Kwelera drama festival to bolster young talent
An Eastern Cape community activist is on a mission to reintroduce theatre and performance in a rural village.
Esethu Sotheni, who was born and raised in Kwelera, is conducting rehearsals with pupils from two primary schools who will perform at the Kwelera Drama Festival on November 2.
About 20 pupils from Kings Mission Primary and 30 from Zozo Combined School will act, sing and dance at the festival.
Sotheni, with Sigqibo Dyani and Sinelizwi Xuza, has been working with them for weeks while staging smaller-scale performances at the schools as practice for the festival.
“This festival wants to reintroduce theatre into the Kwelera community.
“We have organised a drama gathering of this nature before, but it didn’t turn out the way it should have,” Sotheni said.
“There is a lot of talent in this community and we hope to give a spotlight to that talent.
“A lot of the children are not doing well at school, while others are facing challenges at home.
“We want to use drama as an outlet for them – they need to be able to express themselves freely.”
Many of the topics being tackled in the productions deal with social ills experienced by young people.
“Teenage pregnancy and substance abuse is something we still battle with in this country.
“The arts allow us to speak freely on those social ills while raising awareness,” Sotheni said.
“Rural children are not exposed to resources that will aid them for their future.”
Sotheni is the founder of the NGO, Shaping New Minds, is involved in literacy education and is an advocate for LGBTIQ rights.
He runs programmes about life skills, education and sexual orientation in schools; and conducts dialogues, workshops and campaigns to provide access to information.
“Initiatives like the Kwelera Drama Festival take a group of dedicated and enthusiastic people to organise,” he said.
“We’d appreciate assistance in transporting community members in Kwelera to come to Jongilanga Community Hall and be able to watch the productions.
“We have four productions to showcase, but no proper sound system.
“Working together we can all make difference,” he said.