Curtain raised for youth

YOUNG people from Nelson Mandela Bay who are keen to get into the world of theatre have a golden opportunity at their fingertips in the form of the Youth Theatre Initiative. The initiative is being launched in the city under the banner of the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (Pansa).

The brainchild of Pansa Eastern Cape (Pansaec) chairman David Limbert, the project kicks off this weekend with a two-day scriptwriting workshop being offered free of charge thanks to funding received from Belgium-based theatre development organisation Africalia.

This was just the beginning of a "very exciting" series of workshops to be held over the next seven to eight months, Limbert said.

The idea, he added, was that youngsters between the ages of 16 and 25 would be taken through every aspect of theatre, starting with scriptwriting, and then move on to directing, acting, production management, public and media relations, set construction, props, musical composition and design. The latter would include scenic, costume, makeup, lighting and graphic design.

"There are so many aspects to theatre and for all of these disciplines we intend having workshops," he said.

"The aim is to bridge the generation gap and share skills while reintroducing theatre crafts to the Eastern Cape," said Limbert, who is being supported in this mission by his Pansaec committee members Robin Williams, Damien Anderson and others who share his concerns that such skills are not being adequately transferred.

The end result, he said, was that a city like Port Elizabeth, which had a proud theatre tradition built over many years, was often seeing mostly older people stepping up to become involved in productions.

The Eastern Cape also had a reputation for nurturing and developing fine talent for the greater theatre world, he said – but these youngsters invariably were forced to head to bigger cities – or overseas – in order to build a viable career in this field.

The project will see those youngsters who get involved in it receiving the mentorship of top industry professionals from all over South Africa.

For instance, the scriptwriting workshop to be held at the Savoy Theatre in Adcockvale tomorrow and on Sunday will be led by acclaimed scriptwriter and theatre critic David Fick, who is now based in Cape Town but originally hails from Port Elizabeth.

Joining Fick as special session contributors in the workshop will be much-admired South African entertainer Ian von Memerty, best known as a judge on South Africa's Got Talent, as well as Monde Ngonyama, general manager of the Port Elizabeth Opera House and an avid scriptwriter. Building on what they pick up at the workshop, the youngsters will then get the opportunity to work on a script ahead of the cut-off date for submissions on February 28.

The project has no limitations as to what can be scripted: this will be left to the imagination of the writer who may explore realism, satire, musical, drama, "or whatever they may fancy".

Once the participants have submitted their own original scripts, one or several of these will then be selected to be produced, directed and staged in August – all entirely by youth from the city.

"The project is unique in that it begins with a concept which, with the help of industry experts, is translated to the page and then taken to the stage."

ýTo book a spot at the scriptwriting workshop, which runs from 9am to 5pm tomorrow and from 9am to 2pm on Sunday, or for more information on the Youth Theatre Initiative, contact Marelize Booyens on 082-854-2081.