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AREPP EDUCATIONAL TRUST (article first published : 2002-07-28)

The arepp Educational Trust will offer up-to-the-minute vibrant education theatre for KZN in August.

Part of areppís No Monkey Business series, Healthy, Happy and Hip! will tour to schools in Durban and surrounding areas to be presented to junior primary learners from August 5 until September 13.

Directed at children in schools between three and ten years old, Healthy, Happy and Hip! aims to introduce and prepare young audiences for the issues surrounding health and abuse, and encourage their awareness of themselves, their bodies and others.

Through the antics of bold, bright, larger-than-life mouth-puppets, audiences 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 is 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 informs pre-sexually active children factually about HIV and AIDS while exploring concepts of gender and responsibility.

The aim of the show is to address self-image, encouraging the children to view themselves as capable, contributing individuals. By providing them with the necessary information and skills to trust themselves, they are guided to make informed and honest decisions about relationships and sexuality. Also explored are the skills to identify and avoid dangerous situations, the realities of saying 'no', and an idea of where and how to 'draw the line'.

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 realistic and accessible style of theatre. To the audience they come across as 'real', youth-focussed, and immediate.

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 impart the skills necessary to handle life situations, the knowledge to identify them, and the means to seek support and assistance in handling them.

For more information regarding the programme please contact Gerrit Maritz on 011 485-4771 or e-mail projects@arepp.org.za




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