Drama for Life dedicates 11th conference and festival to creating a child-centred society.

Wits Drama for Life is hosting their 11th conference and festival, Transforming Arts/Transforming towards creating a child-centred society. The festival runs at the Wits University theatre in Braamfontein from running from August 8 till August 17.

“This year the conference and festival is all about creating work, theatre and dialogue around early childhood development, around what it means for children to be not a piece of society but a part of a society,” said Zanele Bhengu, conference and festival coordinator and projects officer for DFL.

“Around what it means to speak to children and not at children, but also giving children a voice,” Bhengu said.

The event involves approximately 1100 pupils from more than five Johannesburg schools who will watch the plays performed during the festival.

Ten original plays form part of the programme, with four of these done by Unga Klara, a Swedish national children’s theatre.

The plays tackle multiple subjects including issues of identity, environmental issues, consent of children, coming of age for both girls and boys, racism and colonialism in Sweden, friendship and community, social media as well as sexual reproductive health.

Alongside their child-centred focus, Bhengu told Wits Vuvuzela that the festival is about “creating a space for adults where they get chances and opportunities to speak about what they witnessed from the children.”

“We preach that the children are our future but we don’t even engage with them to see what future they imagine,” added Zintle Radebe, DFL Theatre company administrator, with regard to how these shows work for the transformation of relationships with children.

“It will also bring a nostalgia within in us [adults]. It’s a great learning opportunity and its fun,” said Radebe.

The festival which is being runs in partnership with the National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence in Human Development, Wits School of Public Health and the Embassy of Sweden, runs until August 17.

FEATURED IMAGE: Dr Gcina Mhlophe giving the Distinguished Scholar Lecture at the Wits Theatre on Monday, August 12, during the Drama for Life festival. Photo: Tsholanang Rapoo.