Ups and Downs of Youth Theatre

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By Richard Swartz

WALVIS BAY

Working in the theatre field with inexperienced youth can have its up and downs, but never a dull creative moment.

This is what I again experienced here at the coast in Walvis Bay with the establishment of the 12th town-based community Assitej-Namibia centre.

Yes, this national educational theatre expansion programme I have been working on as facilitator for the past three years, is now really paying off.

I have been working here at the Walvis Bay Secondary School with some of the most enthusiastic learners, keen to be creative, act, write and learn the ropes of stage directing, the main pillars of what my Assitej-Namibia mission and mandate are.

It was no mean and easy task starting the programme as part of Phase Three of Assitej-Namibia at this specific selected school. Luckily, I had some good cooperation from the senior school staff. Because of this the learners showed a lot of interest and solid commitment for the programme.

Given a fair chance to prove their natural creative and intellectual skills in acting and writing, the learners immediately showed great flair and interest as if they had been waiting for an opportunity of this nature to come along.
I have observed that they would love to do theatre more intensively as part of their day-to-day school work.

The collective writing part of creating a stage play, I have learned over the past three weeks, is normally the most difficult. But once these young artists got into the process, a whole new creative world beyond their wildest dreams opened up for them, despite the difficulty of finding a suitable theme to work on.

In a very short time the twelve actively involved learners came up with a play, Buying Time, which will be staged to the school and the coastal community next Friday at 14h00.

I gathered that a lot of enthusiasm exists among parents and learners for the production to be staged. This play will form part of an anthology of the works learners have so far produced at all other established Assite-Namibia youth theatre centres.

The participants have already elected a management to run their Assitej-Namibia Walvis Bay centre under the auspices of the school, thanks to the staff who welcomed our initiative with open arms like all the other ones I have been working with over the past three years.

The participants will next week receive certificates for their hard work as well as theatre books to assist them in theatre research for their own future programmes at their centre.

* The writer is an accomplished playwright, actor and theatre facilitator for Assitej-Namibia and Committed Artists of Namibia (CAN).

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