Posts Tagged ‘Tell-Tale Signs Programme’

CWB learnersWe have told you about the new partnerships that FTH:K has launched, right, and one of the projects on which we are collaborating is our National Deaf Education Tour (NDET). We ran our first tour in 2006 and since then, have run one every year, reaching more than 25 000 youths, of which 70% have been Deaf or hard of hearing. Together with Clowns Without Borders SA, Dominican School for Deaf Children in Wittebome, Cape Town, and international Deaf artist, Ramesh Meyyappan, FTH:K is running its National Tour again sharing with Deaf learners across the country the magic of live performance and the fun of theatre skills.

CWB groupNow, you obviously know who FTH:K is, and we’re sure you’re familiar with our work at Dominican School through our Tell-Tale Signs Programme, but what about Clowns Without Borders? Well, they are a group of…clowns…obviously…but not just any old buncha clowns. They are a group that has reached over 200,000 children and adults in communities affected by violence, disease, natural disasters, and poverty, and by presenting free performances throughout Southern Africa, they use physical comedy, music, storytelling, and dance, to provide momentary relief to people in these affected environments. Yeah. They’re awesome.

The Art of WarAnd this Ramesh guy? Ramesh Meyyappan is a Deaf theatre practitioner, based in Scotland, who creates performances using an eclectic mix of visual and physical theatre styles. Despite using little to no language in his work, he creates strong narrative performances and recently even added circus techniques to his theatrical visual vocabulary. His works have been toured to Austria, Australia, Cambodia, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Hong Kong, Italy, India, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Singapore, Poland, United Kingdom and the United States to name just a few…and now, South Africa! And we met him through our American partners, Quest Visual Theatre.

The Tour itself

The first leg of the 2013 NDET runs until 24 May at the Dominican School for Deaf Children where Ramesh will be running a 3-week residency programme in visual theatre with the Deaf learners. He’s teaming up with long-standing FTH:K friend and collaborator Sjaka Septembir to create a work-in-progress which will culminate in a series of showcases at the school’s annual Arts and Culture Day on 1 November.

The second phase brings together new and old collaborators. The new? The fabulous Clowns Without Borders SA. The old? Previous FTH:K Artistic Director, Jayne Batzofin, and a number of schools in KZN and the Free State with whom we have both long-standing relationships and new, burgeoning ones. The clowns have devised a new production that they are taking around KZN and the Free State from 06 to 24 May.

But it’s important to note that the NDET is not just about performing a show and then leaving again. As our awesome CEO Ana Lemmer says, “One of our objectives is to give the Deaf access not only to theatre and theatre skills, but also to develop skills in areas related to drama, literacy, self-confidence and team work, as well as developing future audiences. We are particularly inspired about our new partnerships as these will enable us to reach new heights in line with those objectives.”

And as if that wasn’t enough, an additional coolness is that Deaf FTH:K graduates Marlon Snyders, Christopher Beukes and Sinethemba Mgebisa will also be working with Ramesh while he is in the country, benefitting from the exchange not only creatively but also in personal growth as Ramesh himself is testimony of what is possible in Deaf performance. You guys will remember Marlon, Christopher and Sinethemba as being Trainees on our Tell-Tale Signs training programme’s Integrated Professional Development Programme, dazzling audiences with their performances in OfficeBLOCK, before graduating from the programme in 2012.

So, there you go, okes. We’ll keep you posted on how the project is going so, as always watch this space!

Listen Eyes buttons white backgroundYes, everyone! South Africa’s premier Deaf and hearing theatre company is back on tour with new and exciting partnerships and programmes. As you know, from 2005 – 2012 we operated as the only full-time theatre company of its kind in the country. Well, in 2013 we decided to shake things up again and started a process of restructuring ourselves in recognition of the internal changes in the company as well as the changing environment of Arts and Culture both nationally and internationally. Huh?! In short, it means that we have ditched the bricks-and-mortar elements of the company in favour of broader, more exciting programming, and are focussing strongly on national and international collaboration. While there might not be groups out there doing exactly what we do, there are people who share the same artistic and educational goals. And with money in the industry getting tighter than a lug nut, it becomes almost irresponsible not to partner with like-minded organisations to share resources and maximise achievements. So, with satellite offices in Cape Town, Grahamstown, and Washington, DC, FTH:K has adopted the idea of a global village and truly gone mobile!

We had a good long think about what we do, what we stand for, and what inspires us to come to work every morning, and we realised three things: 1) that we want to make visual theatre, 2) that we believe we have a meaningful role to play in education, specifically within the Deaf communities, and 3) that 1 and 2 are not mutually exclusive ideas. In many ways it is a mirroring of how FTH:K started in the first place, just without the jugs of Bavarian Lager. So once more, we have adapted and are back on tour to bring the magic of FTH:K to the world and (with apologies to SAA) to bring the world to FTH:K!

We have some awesome new partners who have joined us this year including Deaf performer and educator Ramesh Meyyappan and Clowns Without Borders South Africa, while our international relationship with Quest Visual Theatre has strengthened significantly. Dominican School for Deaf Children – where we started our very first programme years ago – remains with us in a newly revised approach to our Tell-Tale Signs Programme, and Sjaka Septembir is heading up the teaching on that. Of course, SLED are still our go-to guys in so many language-based areas. And let’s not forget all the Deaf and hearing schools, organisations and institutions around the country that we work with every year.

So, has FTH:K changed? In some ways. Is it still innovating? Is it still inspiring? Is it still finding exciting ways to COMMUNICATE * EDUCATE * and FASCINATE? You better believe it! So here we go, guys. It’s time for a new and exciting FTH:K adventure!

Tuesday (1 November 2011), was the Arts and Culture Day showcase at the Dominican school for the Deaf in Wynberg. And it was amazing.  The MEC for Social Development, Albert Fritz, opened the day and it was just great to have him come and recognise the the day!

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Each year, our trainees, Marlon, Christo and Sinethemba are given the opportunity to teach drama to students at the school culminating in an end of year practical exam. Our trainees are being trained in non-verbal visual theatre, groomed to one day join FTH:K as professional members. Their task was to adapt simple children’s stories for stage and this turned out to be hugely entertaining for everyone who came!

Constantiaberg Bulletin 3 November 2011

This is now my 3rd year of being a part of the Dominican Arts and Culture Day, and I can say it is the best one yet. The students and trainees are just improving in leaps and bounds! And the Day itself is growing- the addition of the Arts award was just awesome. I always feel so blessed to witness the progress of the Dominican learners- they are truly inspirational! – Jayne Batzofin, FTH:K Theatre Maker

 

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Since last year, the trainees have come a long way and are starting to show strong signs of individuality, style and flair. With a small budget, the trainees purchased props and costume. In an adaptation of ‘Pugwash the Pirate’  all ten actors had their own swords were dressed beautifully in coloured pirate pants and tops. It’s these simple gestures that point to a much larger understanding of theatre-making.

What was awesome to see was the use of space and clear imagery used by all the trainee directors. It is so rewarding to see their training at work. Sitting on the side-lines, us arts managers couldn’t help but realise that the standard of our trainees work has increased dramatically, because of a range of improvements to our curriculum, but also quite importantly, being exposed to Gallaudet University in DC and working with artists at the Quest Visual Theatre Company.

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It’s absolutely amazing and feels so rewarding that our work, with just a handful of Deaf trainees, has been so successful. The potential of what we dreamed of is being realised, and is evident of how much more we can do for the Deaf and theatre. 

The ultimate dream, is to have our trainees compete against any hearing actor in a non-verbal piece. We have successfully managed this in our award-winning pieces QUACK! and Gumbo, and are now transferring these skills to the next generation.

The FTH:K team was thanked by the Dominican School for the Deaf, not just as a procedural event, but for raising the profile of Deaf theatre in the country and for the continuous work done at the school.

This post is for the team: the creative team, the trainees, the learners and teachers at the Dominican and the FTH:K arts managers. Bravo! 

2009 Intermediate classes So, on Friday we were invited by Lysander and Liezl to watch showings of our LEVEL 2 programme (that’s our Intermediate and Advanced Intermediate classes).  Given that they had had very few sessions with which to work on the pieces, we were expecting it to be pretty basic with a lot of uncertainty on the part of the performers.  Boy, were we wrong!!  The group was dynamic and creative and sure of themselves and funny funny funny!!  We were weeping with laughter in some of the pieces.  Literally.

Lysander and LiezlLysander and Liezl have been in charge of the Intermediate Class for the past year, while Lysander and Marlon have taken over the Advanced Intermediate training sessions, so it’s been a while since the rest of us have been on the floor with the group.  We were blown away by how much they have developed and grown since we saw them in their weekly classes on our LEVEL 1 school’s programme.  Now in LEVEL 2, they are different people: confident, proud, assertive, creative and a whole lot of fun.

At last, the programme is achieving what it was set up to achieve so many years ago.  We knew what we wanted. We knew what needed to be done.  But that doesn’t mean that our clarity of vision hasn’t Send in the clowns been clouded with doubt, insecurities, stress, confusion and misunderstandings over the years.  Why are we doing this?  Should it be done?  Is it worth it?  Will anyone care?  Is there a need for it? Is there a market for it?  Can the Deaf realistically make it in the theatre world in South Africa?  Are we just living a pipe dream that will end sooner than later?  But on Friday afternoon, the clouds parted, the vision was clear, and the answers were affirming.  It reminded us of why we are involved with FTH:K and why we work so hard to achieve what we do.  There is SO much untapped potential and talent out there, and so many exciting new points of view to be heard and explored, and the performing arts is the perfect place to do it.

All smiles!

It is nice to be reminded of how good we have it.  Sure, running a theatre company is not an easy task – the Arts and Culture environment in South Africa is tough as nails.  But when we look at our performances, our audiences, our friends, our team mates, our trainees, our FTH:K family, we are reminded of how lucky we are to do what we do everyday because it is vital and important and is changing lives in a very real way.