The Seventh annual Sex Actually festival produced by Drama for Life (DFL) is here, with the theme “Love, Intimacy and Human Connection”.
A plethora of theatre performances, workshops, sex talk series and community dialogues are taking place at the Wits Theatre. The festival started this week and runs till the end of the month.
It will offer a platform for audiences to critique social change interventions in sex-related issues such as HIV/AIDS, sexual violence and abuse.
In the opening address for the festival, DFL director Warren Nebe, said the festival was launched as an initiative to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa.
He said the aim of the festival is to explore human connections in all its shapes and forms. DFL wanted to create a festival thats transcends race, class, gender and sexualities.
Tarryn Lee, Sex Actually festival director, said this year the festival is a public intervention looking to use exciting mediums to talk about sex, relationships and HIV/AIDS since it is often viewed as a heavy subject. They use dialogue to break the silence around the stigmas attached to taboo issues.
“In South Africa specifically, sex is often a very heavy subject in our society … It’s not always a celebrated subject and is also filled with many myths and taboos,” she said.
Lee said the myths and taboos around sex need to be de-mystified and brought to light so that sex-related issues “are challenged in our community, our families and work space”.
South African National AIDS Council (SANCA) Deputy Chairperson, Mmapaseka Steve Letsike, appeared at the official opening of the Sex Actually festival. Her opening address started by praising women for their fight for human rights.
“By talking we facilitate dialogue and conversation about the certain taboos that encircle our society,” Letsike said.
Although she highlighted the triumphs of women who fought political struggles she said the current fight over HIV/AIDS is prevalent in young women aged 15-24. According to the Mail & Guardian, the rate of HIV amongst females is four times higher than that of males in the same age group.
“We have committed to really focus on young women,” said Letsike, adding that SANCA had also launched the Zazi campaign, which is about knowing yourself, embracing yourself and knowing your status, ” Letsike said.
Zazi is a Zulu word meaning “know yourself”. It reminds women to know their inner strength, value and what it means to be themselves so they can overcome adversity. The programme was launched at the University of Johannesburg on Soweto campus in partnership with the Department of Social Development.
In the meanwhile, Wits students at DFL take pride in this year’s festival performances because it raises awareness on issues which continually face youth. Damilola Apotieri, Masters student at DFL, thinks the festival is a good opportunity for students to lend themselves to different conversations around sex and relationships in hopes to generate more knowledge on these issues.
“Personally, I will recommend that all Wits students attend as there can never be any better platform to engage with such issues,” Apotieri said.