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Sunday, March 8, 2015


ASSITEJ South Africa challenges all theatre houses, theatre patrons and funders, and theatre-makers to ensure that 20,000 young audience members (under age 21), who have never or seldom seen theatre before, get to the theatre before the end of March 2015.

The initiative is part of ASSITEJ South Africa’s annual “Take a Child to the Theatre Today” campaign which revolves around the ASSITEJ World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People celebrated on March 20, just a week prior to the International Theatre Day on March 27.

“ will track the progress of the number of young audiences attending theatre on our website,” say the ASSITEJ team. “ASSITEJ South Africa will also list on its website, all available theatre aimed at young audiences, as part of our campaign to bring theatre houses and artists together for the sake of young people in South Africa and to encourage audiences to attend. We particularly encourage artists to do free or sponsored shows, and theatre houses to provide subsidised or partly -tickets and/or transport for performances as part of the campaign. Storytelling, creative workshops and related performance-oriented activities can also be linked to the campaign. Individuals are also encouraged to participate by bringing a child or small groups of children to the theatre.”

ASSITEJ SA was recently responsible for ensuring that over 5,000 children got to see the international production of War Horse through the generous sponsorship of Rand Merchant Bank, as part of the campaign.

Lesley Beake, director of the Children’s Book Network based in Red Hill, Cape Town, had some of the young people in her programmes participate in the War Horse workshops. “None of our Red Hill children had ever been near a theatre,” she reported. “Many of them will never go again. When (the boys) came to the workshop, they slouched in full of attitude. When they left the theatre their eyes were shining… For us, as a reading organisation, the most heart-warming of all was the way they seized their books and immediately started reading them.”

Currently ASSITEJ SA is responsible for touring 10 mentee theatre companies to schools across the country over the next two months, which will see around 6,000 children and young people having access to theatre as part of the campaign. This is part of the Theatre4Youth mentorship programme, funded by the International Fund for Cultural Diversity of UNESCO. The Theatre4Youth programme uses artistic expression, cultural resources and practices as a learning tool to bridge the gap between education and the arts where the arts form an inter-disciplinary approach to learning a range of subject areas.

The World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People (20th March) is celebrated annually by ASSITEJ members in nearly 100 countries. To honour this day, ASSITEJ works to unite theatres across the world in conveying one message: “Take a child to the theatre today” and invites an international spokesperson to write a World Day Message to encourage all stakeholders to ensure that children and young people have access to theatre.

Last year’s message was written by John Kani, the first time that a South African was invited to share thoughts on the day. The announcement of the 2015 Global spokesperson for the campaign is eagerly anticipated!

The 2015 campaign is part of ASSITEJ International’s 50th Anniversary. ASSITEJ was launched in France in 1965. Since then it has grown to include member countries from around the world, including many African nations. The African Children and Youth Theatre Arena links together African ASSITEJ centres, under the current leadership of Etoundi Zeyang (Cameroon) and Yvette Hardie (South Africa).

Zeyang runs FATEJ, an international theatre for young audiences festivals in Africa, biannually. Yvette Hardie is the first African President of ASSITEJ International and has successfully championed the bid to bring the ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festival to Africa for the first time in 50 years. The 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and Festival will be held in Cape Town in May 2017.

ASSITEJ invite theatre lovers to participate in the 2015 campaign. the ASSITEJ World Theatre Day tool-kit. If you wish to participate in the campaign, using “Take a Child to the Theatre Today” as your subject visit For more information contact