Spreading of Wings

By Vincent Meyburgh

This year Jungle Theatre Company has been like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon or like a colorful bird breaking through its eggshell. The projects we have been developing during lock down were finally able to reach live audiences.

Our play Bongi Bird was the first to fly the nest. It was developed to spread health messages with music and dance at soup kitchens. It found its way into pre-schools. Children seemed more excited than ever to take part in real live performances. We cracked open our shell with an increased level of audience participation.

Primary schools opened still overwhelmed with trying to keep up with their curriculum. Our task of assisting teachers to connect our theatre with their work was streamlined with better online and printed resources. We developed better Whats App communications, video, and audio versions of the productions on YouTube and new illustrated books based on the stories we are telling. With our warmth and special attention, teachers carefully cracked open their eggshells.

Rural primary schools were first to open their delicate wings. We connected with our partner Lunchbox Theatre to tour Knysna with Python and the Qunube Tree. We also toured rural areas with our partners The Creative Skills Factory in Stanford and with The Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre in Riebeeck Kasteel. We even took Mantis and the Bee to the Cederberg where we performed for descendants of the San and experienced rock paintings. These tours have solidified our presence in rural communities.

The Creative Arts Clubs facilitators each managed to incubate their collection of eggs and hatch their chicks. Clubs in Khayelitsha, Muizenberg and Vrygrond with established nests presented their short plays at a festival at the Masque Theatre towards the end of the school year. A new Creative Arts Club was started in Fish Hoek with children from Masipumelele with our partner the Dream Centre helping to build a very comfortable nest.

Zabalaza was the first to crack open the festival egg. Returning access to Baxter Theatre for our production The Magic Shell for children bused in by Golden Arrow. This play also featured on the Makhanda main festival programme as a live and online event. Towards the end of this financial year, we found out that our production Mantis and the Bee is invited to represent South African indigenous people at the Bibu International Children’s theatre festival in Sweden. The time has come to spread our wings and fly into the international air space.