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Finding Commonality through Formal Pitches

A stimulating exchange of projects, outcomes and needs

It seems more important than ever for all involved in the Community Performance field to come together and share their ideas and experiences. Therefore, I was really excited when Monday, 22nd May, 2017 saw formal pitches being delivered for future productions and performances by various different African Theatre Artists. Held at The Masque Theatre in Muizenberg (Cape Town, South Africa), the session was facilitated by multi-award winning puppeteer Janni Younge and served to open a dialogue around possibilities for future partnerships, support, investment and collaboration amongst African Practitioners of Theatre for Young Audiences.

The pitches covered projects texploring a wide variety themes such as sexuality, conflict & violence, parent-child relationships, animals, equality and even journeys into space.

I thought it was a brilliant way of bringing together people with similar interests and goals, and it allowed those participating to share knowledge, experiences, resources and let off steam about common limitations, challenges and fears being faced in the field.

As such, the presentations revealed a large amount of similarity between Practitioners across the continent, in terms of the successes, experiences and challenges faced in producing their work. The following list was compiled by some of the participants:

  • Limitations and Challenges
    • Funding
    • History and context of communities in which work happens
    • No formal training facilities
    • Marketing work to the best platforms
    • Poorly resourced festivals
    • Finding affordable workshop space to devise work
  • Positive Outcomes and Successes for the Young People
    • Development of self-esteem
    • Resilience
    • Social/community integration
    • Environmental awareness
    • Creating opportunities for Young People
    • Awakening of mind
    • Cultivating critical thinking
    • Having their voices heard

With all the Artists in attendance being motivated by the well-being of people and communities, they unanimously agreed that funding posed the biggest challenge. The most commonly mentioned positive outcomes were Young People’s increase in self-esteem and the cultivation of their critical thinking.

Overall, these Formal Pitches presented a diverse, exciting and beautiful range of ideas, aesthetics and practices. However, the opportunity this gave to Practitioners to share their experiences, and to establish commonality with one another, was arguably even more significant, motivating all of us in the room to overcome the challenges and continue to create meaningful work.