Theatre: Cape Town’s Jungle Theatre Company inspiring young people to create theatre and put together their own stories – with incredible resources available online – at no charge
|What: Jungle Theatre Company Website: www.jungletheatre.co.za Donate link: https://jungletheatre.co.za/donate/ Jungle Theatre is a NPO and donations are tax deductible Events to diarise: African Folktales Festival 2021- at the Masque, Muizenberg – five shows -September 3, October 2, 29 and November 19. And November 20. Scroll down for box with more info To book Jungle Theatre shows: https://jungletheatre.co.za/book/ Resources: Videos, books etc online; Creating Theatre with Children– a workbook- developed by JTC- free – but please donate Info about Jungle Theatre shows and outreach programmes: E-mail: email@example.com WhatsApp: Miranda on 072 908 5160|
Despite the hurdles of the Covid pandemic and lockdown, Cape Town’s Jungle Theatre Company, has continued to operate and develop its existing repertoire and online resources (all free!), work on new material and facilitate Creative Hub workshops in communities. Core to the company, which creates innovative theatre for young people, families and communities, is that we all need to share resources and be respectful of each other. We need to understand each other – socially, culturally and environmentally. Jungle Theatre integrates four languages seamlessly in its shows – English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and khoekhoekuwab (khoi khoi language- also called Nama in Namibia). Jungle shows, are for the most part, inspired by African folktales which are richly layered with reflections on the environment, heritage and identity. Recently, Jungle Theatre, staged its show, The Magic Shell on the Curated Programme at the National Arts Festival 2021, Standard Bank Presents. A recording of the staged show was streamed as video-on-demand on the virtual NAF and will soon be available on Jungle Theatre’s YouTube channel– at no cost. Jungle Theatre’s artistic director, Vincent Meyburgh is grateful for funding from National Lotteries Commission, The Learning Trust and the HCI Foundation which is enabling the company to make its work accessible to under re-sourced communities – at no charge and to keep ticket prices (R30) low for public shows. Each Jungle show is a thrilling experience, immersive (loads of audience participation), entertaining and educational- with innovative props and quirky puppets, made from found objects. In 2020, the company was unable to hold its flagship, African Folktales Festival and is thrilled that the festival is on stage this year, September to November, 2021, at the Masque Theatre, albeit with limited seating and social distancing.
TheCapeRobyn: When was the African Folktales Festival launched?
Vincent Meyburgh: African Folktales Festival was launched in 2019- as our flagship event – to showcase our productions and to give children the opportunity to feature what they have been doing through year at the Creative Hubs that we facilitate in communities. The festival was conceived to give people insights into what we do as a company- what drives us – out passion and importantly to extend our reach to audiences and educators. Most of Jungle’s shows are inspired and based on African folktales – which tend to have a special relationship, with nature and culture. That is what Jungle Theatre is about – multi cultural learning. Many African folktales are unknown and unexplored. We tend to know Red Riding Hood and the European folktales but not our own rich folklore, of the African continent and we have a multi-lingual approach as bring together four languages – English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and khoekhoekuwab (khoi khoi language- also called Nama – in Namibia) in our shows. There was no festival in 2020, due to Covid. We aim to hold it as an annual event. For 2022, we are hoping to expand the festival and have put in proposals which we are very excited about. We have a platform to involve other theatre companies, working with young people and storytellers from countries on the African continent. Most of our shows have a workshop element and the 2022 Festival will include workshops. For us, it is not just about playing to an audience. It is about inspiring the young people to create theatre and put together their own stories. They watch us and then they construct their own stories and create props and puppets.
TheCapeRobyn: How can people access Jungle Theatre shows which have been recorded such as The Magic Shell which was staged live on the Curated Programme at the 2021 National Arts Festival with and then was available as VOD?
Vincent Meyburgh: On our site, we have a link to the Jungle Theatre YouTube channel. Click on that and a range of videos and resources will pop up for each show. It could be a book. It could be a video. It could be an audio play. We made a lot during lockdown. We have realised that when we are making a show, a lot is happening and we share that on our website. It is all free but we are grateful when people donate. There is a donate link on our site or people can e-mail or WhatsApp us, if they want to go other routes. https://jungletheatre.co.za/donate/ The National Festival recording of The Magic Shell will be available soon.
TheCapeRobyn: Where do the bulk of your workshops and shows take place?
Vincent Meyburgh: We have an office and small rehearsal space in Muizenberg. We tour to theatres, festivals and perform at schools and in public spaces.Our shows are open to the public and we can also stage the shows at schools and communities. If people want to arrange a performance at their venue they can email firstname.lastname@example.org or book via the website – https://jungletheatre.co.za/book/. We have ongoing tours. This month [September 2021], we are touring to the Garden Route and collaborating with Lunchbox Theatre. With the funding we have we are touring and then we coming back and showcasing our work at The Masque. The message we want to get out: If you want to support Jungle Theatre – watch and see what we are about on our website, come to the shows and please consider donating.
TheCapeRobyn: The JTC Artistic team consists of seven professional theatre makers. It is incredible that you are able to pay seven people at the core of your company?
Vincent Meyburgh: The artistic team is made up of seven artists who have been trained in JTC style and who are involved in directing and performing the current productions. There are also freelance artists, contracted on a project by project basis. We are very grateful to funding from the National Lotteries Commission, The Learning Trust (an organisation that supports education https://thelearningtrust.org/), HCI Foundation (a partnership with Golden Arrow buses https://www.hcifoundation.co.za/).
TheCapeRobyn: Is funding available to work with under re-sourced schools which are unable to pay for tickets and need funding for transport, lunch, drinks in getting kids to shows?
Vincent Meyburgh: The funded performances we offer under re-sourced schools are done on a donation “what-you-can-afford” basis. More affluent schools pay for our shows and workshops. We also have a transport allocation from the HCI Foundation for Golden Arrow buses so we can offer transport to schools which don’t have their own transport and cannot afford to pay for it. We usually do not offer refreshments – especially not currently in times of Covid.
TheCapeRobyn: Can you tell us about Jungle Theatre Creative arts clubs in Khayelitsha, Capricorn, Muizenberg?
Vincent Meyburgh: The Learning Trustsupports JTC facilitators to run Creative Arts Clubs in the communities where they live i.e. Muizenberg, Capricorn and Khayelitsha. The club in Muizenberg takes place at Alive Dance Studio, in Capricorn at Assitej-SA and in Khayelitsha at Ambassadors for Change. The facilitators use a workbook developed by JTC called Creating Theatre with Children. They tell the children an African folktale and invite them to relate the story to their own lives. They tell the story in their own words in their own languages. They become the characters, dance, make masks and music and develop a show based on the folktale that is performed during the school year, for family and friends. At the end of the year , all the clubs will perform on November 20 at the Masque Theatre as part of the African Folktales Festival.
TheCapeRobyn: Many under re-sourced schools don’t have drama departments. Many people have kept their kids out of school, during the pandemic and are home schooling them but are mindful that they need to get them engaged with the arts. Does JTC have the capacity to go into a school and set up a drama club?
Vincent Meyburgh: Yes, we aim to start more Creative Arts Clubs. If schools need funding, we can offer them to schools for free, depending on the availability of funding from our side. We can also advise so that can run hubs with donations from parents and other sources. We have a curriculum that focusses on the children making a production based on an African folktale. The JTC artists have all been trained to use a workbook that JTC has developed called Creating Theatre with Children. JTC also runs a facilitator training with people who would like use this workbook and run creative arts clubs with children. So, yes, we welcome home schooling hubs to contact us.
| Jungle Theatre Company’s African Folktales Festival 2021- at the Masque, Muizenberg |
The festival is bundled with a workshop after each performance. The young audience is invited to enact parts of the show- tickets are R30
Friday September 3 – When Lion Had Wings– 3-5pm -sold out
Saturday October 2 – Dassie’s Tale 2-4pm Friday
October 29 – River of Life – 10am-1pm for primary schools and 3pm -5pm for partners, funders and public
Friday November 19– Mantis and the Bee – 10am-12pm primary schools and 3-5pm for facilitators, partner organisations and others involved in the Creative Hubs
Saturday November 20– Jungle Theatre Creative Hubs will showcase their productions, and share what they have achieved throughout the year. Jungle Theatre will also stage some of its productions. Due to Covid and space constraints, this will a closed event for participants.
The Masque has 175 seats but due to current Covid restrictions, 50 seats per show. This may change, so check in with Jungle Theatre, for updates Booking info: https://jungletheatre.co.za/jungles-live-shows/ or e-mail email@example.com or WhatsApp: Miranda on 072 908 5160
|Jungle Theatre Company, Cape Town – social media and other links |
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram: @jungletheatre
WhatsApp: Miranda on 072 908 5160
✳This interview has been marginally edited for length and clarity. Photos by Maryatta Wegerif Photography. Featured image: Python and the Qunube Tree: Photo taken at Imhoff Waldorf school in March 2021. Full cast: Mario Matiya; Vincent Meyburgh; Naledi Tlailane; Siyawandisa Badi.