Challenging Stigmas & Building Skills

Second Chance Theatre is a project run by the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies, in partnership with NICRO’s Second Chance programme. The theatre project was started by Veronica Baxter in 2018, developing from a previous collaboration with Norwegian-funded, "Help I am Free!". The project works in collaboration with NICRO and the Western Cape Department of Correctional Services, and UCT’s Department of Social Development.

The Second Chance Theatre Project has trained a group of offenders in theatre skills in Pollsmoor each year and developed a small company of actor-facilitators on parole. The aim of the project is also part of the university’s engaged scholarship, with academic staff and students working towards developing community-based arts and social justice.

The project strives towards social re-integration of offenders through enhancing social skills, personal reflection, active citizenship and generating community-based arts projects. To date, the Second Chance Theatre has produced two theatre events at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, titled "Mission I(m) Possible" (2018) and "Live, Love and Leave a Legacy" (2019).

In 2019 a group of UCT students from CTDPS joined the parole company in performances of "Mixed Masala" and a schools’ tour focused on youth and “blessers”. In addition, the parole theatre company performed a memorable piece for the Western Cape Provincial and UCT Substance Abuse Conference (July 2019).

In 2020, the theatre project is adapting to COVID19 by working on digital performance forms.

The theatre project is led by Veronica Baxter, an associate professor in the Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies.