arepp:Theatre for Life, South Africa

arepp:Theatre for Life received a STARS Foundation Impact Award for its innovative use of theatre in helping children and young people in some of South Africa’s poorest communities to make more informed choices about their lives.

Film by Tim Tyson Short and Caroline Noble for the STARS Foundation.

arepp:Theatre for Life received a STARS Foundation Impact Award for its innovative use of theatre in helping children and young people in some of South Africa’s poorest communities to make more informed choices about their lives.

The challenge

A complex and multi-dimensional web of factors – including HIV/AIDS, poverty, neglect, sexual abuse, community and domestic violence, gender inequality, poor education, and substance abuse – is present in many South African communities. This has resulted in many children and young people  having only a limited or incorrect knowledge of their rights, reducing their ability to make informed choices about their lives.

The response

arepp:Theatre for Life is an applied theatre organisation which has been operating nationally in South Africa since 1987. Arepp:Theatre for Life creates high quality applied theatre productions and travel to schools nationwide. Performed in the real-life context and in the local language of the audience, the productions have two aspects: the performance of a 30 minute play, followed by a 30 minute problem-solving discussion with the audience. Using a rights-based approach each show is age-appropriately crafted to highlight and foster thought and debate around the issues of identity, rights, relationships, discrimination, gender equality, homosexuality, pregnancy, peer pressure, sex, substance use, HIV/AIDS and STIs, violence, and physical and emotional abuse.

The result

arepp:Theatre for Life directly engages approximately 100,000 5 to 18 year-olds in 300 schools annually.

In 2011, arepp worked with 393 partner schools. The teachers indicated an increase of 81 per cent in the audience’s knowledge, skills, ability and confidence to engage, deal with and problem-solve the concerns that were relevant to them. The reported percentage of physical and sexual abuse cases in the schools halved from the previous year, to just under 4 per cent, reported pregnancies dropped from 9 per cent to less than 1 per cent and reported suicides decreased from 1 per cent to 0.1 per cent. Overall 80 per cent of audiences indicated changes in their feelings of worth, competency, agency and control with regard to the issues presented.

 

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