Art as Resistance and Renaissance

Sunday, January 13, 2008, 02:25 PM
Posted by Michael Blake


We began the morning by listening to a lecture by professor Charlyn Dyers. She spoke to us about Resistance Theater and the very important role that this form of theater played in apartheid South Africa. Resistance Theater played a pivotal role in creating change and awareness in a country that was in desperate need of change. Sometimes when we think about the arts and theater we think of it merely as a form of entertainment. While the arts and theater are meant to be enjoyed, they also can be used to reach a lot of people and send a very important message to people in the community as well as the country.

Resistance theater is one of the ways members of the South African community were able to spread the story of apartheid all over South Africa. Professor Dyers spoke specifically about a play Kanna hy ko hystoe. This production in 1973 was a landmark production because it was a play that told the story about the “colored” experience and the tragedy of living under apartheid. This play became very important because it allowed people to see themselves in the play. It also showed that theater did not need to be a huge multi-million dollar production with huge sets. Instead it showed that theater can come strictly from the heart.

The play also opened doors for more plays of this nature to come about. One such play entitled Kitaar My Krus, dealt with the same issues but in this production it delivered a political message rather than the telling of a story. Essentially this play told the black audience to embrace who they are. It also taught them to erase the lines of dividing the black people, be black and proud, and to regain their pride as human beings. This play gave the audience more than just a show, it allowed members of the audience to vent some of their frustrations about apartheid. Resistance Theater went on a hiatus once apartheid had ended but it is now starting to reappear. However, this time the message of the plays deal more with the HIV/AIDS problem occurring in the country.

Are next stop was at the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance better know as AFDA. AFDA is one of the leading outcomes-based degree schools of its kind in the world. We took a tour of the campus and learned all that went into creating films and the process that the students go through to become great film makers. There has been a lot of success stories that have come from this school including some films winning the Oscar award. We ended this visit by watching a student film called Sindiswa. This film sent a powerful message about the HIV/AIDS problem in South Africa and some of the fears about getting treatment that exist today. Ultimately the film told people that they must educate themselves on the issue and get treatment right away to have a chance at life.

After a short break, we ended the night by seeing a play called Mirror, mirror. The play was not what most expect when they go and see a play. However, it directly related to what we were learning about the day. The play was a satirical look at many of the issues going on in South Africa today politically and many other topics.

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