“Changing the world one child at a time” – transforming society through theatre for young audiences
This programme creates a national framework for connecting children and young people with the theatre best suited to them.
Through Theatre4Youth, we take children to the theatre and take theatre to children in creches, community halls, schools, theatres and other spaces, as well as virtually!
There are three Theatre4Youth full-time coordinators, each based in a different province: Western Cape, Gauteng and KZN. We also have part-time representatives in other provinces.
This dynamic team ensures that ASSITEJ SA knows what is happening in all parts of the country and that we are able to strategize to connect artists with audiences and vice versa.
To find out how YOU can become involved and to access the online catalogue of available performances nationwide
ASSITEJ runs Platforms at existing festivals to focus on theatre for young audiences and to provide support for members. The first such platform was at the National Arts Festival and has been running since 2012. We also have had platforms at PACE, Hilton Arts Festival, Redfest, and Muizenberg Festival, and are working on platforms at Vrystaat Kunste Fees, KKNK and other festivals.
We also run Showcases, which are generally one or two days in length. Examples are the Naledi Showcases (in association with the Naledi Awards), and the Wellington Showcases (at CPUT, for trainee teachers).
We initiate our own Festivals and have been running the Vrygrond Family Festival annually since 2012, in partnership with Theatre Arts Admin Collective and Vrygrond Young Minds.
We support our members to create and run their own community-based child or youth-centred Festivals: some of these are Bodibe Children’s Festival (North West Province), Durban Children’s Theatre Festival (KZN) and the Garden Route Children’s Theatre Festival (WC).
ASSITEJ SA joins the world in campaigning for children and young people to have access to the theatre in an annual campaign, which encourages all those with the power to do so, to take children to the theatre.
World Day for Theatre for Children and Young People is celebrated annually by ASSITEJ centres from across the globe on 20th March. To honour this day, the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (active in almost 90 countries) and its partners work together to unite theatres across the world in conveying one message: “Take a child to the theatre today”.
Each year, ASSITEJ SA ensures that thousands of children and young people have access to the theatre. This campaign is supported by HCI Foundation, which provides Golden Arrow buses to ensure that children have the transport to get to the theatre.
ASSITEJ SA supports children in the local community of Vrygrond to participate in After School drama activities across the year, contributing to their development and confidence building.
The VIPs have performed in a number of arenas, including the annual Vrygrond Family Festival at Capricorn Primary School. Memorably, they performed at the opening ceremony of the ASSITEJ 19th World Congress (Cradle of Creativity) and again for The Elders at the launch of their #WalkTogether Campaign in 2017.
The current VIP coaches are Pretty Sakeni (currently doing her Trinity Licentiate, supported by ASSITEJ SA) and Fundisani Roro.
From children, parents, and teachers!
“Thank you for a profound theatre experience that treated both me and my child like the thinking, feeling humans we are. Challenging us to grapple with important issues and delighting us all with exquisite visuals and nuanced and invested performances. This is the children’s theatre I’ve waited 12 years to take my daughter to see.” –Jaqueline Dommisse
Teva (teacher at Ocean View Secondary): The performance was very engaging and I was entertained as much by watching my students and seeing their responses to the action as I was by the excellent acting! The workshop really was a great experience as it helped to consolidate the messages and the themes of the show and I think it really made my students question and think about conflict and violence. It would be really valuable if these kinds of shows could be a regular part of our learners’ educational experience!
“The play really touched me. It reflects how young people’s lives are not as simple as many may think. Our lives are filled with complexities…the characters’ emotions were very much like our own…these are the things that kids go through…” – Donna, Crawford College, Pretoria
“I just want to thank you again for the absolute FANTASTIC day at the Out the Box Festival yesterday. My learners really had an experience of a lifetime – they were mesmerized, inspired and transformed by these puppets. You have really selected good quality shows for them: La Plaza, Sadako and Madame Touxflouwe. Please convey our sincere gratitude to the casts of all three shows, especially Touxflouwe who had to perform an extra show for the schools festival. Thanks for allowing my learners to see the three shows at a reduced price. You cannot imagine the impact of your generosity on my learners – they would never have been able to see it otherwise. I really appreciate all your effort, making us feel so at home and your kindness towards all the learners present yesterday. We really felt special. Be sure to put our school’s name on the list for next year’s festival. All my best wishes to you and the festival.” Jill Markram, Eersteriver High School
“A special THANK YOU to the awesome Ms Bo Petersen (director) and superb Mr Jonathan Nkala for the presentation of The Crossing at our school Norman Henshilwood High.Our grade 10’s and the Staff that were lucky enough to watch the performance felt that the show was an absolute educational experience.
The natural talent of Mr Nkala was inspiring through the various serious and comic scenes. The message of the harsh reality of xenophobia and its negative implications on the human spirit was descriptively addressed in the play and this gave way for learners to feel comfortable enough to talk openly about this issue in class. Mr Nkala,you are a catalyst for positive change on this topic, we thank you for using Drama to inspire and motivate our thinking. We are grateful to the entire team for your interventions on this topic and especially the Drama performance that added such light on the subject matter. We look forward to more performances and contact with you. All the best to you and the team.
Respectfully, Sarisha Komal, Norman Henshilwood High
“Lots of fun was had by all! The show was very energetic & captivating – so much so that at 1 point I thought some of us might be drawn onto the stage to participate in all of the action! The walk thro’ the gardens to the puppet exhibition hall was rather refreshing in the cool weather. Lots of puppets were exhibited ranging from classical puppets [from Mali & Indonesia] to contemporary 1’s from Zimbabwe. Others were from workshops held during the Out of the Box Festival period made by all age groups. Of particular mention by Laetiticia, our charming French guide, were incredibly beautiful & highly detailed little 1’s made by children from Vista Nova who face various challenges. There was a large variety on display – ranging from innocent little dolls to evil characters & fantastical flying creatures. Amazing what can be made with simple string, paper, fabric waste, clay & a bit of imagination! So many inspiring things to see – larger than life strolling puppets & a blade runner! An excellent trip – with so much on offer – ranging from workshops, puppet shows, mime, theatre & film – something to inspire the imaginative & creative in all of us.” Lynda Paxton, Natural Learning Academy
We saw how excited the children were when they saw the magic of theatre and shadow puppetry made real for them, and it is this magic that we believe ALL children should experience. We want to give back to these communities so that after all the years of not seeing and having all these privileges, they will know that anything is possible if you just believe in the power and spirit of Ubuntu: “I am because we are!” – Ntomboxolo Makhutshi
“Most enjoyed it. There were a few who were very touched. One girl sobbed uncontrollably for about 20 minutes, but after that they were ok. The performance was heart-warming, but also real and I appreciated that. It was very relevant: the choices that we make and the way those choices determine a path… In the taxi afterwards, the girls spoke about decisions. They had questions around why there was no happy ending. This seemed to worry them…I was never anyone for theatre. I always thought theatre was boring. It really inspired me. I really felt it. I want to be much more proactive!”
“It was school based aligned. They had to be creative and imaginative to comprehend.” – Kulsum Mitchell, educator (Blomvlei Primary School)
“The learners and teachers thoroughly enjoyed the shows and the experience of being in an auditorium watching a live interactive show. The acrobatics and the talent that was displayed was inspiring for many of our learners. We were singing Mafikizolo all the way back to Capricorn Primary.” – Shereen Corker, educator (Capricorn Primary School)
“Tears By The River, Yao Yao, Maloza, appealed to their senses and imagination (loved singing & dancing).” – Eloise Katts, educator (Auburn House)
“The first play (Pockets of Knowledge) had a very important message and was conveyed in a clever and witty way, incorporating elements of drama and comedy, but was more suited to an older audience.
The second play (Making Mandela) was very cleverly presented and the set design was minimalist but very appealing. The use of masks to portray the characters was very entertaining and creative
The spoon doll making workshop was very touching and meaningful, giving insight into a different culture and its beliefs.” – Jacquelyn Price, Principal (Blue Moon Montessori)
“They loved every minute of the festival. They felt like it was for them. They were able to understand and appreciate all of the shows. They had a hard time selecting favourite moments!” – Robin Willis, educator (American International School of Johannesburg)
“I think the learners found the context very appealing. It was accessible, but still challenging. We felt quite fortunate that the two groups came on the days they did; had the two groups switched over the younger group would have struggled with the productions on the other day, while the older group would not have found the productions challenging enough.” – David Fick, educator (Springfield Convent)
“Learners loved and really gained from all of the wonderfully diverse productions and workshops. A really rich and rewarding experience for them (and for me!) I have already included a question on the absolutely extraordinary production of Animal Farm (what a brilliant production!) in my matric exam paper.” – Emma van der Vliet (St George’s Grammar School)
“The content was relevant, challenging and thought provoking. Stimulated thought and discussion – not subject matter easily or generally discussed.” – Karen Nelsen (St Cyprian’s School)
“Whiteout (dance) was extraordinary and at first the learners struggled to follow, as they are used to more literal performances. But as the storyline unfolded they became more interested and fascinated… I did not see Pim and Theo, but the feedback was that it was hard to watch, very good, graphic and boring. All in all I think that merely being in a theatre and watching a performance is already a very valuable experience. We can’t enjoy or understand every performance we see, but we can appreciate the overall experience.” – Linda Malone (Best College)
“It was so enjoyable! I loved watching the productions where I got to see two completely different performances, with messages that were relevant and relatable as a South African and a young girl in society today. The workshop was a really nice bonding experience with girls from my school and having it all done at the Artscape was great as it allowed us to explore the different performance spaces and to ultimately get creative and experience creativity in a place where stories come to life.” – Bianca Lakey, Dramatic Arts learner at Springfield Convent Secondary School
“Many really loved Animal Farm (superb performances and really brilliant production design, also they are learning about poor theatre and physical and were blown away by the actors. They are also quite politicised students and found the message powerful and powerfully conveyed. Karoo Moose was also a favourite. They were moved by it and struck by how cleverly they’d set up the “rape” scene with the soccer ball. They were also really challenged by Pim and Theo and enjoyed it – had a lot to say about it, particularly the interesting staging approach. They loved the dance in Whiteout.” – Emma van der Vliet, educator (St George’s Grammar School)
“The reactions of the youth whilst they were watching the show (Phefumla) were very surprising to me. Some youth were literally closing their ears and trying to hide their faces, others were sitting on the edge of their seats. After discussing their reactions with them the one youth explained that the show was so real and true for him that he felt very embarrassed by people in his culture and how they sometimes think. I was then able to explore his opinion of his culture with him as well as the reality of how some people try to survive and then make wrong choices. Another youth said he was ‘crying in his heart’ whilst watching the show.” – Liezl Conradie, social worker (The Homestead Child and Youth Care Centre)
“The students had a variety of favourite shows. Many loved Tiger Bay (they love musicals and large scale productions), but many others cited Mazola – the Man Cub as their favourite (the storytelling, the physicality!). One student said that they could watch Us/Them ten times!” – Robin Willis, educator (American International School of Johannesburg)
“This was evenly divided between both – some found Karoo Moose too harrowing to ‘enjoy,’ but they were positively impacted by it.” – Antoinette Dowds, educator (Reddam House Atlantic Seaboard)
“The group on the first day preferred slightly Animal Farm over Rite of Spring. I think this largely had to do with the political relevance and resonance the production held for them. They also adored Rite of Spring though. The group on the second day overwhelmingly preferred Us/Them. I think this had to do with the physicality of the production and the subject matter.” – David Fick, educator (Springfield Convent)
“It was really a wonderful and educational theatre piece. After the show at the Dompas Museum, the cast and stage manager gave us time for talk back about what do we understand about the play, do we think where does it takes place, and why does it takes place there, and all my learners were participating on that session, and some of them were even crying, as they grew up in Langa township, but they never knew about how reach their history is.” –
Miss Holly Ndlovu, teacher, Langa High School (learners aged 14 to 16 – isiXhosa home language)
“Thank you so much to ASSITEJ South Africa for making it possible for every child at iThemba Primary school to attend a theatre show today. It was incredible. For most of our children, it was their first time in a theatre and they were mesmerized. My class couldn’t stop talking about the lights that change colour, the giant elephant and the floating egg. If you can support, please do. All children should be able to experience this magic.” –
Nadia Woodward, Educator, iThemba Primary School. (Learners aged 7 to 9 – isiXhosa, Afrikaans, Other home languages)
“The kids absolute loved the outing and the experience. For all of them, the first time in a real theatre. They couldn’t stop talking about it. The live interaction and fact that one of our kids could also participate was an extra highlight. They were excited about the use of instruments and sounds used in the plays. Some were scared of the dark and struggled to understand the language in the beginning. After the experience many of them shared that they would like to become actors.” –
Marietjie Steyn, teacher, Aitsa Aftercare Centre (children aged 7 to 10 Afrikaans & English)