Not since the history-making student uprising of 16 June 1976 has the youth of South Africa commanded this much attention. With the lens of the world turned to the country, the #FeesMustFall Movement has gained so much traction that solidarity protests are being held across continents.
It’s only fitting then, that the theme for the inaugural Schools Drama Festival should be the 40th commemoration of the life-changing student protests that marked the psyche of our country forever.
The festival is the brainchild of award-winning thespian Meshack Mavuso and Aubrey Sekhabi under their Xquisite Production banner; in partnership with Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Buti Manamela and funded by the National Lottery.
The festival was launched Friday, 28 October at the Market Theatre in Joburg.
“We should not forget about the past, what happened on June 16, 1976 is part of our history. The schools drama competition is an educational exercise of our history” says, Deputy Minister in the presidency, Mr Buti Manamela.
Various schools from five Gauteng regions will perform an original work under the theme Celebrating Youth Resilience: 40 Years of June 16 and Youth Taking South Africa Forward, using primary and high school learners.
The schools will work with a facilitator to create authentic productions, while a regional coordinator will liaise with the Department of Education. Other stakeholders include the Department of Social Development, NYDA, community and/or art centres and education agencies.
“With education being a hot topic in our country right now, and youth rising up to defend a course, the time has never been better to interrogate what it means to be a young person in South Africa today,” says Mavuso.
“The premise of the festival is simple – schools are invited to put together a production that examines the seminal 1976 protest, its significance then and now and how it relates to the shift we are seeing in our education landscape right now. The idea is to urge the young to look to the past in order to reimagine their present and future.”
“The Schools Drama Festival is about giving the youth a voice and letting them shape their futures,” emphasises Mavuso.
At the end of the festival, an award ceremony was held were three schools were awarded with certificates for participating, while two schools secured a spot in the finale which will be held on the 26 November 2016.
The winning school will be awarded R5000 for best production, second runner up will walk away with R2500 and third place with R1500.