Jozi arts festival opens magical, inspiring world of theatre to the young
The recent Cradle of Creativity festival in Johannesburg, aimed at children and young people, featured performances by people from South Africa and around the world.
Young theatre lovers and their families were blessed with an abundance of fantastic shows which formed part of last week’s Cradle of Creativity festival. This unique weeklong arts festival designed for children and young people is the brainchild of arts organisation ASSITEJ South Africa.
ASSITEJ South Africa’s mission is to facilitate access to the arts for every child and young person in South Africa. “Theatre is a transformational force in the lives of young people, inspiring imaginations, shifting perceptions, teaching empathy and building our nation,” reads the founding statement on its website.
The organisation hopes to use theatre to allow young people to access stories and explore different perspectives which can foster a child’s capacity for empathy and emotional intelligence.
“Children should see theatre, need to see theatre, deserve to see theatre, because – quite simply – they are human beings and theatre is the fullest expression of being human,” says ASSITEJ South Africa’s Yvette Hardie.
The majority of last week’s shows were hosted by Joburg’s famous Market Theatre, with some also held at The Windybrow Theatre in Hillbrow, the Sibikwa Arts Centre and the National Children’s Theatre, as well as at selected schools and community centres, making them accessible to all.
This year’s festival was themed “The Stories That Move Us” and was curated by Faye Kabali-Kagwa. “After the Covid pandemic and theatres were closed, it just felt like this was a moment to celebrate people coming together. We wanted to celebrate the diversity in the space as well as the people who are making theatre for young people… We had shows for children as young as three months up 18 years of age,” said Kabali-Kagwa.
Apart from South African performances, audiences were treated to shows by artists from the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Rwanda, Mexico and Argentina.
“This festival is bringing together artwork from all around the world, all over Africa, all over South Africa, so we want people to feel that they have been moved physically and emotionally by what they will be engaging with,” said Hardie.
The festival was well received by lovers of theatre, with little kids enjoying the experience of watching live performances with their parents.
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“I mean, you know, children are just so open. They are so ready to receive anything and of course their imaginations are just so fertile and so you can really take them on different journeys that are incredibly exciting. One of the things I love about theatre for young audiences is actually being able to watch the audience and their responses as well. It sort of gives you goosebumps. It’s almost like therapy,” said Hardie. DM
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.