‘Tsunami of emotion’ Children in Gauteng go to War Horse


This month has seen some emotional moments for the ASSITEJ SA team as more than 3600 young people came to the production of War Horse in Johannesburg, sponsored by Rand Merchant Bank, after having attended workshops with the fantastic ASSITEJ SA facilitation teams.

If anyone had any doubts about the potential impact of a production on young hearts and minds, they had only to be part of the “screaming, jumping, whistling” ovation that replaced the more staid “standing ovation”, which this production has routinely received in so many countries of the world. The atmosphere was electric as young people were transported out of their everyday reality and cheered Joey, the life-size horse-puppet, on to victory in every scene in which he appeared.

The comments have been extraordinary, from teachers and students alike, from artist-facilitators witnessing the tremendous power of the production, and from the creative team and cast themselves. For one of the National Theatre actors, performing for the South African schools audience was the best moment of her 25 year career, and for a longstanding drama teacher, the experience of taking her children to the show was a dream come true…

And from the children themselves the comments have kept us moved and grateful for the extraordinary privilege of doing the work that we do… As one child said, “I think on a rating of 10, I’d given them an 11″…

And the journey is nowhere near over yet. We are getting more requests for teacher workshops and for workshops for learners who are seeing the production outside of the sponsored programme. And in the Cape we are gearing up for our major sponsored performance, which will give us a truly special opportunity for equal access. For the first time with a commercial production in South Africa, we will have sign language interpretation for deaf young audiences… something which is available in other parts of the world, but an area in which South Africa is sorely lagging behind. We are partnering with our member company, FTH:K, to provide the interpretation as well as the workshops for the learners who will be accessing the production.

If you want to be part of this tsunami of excitement that is sweeping South Africa, make sure that you become a member of ASSITEJ SA.

Let’s work together to ensure that every child in South Africa has an opportunity to be inspired by the formidable power of the imagination!

Yvette Hardie: Director – ASSITEJ South Africa

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