arepp:Theatre for Life Wins International Award

Human Rights NGO, arepp:Theatre for Life, receives the prestigious, international STARS Impact Award for Education in Africa and Middle East.
arepp:Theatre for Life’s unique Applied Theatre life-skills education stood out for its innovative use of theatre to engage young people on complex personal and social issues, and to challenge mindsets through problem-solving peer facilitated discussion. Using a rights-based approach each performance is age-appropriately crafted to highlight and foster thought and debate around the issues of identity, rights, relationships, discrimination, gender, sexuality, peer pressure, sex, substance use, violence, and physical and emotional abuse. The approach addresses the notions of choice making, responsibility and tolerance within the framework of the audience’s understanding of their rights. The performances travel the country, reaching some of South Africa’s most vulnerable children.

South Africa is home to nearly 19 million children, two-thirds of whom live in poverty. Neglect, abuse, inequality and poor education underpin the lives of many South African communities. Children experience a difficult journey through school, characterised by hunger, absent teachers, irregular attendance and violence. Many young people have limited or inaccurate knowledge of, and access to their rights, thereby reducing their ability to make informed choices about their own lives and those of their families and communities.

“With arepp:Theatre for Life, all the world and its issues are presented on a stage, but the children in the audience are not passive players. There is no doubt that their shows transcend a mere theatre experience to become a milestone life experience for the young audiences affected. External impact assessments clearly demonstrate that children leave arepp’s theatre shows better equipped to walk the fragile path to adulthood,” said Samia Zoued, programme officer, Africa-Middle East, STARS Foundation.

The STARS Impact Awards identify and support already effective, frontline, impactful local organisations, that achieve excellence in the provision of services to disadvantaged or vulnerable children and that demonstrate effective management practices. Through the Impact Awards, the STARS Foundation helps organisations such as arepp: Theatre for Life, become even stronger by enhancing their capacity to deliver vital services on the ground. arepp:Theatre for Life was selected from amongst 976 applicants from 60 countries.

“We are delighted to receive the STARS Impact Award, which recognises arepp:Theatre for Life’s 25-year contribution to the promotion of human rights in South Africa and highlights the vital importance of assisting young people and children to understand, engage with, and contextualise the notions and practical applications of their rights.” said Brigid Schutz, director, arepp:Theatre for Life.

Established in 1987, arepp:Theatre for Life now directly engages approximately 120,000 five to eighteen year-olds in approximately 350 schools annually, through their high quality applied theatre productions which provide interactive, social life-skills education to school-going learners, enabling informed choice and developing self-efficacy and resilience. In 2011, the educators indicated an increase of 81 per cent in the audience’s knowledge, skills, ability and confidence to engage, deal with and problem-solve the concerns that were relevant to them. The reported percentage of physical and sexual abuse cases in those schools halved from the previous year, to just under four percent, reported pregnancies dropped from 9 per cent to less than 1 per cent, and reported suicides decreased from 1 to 0.1 percent. Overall, 80 percent of audiences indicated changes in their feelings of worth, competency, agency and control with regard to the issues presented.

“With this STARS Impact Award, not only do we feel validated in our work, but it will also allow us to fund additional theatre projects and perform approximately 200 more presentations, directly benefiting approximately 30,000 additional learners” said Gordon Bilbrough, director, arepp:Theatre for Life.

For more information contact:

Brigid Schutz
Tel: 011 485 4771
Mobile: 083 450 6204

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Date published: 
Monday, 19 March, 2012

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