By Frederick Philander
A crucial five-day meeting on theatre for children and young people in the Southern African Region starts on Sunday in Johannesburg under the auspices of Assitej-International.
Representatives from 16 African Assitej-centres are expected to attend the meeting that will be held at a local hotel in Johannesburg.
Due to prior theatre commitments Namibia, a member of the international body, could not send a representative to the meeting.
“However, we will be fully informed of decisions taken during the meeting,
aimed at strengthening cooperation and networking among African centers and the rest of the world,” said Richard Swartz, the national coordinator of Assitej-Namibia.
The meeting will inter alia discuss the world conference of youth theatre that will take place in Adelaide, Australia in May 2008.
“Assitej-Namibia is presently involved in an AIDS education puppet theatre project, Save the Generation, which will commence in February next year. At present the play, The Trumpet Player, is being rehearsed in the capital. The work will be staged at Namibian secondary schools as a contribution towards educating the youth about the dangers of HIV/AIDS,” said Swartz, who is directing the play.
The Trumpet Player will be performed at 10 secondary schools in the capital before it will be taken to regional centers.
“We are confident that the play will make a big impact on theatre as well as on the attitude and behavior of the Namibian youth towards the AIDS pandemic. Assitej-Namibia also has plans to export the same play to neighbouring countries after a national tour to centres countrywide,” said Swartz.
As theatre facilitator, Swartz, will also resume his basic theatre training programme with youth in selected Namibian towns in February, as part of a national expansion initiative, which will be completed after three years in June 2008.