre Laboratory and Windybrow Arts Centre, perform in Fanon’s The Drowning Eye directed by Tamara Guhrs. With dramaturgy by Stacy Hardy, and in academic collaboration with the University of Chicago,this work is presented at a time when Fanon’s writing has a new relevance for a generation of young South Africans questioning the limits and possibilities of revolution today. This production is supported by the French Institute of South Africa and Mazars.

Also at the National Arts Festival, the Lab second year students present KAK!, a contemporary interpretation and celebration of the work of iconic playwright, poet and human rights activist, Maishe Maponya, who passed away in September 2021. KAK!is a hard-hitting satirical play, drawing from Maishe Maponya’s last work which is an anthology of poems – Truth be told: Da’sKak in die Land . The play is devised by award-winning writer and director Josias Dos Moleele in collaboration with the cast and award-winning choreographer Mdu Nhlapo. This daring piece  addresses uncomfortable topics such as corruption, poor service delivery, gender inequality, racism and more.

The display of young people at the Foundation demonstrates the intention of foundation giving young people a platform to expression and shaping a narrative that will make a difference in the future.,” the theatre says in a statement.

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