A special performance of this award winning production will be held for drug policy influencers, Drug Policy Week delegates and invited guests on the Wednesday 25 January 2016 at the Hillbrow Theatre at 19h30.
E-mail Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your tickets. Seats are limited and available on a first come, first serve basis.
Since 2014 a dynamic team of story-tellers, playwrights, theatre-makers, academics and researchers, set about exploring the increasing levels of Whoonga (low-grade heroin) use currently plaguing KZN communities. The result of the two year research/play-making process, is a powerful new theatre production titled ULWEMBU (isiZulu for Spider web) which will be having a short public run at the Hillbrow theatre.
Ulwembu, which has been described as ‘poignant’ and ‘essential’ viewing, affords local theatre audiences the opportunity to walk in the shoes of misunderstood others: be it people who use illicit drugs, dealers, police-officers, social-workers or families of people who use drugs.
Generally the attitudes we see to drug use, is that it has a catastrophic effect on our communities, yet our research (alongside global research) shows that systemically it is the catastrophic state of our communities that are driving the use of Whoonga. “Drug use is not the root problem, but the symptom and politically expedient and attractive target.” says Shaun Shelly, a research partner from UCT and the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Pretoria and TB/HIV Care. Ulwembu reveals possible answers to some of the big questions we currently face around street level drug use in our country, through two years of in depth research at multiple scales.
Ulwembu is more than just a play, but an immersive social learning tool, that brings together diverse citizens and civil servants into a transformative and transgressive empathetic space. “If we want to respond to drugs humanely and comprehensively in South Africa” explains Dr. Dylan McGarry (co-writer/producer), “we need to first understand the interwoven and deeply connected nature of this problem. Our production strives to give this contentious issue, a more human face and perspective…. We call this form of theatre ‘Empatheatre’ in which we create an ‘amphitheater of empathy’ for all those involved.”
The play itself is very powerful, and it completely expanded the teams expectations with regards to the power of theatre to not only change perception, but actually inspire meaningful change: “With this production” urges Neil Coppen (co-writer/director), “we wanted to create an engrossing and visceral theatrical journey for audiences, allowing the power of the story and the characters escalating dilemmas, to reveal the many complexities and facets behind the crises.”
Ulwembu was recently awarded best script, best director (Coppen), best-led actress (Mthombeni) and best supporting actor (Ngubane) and best newcomer (Ngcebo) at the 2017 Durban Theatre Awards. The cast includes Mpume Mthombeni, Vumani Khumalo, Phumlani Ngubane, Ngcebo Cele, Sandile Nxumalo and Zenzo Msomi. Direction is by Neil Coppen, Design by Dylan McGarry, the script is co-written by the entire team.
For more information please visit the Ulwembu website: www.ulwembu.net
Other show times at the Hillbrow theatre and its surrounds include Tues 24th Jan 2017 @15:30,Wed 25th @ 10:30 & 19:30, Thurs 26th : 10:30 @ 13:30, Friday 27th 10:30 @ Rand Aid Association Tarentaal Village. 200 Modderfontein Avenue.
Ulwembu was initially funded by the Open Society Foundations and this performance has been made possible through the generous support of the National Institute for Humanities and Social Science,. Urban Futures Centre, Twist Theatre Development Project (Twist Durban), Think Theatre and the constant support of the Denis Hurley Centre and the Hillbrow Theatre (Outreach Foundation).
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