Making An Impact Through Theatre
PROJECT MEMBER TESTIMONIALS
The Forgotten People
We are indeed the “forgotten people”. As soon as a sentence is passed by the magistrate, and you are placed behind bars, the key is literally and figuratively thrown away. And yet we all have hopes, dreams, untouched talents. We have so much to offer our communities. Our insights, our experiences, our endurance in the face of adversity, the hard lessons learned. We want to help. We want to work. We want to become valuable and contributing members of our communities again. And yet, the only community that accepts us, is the prison community. And the need for the life lessons of ex-offenders, is needed now more than ever.
I have been helping to make and serve food to our vulnerable children and the elderly in our community. I have seen and moved amongst many different organisations, NPO’s and NGO’s, who whilst doing amazing work, are overworked and seriously short of manpower, as these jobs are either voluntary or very low paid. Then we have many ex-offenders, who are unemployed and who want to assist and give back to their communities. And right there, is the solution to solve the employment crisis for ex-offenders and to give the non-profits, the assistance that they need.
On 2019 Productions
The experiences of 2019, working with both students from UCT and the inside company has been very exciting. Although we’ve experienced many ups & downs with regards to personal related issues, our proven analytical skill and maturity (rehabilitation) helped us to resolve these issues in order for us to have one vision, one drive and one team at the end of the day.
We managed to write out true life stories based on what we have experienced and used the ones that motivated us. We turned the stories into a successful production filled with a sense of both reality and humour. We gathered information from people who were our role models in life, the ones who kept us moving forward, irrespective of our situation; and the ones who placed our successes before our failures, the ones who valued and accepted us for who we are.
For example, many of us have experienced once in our life what it means to be coloured; we came up with a brilliant piece entitled “coloured poem”. This also inspired us to relate to how foreigners had to struggle for survival in South Africa. We also experimented with different slang used within South Africa. We had to learn the way we “as coloureds” pronounce things differently in our “Cape Flats” slang and how it differs to those of the Xhosa and Zulu slang. Take the words, “main meal”; Xhosa speaking individuals think it’s “mielie meal”. But others understand it as the big meal you have at supper time. Some people eat mostly potatoes and mielie meal, but others want to eat salad! We made a scene about miscommunication and misunderstanding.
We were also inspired by the people we grew up with and the relation as to how generations have changed hence the time that we have been in school until the democracy in 1994. We had to learn and try to understand what drives the teens of today and also relate according to what we experience on a daily basis with them. We performed at many cultural events. adapting to each place three productions through the year. As the group outside prison, we formed a bond so strong that we gave each a second chance, not only in life but in Theatre too.
Theatre Changed My Life
I believed I knew it all about Theatre until I joined the Second Chance Theatre project & we created a play about our childhood stories. In the process I also learned how to develop a play from images (family photographs). I was blown away by the experience & creativity that I wanted to learn more about Theatre, Theatre changed my life & my way of thinking.
I was inside in 2019 - I remember well that we were divided into groups, and shared our happy, sad, bad & good moments we had experienced in life. We also shared our stories with each other, same stories we used in creating 3 still images with a beginning, middle & end. From there we created scenes from the images & later developed a script. I never thought it was possible until everything was put together & the work became our own. The whole performance was based on our own stories, I loved every moment. Theatre gave me a second chance at life.
FORMER PROJECT MEMBER TESTIMONIALS
Joining the second chance theatre group in 2019 has really been a first for me. At first I was confused coz I didn't really know what it was about until I put on my “Mask” and got into role. The experience with second chance theatre taught me quite alot as funny as it may sound but I actually got an opportunity to face some demons. And that all came from a simple telling of a story and then finally getting to act it out. What was so amazing for me was when we'd been given a task how easily you make use of your own experience in life. Even something I always had difficulty with but came to share so easily and that was where the our ideas came from for the play. It came from personal experiences. And voilà we created scenes from that. I can't say that the whole performance felt like mine but I could relate to most and that is why I said that I faced many demons.
In 2019 the Parolees and UCT students worked together for performance. It was really great - students of UCT show their respect to the Parolees, that they are willing to learn from the Parolees, and on the other side, Parolees were respecting the students [who were] also willing to learn from the students. And their director was allowing the actors to feel free with ideas. “the group wrote our stories about June 16 and that from us was very nice because when you perform the script you wrote by yourself it makes easy for you to memorize the story you wrote.
Bongani is now working and training at Magnet Theatre
I learn a lot from the people that are here. The people that you bring on board to teach us skills and bring some new ideas.
It's so nice to have this Second Chance Theatre, to have a platform for the inmates when they come out. I understand when you come out if prison, it's very difficult and hard but Second Chance is trying to accommodate us in whatever they have in their hands like, to go and put something on the table. I am praying that it is successful and that funding, growing because we already have the mother roots. The only thing that is to spread the roots around, then growing and growing and growing. Then people can recognise us as who we are and what we are and what we want to deliver for the people that are behind bars. And also to those who are outside. And also give hope to those who want to give up.
Maggi Fernando - former facilitator
When I came at first I didn't have any expectations honestly. I was nervous because I didn't know what to expect from everybody. I learned alot from working with this company. Second Chance really teaches you a second chance. My favourite part of the project is being in this space with the company. Developing of work. Talking and reading and writing. I think I've enjoyed the writing skills. I've enjoyed the comic moments. I've enjoyed those frustrating moments but when you see the end product you're like, " Whoo! That was worth it. It wasn't that bad " and then you're actually quite relieved and excited because what you thought the process would give you, it gave you more.
Please click on the button below to view testimonials from insiders. The link will take you to the gallery to view the testimonials at the bottom of the page.
Audience Responses to the 2019 CTICC Performances
As they performed I only saw people who were just like me and could not even associate any of them with crime
There is hope - They can still make a difference
Should have more shows. Very good event
I was always optimistic about offenders having a second chance and being rehabilitated
Offenders deserve a second chance
Great collaboration to increase rehabilitation in the prisons and to help reintegrate ex offenders back into society
Interview with Vanessa Padayachee - 2019 Advocacy and Lobbying Manager of Nicro
I was really moved when we did the Interviews with the parolees. This was their second year. I was absolutely astounded, at the growth, in terms of their own personal development. In terms of their confidence. In terms of their self-concept. It was very touching for me, to realise the impact, that this theatre programme is having on the participants. I think we really realise that we need alternatives, not just talk therapy and your normal social work groups. And we really believe that the theatre has alot to offer, We're excited about what it can do in terms of their potential and how they can contribute to society in a constructive way.
I really think that taking theatre into the community and into schools, can really shift people's mind sets around how they view people who have been in prison. We're excited that it can shift things in the country as well and build communities, connect them back to one another. Alot of people are talking about does rehabilitation work and that's often the buzz word with high crime rates. And I think with this theatre project, we can show that it can. It does work. And people can shift and change and move where they were on one path onto a more positive pathway.
Interview with Gabriella du Toit - a UCT student who participated in the 2019 CTICC production
It's been an amazing experience working with the Second Chance Theatre Company. And in particular thus group of people. I think we've been engaging with such important initiatives of changing people's perspectives on parolees and insiders and their perceptions on who they are and all of that stuff and I think that this change in perception needs to be recognised as part of the rehabilitation process. Because if all they are seen as at the end of the day are their crimes and their past, then there's no way for them to move forward once they have been released. I think we as students have been so grateful to be a part of this experience because it's given us the feeling that we have been a part of the change in some sort of way and I also think that it's really important for other students to also be given the opportunity to participate in such projects, so that they can also feel that they can help society change and change for the better.