Monday, 30 November 2015

4 National Arts Council funding for airflights

The National Arts Council funding of air tickets for the ARROWSA Indaba Congress Plymouth 2015 facilitated the training and sharing of knowledge and skills specifically regarding Applied/Community Theatre for ARROWSA facilitators, co-ordinators, facilitators and participants as well as UKZN drama staff and students who physically went to the United Kingdom and those who remained in Durban.


Part IV

2.3. October 2015

As one of the ARROWSA youth to originally have gone with to Plymouth was unable to go to the UK due firstly to the delay in visas and secondly because the September trip clashed with her trial exams the Indra Plymouth facilitator Alix Harris was brought to work with the ARROWSA Bechet youth and University of KwaZulu-Natal Drama and Performance students (See Appendix 4). In this way the funding would also ensure that the pay-it–forward aspect of the project extended to a greater number of learners and students and facilitators within South Africa.
Alix Harris is not only an experienced facilitator and practitioner with Indra but also has her own organisation (see  As previously mentioned she had played a central role in the July and September logistical co-ordination and performance workshop facilitation of the ARROWSA Indaba Congress.  She stayed with Mary Lange and Miranda Young-Jahangeer in Durban and Alix’s accommodation, food and transport was in this way covered. 

ARROWSA Indaba Plymouth to Durban (written by Alix Harris)

2.3.1 ARROWSA Bechet project 5th to 7th October 2015 

I visited the Bechet High School on four of the days that I was staying in Durban. I delivered a workshop on physical theatre introducing the group to some of the games that we play in England and some exercises to generate some physical material. The theme that we are looking at in England is around the idea of environment. 

Alix Harris, Plymouth, works with 
ARROWSA Bechet group on chorus work, Oct 2015

The ARROWSA Bechet group identified two different aspects of environment;
Natural: One group explored the notion of planting of seeds and growth, and how we have no control over nature, but highlighting just how important nature is to us as human beings. They talked about global warming and the impact of destroying the natural things around us.
Social: Two groups played around with ideas around social environment. One group looked at the effects of drugs and alcohol, highlighting that it is has a detrimental impact on people’s lives. Lastly the other group looked at the idea of being imprisoned and sentencing, people doing extreme crimes and being sentenced for a short amount of time, they juxtaposed this with the sense of being trapped and imprisoned for unfair reasons, which led to the freedom of Nelson Mandela and positive protest.
The group responded positively to the exploration around this subject matter and also to using physical theatre. On one of the days I spent a couple of hours playing games with the young people, it was incredibly refreshing for me and reminded me just how important the idea of playing games is. The young people expressed so much joy and willingness to learn new games. They were so grateful for the new skills that I was sharing with them and it was an absolute pleasure to be able to work with them. They biggest thing I have taken back with me from working with the group is their energy when they perform and how significant dance and singing is to them and how at ease they feel with dancing and singing.

Alix Harris, Plymouth Indra, (centre) works with ARROWSA Bechet on theatre games October 2015.

2.3.2 University of Kwazulu-Natal Drama and Performance Department

I visited a performance exhibition of a project by the Applied Theatre and Architectural students, UKZN. I found the whole concept of the project really interesting from working across disciplines to help inform one another’s practice to the actual concept of the 5-7,000 people that walk the same route every day from Cato-Manor to the city centre in Durban. It was great to see some of the work that the theatre students do and the quality of their performances. 

I was able to work with some of the postgraduate students and explore again the use of games when working with communities. It was useful to see the traditional games that are played. I do wish that I could have had more time so that I was able to have a greater understanding of the games so that I could bring them back to the UK. One of the challenging things I found about the education system was the fact that the arts are a subject are not available at all schools and therefor you have to wait to study them at university or that you must do them as an extra-curricular activity. It emphasised to me just how important an organisation such as ARROWSA is to the young people in the Durban as it provides them with that space to be creative and explore through the arts.

Alix Harris, Indra Plymouth (second from right) attended the Masihambisane: Drawing Parallels -

"Shifting perceptions of spatial practice through alternative methodologies" with the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Architecture in conjunction with the School of Arts, Drama and Performance Studies on the 6th October 2015. She was accompanied by ARROWSA management & UKZN staff and students Luthando Ngema, Miranda Young-Jahangeer, Mary Lange, and Sana Ebrahim.

2.3.3 The Palmiet Nature Reserve.
I had the privilege of being able to look at the museum and to be taken into the Palmiet Nature Reserve by Mary as ARROWSA has cultural and natural heritage programmes linked to this site. This was very useful in terms of our theme of environment back here in the United Kingdom. It reminded me being in the nature reserve as well as seeing the “Masihambisane” performance exhibition at the University how important it is to go out into the environments that people inhabit.

2.3.4 Other observations and pay-it-forward
For me as a mixed race person my visit to South Africa had a greater impact on me personally than I had anticipated. The sense of separated communities was really apparent and being placed into the ‘Coloured’ community was a new experience for me. I am really intrigued as to how my show “Mixed up Me” would be received in South Africa, as a lot of the issues and history is similar but also very different at the same time.
In regards to the ARROWSA Bechet group, I think that it would be beneficial for them to be connected with a theatre so that there can be more skill exchanges, Mary and I have discussed this as being a possibility as a link up with us in Plymouth.
From the photographs I took in Durban are now feeding into the Plymouth Indra groups creative process, and they will be creating a section in their performance based around the environment in South Africa that I experienced and the information they are getting from communicating over Facebook with the ARROWSA groups.
It has been an unforgettable experience and I cannot wait to return for longer.   
1.     Conclusion and Finances (written by Mary Lange)

The National Arts Council funding of air tickets for the ARROWSA Indaba Congress Plymouth 2015 facilitated the training and sharing of knowledge and skills specifically regarding Applied/Community Theatre for ARROWSA facilitators, co-ordinators, facilitators and participants as well as UKZN drama staff and students who physically went to the United Kingdom and those who remained in Durban.

The greatly increased rand pound exchange rate threatened to impact the project negatively but through community fund raising, Indra Plymouth provision of accommodation and food and support from ARROWSA participants’ personal funding the objectives of the project were met and the desired outcomes achieved. This project’s indaba focus will further serve as an excellent steppingstone for increased effective international partnerships based on a common focus on the promotion of peace and conflict solutions through the use of Applied/Community Theatre.  This will be pursued in preparations for a global Indra Congress hosted by ARROWSA and UKZ Drama and Performance Department in July 2018

3a National Arts Council funding for airflights

The National Arts Council funding of air tickets for the ARROWSA Indaba Congress Plymouth 2015 facilitated the training and sharing of knowledge and skills specifically regarding Applied/Community Theatre for ARROWSA facilitators, co-ordinators, facilitators and participants as well as UKZN drama staff and students who physically went to the United Kingdom and those who remained in Durban.


Part 111a

2.2 September 2015 (written by Luthando Ngema as a diary report with extracts from Bhekithemba Dlamini, Darnelle Fortune and Tshimanga Tshiteya)

2.2.1 Intercultural Exchange Durban to Plymouth

The ARROWSA members who were due to attend the congress but could not attend in July went to visit Plymouth in September 2015 on an Inter-cultural exchange programme, coordinated by Alix Harris, who is an independent art and theatre consultant, who also works for the Indra congress based in Plymouth.

The intercultural experience was packed with activities that exposed us to how theatre culture can work for community based projects that aim to teach and education on social ills (various) while maintaining the artistic and professional work of theatre. 

21/09/2015- 23/09/2015

The first three days in Plymouth were spent at the Stoke Damerel Community College, a school that caters for primary and high school levels. The Drama department welcomed us. On the first day, we performed a short play, written by all the group members (Luthando Ngema; Bhekithemba Dlamini; Darnelle Fortune and Tshimanga Tshiteya). We performed for a group of humanities pupils aged between 11 and 12 years. The play was a merge of poetry; silent theatre; dance and musical expression (songs sung by all and violin played by Tshiteya). The audience was exposed to typical South African styled performance which had highlights of seriousness (dealt/ discussed issues of race which are pertinent in South African society) and fun (through the musical pieces with songs about joy of what we hold cultural importance- our mothers; our clan names).

The highlight of the following day was a workshop hosted by the senior drama pupils at the school. The workshop was divided into three sessions. The first session was ARROWSA presenting a PowerPoint presentation about the different functions of ARROWSA. The group again performed some parts of the main play, just a small piece which highlights some of the work we do at ARROWSA. The general report back on our session was that, people learned that South Africa was a country that still has challenges especially with the issues of race and cultural difference. The music and dance we performed was also something that the Indra group found highly entertaining. They felt it was something new and something they would like to incorporate in their own work.  The second session was the Indra group performing their silent theatre piece that they had performed at the Indra congress. For me this was a very interesting piece, as it emphasised that you do not need words to express a message. The use of body; space and facial expression was evident. The choreography of their piece also showed the commitment; dedication and discipline. The performance is performed by just a little over 20 pupils; however the coordination was crisp and well performed. Their silence piece was dealing with the “who am I” theme; so the performance was based on their personal experiences and youth issues ranging from stress; depression; education pressure; identity; weight loss; beauty.

 I saw a lot of difference to what we as South Africans perceive as youth related challenges to theirs. For instance South Africa has the HIVAIDS pandemic; our youth issues are usually related to HIVAIDS issues. For example- child headed homes (from parents dying for the disease); financial constraints as most youth in South Africa are forever embedded on issues of money especially to fund their education. We also have teenage pregnancy at alarming rates. Young South African girls are still exposed so many sexual injustices, constantly fearing sexual attacks. That being said: So many similarities were shared. Depression from societal pressure is a phenomenon that all youth go through. I also took the importance of listening to others problems without judging the problem as less important just because they experience problems from different world views from mine. From the two sessions, I took the clichéd expressed “as much as we are different, we actually have more similarities than difference”.

The last, third session was a workshop by Alix Harris based on the environment theme. The ARROWSA group along with the Indra Congress UK group, exchanged ideas on what the concept of the environment actually means.

The evenings in Plymouth were spent visiting various organisations that linked to the Indra congress. We had the opportunity to visit the Beyond Face Sessions at Plymouth Creative School. We were invited to participate at the Barbican theatre during two work shopped auditions. One of the auditions was based on dance and the other on acting. The experience at the Barbican was an eye opener to how the arts can work to support the artist from developing that artist from entry level to professional level.
The Wednesday morning was spent touring the Theatre Royal Plymouth Production and learning centre (TR2). This centre is one of kind where their work is about stage design, costumes and also a space for rehearsals for incoming productions to be performed at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth. This organisation also feeds production material to most of the United Kingdom. They also introduced us to their ‘Creative Learning Programme’ which is open to the public to learn on how to use theatre as a source for learning.
We were invited to a yoga session with Jules. Our morning was really exciting after that session. And we are so thankful for the free yoga opportunity from Jules.
We also went to tour the Plymouth University. Alix, took us to the maritime engineering faculty, we also visited the Drama department based in the new building called the “The House”. 
The last night in Plymouth was indeed special. We were given free tickets to attend shows at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. I took the option to see “The whipping Man”. After the performance, we were even fortunate enough to meet the crew of the production.
Our host Alix ensured that we well taken care of. She transported us around Plymouth during our stay there. She also ensured that we were clear in all the activities we were to partake in. She is an amazing young lady, and her passion for the arts was visible through all the activities that she had organised for us. The teacher in Alix, to tell the story of arts and culture in Plymouth was definitely evident. We took so much from the trip, and hope to reach the level of energy that Indra congress has. The connections made while in England, Plymouth were invaluable for the growth of international connections

2 National Arts Council funding for airflights

The National Arts Council funding of air tickets for the ARROWSA Indaba Congress Plymouth 2015 facilitated the training and sharing of knowledge and skills specifically regarding Applied/Community Theatre for ARROWSA facilitators, co-ordinators, facilitators and participants as well as UKZN drama staff and students who physically went to the United Kingdom and those who remained in Durban.


Part 11

1     2. Activities, participants, challenges and outcomes

The following section will focus chronologically on the three segments of the project.
1    2.1  July 2015 (written by Mary Lange)

Mary Lange, ARROWSA chair and facilitator, and convenor of this project flew to the United Kingdom, for the Indra Congress Plymouth.  She subsequently went via London to Northern and the Republic of Ireland where she held post congress discussion with Cyprus Indra, Northern Ireland Indra and various other representatives of UK Community Theatre on possible collaboration in the future.

2.1.1 Indra Congress Plymouth

The five day event took place in the City of Plymouth in the United Kingdom at the University of Plymouth and supported by Plymouth City Council.  It began on Sunday 5th July 2015 and finishing on Saturday 12th July and provided an opportunity for groups of young people and Facilitators from existing and potential Indra centres/hubs to come together and share their practice, ideas and experience. Countries represented whether by youth or facilitators and/or digitally included: South Africa; Nigeria; Sierra Leone; India; Brazil; Palestine; Cyprus; Greece; Canada; United Kingdom – Derry, Northern Ireland, Durham, Burnley, Bolton and Plymouth.

Facilitators and Co-ordinators at the July Indra Congress Plymouth included (left to right back row) Maggi Squires – Plymouth, UK visual artist; Patrick Tomczyck, Alberta University, Canada; Mary Lange, ARROWSA, CCMS, UKZN, South Africa; Om’Oba Jerry Andesewo, Arojah Royal Theatre, Nigeria; (front row) Urvashi Sahni, Study Hall Educational Foundation, India; Maria Pappacosta, Cyprus.

There were a wide range of workshop activities, training opportunities, sharing of performances, speakers, discussion groups and social activities, culminating in a shared celebration/performance event at the end of the week. They worked with digital technology experts who linked up the participants in Plymouth with partners and /or their youth who were not able to attend in July for various reasons e.g. South African youth due to a delay in visas; Nigerian youth due to refusals of visas; Sierra Leone due to isolation because of disease and lack of funds; Palestine due to war and a refusal of visas; Brazil due to lack of funds; Greece due to the economic crisis and therefore funding.  

Mary Lange of ARROWSA due to already having a visa for her PhD research, CCMS, University of KwaZulu-Natal, on the use of storytelling in Northern Ireland attended the July 2015 Plymouth Indra youth congress.  The objectives were for her not only to facilitate the digital connection to the youth in South Africa and to gain skills through the workshops but also to ensure a sustainable network with the Indra groups globally due to the effective outcomes of this network as evidenced in the past. This was achieved through not only observation, taking notes and a visual diary towards sharing the practises and ideas with the ARROWSA Bechet co-ordinator, Bhekithemba Dlamini and the ARROWSA Bechet group on her return to Durban (see pay-it-forward section)  but also through physical participation in the various performance and visual arts workshops over the five days; attendance and presentation at the one day symposium and discussions with the co-ordinators and facilitators from the various countries.

Dance/movement workshop creating a mass dance 
- this was performed on the final night         

Maggi Squires demonstrates in the puppet-making workshop – 
These were used in the final performance.     

    An example of an Indra global performance:
     Derry, Northern Ireland group on hate crimes in the area.

Visual art workshop creating a backdrop for the final 
performance from paint made from different colour soil.

Mary Lange of ARROWSA also led the South African session on the 8th July 2015 with the entire congress and started with a San ‘Ostrich Dance’ that included all the participants and acted as an ice-breaker and warm-up. A skype link was then made with Luthando Ngema and Darnelle Fortune who introduced themselves and ARROWSA’s practises specifically regarding the use of Applied/Community Theatre and reconciliation with others and the environment. 

David Oddie, Director of Indra Congress 
dances The Ostrich Dance
Indra Congress youth 
watch a video of the workshopped performance
'Messy' performed by ARROWSA Bechet

A video of the workshop performance by ARROWSA Bechet learners of a short story ‘Messy’ written by Mary Lange and co-ordinated by Bhekithemba Dlamini.  After the video the floor was opened for questions from the congress youth on South Africa and the viewed performances.  Answers were provided by Luthando Ngema and Darnelle Fortune via the skype link as well as Mary Lange present at the congress.

Darnelle Fortune and Luthando Ngema, ARROWSA live via Skype with Mary Lange, 
ARROWSA and David Oddie, Director Indra for the South African questions and answer session.

The Congress also included a one day Symposium on Friday 10th July 2015 attended by group co-ordinators, academics and practitioners and generously hosted by the University of Plymouth.  This focused on the theme of social justice, and was an opportunity to discuss and debate the future of the global Indra network as it moves into the next stage of its development. ARROWSA’s Mary Lange and UKZN Drama and Performance, Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer represented South Africa at the symposium. “Mary Lange and Miranda Young-Jahangeer gave a PowerPoint presentation to announce the hosting of the 2018 Congress by ARROWSA and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It was agreed that 2018 would be a more suitable date than 2017, given the postponement of Bethlehem from 2015 to 2016. Hubs will have more scope for raising the funds necessary to attend. Mary and Miranda were thanked for their wonderful offer.” (From the Symposium report 2015 by Prof Tim Prentki, Professor of Theatre Development, University of Winchester, Drama Department).

Global delegates at Plymouth Symposium in July 2015 
and Mary Lange, ARROWSA, & Miranda Young-Jahangeer, UKZN, 
present at the Symposium on a proposed Indra Congress in Durban South Africa in 2018

Challenges experienced for this section of the project for South Africa specifically were firstly due to the air ticket funding not arriving in time for visa applications for the youth. This was largely overcome by the skype and video presentations and the presence of Mary Lange.  However the limitations of the venue where the ARROWSA Bechet group meets was emphasised due to the poor sound quality of the video especially as it was played in a very large venue at the Indra Congress.  The problem with the sound quality was overcome by an explanation to the audience of the context and content during the question and answer section but if any further digital exchange is to take place this should be addressed. 

The inability of the ARROWSA youth to attend the congress in Plymouth was further overcome by the extension of the Indaba focus of the project to include ARROWSA youth visiting Plymouth for intercultural and theatre skills exchange in September 2015 and a Plymouth theatre and drama expert to work with Durban youth in October 2015 (See sections 3 and 4 of this report).

2.1.2 Continuation of the indaba Plymouth July 2015: ARROWSA with Cyprus and Northern Ireland Indra group London, Derry/Londonderry and Galway

Discussions at the Plymouth Symposium on the 10th July 2015 highlighted the need for more bi-lateral exchange between different countries before the global congresses.  This would lead to greater connections and understanding before these global meetings and thus facilitate even more effective exchange and would include more youth than could just physically attend the global congress. Towards this at the Symposium the co-ordinators and facilitators from Plymouth, UK, Alix Harris; Cyprus, Maria Pappacosta; South Africa, Mary Lange and Northern Ireland, Mary Duddy and Matt Jennings decided to devise a joint intercultural project that would precede the global congress in Palestine in 2016.  Discussions on this were firstly held enroute to London between Maria Pappacosta, a school inspector in Cyprus, and Mary Lange.  An outline and title for the exchange was suggested namely ‘Check Points’ whereby youth would research check points past and present within their own society whether physical or abstract; they would then devise a group Applied Theatre on their research; this artwork would be exchanged amongst the various groups digitally and result in a group skype discussion session with all four hubs. The time frame would be January to March 2016. Subsequent discussions on ‘Check Points’ were held over a few meetings in Derry between Mary Lange and Mary Duddy, First Act Theatre, and Matt Jennings, University of Ulster, Drama Department and with Alix Harris, Plymouth.  

 Eugene van Ervene opening speaker of the Earagail Arts Festival, 
‘Beyond the Pale’, Community Theatre

Mary Lange also attended the Earagail Arts Festival, ‘Beyond the Pale’, Community Theatre lecture on 17th July 2015, at An Grianán Theatre, by Community Theatre specialist, Eugene van Erven, Utrecht University and Community Art Lab, Netherlands. Mary Lange had post lecture discussions with Eugene about the possibility of an exchange between South African practitioners and his organisation in 2016/2017 specifically towards the transference of skills regarding street performance and street festivals. On 20th July 2015 Indra facilitator and drama lecturer at Ulster University facilitated a meeting in Derry between Mary Lange, ARROWSA,  Community Drama Director,  and artist from Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow as well as Philip Parr, Artistic Director of Parabbola, London on ideas for possible future collaboration. They also went on a tour of Derry Playhouse Theatre & Mary Lange visited the Echo Echo Dance Company, Derry community exhibit.  She held discussions with the manager of the Playhouse Theatre and a manager of the Echo Echo dance company about possible future collaborations or exchanges. 

Mary Duddy, Indra and Sinead Devine, First Act Theatre (right) and Verbal Arts’ Little Legends, Verbal Arts.

Mary Lange was also invited by Northern Ireland Indra facilitator Mary Duddy to sit in on a Verbal Arts session with pre-schoolers, ‘Little Legends’ at a book shop in the Foyle shopping centre Derry.  This resulted in Mary Lange observing what skills are needed for such a reading and performance initiative that could possibly be introduced in South Africa.  She then, enroute back to South Africa, attended and presented on Applied Storytelling at the National University of Ireland Galway ‘Performing the archive’ conference where she furthered international potential for future intercultural exchange projects specifically with delegates from Northern Ireland and South African expatriates living in London, UK.

 Mary Lange presents at the ‘Performing the Archive’ congress, NUI Galway.

2.1.3 Pay-it-forward

Mary Lange and Miranda Young-Jahangeer conveyed to ARROWSA management the processes of the Plymouth congress July 2015.  Further to this Mary led a movement and vocal workshop with the ARROWSA Bechet group on her return to Durban.  During this she shared some of her experiences with the approximately 50 participants.  The workshop incorporated the movement methodologies that Mary Lange had learnt at one of the movement workshops at the Indra Congress in Plymouth in July that was run by Jules Verne in which even participants who do not consider themselves dancers are able to within a very limited time become part of an effective group performance.

  Bhekithemba Dlamini also observed and participated in the workshop offered by Mary and he then implemented the technique and skills gained in future sessions with the group and specifically the physical and vocal warm-up before the performance at the Durban of Technology Jewellery department and ARROWSA collaborative exhibition opening.  

The technique even served as a base for one of the items in their production to which Bheki was working with the group (see section 2.2.1).  Mary also passed on basic report skills to the youth in the project namely, Bheki, Darnelle and Tshiteya. More in depth skills were transferred to Bheki towards his report needed for his participation in the eThekwini Passbook Competition (see section 2.2.1). Mary will continue to pay-it-forward to the ARROWSA Bechet group in her voluntary capacity within the organisation and as she runs or assists in their weekly workshops.