In July 2012, award-winning actress Dorothy Ann Gould set about changing the lives of seven homeless men. Driving through Hillbrow, Gould was struck by the heartlessness most people have in relation to the homeless. She decided then to take over the creative programme initiated by June Jardine at St George’s Anglican Church. Serving tea and sandwiches to many of Joburg’s homeless, this church became the starting point for Johannesburg Awakening Minds, a theatre troupe of former homeless men and women who have gone on to achieve great recognition, despite their humble beginnings.
Gould began teaching breathing exercises and creative writing to the group at the Hillbrow Theatre, shortly after recruiting them from the church’s soup kitchen programme. Initially, many of them were reluctant to speak, having been voiceless for most of their lives. Gould’s aim was to inspire these men and women to find their own voices through powerful, poetic language. And, where better to begin than with the sonnets and tragedies of Shakespeare?
As Gould explains, she has a special connection with Shakespeare. “I love Shakespeare… it healed me at the age of 14 when I came into contact with it,” she said. For the men and women of Johannesburg Awakening Minds, Shakespeare’s works provides an outlet for the experiences and emotions they have long had to keep to themselves. Whether performing as the ill-fated Hamlet or Lear, a buffoon like Bottom or even in local television series and films, these actors definitely have stories worth listening to.
Play Your Part
Johannesburg Awakening Minds needs your help. The actors keep all the earnings they make from performances, and for many, this is their main source of income. Audiences are often moved to tears by their brilliant delivery of Shakespeare’s words, giving people a new perspective on the human capabilities of even the most rejected members of society. Johannesburg Awakening Minds is beyond just a theatre group, they offer an incredibly tangible and life-changing experience.
This November, JAM will be performing their final show for 2019 at Piza ē Vino Melville. On a makeshift stage set up under lovely shady trees, they will take you on a journey through Shakespeare’s finest works. This show is organised to raise funds for the troupe to travel to their homes over the Christmas period. Presenting a two-hour spectacle with interval, this is one of JAM’s longest shows to date. So, come and enjoy a soliloquy or two under the trees as you tuck into a delicious spread from Piza ē Vino.
When Is It?
Sunday, 24 November 2019 at 15:00 – 17:00.
Where Is It?
Piza ē Vino Melville, c/o Lothbury Rd and Fawley Ave, Auckland Park, Johannesburg.
How Much Is It?
Tickets cost R80 per person. Book yours by calling 011 482 3609 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For More Information
Follow Johannesburg Awakening minds on Facebook for more information about this event and future shows.