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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!


Maggie Fletcher – A wonderful example of a great music teacher

“Teaching aims to teach independence. We lead, explain and then we encourage our students to do things for themselves. Those who do, achieve. Every step they take is an achievement”.

So says Maggie Fletcher who has been a piano and recorder teacher at Outreach Foundation for the past 17 years. About to retire, Maggie has taught many, many people throughout her years at the organisation.

“I get immense joy out of teaching people and seeing the pleasure they get from the music, especially when they catch on to what they are learning. I have found my years of teaching incredible worthwhile and rewarding”.

Maggie has had an interesting career. She is a workaholic and very loyal. She worked for the SABC for 20 years where, amongst other things she got involved in, she conducted in-house training and was the music programme producer. She then landed up teaching at a high school that provides arts and music training (the school is now known as Pro Arte Alphen Park situated in the East of Pretoria). Her inquisitive mind and willingness to learn more about all the art forms enabled her to gain knowledge about the other focus areas of the school such as dance and drama.

All this experience in so many areas was a welcome addition to Outreach Foundation when she joined it in 2002 as a music teacher. With programmes that included music, drama and other arts, she was well suited to work for the organisation.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career. Everywhere I have been, has been a rewarding experience.

“Teaching in Hillbrow has been gratifying. I am happy. I have come into contact with people who have broadened my world.

“The area has a tremendous buzz to it. It is a complex place filled with people from a variety of countries.

“Our students vary in age and in their musical interests. Many people think music theory is a dead subject, but our students love to learn the facts. They want to know more about it. One such student is Coco, a refugee who came to us with a passion for the piano.

“Coco is the first of my students to go all the way up to Grade 8 in music. He started as someone knowing nothing, but I quickly realised that he had talent. After three years, I had to refresh my knowledge. I had to go back to all the things I had learnt many years before so that I could continue to teach him. He picked things up so quickly.

“He has a fantastic way of focusing and is very intelligent. If I told him to go and do research, he would.

“Coco has been assisting me for a while now, and I hope he will continue to share his music and help others, especially after I have retired. He is one of my biggest success stories. I’m very proud of him.  I’m proud of all my students.

“Music foundation in my opinion, is essential. You need to learn the principles around it first. It teaches discipline. Once you learn the techniques, you can branch out into other music genres.

 “Music is a message on its own. Children gain from learning music. It’s an experience that will last them for a lifetime and has so many important spin-offs.

“It can be challenging with those who don’t ‘get it’ at first, but I learnt an important lesson from a singing teacher many years ago with regard to a hesitant student. She said that when they find their voice, they really find their voice. They just need to believe and have patience. And you, as a teacher, just need to try your best to make lessons an enjoyable experience.

“I have always tried to do that. I try to bring my passion for music into my lessons.”

And it seems she has succeeded in her mission. Her students love her and say she’s more like a mother, not a teacher. Throughout the years she has inspired so many students to continue with music and to love the art.

She has inspired Coco, for one, to become a music teacher and to become a composer.

“We will all miss her once she goes on retirement,” says Gerard Bester, Outreach Foundation’s Performing Arts Manager.

“Maggie has touched so many lives with her passion for music and will certainly leave a legacy of achievement for which she can be enormously proud, and is an example of a great music teacher.

“All of us at Outreach Foundation wish you well as you enter the next phase of your life, and we’d like to thank you for your dedication.

“Congratulations on your retirement!”


Recent Media Coverage:

WATCH: Dancing to a new tune at the Outreach Foundation Hillbrow music school

Amisi ‘Coco’ Mubale came to South Africa with only a dream.

He is one of the teachers at the Outreach Foundation’s Music Centre in the heart of Hillbrow.

Coco, as he is affectionately known, came to the country in 2001 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

He sought asylum from the war.

“The only way to escape from being in the military was to run away,” he told News24.

“In a sense it was stopping people from realising their dreams,” he explained.

His permit did not allow him to study or work but all he wanted to do was pursue a career in music.

Fast forward 17 years, and Coco has just completed his Grade 8 exams in the theory and practical of music with the University of SA (Unisa) – Grade 8 being the highest qualification attainable.

Coco joined the piano class at the music centre in 2009.

“I was happy to be doing something,” he said.

The 44-year-old said he always had a passion for music.

“My parents said I started singing when I was two years old. They told me that I used to wake them up with my singing,” Coco recalled.

He said he was inspired by Congolese music and still worked it into his compositions.

Coco frequently broke into song as the interview continued and went on to play a tune from renowned composer Mozart.

He said he was grateful to the founders of the music centre.

“If it was not for this centre, I’m not sure I could have made it by myself.”

The foundation funded his studies and he now passes on his knowledge to the youth of Hillbrow and surrounds.

The Hillbrow Music Centre was founded in 1999 to fill the gap in extra-curricular activities in a community notorious for drugs and crime.

It offers lessons in violin, cello, marimba and the clarinet mainly to youth between the ages of 12 and 19.

The music centre is one of the many programmes the Outreach Foundation runs, including judo and drama workshops.

The foundation describes itself as a project that “aims to keep children and youth off the streets and provide them with activities that support their holistic development.”

Ute Smythe, a violin teacher who has been with the centre since its conception, said she hoped the centre would grow.

“Instruments like the violin, the cello and clarinet, they play in an orchestra … I want them to grow so we can some day present an orchestra,” she said.


THE STAR: Learners share stories on stage

Sbahle Vezi(yellow dress) with her cast form the Rand Tutorial College, performs during the Inner city performing art competition at the Hillbrow theatre. Gauteng. Picture: Itumeleng English 

“Without stories, we don’t know who we are as a nation.”These are the words of Modisana Mabale, a facilitator for the winning play at the Inner-city High Schools Drama Festival, which ended on Saturday.

Pupils from Isizwe-Setjhaba Secondary School in Vereeniging lifted the trophy after they were crowned the winners at the 14th annual event held at the Outreach Foundation Hillbrow Theatre in Joburg under the theme “African Futures”.

Project co-ordinator Thabang Phakathi said the theme was aimed at giving participants the opportunity to engage, investigate, research and unpack various ideas and stories that spoke to them.

“The Outreach Foundation provides a platform to showcase the talents of the learners. It also instills discipline and leadership – they have to engage in an active way while they create the play together,” Mabale said.

“They learn to trust each other. Whether the learners are going to be a doctor or a nurse, they learn about creativity, about life. It is time for parents to take their children to theatre and to tell stories.”

Phakathi said that when the festival started in 2005, there were only six schools from the inner-city participating.

He said that over the years, schools from various areas, including Vaal, Soweto, Ekurhuleni and Alexandra, showed interest in participating in the event.

This year, there were 42 schools showing off their talent. The schools had to produce a 30- to 35-minute piece for the festival to showcase their talent to patrons and judges, including veteran actors Mpho Molepo, Baby Cele and Isibaya telenovela actor Bongani Gumede.

Cele said the judges had seen amazing work on stage.

“It is amazing how these kids, when given a chance, can create and perform their wonderful stories on stage,” Cele said.