Perhaps it is that time of the year. Perhaps it was a meme about a parent who “just got home from work, I found my kids wearing their Christmas clothes”. Perhaps it was the words of Mason Cooley that “clothes make a statement, costumes tell a story”.
Aspects that fascinate me about this period include excessive ‘Decembering’ and bracing for ‘Januworry’, as well as the consumption of the arts and our relationship to it. Who can afford to access the arts at this time? And are the arts providing more than just an opportunity to consume a production? Do they go beyond the spectacle? It is great to see so many of our stages hosting lavish productions with eye-watering sets and costumes once more after the long lean months of COVID, but is this abundance really available to those who need it most?
At the core of artistic offerings is an opportunity for audiences to interact with important ideas and perspectives, to test and build communities, as well as friendships. Audiences may make life-changing decisions inspired by a theatre performance, song, dance, clothing item, image and more. The arts are a constant reminder of the diversity of our experiences and how our essential differences may make the world a better place. I am aware of how people take time to prepare for occasions and the investment it takes to prepare for them. I am also aware of how much designers and costume makers collaborate in theatre-making to tell stories that appeal to all our senses.
Apart from this year marking 15 years of our existence, 2022 is also the year in which the remaining COVID-19 restrictions were repealed on June 22, making it possible for artistic gatherings to take place once more. The National Arts Festival was one such significant artistic gathering, and we have since seen many more artistic gatherings since then. For ASSITEJ SA, the numbers of children and young people that we have been able to reach through the Social Employment Fund (SEF) have been phenomenal and indeed, historic.
It has been fantastic to have theatre companies like Abrahamse and Meyer offer free tickets for young people to productions like Star+Crossed as part of their spirit of giving, but we need more of these acts of generosity. Could you consider making sure that the children in your life get to experience stories this festive season?
This time of year brings a range of memories. Perhaps I should not tie them to memes or quotes or anything, but rather take a moment to thank you dear members for the inspiring stories you continue to tell about and for children. Do you mind sharing what this time of the year brings to you?
– Lalu Mokuku is the chairperson of ASSITEJ SA and EC Member of ASSITEJ International