Spirit of the Elephant
22 Sep 2010
Young people from the townships of South Africa recently toured Britain with the hit production of Zanandule: the Spirit of the Elephant.
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Young people from the townships of South Africa recently toured Britain with the hit production of Zanandule: the Spirit of the Elephant. The performance came out of a a cross-national leadership programme with special emphasis on theatre work.
Leaving their home country for the first time, the cast of 14 boys and girls from Johannesburg toured venues in London and Gloucester. Zanandule enacts the story of a dying chieftain who looks back across his life, realises his mistakes and seeks forgiveness from his totem animal — the elephant. The production thrilled audiences with authentic African music and dance, as well as life-size elephant puppets.
“Being in England has been a dream come true,” said lead actor Kessington Moolman. “I have never been in a play before, so to be performing to 400 people in a packed theatre is incredible!”
The project is the result of collaboration between the Trevor Huddleston Centre in Johannesburg and the Asha Centre in the Forest of Dean. “We are running a drama programme for young people from areas affected by conflict,” says Adrian Locher, project director at the the Asha Centre. “In the past, we have staged plays with young Jews and Arabs from Israel. When we heard about the Huddleston Centre, we naturally wanted to work together.”
The Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre, named after the Anglican Archbishop and anti-apartheid activist, runs a two-year life skills programme for young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. “It’s easy for young South Africans to slip through the net,” explains centre director Tricia Sibbons. “But by helping them get qualifications and gain confidence, we are empowering them to succeed and support others in society.”
The response to Zanandule: the Spirit of the Elephant has been overwhelmingly positive, Adrian says. One of the reviewers described it as being “exuberant, hopeful, honest, raw, and wonderfully inspiring,” adding that “the singing and dancing of the young people is stunningly good.“
The group are hoping to achieve similar recognition as a group that took part in the Asha Centre’s theatre programme last year. Upon their return to Johannesburg, they performed An African Love Story, for Nelson Mandela at his home.
Contact: Asha Centre, Gunn Mill House,
Lower Spout Lane, Flaxley,
Gloucestershire, GL17 0EA
Telephone: +44 (0)1594 822330
Young performers of ‘Zanandule: the Spirit
of the Elephant’. Photo: copyright Carlos Ordonez
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