A GROUP of Walmer High pupils are using the power of performing arts to get its message out on important issues in the community.
One Big Family (OBF) is a pupil-run group that writes and directs plays to highlight issues such as HIV/Aids, teenage pregnancy and underage drinking.
They were the only school in the Eastern Cape asked to perform for the South African Breweries gala last month and were approached by publishers Voices in Africa to come up with a play modelled around Onne Vegter’s novel, Whitney’s Kiss.
The group consists of 30 pupils made up of actors, singers and poets. Because of the lack of teachers at the school, the pupils manage themselves and are dedicated to rehearsing three days a week – even staying after school until 8pm.
OBF is facilitated by Fulbright English teaching assistant Ashley Millhouse who is helping them gain exposure.
“Their natural talent and work ethic is unfathomable. The children write and produce their own plays with messages that include underage drinking and teenage pregnancy,” said Millhouse. “In fact, all of their songs, plays, and poems are designed to empower youth with positive messages. “
Every time the pupils perform, they build their sense of leadership and self esteem for not only themselves, but for their entire audience, she said.
The drama group acts as a role model for the younger pupils who are beginning high school and its “world of moral dilemmas”, added Millhouse.
They believe that art can be used to positively influence their peers and provide them with good role models. All that is missing for them is a platform to perform on.
“Often there are no teachers who will teach you exactly about life and life skills,” said pupil leader Sigqipo Kutase.
“Coming from primary school, you never thought about how challenging life is or how to fight for yourself.”
Millhouse hopes to find support for One Big Family in their quest to perform at Walmer High School and local primary schools and clinics. Ashley can be contacted on 073-815-0387, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org