We had a chat with two representatives from the Outreach Foundation to find out more about their upcoming Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival.

The Outreach Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. They work predominantly with young people living in the inner-city. Fostering a love of learning through the arts, the Outreach Foundation is a vital body of hard-working and dedicated practitioners, educators and counsellors.

Each year before the festival a team of facilitators go into inner-city schools to work with learners on a weekly basis. Facilitators from the Outreach Foundation’s Performing Arts Project, young artists working in the city and second-year Market Theatre Laboratory students make up this team. Learners from these schools then present their work at the Hillbrow Theatre at the Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival. This year's festival is presented as part of the Johannesburg Arts Alive International Festival.

15 Years of Celebrating Young Talent

"At school we only follow the textbooks, while at the theatre we follow our minds," - Isaro Cast Member, Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival 2013.

High Schools Drama Festival

The Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival celebrates its 15th anniversary in September 2019. The festival has been made possible through the continued support of inner-city schools, their principals, parents and partner organisations. One of which is The City of Johannesburg, whom have supported the festival since its inception. Other funders include Department of Arts and Culture, Rand Merchant Bank, Ford Foundation and Bread for the World. In addition, the Market Theatre Laboratory have provided guidance, training and equipment for the past seven years. 

The Outreach Foundation celebrate this milestone with a record number of 41 participating schools at this year's festival! Each school will perform an original work starring their most talented students.

The theme for this year's festival is Gender and Sexuality:

"Gender and Sexuality is a complex part of being a teenager. It is vital that teachers, parents and young people courageously engage in these conversations," the Outreach Foundation says. "This theme will hopefully give us courage to explore the unhealthy silence around these topics that plagues our country. [We hope to] encourage learners and facilitators to engage this topic individually and in their communities long after the festival closes."

The challenge of the Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival 2019 is to encourage inter-generational discussions about gender and sexuality. Bringing these conversations into the theatre is one of the ways that the foundation aim to bridge boundaries.

"Sex is complicated and complex. Theatre is complex and complicated. Theatre can be naughty, it can be playful, you can be daring on stage and you can play around with different roles, personas and genders. Sex can be funny, undignified and ridiculous…and so can theatre. Both sex and theatre are exhilarating, dangerous, fun and risky," they argue. 

The goal is ultimately to employ the arts as a powerful tool. Allowing young people to re-imagine themselves and the world they live in. By sharing their stories with their parents, peers and audiences, there is hope that they may find commonality and freedom, creating “allies” for those that have been made to feel “othered”. 

Festival Line-Up

You can expect a jam-packed line up at this year's festival. Over five days, the 41 schools will present their original productions. The concluding day of the festival will see the adjudicators present the top four finalists and awards to outstanding performers. The adjudication panel features the likes of Mpho Molepo, poet Khutjo Green and director and writer Napo Masheane. 

"It is amazing how young people, given a chance, start to speak about who they are and where they come from," Masheane says. 

Nine schools will present their works on stage per day. The festival kicks off on Friday, 30 August 2019 at 10:00 and runs until Saturday, 7 September 2019. Tickets cost only R15 per person for each show, so you really have no excuse not to attend! Contact [email protected] to reserve your tickets.

High Schools Drama Festival

For more information

Visit the Outreach Foundation website for more information. Or, you can follow them on social media for event updates and more:

Facebook - facebook.com/OutreachFoundation

Twitter - twitter.com/OFHillbrow

Contact them on +27 (0)11 720 7011 or via email at [email protected]

What Is It?

Spring is almost here! With the season comes joy, celebration and of course, Heritage Month. Come out and celebrate our unique and diverse cultures at the 2019 Johannesburg Arts Alive International Festival. Kicking off September with the ever popular Jazz on the Lake, the Arts Alive International Festival has loads in store for you. From music, to dance, theatre and visual art, there is something for everyone. So, don't miss it!

Here's what to expect at the 2019 Johannesburg Arts Alive Festival:

Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival 

The 15th annual Inner-City High Schools Drama Festival welcomes in the start of Arts Alive 2019. Facilitated by the Outreach Foundation and Hillbrow Theatre. This festival is vital in encouraging young people living in the inner city to explore their hardships and triumphs through the arts. The theme for this year is Gender and Sexuality. Shows will take place from Friday, 30 August to Saturday, 07 September 2019. 

Arts Alive

Jazz on the Lake 

This annual concert at Zoo Lake celebrates 27 years on the Joburg social calendar in 2019. The line-up includes, Sjava, Vusi Nova, TRC Africa Mkhize, Bucie, as well as guest performer Michel Herrera, Cuba's rising star. Jazz on the Lake takes place on Sunday, 01 September 2019 at 10:00. 

Beat Makers Market

The Beat Makers Market is where technology, networking and music meet. Hosted at Fox Junction and The Good Luck Bar. This event is geared towards artists and producers meeting to build successful business relationships. Come and mingle with industry big-wigs like Riky Rick, Zwai Bala and Tweezy on Sunday, 08 September 2019.

FNB Art Joburg

The FNB Art Joburg fair has been re-imagined. Bringing you even more fantastic exhibitions and engagement with the Joburg art scene. The fair aims to highlight the strengths of South African and African art galleries, spaces and institutions. There will also be a books section, lifestyle entertainment, food and wine to enjoy. Visit the FNB Art Joburg fair at Sandton Convention Centre from Friday, 13 September to Sunday, 15 September 2019.

Soweto Art Week

Arts Alive bring you the sixth edition of Soweto Art Week this September. The theme for 2019 is “The Revolution will be Televised”, as Soweto Art Week seeks to promote and celebrate township art. Participating venues include, Soweto Theatre, June 16 Memorial Acre, Eyethu Art Space and Native Rebels Restaurant. Soweto Art Week takes place from Wednesday, 25 September to Sunday, 29 September 2019. 

When Is It?

The Arts Alive International Festival takes place throughout the month of September. Click here to see the full programme, with dates and times.

Where Is It?

Johannesburg.

How Much Is It?

Ticket prices are available at https://www.arts-alive.co.za/index.html

For more information

Follow them on social media for event updates, the latest news and more:

Facebook -facebook.com/JoburgArtsAlive

Twitter - twitter.com/Arts_Alive

Instagram - instagram.com/Joburg_ArtsAlive

Contact them on 011 482 3580.