Who are we?

The Hillbrow Theatre (formerly the Andre Huguenot Theatre) offers after-school performance arts programmes to children and youth who live in Hillbrow or attend schools in Hillbrow and the inner city of Johannesburg. Performance training gives children confidence and builds the skills of public speaking, voice and acting.

Play is the work of children, and through play, acting and singing, children work through issues that they have to face on a daily basis. Drama demands empathy for different personalities, cultures, religions and ways of living, and allows children to learn and practice the skills of self-discipline, communication, tolerance and mutual respect.

Life in the inner city can expose people to xenophobia, landlord exploitation, drug abuse and violence and the Hillbrow Theatre Project provides a safe space where children and youth can explore these issues through plays and storytelling. The drama workshops give children and youth the opportunity to develop their communication skills, self-confidence, teamwork skills and to unleash their imagination. Through the process of making these plays, children explore and dramatise creative solutions.

A high point on our annual calendar is the Inner City High Schools Drama Festival, which was initiated by the facilitators in 2005.

The Hillbrow Theatre Project facilitators run drama workshops at inner-city schools with groups of learners between the ages of 12 and 19 years. Also, there are two open drama classes which are conducted in the afternoons and on Saturday mornings at the theatre.

What we do:

Throughout the year, our facilitators conduct after-school performance arts programmes for school-going children and youth. These drama workshops are held at local inner-city high schools, and in the afternoons on Saturday mornings in the fun, creative haven of the Hillbrow Theatre.

The Hillbrow Theatre Project provides performing arts training coupled with a commitment, from both the team and participants, to build self-confidence, teamwork, communication and empathetic skills; and keep this corner of Hillbrow vibrant and active. The local and international teachers strive to provide quality theatre training that enriches lives and develops emotional resilience.

The youth (ages 12 – 19) who attend the theatre programme (weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings) learn traditional performing arts skills, including vocal, dance, physical and drama training, driven by the need for inner-city youths to find and plot positive life journeys. The training is designed to develop empathy: for yourself, your colleagues, other cultures, religions and ways of living.

  • We develop and present at least two original works (drama or dance) at four outside festivals or events;
  • We aim to develop and present an Easter play;
  • We stage a year-end production;
  • We run drama groups in 32 inner-city schools for approximately 480 youth;
  • We run a drama festival for 35 inner-city high schools;
  • We facilitate each high school group to present a new work at the Inner City High Schools Drama Festival;
  • We enable participants of the Hillbrow Theatre groups to attend at least eight arts events in Johannesburg; and
  • We enable facilitators to grow their artistic skills and reputations,
    attend workshops, cultural events, and collaborate with local and international artists/arts organisations.

Here are some of our events/performances:

  • Sounds Like You and Me
  • A manifesto for the youth of Hillbrow
  • My silence is talkative
  • March for awareness of the plight of Albinism in South Africa
  • Hillbrow youth perform in Berlin
  • Outreach Foundation is part of Joziwalks
  • Hillbrowfication
  • In my mother’s  womb

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Our Goals

We strive to:

Build self-confidence

Develop creativity

Promote teamwork

Increase communication and empathetic skills

Our Team:

Thabang Phakathi

-Project Coordinator

Gcebile Dlamini

-Facilitator

Sibusiso Hadebe

-Facilitator

Mirriam Gumada

-General Assistant

Linda Mkhwanazi

-Facilitator

Rudo Mudekunye

-General Assistant

Gerard Bester

-Programme Manager

On Our Blog:

15th Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival

A huge congratulations to all those who competed in the 15th Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival over the past two weeks. The turnout was amazing and the performances were outstanding. This programme is made possible through funding from City of Johannesburg – Arts Alive Festival, Department of Arts and Culture, Rand Merchant Bank, Ford Foundation, Bread for the World. Our valued partners include the Market Theatre Laboratory, GALA, Drama for Life, Exclusive Books and Assitej South Africa.

In a week that has brought violence and hatred to our neighbourhood the festival persisted to provide a positive and safe space for young people to share their stories. We thank all the schools that joined us after two days of suspending the festival and all those who joined us afterwards. Thank you to the adjudicators, teachers, parents, learners, Drama for Life students and interns, Underground Entertainment and to the festival team and staff who supported us through this week!

Everyone who joined us for the festival is a winner, learners, parents and teachers alike. The following is the list of awards we gave out at the event:

Best Production Award: Barnato Park High School

2nd Best Production: Thuto Lore Comprehensive

3rd Best Production: Bokamoso Secondary School

4th Best Production: E.D. Mashabane Secondary School

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Andani Nnetshifnifhe – Vuwani Secondary School

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Simphiwe Nkosi Lucia – Ikusasa Comprehensive School Greenfield

Best Runner-up Actor in a Lead Role: Ntate Philimon Selolo – Bokamoso Secondary School

Best Runner-up Actress in a Lead Role: Musa Mabena – BASA Tutorial College

Best Actor in a Lead Role: Jackson Mogotlane – Barnato Park High School

Best Actress in a Lead Role: Karabo Kgatle – Barnato Park High School

Best Poster Design: Linda Shabangu – Ikusasa Comprehensive School

Best Technical: “O KAE NGWANA” – Thuto Lore Comprehensive School

Best Costume Design: Uncommon Feelings – Barnato Park High School

Best Set Design: “PARUKA” – Bokamoso Secondary School

Best Cameo Role: Wiseman Mapheto – St Enda’s

Best Ensemble Production: Iskiko – E.D. Mashabane Secondary School

Best Original Script: Uncommon Feelings – Barnato Park High School

School which traveled the Longest Distance: East Rand School of Arts

Special Mention for Consistent Participation: St Edna’s Secondary School, Barnato Park School, Centurion College.

Spirit of the Festival Award: Mr Z Ndlovu from Centurion College – Inner-City Arts Chamion. Cherae Halley – for her dedicated work towards inclusivity at Sizwile School for the Deaf.

Adjudicators Special Mention Award: Sizwile School for the Deaf, Alexandra High School, Selelekeka Secondary School, Rand Tutorial College.

It was wonderful to have John Meletse, queer deaf activist, return to the Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival! Inspiring words as we celebrate Deaf Awareness Week. Thank you to Cherae Halley and Sizwile School for the Deaf for again being part of our festival!

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Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival 2019

Come and join us for our annual Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival. It will be held in the Hillbrow Theatre between the 30th of August and the 7th of September.

A big thank you to all who are helping to make this event as great as it always is.

Friend, mentor, arts champion, supporter of our Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival for over 8 years! Mpho Molepo will join the adjudication team again this year.

Khutjo Green brings her magic to our 15th Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival. She will be adjudicating 40 original works devised by learners and facilitators and exploring gender and sexuality.

Super excited to announce that Napo Masheane will return to to once again adjudicate at our 15th Inner City High Schools Drama Festival.

… This City and I know each other well
We like two stars residing on the same blanket
But never speak to one another
Day in – day out
Our dreams cling on fragile walls
Leaking roofs
Smelling drains
Stolen wires
Its night air chills tears on both our cheeks
Willing us to play and pray
And in the midst of its reality
This city and I
Dream that each child born of it
Will dream and believe
Beyond the dream it’s self…
From: Jozi by Napo Masheane

To the ambassador of our Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival, Dumisani Dlamini! …to the man who can walk into a school (If we are experiencing an issue – “Why should we do arts” or “that group makes too much noise”) and straight into the headmaster’s office. He smiles… gets the drama group to join them in the principal’s office and then gets the learners to speak about their passion for the arts. The principal is sold!

The Outreach Foundation’s Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival celebrates 15 years of inspiring young learners to share their stories. Our theme this year, Gender and Sexuality, will hopefully give facilitators, teachers and learners the courage to explore the unhealthy silence around these topics that plagues our country, and encourage us all to engage this topic individually and in our communities long after the festival closes. On the journey of re-imagining ourselves, we want to inspire and encourage all who witness the festival to imagine playful alternatives to how we define ourselves.

Thank you to our funders; Rand Merchant Bank, Ford Foundation, Bread for the World, City of Johannesburg – Arts Alive Festival 2019. To our valued partners; Market Theatre Laboratory, Drama for Life, GALA, Assitej South Africa.
Thank you to Underground Entertainment for their support.
15 years of promoting arts in education! Telling our stories!

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