Theatre allowed me to merge my academic and theatrical personas

Nineteen-year-old Sanele Zwane, an Outreach Foundation Performing Arts Alumni, is a student at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg and is studying Biological Sciences. He is an energetic and confident young man who credits Outreach Foundation for a lot of the skills he uses daily at varsity.

Having joined the performing arts project in 2013 after watching a performance with a friend, Sanele fell in love with the stage. Although he had been introduced to the stage when he was in primary school, there was something different about this space. About the people. About the vibe.

“After the play, I joined the Outreach Foundation theatre and came back to the organisation almost every day. It was a safe space, and I recognised that I didn’t get involved in all the risky and stupid things I could have done after school because my time was better spent on stage.

“I also found it to be a place that I could take my troubles to, where the facilitator would listen and help, or I could leave it backstage and take on a different persona. It was a place I could merge my academic persona and my theatrical one.

“I worked hard and performed in many productions. I was with the theatre from grade 8 all the way to grade 12. I miss the stage, but I take all the lessons I’ve learnt on stage and from bra’ Mike – which
was not only about acting I must tell you, but on life – and apply them to what I do at varsity”.

Sanele said that when you take on a character or a new drama project, you have to do a lot of research and you have to be focussed and use your imagination. You become the character and see the world from their eyes or standpoint. You also become patient and listen. You learn to engage, to share and to be more confident.

“As a scientist, I have to concentrate, focus and do research. I also have to communicate, engage and share. All of these skills I got from acting.

“I also notice how the leadership skills we obtained from the theatre has come in handy as we often have to work together and share our findings, and I tend to get right in, get us working on what needs to be done, and then as I’m confident in speaking in front of audiences, present our findings. I
would never have done that before”.

Sanele recalls some of his highlights of being with Outreach Foundation’s theatre including being awarded the best actor in a lead role in his first performance in 2013 where he played an old granny who was blind. The blind grandmother monologue performance was taken to the Roodepoort
Theatre as well. He was also a presenter at the Naledi Awards where he met loads of stars and went to the National Eisteddfod where he went all the way to the semi-finals.

“The Eisteddfod was great. I met many children my age who are very talented. As I’d get back home each night after midnight during the week, my mother was concerned at what I was doing, but after seeing my performances and the talent around me, she was reassured, and she knew how important it was to me”.

He also loved the workshops he did at Outreach Foundation in Hillbrow, with London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2015 and 2016.

“Both workshops were amazing! In 2015 we dealt with gender and sexuality, which was an eye-opener for many people my age. It was such an important topic as it’s normally a taboo topic. One
never talks about this, and it’s something that needs to be spoken about. What I liked about these workshops was that it wasn’t just acting either: we danced too. There were children from other schools there too, so we learnt from them.

“These were just my absolute highlights of the five years I was with Outreach Foundation Theatre. We did so much that I could list so much more.

“It was a great experience. The only thing I would wish for the organisation is that it would expand the programme into the townships. There are a lot of children who aren’t able to get to Hillbrow and who would benefit from the experiences I had. Most children aren’t exposed to the theatre.

“Personally I believe all children have the potential to act and if they are given the opportunity to at a young age, who knows what they would be able to achieve or get through in their lives.

“I will always remember what bra’ Mike told us: ‘It’s about life, not just about acting!’ and we would spend lots of time speaking about life and using our experiences to become better actors and
people.

“So what I’ve learnt from acting doesn’t only help me at varsity, but in everything I do, as even when I watch a movie, I start thinking about what went into planning that movie, the story behind it, the research. It’s made me an inquisitive person. A person who thinks and isn’t afraid to ask or talk.

“I would love it if more children could be introduced to the theatre and the experiences I had. I’m very grateful”.

Black Friday Sales

Black Friday Sale Starts on 1st November at Outreach Foundation and will last until Friday the 7th November.

Buy your hand-crafted items made by our students and staff through the years at incredible prices ranging from R5 to R150. There are beautiful embroidered items like blankets, curtains, bags, scarves, T-Shirts, aprons and squares that can be sewn together to create anything you like. Why not come browse through the store on our premises, or contact us and let us know what you are interested in and we can, if possible, send you photographs of what is available so you can choose what you want.

But hurry, there is limited stock and it’s selling fast!

Hillbrow Tours

Soweto Festivities

Xenophobia! – Not in my school!

New Books

A huge thank you to Gemma Black and Kyanne Smith for the selection of amazing books for the Outreach Foundation! Thank you too to Sophie Bilas, Helen Baldwin, Georgia Mallory and Claudia Martinez for helping raise money to fund this wonderful initiative.
Yay! to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama honours group who did such amazing work with us this year. We were hoping Gemma and Kyanne would return this year to help lead a new partnership with the Speech and Drama College, South Africa – we still hope they will join us next year.
Next year the Outreach Foundation’s performing arts programme with engage published texts for the first time in partnership with the Speech and Drama College. Watch this space!

Vuyani Week

Market Theatre Laboratory 7 year partnership

Coco was born to play piano

I was introduced to Outreach Foundation by a friend in 2009. I wanted to do piano lessons but all the classes were
full so I settled on another instrument, but it really wasn’t what I wanted. I played some other instruments, but my
passion was piano and I hankered for it. Some of the students didn’t pitch for their lessons and so I was given the
opportunity to take their spot behind the piano.
“My teacher,” Amisi (Coco) Mubale recalls, “was Maggie Fletcher and she took me under her wing.
“She told me that she’d teach me in such a way that I would be able to play and then compose. I wasn’t sure what
was happening in the beginning though, it was hard. Piano isn’t easy”.
Coco, a refugee living in South Africa, took his lessons very seriously. He was committed. Although he moved to
Centurion in 2010, he made a plan to get to Hillbrow, come what may.
“It was hard. But I knew how important the lessons and the organisation were to me, so I made a plan. My hard work
paid off, as in 2011, I wrote my first piano exam, then another in 2012. I was told I was too good for the grade 1
exam, so I was to do the grade 2 exam, but as I was about to do it, I was told I needed to do the grade 3 exam. I was
shocked and happy that I had progressed so much.
“In 2013 I did the grade 4 and 5 exams, then in 2014, the University of South Africa (UNISA) changed some of their
qualifications and so I had to wait. I then did grade 4 theory and grade 6 practical and in 2017, I did assessments and
more theory. By 2018, I was told to skip grade 7 theory, and go straight to grade 8 practical and theory. I was
delighted and amazed at my journey”.
But Coco’s journey with music started when he was very young. Where he grew up there was an African folk lore
group that combined a variety of traditional instruments.
“Their music influenced me from when I was a small boy. I was also singing since the age of two. Music was always
inside me. The piano: my choice of instrument, as when my uncle offered me a small keyboard to play as a boy,
although I didn’t know what I was doing, it felt right to me and I knew I wanted to learn more”.
Coco also didn’t know that one could study and obtain a qualification in music until he came to Outreach
Foundation.
“When I left my country due to its history of war, I was desperate. I had no direction. I was looking for help, and I
couldn’t believe that I managed to find an organisation that could help me. I made a promise to myself that for as
long as I was living in South Africa, I’d come to Outreach Foundation, as Maggie was like a mother to me and the
organisation, another home. She told me about UNISA and encouraged me to study.
“She inspired me to work harder. She inspired me to become a teacher. I want to teach others the beauty of music!
Coco completed his grade 8 practical and theory of music exams in December 2018. This is the highest qualification
attainable for the graded examinations by UNISA.
“Music is my life! In addition to teaching, I want to become a composer. I want to experiment. I love mixing
traditional and classic music like Rhythmic guitar and traditional Ngoma music”.
Says Maggie Fletcher, about Coco: “He is my first student to go up to grade 8, and I cannot believe that when he
began, he knew nothing about piano and theory. He is a remarkable young man as in the space of three years; he
has completed his qualification. I and Outreach Foundation are very proud of him, and we can’t wait for him to teach
our students”.

The Power of Theater

Facilitators workshop

The outreach foundation facilitators went away for 3 days to Loskop Damn to share and exchange knowledge and information. It was a very intense and interesting couple of days which saw the facilitators grow as individuals as well as a team.

Discussions at the table

Leader’s Getaway

We recently held a kids week for our staff and youth leaders with the goal of reinventing the program and revitalizing our methods in order to give our children the best experience possible.

What we most spoke about was the fact that Kids Week has been running the same way for 20 years and now we feel like its time for change.

We came up with kids week themes for the coming 3 kids weeks from now and we worked on and discussed the project sustainability of kids week as a whole. Leaders received different topics and we all tackled them with open minds.

The sessions were very progressive and we cant wait for them to be developed and implemented. Watch this space.

International Quilting Festival

Welcome to our new volunteers

The Outreach Foundation is happy to welcome our new volunteers Ben Storjohann and Tim Stoklossa to our team. Ben will be joining our computer team and Tim will be joining our counselling team. We are excited to see what we will achieve together and cannot wait to see the impact we have on our community.

Ben Storjohann
Tim Stoklossa

A message from Tim

My name is Tim Stoklossa and I am from Hannover, Germany. I graduated
High School in June and in August I came to South Africa to work at the
Outreach Foundation and to discover the country and the culture.
In Germany I sang in a choir and played guitar. Also I worked in a youth
group in my church.
In my few days here I got to know a lot of people. They all
were very obliging and were glad to meet me. I am very happy to be here
and I hope to gather many new experiences here.

A message from Ben

My name is Ben Storjohann and I am from Frankfurt, Germany. I just graduated High School and I am now taking a gap year. I’m really grateful to be able to work at the Lutheran Outreach Foundation. The amount of courses and opportunities to grow, that are offered here at the Foundation truly amaze me. I’m loving the country, the culture and the people so far and can’t wait to get to know the area and my colleagues even further. Thank you for being so welcoming and I hope we can create some awesome memories in the next year together.

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!