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Spirit of Ubom! lives on

Date Released: Fri, 1 November 2013 11:38 +0200

The impending closure of the only Eastern Cape Drama company, Ubom!  threatens to put an end to 11 years worth of community service. However, one actor refuses to let this stop him.

Rhodes University Drama Tutor and former Ubom! actor, Luvuyo Yanta has decided to carry on his work at the Eluxolweni Shelter for children and St. Mary's Development and Care Centre.

Currently, he is the only former Ubom! actor that is continuing his community work. Yanta provides weekly theatre workshops for 35 children. The workshops consist of rehearsals and learning skills about staging and performance.

The group gets the added bonus of working in the Rhodes University main theatre. Yanta helps his kids deal with issues that are important to them. He listens to their struggles and then helps them to create plays and productions that reflect these themes.

“I have become more than just their teacher, I am a crafter, I am a listener” said Yanta.

Last month, the 2012 Community Engagement Award winner and Drama lecturer, Alex Sutherland gave a lecture about the theatre’s ‘Ethical positions and community engagement’.

“Performance serves as a catalyst to talking about issues in their lives… and a means of creative expression where they could be free” said Sutherland at the lecture.

For the last 11 years this is exactly what Ubom! has been striving to do. The company has worked with a number of causes, including; prisons, psychiatric hospitals and working with school children in the township of Joza. The company has operated under the leadership of dramatist and director of Ubom!, Janet Buckland.

The company announced its possible closure, due to lack of funding, in July of this year. 

“Most of the actors have to leave Grahamstown. There is nothing for them here anymore. No contacts and no work”, said Ilana Cilliers, a master’s Drama student and former actor of Ubom!.

“Yes, it is really difficult now that Ubom! is closing. They were the ones that organized all the workshops... everything really… but I am not leaving. Grahamstown is my home and I have work to do.” said Yanta.  

Yanta is preparing his groups to compete in the Makana Drama Development Festival (MDDF) that will take place at the start of next month.

The MDDF is a 10 year old festival/competition that aims to encourage Drama in the community. The annual festival was started up by Ubom! and is held in the Rhodes University Theatre. Community Drama groups from all around the Makana area are invited to participate in the competition.

The performers are divided into two groups; junior and senior. This year, there are eight groups in each division. The competition entails a performance, adjudication, a feedback session and prize giving. There are awards for best actors, directors and script writers.

The purpose of the festival is not only about competition. The MDDF aims to provide opportunities for young adults and children who, normally, would not have access to tertiary education or further formal study in theatre.

The Makana Drama Development Festival will take place on the 4 November 2013.

By: Sarah Middleton

Article Source: Grocotts Mail

Source:Grocotts Mail