Jungle Theatre Company (JTC) started out in 1995 as a Gauteng based Collective called ‘Jungle Performance’. The Collective, founded by Vincent Meyburgh, hosted street theatre performances at freedom celebrations. It toured a series of street performances in the late 1990s to townships and informal settlements in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Mpumalanga.
In 2001, JTC was established and created and produced The Whale Show, the first of over 15 original productions for children and youth. The style of theatre embodied a range of theatrical disciplines including physical theatre, puppetry, comedy, song, dance, acoustic instruments and clowning; incorporating repurposed and recycled materials; tri-lingual scripts and demographically diverse casts; and a focus on works for children, youth and families.
Collectively these elements gave rise to the unique ‘Jungle’ style of theatre and in 2004 the organization formalized as a Non Profit and Public Benefit Organization and continued to tour primarily natural heritage themed productions and workshops. Touring included: outreach performances at underprivileged schools with supporting skills development workshops; community based events and festivals; theatres – in the form of public runs and twinning programs, where privileged schools support underprivileged schools and learners with special educational needs to experience theatre together; and local, provincial and national arts festivals.
JTC’s approach focused on creating access to theatre for all and increasing the application of theatre in the community. It conducted two intakes for young actor training and job creation with previously disadvantaged youth with acting experience. The pilot project in 2007 graduated six actors that received job opportunities in the following year. In 2010, a two-year training program called Laduma, a process that was documented in handbook form, graduated eight actors who toured locally, provincially and nationally and have been placed, mentored and up-skilled in a range programs. The organization has assisted former director Stuart Palmer establish his own organization in the southern cape, using the Jungle Theatre Company development model.
At present JTC aims to inspire and empower disadvantaged children & youth to make positive changes in their lives and build a peaceful and vibrant South Africa by drawing on South Africa’s cultural heritage and indigenous languages to find connections to the environment and human nature, creating and performing original accessible African children’s theatre shows that bring together music, dance, masks, puppets, clowning and storytelling. These performances raise awareness, inspire learning and motivate children and youth to participate in workshops and performing arts training resulting in; developing life skills; building self-confidence and creating opportunities.