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EDUCATIONAL SHOWS (article first published : 2002-07-20)

The arepp Educational Trust is to present several school touring productions in August.

The popular No Monkey Business series, will once again tour to schools in Durban and surrounding areas. This year the show Healthy, Happy and Hip! will be presented to junior primary learners from August 5 until September 13.

Directed at children in schools between three and ten years old, No Monkey Business aims to introduce and prepare young audiences for the issues surrounding health and abuse, and encourage their awareness of themselves, their bodies and others.

Using bold, bright, larger than life mouth-puppets, the audience share the adventures and misadventures of Mac Monkey and his best friend Vanda Vulture as they learn about life in their forest home. Fortunately, no matter what they get up to, they always under the watchful eye of Thandi (the trusted, live actor, adult figure) who's there to guide them and help them work things out. The shows are energetic, interactive, vibrant and colourful, and carefully structured into short narrative segments which are linked with participatory songs. Mac Monkey becomes a trusted and recognisable friend, creating a "safe place" where the children can comfortably identify and interact with the stories and themes without fear or concern.

arepp Educational Trustís popular senior primary educational theatre programme will tour Durban schools from August 13 to September 6. Aimed at the 11 to 15 year olds in a formal learning environment, Don't Think So! focuses on abuse, growing up, early sexuality and relationships, encouraging the development and acquisition of life skills. The show also focuses on peer pressure and self-image and pre-sexually active children are informed factually about HIV and AIDS, while exploring concepts of gender and responsibility.

The aim of the show is to encourage children to view themselves as capable, contributing individuals. Also to provide them with the necessary information and skills to trust themselves, and to make informed and honest decisions about relationships and sexuality. The skills to identify and avoid dangerous situations, the realities of saying 'no', and an idea of where and how to 'draw the line' are also explored.

Using narrative theatre to define space and time, and the music and styles of the moment to facilitate the action, the shows are performed in a very realistic and accessible style of theatre. Don't Think So dumps the audience right in the middle of Ntombi's life just as she begins her quest to become the first African woman in space, following the success of Mark Shuttleworth. There are only a few problems, though, like the fact that she's still in school, and her very 'uncool' cousin, Dennis, is coming to live with them for a while, and her best friend Lerato is seemingly trapped by the Science teacher's unwelcome advances. But a girl makes a plan.

This is a 'coming of age' show, dealing with dawning of self responsibility and self knowledge. Peer prejudice and expectations are examined along with such issues as families dealing with AIDS, and adults trying to blackmail and bribe for sex.

Each of the arepp shows is lively, theatrical and very energetic, and specifically designed to appeal to the targeted age group. The shows incorporate the current music, the sayings and the attitude of that age group and speak to the audience with their own voice. While addressing the broader issues of, relationships and gender, they stress positive self-image, self-worth and the right to choice. The shows encourage self-knowledge and self-awareness, contextualising and simplifying the issues by putting them into the audiences' social context. The shows impart the skills necessary to handle life situations, the knowledge to identify them, and the means to seek support and assistance in handling them.

More information from Gerrit Maritz on 011 485 4771 or e-mail projects@arepp.org.za




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