UK performances for youth empowerment play from South Africa

By staff writers
April 17, 2009

Youngsters from South Africa and from and the ASHA Centre (the word means 'hope' in several languages)in Britain will bring a theatre production about the struggle against apartheid and its aftermath to the UK after local performances.

They have developed a dramatic presentation, entitled 'Tomorrow's Yesterday', relating the stories told by elders and past residents of Sophiatown about well-known activists like the late Bishop Trevor Huddleston and musician Hugh Masekela, who fought against racism from exile.

Under an exchange programme, the young 'cultural ambassadors' will set off for the UK for two weeks at the end of April 2009. They will perform the play in London, at the world famous St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican church and in Gloucester Theatre, West Midlands.

The young people have been selected from a group of 30 youths who auditioned for the Sophiatown youth development programme in South Africa last year. The event was facilitated by the Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre.

Huddleston was a missionary priest in South Africa and was expelled in the 1960s for speaking out against apartheid. He then helped to galvanise the international anti-apartheid movement. He was one-time Anglican bishop in Stepney as well as becoming Archbishop of the Indian Ocean.

A life-long rebel, Huddlestone's last published work was a short essay against the Establishment of the Church of England.

A spokesperson for the performers said: "They have gone from absolute beginners in the arts to devising dialogue, dance, drumming and song about life in ‘old’ Sophiatown and the current Jozi scene."

The programme has involved personal development using the arts as a medium of empowerment, alongside community work and exchanges with people in Britain and elsewhere "to grow a team of potential leaders who will build bridges between previously divided communities and promote the message of ... past as it relates to their hopes for the future."

It is anticipated that the youth initiative will inspire similar ones in Britain, too.

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