DFL themed freedom (including freedom from toxic masculinity) through workshop and performance in Emakhazeni.

Wits Drama for Life (DFL) students engaged with local communities through the My Body My Space (MBMS) festival during the last week in April.

The festival, which took place on the streets of Mpumalanga, was staged to better understand audiences outside the city of Johannesburg and outside the theatre.

Warren Nebe, head of DFL and a director said, “the festival aimed to challenge how spaces have been used to break fear and stereotypes. It has also aimed to bring new energies to those spaces.”

Nebe added that the festival was held to challenge DFL’s perception of how the arts could be used. The DFL students staged solo performances at various schools and rehabilitation centres in the Emakhazeni region.

“It was interesting to see children, parents and elders engaging in the work. They stayed with the performers and moved all around,” Nebe said.

Tshepang Moticoe, 24, MA in applied drama, theatre in education, communication and social context, said this was her “first time performing outside the traditional theatre.”

She told Wits Vuvuzela that an audience member told her, “you played out my childhood,” which was a good indication of how the performance was “educational and fruitful to the community.”

Applied drama and theatre masters student, Paul Noko Maja said the festival helped him to develop tolerance and perseverance through ‘exhausting theatre’ where the performance is repetitive to allow audiences to grasp the message of the performance.

Maja’s ethnographic performance was based on his own life experience of being the remaining survivor among three friends who grew up in Diepkloof, a community ravaged by, “crimes, poverty and no proper education”.

DFL project manager, Sthe Khali explained that the festival aimed to be inclusive and said that the performances were aimed at children from the age of four to adults.

The DFL company performed “The Rainbow Flower’ for children aged four to eight with a message around pollution,” Khali said.

Khali encouraged other artists to move beyond theatre spaces. “We cannot just be entertaining people. We have to connect to where theatre is actually needed,” he said.

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FEATURED IMAGE: Drama for Life masters student Tshepang Maticoe performing during the My Body My Soul Festival in Mpumalanga. Photo: Provided.